Last year I was highly motivated and ready to seriously declutter our home. These are lessons and tips that I personally want to remember as I enter 2016. Most importantly, these are things that I hope encourage you as you start, continue, or maintain your decluttering efforts. Here are 10 lessons learned from a year of decluttering.
THE MINDSET NEEDED
The actual process and results of decluttering can be really rewarding. I love before and after photos just as much as anyone else. I've learned, however, that our minds and attitudes need serious decluttering while we are decluttering our spaces.
1. DECLUTTER FROM A PLACE OF "ENOUGH."
For me, I wanted to hold onto things because I was functioning from a place of poverty and fear.
2. DECLUTTER WITH THE PRESENT IN MIND.
I am constantly tempted to keep things "just in case" for the future, or due to sentimental reasons from the past. In order to get clutter under control, we need to evaluate our stuff with the present in mind.
3. REDEFINE VALUE.
The value in an item is not so much in possessing it, but in experiencing it, then passing it along to share when it stops being loved and used by your family.
4. CHERISH MEMORIES, NOT OBJECTS
Sometimes items remind us of very special times. Often, we don't have to hold onto the items themselves to hold onto those memories -- they live in our minds and hearts.
5. STOP THE FLOW
While you are decluttering, it's important to stem the tide of things coming into your house as much as possible. Refuse free things, ask for clutter free gifts in order to keep the number of items going out of your home greater than the number of things coming in!
6. FIND A SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOU
There are many online challenges right now that can help you work in a systematic way through your home. One thing we did last year was the 30 day Minimalism Game. Most of the year though, I tackled the area that bothered me most. I started with the entryway and then tackled the children's toys. Many people are finding the KonMari Method really helpful in systematically going through their items.
7. TAKE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
It will encourage you down the line to see how far you have come -- even when there is still a lot of clutter surrounding you. We have been encouraged when we look at the before photos of our basement.
8. GET RID OF FURNITURE AND FLAT SURFACES
Flat surfaces and furniture that has cabinets are my nemesis while decluttering. That might sound dramatic, but I'm finding it to be true. If you can do without the table, cabinet, dresser, or any other piece of furniture in your home -- donate it! We got rid of a cabinet in our very small bathroom and haven't missed it a bit.
9. SCHEDULE YOUR DONATION DROP OFFS
When you make the piles to Keep/Trash/Donate -- make sure and take care of them right away. Nicely contained clutter is still clutter if it remains in your home! I am guilty of piling things up in our van and then forgetting about them for weeks. Schedule donation pick ups if you have a thrift store that will pick up, or write it in your To Do list to drop off the donations.
10. GET SUPPORT
Whether you do it with one friend, or join a Facebook Support Group, it's important to get the encouragement you need while you're decluttering. You are not alone.