How to declutter - and why it improves your wellbeing
Stuff. It gets everywhere, doesn’t it? And when basements and attics are filled to the brim, we start overloading our shelves, cupboards and drawers until they audibly groan in protest.
But there comes a time to sideline the sentimental and get serious about our stuff. What do we really need, use and want in our lives and what can we safely banish to the recycling or rubbish? And what life-changing magic does a good clear-out bestow on us - emotionally and practically?
Decluttering isn’t just empowering, it also boasts a host of health benefits. Generally speaking, outside order results in inner calm. So prepare to embrace a less chaotic existence - with all the benefits associated with less stress and more mindfulness: reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, better quality of life and more time to focus on the things that make you happy.
Through the simple act of decluttering you’ll reset your priorities (family, work, exercise, hobbies), and curb the mindless accumulation of easy-come (never easy-go) clutter.
We round up six of the best bitesize ideas to help you get started:
1.Start with a list
It sounds obvious, but all great plans start with a list, and when written down, an idea becomes a reality in your mind. Draw up the areas which need decluttering, worse affected at the top of the pile. Then allow yourself a limit for each. As a guide, you could give yourself two days on each area - in short bursts of an hour at a time.
2. The one-a-day giveaway
This method is simple but effective. Choose an item every day to give away to charity, friends or family. You’ll be decluttering but you’ll also be thinking more clearly about what you do use and what has been sat there for three years waiting to be used. The only rule? Be ruthless.
3. No ‘just-in-case’ items
Closely linked to number two, this idea will make sure you finally clear out all those items taking up space in your ‘rainy day’ pile. Those dungarees you’d only use for decorating? Throw. The chipped saucer which you could use as back up crockery? Throw. The Spanish grammar books you’re saving for the day you take up learning a new language? Throw throw throw. Of course, when we say throw, what we mean is recycle, give away or donate.
4. Make a bet to be better
Find a fellow clutterbug for this one - perhaps someone at work or a family member. Then make a bet that you’ll wear a different outfit every day, for a defined period (six months or so) using the clothes in your current wardrobe - crucially, without buying any more. This is a challenging and fun way to work out what you wear and what no longer fits or suits you. If you won’t wear it (for any reason) then rid yourself of it. Eliminate, pare back and let go.
5. Tackle technology
Just because we can switch off our computers doesn’t mean that we’re not bombarded by technological clutter. Canceling subscriptions, deleting news from our feeds, binning unnecessary desktop icons. All these will help you regain control over the sprawl of technology and help you think (and work) more clearly.
6. Keep up the good work
This is the part where you set up a system to stop clutter creeping back in and sending you sliding back into chaos. If you’ve decluttered successfully, everything will have a place and you’ll be afforded a much clearer outlook into all areas of your home. There should be every chance of keeping clutter in check - but if you do find old habits sneaking back in, remember the drill and start over.