As a decluttering obsessor, my Youtube is littered with people talking about their ‘new method’ of decluttering. Many of these are just a rose by any other name, and many of them still stink just as bad as the others. But there are some absolute cracking ideas out there, and so I have pulled them together for you here.
Why have a method?
Following a method can help to give structure to the task at hand. Some methods, like the KonMari method, have whole books written about them, whereas some are available as simple checklists. Having something to work from helps to keep up motivation, inspire you to continue, and reduces the chance of you getting distracted by other parts of the task which you are perhaps not ready to work through yet.
Choosing your method
When you choose a method, it is important to think about what matters to you. Are you the kind of person who wants to spend 20 minutes a day focusing on the clutter, or do you want to book a week off work and blast the whole house? Do you have areas of your house that bother you more than others? Are you moving house? All of these factor into the decision you make.
Whole House Methods
KonMari method, from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
I had to start with Marie Kondo, because she is the one who inspired me to change my ways! If you haven’t heard from her, she has a show on Netflix and a series of successful books all about tidying up and only owning the things you love.
The principle of this is that you declutter in categories, starting with clothing, then books and papers, miscellaneous, and right down to the sentimental items. The idea is that, you only keep things that spark joy in your heart. Obviously some items don’t fit that (birth certificates, tools etc) but it is amazing how many items we hang onto because we feel we should.
I like this method because, frankly, it works. You can do your whole house in a week, if you set your mind to it, and once it is done, it is quite easy to maintain, provided you get your whole family on board.
I’ll never forget the day I started and I pulled out every single garment I owned, every shoe, bag, accessory, jewellery item… and I piled it up in the kitchen. There was so much it was halfway up the wall and took up the majority of the floor space too. But I managed to get my clothing down from two shoe organisers, a shoe cupboard, three wardrobes and eight drawers, to one wardrobe, three drawers, three ‘essential pairs’ of shoes and one shoe organiser. I got rid of an entire cupboardful of handbags too, and now only have about 10. Still a lot, but I’m allowed things. And seeing just how much I could get rid of inspired me to finish the whole thing. My conservatory was full of items, furniture and clothing, all of which were donated to a local hospice.
The Easter Egg Method
Remember those baskets people used to gather up Easter eggs? Grab one. The principle is simple – move through your house and collect up items to discard or donate. Once the basket is full, you’re done. You can do it daily, or weekly. Great for busy people, but not so great if you lack stickability.
The Dumpy Bin Method
Having four ‘dumpy bins’ or boxes, label them with Keep, Discard, Donate, Unsure. Then, doing a space at a time, a room at a time, or whatever suits you, sort your items into these categories. This works well for spaces like cluttered bookshelves, messy cupboards, the garage, or the loft.
The Packing Party
Moving house? This one is for you, although it works for others too. Have your friends come over and help you pack up your house. Get it all into boxes. Once everything is packed, you can only unpack it (and keep it out) if you need to use it. After three months, anything you haven’t unpacked can be thrown away. Not suitable for seasonal items, or items such as tools that only get used when really needed.
Item and Area based methods
Wardrobe Clearing Made Easy
Too many clothes? Go to your wardrobe and turn all of your hangers around, so that they are hooked over from the back of the rail. Now, for one year, wear your clothes as normal. When you put them back, turn them around so they are hooked over from the front. At the end of the year, any items hung over from the back can be discarded, because in 12 months, through 4 seasons, you haven’t worn them, and therefore probably will never.
The Minimalist Game #minsgame
The Minimalist Game is best played with friends, and is played over one calendar month. The date corresponds with the number of items you have to discard that day. So, on the 1st, you discard one item. On day 27, you have to discard 27 items. If you do this for one month, you will have got rid of around 500 items from your home. The winner of the game is the person who keeps going the longest.
One In, One Out
A simple principle, ‘One In, One Out’ dictates that for every item that you buy, you must discard an item from the same category. A great mindfulness activity, it makes you really consider something before you buy it, as well as making you think about what you can discard in its place.
The Bottom Line
Every method has it’s merits, as well as it’s limitations. Before you start any method, do your research to see if it is right for you. Marie Kondo works for me because the principles reflect how I like to live my life. Youtubers MuchelleB, Clutterbug and Brittany Vasseur are great for inspiration and they each do things differently.
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