A healthy lifestyle covers so many different aspects, and while it might sometimes be overlooked as part of your health kick, one of the best ways to live a healthy and happy lifestyle is to declutter your home.
Cleaning out and tidying up has an instant positive effect on the mind and creates a space in your home that is enjoyable and less cluttered. Even cleaning up mess behind closed cupboard doors has an effect on the space and feel of a room, so if you are hording items and feeling cramped and disorganised, follow these easy decluttering steps for a feel-good factor you will love so much, you’ll never go back to mess again.
Decluttering is one of those tasks many people put off because it can just seem too big of a task. Knowing where to start is a big starting hurdle, having the energy to do it the next. Other off-putting aspects are the emotions that can come with cleaning out items you have sentimental attachment to, or maybe guilt over not using something, or even guilt for buying it in the first place. Another huge factor that put people off is the knowledge it will probably get worse before it gets better, and certainly dragging out all you hidden belongings and going through them does make a mess, so it’s easy to see how clutter starts and then builds up in so many homes.
If people can only get over that very first hurdle of getting started, it actually becomes a lot easier and even self-perpetuating, where you will soon begin to tidy in earnest to get a great result right through your home. While your house might look like a cyclone has been through initially if you dedicate a short amount of time to the task you will quickly see results that are well worth it in the long run.
It’s good to keep in mind the many advantages of having a decluttered home to help keep you motivated and get the ball rolling. A tidy home means you can:
• Use more of your items
• Get to things easily
• Have a space for entertaining and guests.
• Buy fewer things
• Be more organised mentally
• Experience the joy of a clear and simple space
• Use your space the way you want
• Love your home and being in it more
• You discover items you forgot you had or though were lost.
If you find you are stuck when it comes to your clutter, here are some things you can do.
1. Go easy
Start with the easiest room first or the one that most motivates you. That can be the kitchen, your clothes, your filing cabinet, the living room, it doesn’t matter, whatever is less overwhelming for you is a good place to start and get in to the practice of sorting and throwing away (and it is just practice, you will get better as you go).
Pull everything out and have it in a pile, and that really means everything, even things you know you will keep, that way you have a clean and inviting space for your favourite things to go back to.
2. Keep things you love
As well as starting with the easiest room, pick the easiest items too. If you are feeling stuck when you look at your pile search for an item you know you love and will be keeping. Really pay attention to the feeling that items brings you and if anything else doesn’t have the same sort of feeling for you, it’s probably a good indication that it’s time to part ways. When you make a home for everything you love, you might even find you don’t need much of the rest.
3. Say goodbye gently
The feeling of guilt that comes with letting go of items is very difficult for many people but it is possible to override it with positive emotions. Gratitude and consideration will outweigh your guilt and help you get past those nagging negative emotions. With every item you no longer wish to keep make sure you express gratitude for having it and also for being able to move on without it. For those items that you are donating or selling at a garage sale, think about how happy someone else will be to have it and use it. It’s going to a good home.
4. Say hello with a smile
Don’t get bogged down thinking you have to get rid of items you like. The biggest part of decluttering isn’t necessarily throwing things away, but making sure everything you have has a clean and organised home to go to so you can use it when you need it. As you go through your home you will certainly encounter items to give away or throw away (that will just be a natural part of the process), there is no need to force yourself to remove everything, instead, ask, ‘How is the best way to store this item so it is accessible and useful to me?’ Sentimental items can then be made into art, albums, memory boxes etc. instead of stuffed in the back of a closet.
5. Go by the clock
If you are really feeling stuck set a timer and work until the buzzer goes off in just one small part of your house. It could be a cupboard or draw you have been meaning to get to for a long time and keep putting off. Get yourself moving, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Afterwards make sure you stand back and admire the results. When you make the association of cleaning with the satisfaction of a job well done, you will be able to go for longer and longer stretches on the timer. Even if you start with ten minutes a day, do this consistently every day for two weeks and you will be amazed by the results.
6. Clean before you tidy
You might find it more motivating to start by cleaning up before you get to decluttering. Anything that is broken, damaged, stained or needs adjusting, throw it in the rubbish. If you haven’t gotten around to getting it to a repair shop or rescuing it by now, you never will. A big trap people have is keeping take-away containers and items that could be repurposed. Be honest about the likelihood of you actually using them and weigh it against the amount of valuable space they are taking up. Consider donating these items to a kindergarten or primary school where they can be put to good use.
7. Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.
Thomas Jefferson was right on this one, what are you waiting for really? Will there be an easier time? Will it be quicker when you do it later?
The energy you put into doing something right away is actually less than doing it later, because it’s right in front of you and halfway done. Leaving the washing up, putting an item away or cleaning later means you are allowing the problem to get bigger and worse. Do it now and get it over with while you’re thinking of it.
8. Finish what you start
Make a pact with yourself to keep going until the room is completely clear, no matter how long that takes you. Doing one room at a time ensures you can see results and tick it off the list before starting the next job. It’s all too easy to skip from clutter pile to clutter pile and not really get anything done. Have a focused area you start with and reward yourself at the end with something nice, a bath, a glass of wine or a beer on the balcony.