How to Declutter your home

For several years I worked with a lovely woman who was always heading back into our warehouse to snag a used, empty box. After watching this trend happen and knowing she wasn’t moving or relocating, I finally was curious enough to question why. We headed out for a lunchtime walk, a favorite activity and chance to stretch our legs from sitting at our desks all morning. She explained to me she brought an empty box home every week or so, regardless of its size, for several reasons.

  1. She would set a box out next to her front door to place things in for donation. This is easier to deal with than a bag or piling it up. The ease of the open box encouraged her to purge things she did not need or want any longer.
  2. She was very involved in charity and found having a separate small box to place food for charity she picked up while at the market kept it separate from her personal items and encouraged her to bring the box in often.
  3. She has lots of cats and cats love boxes. This is not a tip to help you purge, it’s just a fact.

I loved the idea of leaving a box out and open for me to drop donation items into. It helps keep your space tidy before you’re able to make that charity run. Thinking about this along with the change of seasons has led me to do some researching on how to declutter a space.

I moved a few months ago. It was hasty and ill-prepared and I fought it with my nails scratching the wood floor as they dragged me out. I lived in a small historic home downtown when my landlord announced he was putting my house up for sale. Within three days it sold to a cash buyer and I was told I had thirty days to vacate the premises. Without knowing where I was going, I panicked and did the most natural thing in the world. I did nothing. Nothing! I was in denial. So I sat on the couch and watched Netflix. I took walks and rode my bike, I went to brunch. I did so much of nothing that when I threw a birthday party for a friend two days before my moving day, everybody showed up and were like, Ummm, are you sure you’re moving on Sunday?

I’ve learned my lesson from that move because now, months afterwards, I’m still untangling the boxes of stuff I had collected and hadn’t used or needed in maybe a year. I was left to declutter after my move, something my Dad probably wasn’t too thrilled with since he helped my move. If he knew he could have moved five less boxes, we’d be having a different discussion for my future moving days. Please don’t tell him.

Get in the right head game. I don’t know a single other tip to give you if you’re not mentally prepared for letting things go. Take a deep breath, imagine your life without the object or sweater or tacky 1980s painting. Does your life look negatively impacted? No, let it go.

Prioritize. I don’t know what is important to you. Some days I don’t know what is important to me. Remember to focus. Priorities will be different from one person to the next and maybe one day to the next. What is important to you? Is this needed? Is it wanted? Can you live without it? Most importantly, Do You Love It?

Break it down. You don’t have to tackle the entire house at once. Try doing one small project at a time. Work on your desk. Then the junk drawer. Purge your closet. But only do one at a time and instead of feeling overwhelming, it will be feel manageable.

Maddie On Things

Have a box dedicated to the following categories during your process: Trash, Give Away, Keep, Relocate. This is especially helpful if you’re doing small projects. The Relocate box is great when you realize you love an item but it is not serving its purpose in the room or space it is in.

Consider if the item will require more upkeep than value or potential use. Enough said.

If you’re anxious about letting something go, put it in the Give Away box but don’t do anything with it for a week. There is no gun to your head. If you’re feeling anxious, see how you feel in a few days and decide then. This is about making you feel and function better.

These are all tactics I’ve used when decluttering my possessions after I moved. I wouldn’t recommend waiting to declutter until after your move. The only perk to not decluttering prior to my move, it was easy to throw everything inside the box and not have any additional thoughts. The one perk to decluttering post-move? By pulling the item back out of the box and considering a place for it in my new home really gave me perspective. It became very easy to decide if it was worth the hassle of keeping it any longer. Would I trade that ease of purging for moving less items? Nope, nope and nope. I would not recommend it to you or my future self or my future children.  Learn from my experiences and make headway!


Photo source: Maddie On Things, Library of Congress

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