Face it – you’ve probably got too much stuff. And it’s littered all around the house, yes? How does that make you feel? Thought so. Read on, and you’ll have a cleaner and happier home in no time at all.
Why declutter? The benefits…
From a practical point of view, freeing up space in your house or flat can only be a positive thing. New homes in the UK are now the smallest in Europe and, whether you live in a new build or an older property, the chances are that the extra space could come in useful.
As well as the practical benefits, a declutter can also assist your mental and physical wellbeing.
The process itself can be mildly therapeutic, as you’re tackling something you’ve probably put off for quite a while. Improving your physical environment can elevate your mood, and generally make you feel less stressed and more ‘in control’. You’re also less likely to be embarrassed by the mess, and this in itself can give a nice little boost to the self-esteem.
Finally, a good declutter will give you the opportunity to clean more easily, which in turn is great for your physical health. Not only will cleaning help to reduce the risk of allergy and asthma symptoms, but the activity will also benefit you.
Don’t think about how much something cost you originally. The fact that the shoes cost £90 a year ago but you haven’t ever worn them shouldn’t guilt trip you into keeping them. You haven’t worn them for a reason, so cut your losses and sell them to someone who will use them. The foundations of ebay and many other similar sites have been built on declutters.
The cynics amongst you may think that this is simply moving clutter from your house to someone else’s. Well….either way, giving that unwanted slow cooker to your friend at least gives it a chance of being used, and best of all you look generous and thoughtful.
Giving something away is giving something back. If you don’t think friends or family need any of your unwanted items and you’re not going to resell them, there’s most definitely a charity shop that will value them.
A recent study found that charity shops generated £270 million of profits in the UK annually – a huge amount that can do so much good for so many charities and their beneficiaries. Declutters nationwide have made a significant contribution and you can too. The staff and volunteers will certainly be grateful, and you’ll walk out of the shop with another dose of that feel good factor.
How to successfully declutter...
First rule of declutter club is not to talk tough and then renege on the day. Be resolute from the start that this isn’t a dress rehearsal for another one at some other, undetermined point in the future. Tell yourself - this is it, and you’re taking no prisoners.
Clutter will usually fall into two distinct categories – items that you don’t use anymore, and just plain rubbish.
With the first category, clear an area on the floor before you start and progressively pile items into the area. Make yourself a rule that whatever goes into that area isn’t coming back out again and returning to the cupboard from whence it came.
For the rubbish, have bin bags at the ready and don’t hold back.
As the saying goes, “What’s the best way to eat an elephant?” Piece by piece. Having a clear-out can feel like a daunting and ominous prospect if you contemplate tackling the entire house all at once. Instead, simply take it one room at a time, on a schedule that’s realistic.
You won’t feel the true benefit unless you’ve been thorough. Write down the rooms you’re going to work on, and in which order you’re going to tackle them in, and try to list every room.
It’s easy (and tempting) to skip one or two areas that you’re not relishing, but have the attitude that if you don’t deal with them now then you never will. It might take you several weeks or more to go through every room, but it’ll be worth it.
Timing is everything. It’s never going to be particularly motivational to know that you’re coming home on a Friday night after a long week at work to face cleaning out the spare room. Choose times in the week that aren’t usually busy or social.
You haven’t used the tennis racket buried at the back of your wardrobe for years. In fact, you don’t even like tennis, but perhaps one sunny summer’s afternoon someday, you’ll feel like a game? No. Remember, ‘someday never comes’. If you haven’t used something for a very long time, accept that in most cases there’s a reason for that.
Try not to do it alone. If you live with others, the chances are that they are at least partly responsible for the build-up of so much clutter, and so in the interests of fairness they should share some of the work. They’ll also enjoy the benefits as much as you will.
If you’re clearing things out with others, it’s a great and rare opportunity to spend some time together in the same room, but without the usual distractions of laptops, televisions and mobile phones. Turning out cupboards and drawers can also turn into a bit of a trip down memory lane.
Whether or not you’re decluttering on your own or with others, why not turn on some music, to keep you motivated as you go. Avoid switching on something that’s visually distracting, like the TV or Youtube – try the radio instead, or maybe even one of those CDs you haven’t listened to for a long while...before it becomes a victim of the declutter.
As long as you stay focussed on the job in hand, the time will fly by and you’ll have a much clearer room in no time at all.
This may sound counter-productive, but it’s better to accept that you’ll always have some odds and ends that you don’t quite know what to do with, but you really don’t want to throw out. And that’s fine. Designate a contained area – perhaps a drawer, cupboard or small basket in your bedroom or kitchen - and tidily keep all of these items within that one place.
And finally….stop it coming back
When you’ve decluttered, it’ll feel good. No, better than that, it’ll feel great. But don’t let the mess return. Some top tips:
Clutter happens to us all, but getting on top of it really will feel great. Go for it!