Decluttering is the process of keeping your belongings at a manageable level, so must be done throughout your life in order to stay on top of everything. Decluttering should not be thought of as a negative, time-consuming, draining process. It should bring peace to your life and allow you to love your home again.
Decluttering does not end. This is because people purchase new items frequently and therefore increase the number of items in the home. As a general rule, for every item that comes into the home, one should leave. Ignoring this rule will cause the home to become overwhelming as more items pile up.
For more information about how to make the decluttering process less stressful and determine when you can take a break, keep reading below.
Does Decluttering End?
If we decided not to declutter anymore, then the house would easily become overtaken by items and garbage and become hard to manage.
So decluttering will never fully end, but it doesn’t have to be something that you dread.
The good news is, if you put a system in place to get rid of one item every time you bring an item into the home, then you won’t have to spend much time decluttering. In fact, you won’t even have to think about it! It will just be something that you do automatically.
If you struggle to get rid of items that you already have, then really consider whether you need that new item that you are holding in your hand when shopping.
Don’t buy more items that you don’t currently have space for unless you know that you can clear something else out to make room for them.
Should you clean or declutter first? This post provides more detail.
How Frequently to Declutter
Decluttering should be happening all of the time because you are getting rid of items when bringing new items into the home. However, you should be making time at least twice per year to do a more thorough look through your home to get rid of anything you no longer use.
To begin, start by looking through everything that is behind closed doors. Set aside 30-60 minutes to go through all closets, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, etc. Quickly find items that you no longer use, need, or like, and products that have expired.
Cleaning out items from the hidden spaces first will give more space to store items that you do use.
Then you can begin going through the more visible items, which would be items on your kitchen table, countertops, on the floors, etc.
Spend 30 minutes or less going through the visible spaces. Quickly gather old paperwork that is no longer needed, flyers, used-up bottles of lotion, coffee cups from Starbucks. Anything that no longer has a purpose and is just cluttering up your home.
Anything that is clearly garbage should be thrown away or recycled. Take expired medication to the pharmacy to dispose of properly, and donate anything else.
For more ideas of what you can quickly declutter, check out my post which provides 76 decluttering ideas for you.
If you are looking for more information on how much time it should take to declutter your home, read about that here.
Can You Declutter Too Much?
Sometimes people get so excited to just get items out of their house and be left with less stuff to clean up and organize. However, it is possible that you could go too far.
You will know you have gone too far when you can’t stop thinking about an item that you donated. Or if you went to use that item and you realize you no longer have it.
Deciding What to Keep or Get Rid Of
You may only need one minute to decide whether you really care to keep those cleaning supplies that you no longer use. Or maybe a pair of jeans that no longer fit. These are the types of items that are fine to quickly say that you no longer need and go donate them or dispose of them properly.
For sentimental items, important documents, or items that you do use on occasion, you should take a bit more time to consider if you are really willing to part with the item.
If it was a keepsake from a family member who has passed on, don’t feel that you need to keep the item just because of who it belonged to. You need to consider whether you are actually going to use the item and your emotional connection to the item.
For sentimental items, go through the following process to determine what to do with them:
- Do you use the item? If yes, keep it.
- If you don’t use it, will it make you really sad in a month if you get rid of it? Keep items for now if you know that getting rid of them will cause upset in your life.
- If you don’t use it and you can separate feelings from it, then let it go.
When you are finally ready to tackle the items that might make you sad, try to picture in your mind the next owner of the items actually using them. Then look at the items collecting dust in your home.
Wouldn’t you rather know that the items are being used and loved? Knowing that somebody else will make great use of the items can really help to separate feelings from the items. This will make it easier to let go of them.
Take pictures of these items so that you have the memory available but then let them go.
When to Stop Decluttering
As already mentioned, decluttering will never truly end. It is a necessary process in all homes. However, during each decluttering session, you can stop when you feel at peace or you just need a break.
Decluttering shouldn’t be a stressful process. Make sure that you are choosing times where you can fully focus on decluttering before you get started.
Set yourself up for success by creating at least two times per year that you feel emotionally and physically ready to tackle the house.
Then you will be in a better head space to really make some progress.
For the two bigger decluttering projects per year, try to get rid of at least 30 items each time.
They don’t have to be large items. They can be expired products, clothing you would never buy again, the make-up you never wear, or an old toothbrush. Just do your best to get 30 items.
60 items per year is a huge accomplishment and will make a huge difference in your home. If you can do even more, that’s great!
Don’t ever get rid of items just because you feel you should. If there is anything that you love and will use again, just keep it! You will have the opportunity to look at the items again in 6 months.
If you donated something and then regretted it, you will know moving forward when items may hold more meaning and value than you thought. This is a great learning process for future decluttering!
Next, you should begin organizing the remaining items in your home. Read my post about how often to organize your house for more information.
Decluttering is an ongoing process that should not be avoided. You will be so much happier if your home only contains items that you love and use frequently.
So set aside some time to declutter twice per year and remember the one-in, one-out rule to stay on top of items for the remainder of the year. This will set you up for long-term success.
For tips on how to tackle clutter in a small home, check out this post.
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