It is possible to reign in the chaos and maintain a neat, clutter-free home. Just apply these 10 principles.
1. Stop the flow of stuff coming in
De-cluttering is a waste of time if you simply replace the old stuff with new. You’ll need to begin by slowing the flow of things entering your home. Determine today to buy less. Trust me, you won’t regret it. The freedom from desire to acquire is a beautiful thing.
2. De-clutter at least one item a day
De-cluttering does not have to be a mad frenzy that disrupts your entire household. Over the years, my home has become quite minimalist by simply choosing one item a day to de-clutter. This gradual process began to change the way I think about stuff. Eventually, it became a way of life rather than just a crash diet of stuff.
3. De-clutter the easy stuff first
There is no need to make things difficult by trying to de-clutter the hardest things first. Most likely, it will simply deter you from the task altogether. Instead, start with the easy stuff and then as you strengthen your will to reduce, the harder decisions will become easier.
4. Put a disposal plan in place
Before you begin, investigate selling, recycling, donating and give away options for the items you choose to de-clutter. The more prepared you are for the task, the simpler it will be… and the more likely you will be to follow through. PAWS, Hospice, and our local second-hand shop became my favorite disposal options. However there are endless others to explore.
5. Don’t keep things out of guilt or obligation
Your home should only contain the things you love or use. Don’t let incorrect thinking or other people dictate what you should keep or give away. Remember, if the items are yours, it is your choice to decide what to do with them.
6. Do not be afraid to let go
The urge to hold on to items you think you might need someday can be eliminated simply by being realistic about what need really is. Many items in our homes may be useful, but they are not particularly necessary to our happiness, well-being, or the functionality of our homes. Seek to understand the difference.
7. Gifts do not have to be material
There are so many ways to honour loved ones without giving gifts that end up as clutter. Encourage people to follow this concept when buying gifts for you. Some alternative gifts are gifts of experience or adventure, a gift of time spent together, even cash gifts are appropriate in some instances.
8. Do not over-equip your home
A home does not need enough linen, crockery, cutlery, or pantry supplies to serve as a hotel. Be realistic about your true needs. In the rare event an unusually large number of guests arrive on your doorstep, you can always borrow from friends, family or neighbors.
9. Do not de-clutter things that are not yours
Everyone should have a choice about their own belongings, even small children. Honor them by allowing them to choose. You can encourage hoarding tendencies in others by ripping things away from them before they are ready to let go.
10. Do not waste your life on clutter
Every item you own takes time out of your life: time to manage it, clean it, repair it, and maintain it; time to choose between objects of a similar category; time spent shopping for it… and that doesn’t even mention the time spent earning the money to pay for it in the first space. Decide to sacrifice less of your precious life on the pursuit and ownership of stuff.
These ten principles have kept me resolute for the past three years. I had no idea when I began this mission how much stuff I would relinquish over the next three years. What I originally thought was going to be an arduous task quickly became a way of life… so much so, we have just put a deposit on a beautiful, even smaller, apartment with fabulous views of our coastal city, a swimming pool, and gym all within walking distance of everything we want. Semi-retirement is becoming a beautiful thing. De-cluttering made it possible.