It's winter here. And there is nothing like spending a lot of time indoors to inspire me to get rid of stuff cluttering my home.
Clutter causes stress. Even if you are a pretty "chill" individual, living in a home filled with too much stuff is stressful. And, if you are a woman, which many of my readers are, you should know that studies show that women experience higher cortisol levels than men when living in a cluttered home. FYI, cortisol is a stress hormone.
In addition to decreasing stress, decluttering saves time by decreasing how long it takes to find things, it saves us money because we don't repurchase things we simply can't find and best of all (in my humble opinion), it makes it so much easier to clean your house and keep it clean when you don't have clutter all over the place.
5 Tips To Declutter Your Home
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GARBAGE DAY. Whenever you are filling up a garbage bag, look around your house for things you can declutter. We often have garbage hiding in our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry in the form of food waste. Look in the bathroom for toiletries that you know you aren't going to use, and cleaning products you bought but don't like. Look in the kitchen for spices or teas you know you won't ever finish, and stuff in the junk drawer that should have been tossed instead of stored. Also, keep an eye out for household items that are broken but realistically won't ever get repaired and shoes or clothes that are just too stained and worn to donate.
ALWAYS HAVE A DONATION BOX. Keep a household box to place random donations, as well as donation boxes in each person's closet. Then, whenever you find something that isn't being used (looking at you floral-scented candle) or doesn't fit, it can simply be placed in a donation bin. When a bin gets filled, simply pop it in your car and drop it off at your local donation center.
EVALUATE DUPLICATES. Yes, there are many things we need duplicates of, but some things we don't. Or, maybe we need a few of an item, but certainly not ten. Duplicates are easy targets for decluttering because there isn't that 'just in case' pressure. I have significantly decreased the number of towels in my linen closet, bed sheets, pans, baking dishes, utensils, and even many of my clothes. I mean really, how many pairs of socks do I realistically need?
CREATE A 'PURGATORY' BIN. Sometimes getting rid of stuff is scary. If you worry that you are going to need something the day after you donate it, it can paralyze your decluttering efforts. A purgatory bin, or a wait-and-see bin, gives you a safe way to experiment with decluttering. Put the items you are on the fence about in a box, seal it up, and date it. Then, after a safe amount of time, if you haven't gone back into the box to pull something out, you can simply take it to the donation center. Tip - when you reach the donation date, don't look through the box, just take it and drop it off. You probably don't even remember what's in that box and it's probably better that way.
FOCUS ON THE HOTSPOTS. Don't start your decluttering journey in some hidden corner of your basement. Start in a small area that you access every day. This might be your kitchen counters, your spice rack, your junk drawer, or your coat closet. You want it to be small enough to be fairly easy, and you want it to be impactful. Did you know that 20% of our cluttered spaces lead to 80% of clutter stress? Therefore, focus on those everyday hotspots to feel instant relief.
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6. TRY A CAPSULE WARDROBE. It may seem silly, but a huge amount of stress and decision fatigue can come from getting dressed every day. I'm not just talking about those people really into fashion. Even the Everyday Jane feels the stress of a cluttered closet. There are tons of ways to implement a capsule wardrobe, the key is to find what works for you. My recommendation? Pretend you have to move out of your house and into a hotel for 2-3 months (1 season). Hotels don't have a lot of storage, so you need to pack light. What would you pack? You would probably dress down your office wear and dress up your casual wear to allow more overlap between the two. You would likely pick things that mix and match so you can create variety with fewer pieces. You would likely pick only the clothes that fit you well and are currently in season. You wouldn't bring anything stained, anything that still has tags on it after a year, or anything that doesn't fit you.
If it's stained, doesn't fit at all, or still has tags after months in your closet, you can probably just toss or donate that stuff. Then pick the clothes you love and there you have your capsule wardrobe.
Now, that you have your seasonal capsule wardrobe picked out, box up the rest and store it away. Come next season, you might want a few things from that box, but if you notice that some items stay in the box season after season, you can safely donate them.
7. FOLLOW THE 1 YEAR RULE. With only an occasional exception, if you haven't worn or used an item in a year, you can probably get rid of it. Are there clothes in your closet that you haven't worn in a year? Unless it's only for special occasions (eg. cocktail dress or suit), there aren't many items worth keeping if you aren't wearing them. What about kitchen appliances? If you haven't used your blender in a year, do you really need a blender? Keep in mind, that you don't need to own everything you might ever need. If you decide next year to host a Cinco de Mayo party and you want blender margaritas, you likely have a friend with a blender you can borrow.
8. EXPERIMENT WITH A NO-BUY PERIOD. This means you identify a time frame (could be 2 weeks, could be 2 months, could be 1 year) in which you commit to only purchasing necessities. You pay your bills, buy groceries etc, but you don't buy extra. This stops the inflow of stuff, while you are actively decluttering what you already have.
If committing to a period of 'no buying' is too much, maybe consider identifying categories you won't buy. In 2023 I committed to not buying candles, soap, or tea because I had a big stash of all of these and wanted to use up what I already owned.
Links You Might Enjoy
I am far from a minimalist, but I find a lot of inspiration in people that are minimalist and people like me, who just don't want to live in cluttered homes. I am listing a few links to some of my favorites. I find all these people inspiring.
Books I Love
I love a good book. If you do too, check out these. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
Project 333 by Courtney Carver
The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker
Minimalism by The Minimalists
Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith