How to … cut the clutter out of your life and home

Whether you’re downsizing or looking to make extra space, here is our guide to minimising the clutter.

How to … cut the clutter out of your life and home

Whether you’re downsizing or just looking to make space in your life, here is our guide to minimising the clutter. 

First things first: work out what is essential in your life. A brilliant method suggested by lifehacker.com is to work in reverse. If you lost everything, what would you replace first? They suggest removing yourself from your home to do this so that you can’t simply name the items you see around you. Take a pen and notepad down to your local coffee shop and write a list. Whether the first thing you think of as essential is your bed or if it’s that one retro vase you bought from a market years ago, whatever comes to mind first probably holds practical and emotional significance and deserves a spot on the list.

When you’ve worked out what you can’t live without, return home and see what’s left over. Each item that didn’t make it onto the essentials list will be sorted into one of three categories: keep, chuck or donate. It’s important to see the third option as a positive one, as you aren’t tossing your beloved items out into the cold, but rather offering them a second chance at bringing joy to someone new. Don’t be afraid to sell items on sites such as ebay or Gumtree if the extra cash will help you to part with your belongings. 

When dividing your items into those you want to keep and those you want to let go of, it’s important to ask yourself three questions. Does this item do for me that nothing else can do in a more practical or efficient way? Does it hold any sentimental value? And finally, in the words of decluttering guru Marie Kondo: ‘does this item bring me joy?’

Sentimental items can be the hardest to distinguish. Those meaningful items you’ve gathered through life may hold memories but also take up a lot of space. We suggest you offer them to family or friends who may understand their significance, or simply take digital photos of the items before letting them go so that their memory can’t be entirely lost. 

If you really can’t decide if an item is worth keeping, place it in a box and set it to the side. Any items that sit in this limbo space can be put there. Keep the box for a week or two. Did you think of the item in the box at all? Did you retrieve it from the box to be used or admired? If the answer is no, it’s a pretty good sign that the item can be rehomed.  

When you declutter, make sure you organise your time carefully. It’s easy to become overwhelmed if you tackle too much in one go. Instead, divide your decluttering time into smaller spaces, rooms or even single cupboards or bookshelves at a time. Set a half hour timer and take a break after it, reward yourself with tea or biscuits to get by. Decluttering is best tackled in small, fast portions rather than whole days or weeks spent dredging through clutter with waning motivation. 

Are you downsizing your home or trying to clear some extra space? Did you find this article helpful or do you have other tips for fellow readers? 

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    COMMENTS

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    19th May 2019
    8:49am
    as long as I have the cupboard space and I dont have clothes lying around I will keep all I have...why should I declutter because others say we should. I may not wear all my clothes all the time but who cares...I like them and I am not throwing them out just to have empty space in my cupboards
    casey
    19th May 2019
    10:07am
    My rule of thumb is; if I haven't used it for a year, I don't need it and it goes. Hmm just thought on that basis, Bye Bye Wife.
    Gypsy
    19th May 2019
    12:02pm
    Lol - you'll be in BIG trouble if the Wife ever reads your post!!
    casey
    19th May 2019
    12:13pm
    I know Gypsy. happy wife happy life.
    Fortunately she has the same warped sense of humour as me.
    JB
    19th May 2019
    10:08am
    i cannot live with clutter ... it does my head in . Read the Marie Kondo book . Great read to put things into perspective.
    tisme
    19th May 2019
    10:22am
    ive read so much on how to de clutter im more confused tan ever i desperately need to de clutter cant take it all with me ( when ever we move again ) as it is now its getting on my nerves but i just cant work out where to start what to do
    Incognito
    19th May 2019
    1:08pm
    I always start with the biggest items that take up the most room, I recently put unused furniture that I had out in the garage plus some camping stuff out on the nature strip with a sign on it saying "free" and it all went except one desk, which is still there.

    Then try doing one small area at a time, it is will power you have to find, get three boxes and put one for donation, one for throw out, and one for "just can't decide just yet", and eventually you will feel better once your donation and throw outs are full, then you tackle another area. After some time you can revisit your "can't decide yet" box.
    KB
    19th May 2019
    2:43pm
    Write a list of the things that have special meaning for you. Are there keepsake items that family would like? Start decluttering now otherwise it will be just as hard later.
    KB
    19th May 2019
    2:43pm
    Write a list of the things that have special meaning for you. Are there keepsake items that family would like? Start decluttering now otherwise it will be just as hard later.
    Karl Marx
    19th May 2019
    11:41am
    I lived with a hoarder for 14 years & in the end my house was looking like the local tip. Everyday she would go around counsil clean up & bring home other peoples rubbish. Her excuse was that she needed a project. She didn't like it when I pointed out that she had 100's of projects & needed help & to get a job. Eventually we split & she took all here hoard with her. happy days.
    Now I am a minimalist with just basics. If I don't need it I don't buy it. No dust collecters, nothing. Will never ever go back to anywhere near clutter.
    Happy happy happy.
    Incognito
    19th May 2019
    1:10pm
    Yes I have ongoing decluttering going on all the time, I try to sell as much as I can but it takes time to take photo's and list them. I recently collected some things from the neighbours skip bin (with his permission) and made nearly $200 on his junk. If money is not an incentive think about how your items can help other people and make them happy and give them to charity.
    KB
    19th May 2019
    2:40pm
    Recently decluttered my wardrobe with clothes that no longer fit me. Good clothes went to charity. Do one area at a time It is time we all learnt to be minimalists as we cannot take our goods and chattels with us when depart this planet. Some one else is usually left behind to clear out our possessions
    KB
    19th May 2019
    2:40pm
    Recently decluttered my wardrobe with clothes that no longer fit me. Good clothes went to charity. Do one area at a time It is time we all learnt to be minimalists as we cannot take our goods and chattels with us when depart this planet. Some one else is usually left behind to clear out our possessions
    Chris G
    19th May 2019
    2:52pm
    Two pertinent quotes come to mind:
    1. "there are no roof racks on the hearse" (you can't take it with you)
    2. "the second that someone dies, all possessions become someone else's" (this one came from a funeral director)
    Bella54
    19th May 2019
    7:40pm
    In my suburb I have a Facebook group called Buy Nothing and we just give things away. Most time they are useful to someone else. I have met some lovely people in my suburb too this week, discovered streets I didn’t even know were there and have collected some lovely items too. No selling, just gifting and saves on landfill.
    Incognito
    19th May 2019
    7:47pm
    Fantastic idea, hate seeing good stuff go to landfill, how much more rubbish do we have to store underground?
    Anonymous
    20th May 2019
    9:00am
    I would do the sake except I cannot stand to have the unhygienic sorts turning up at my front door
    I would rather leave it for kerbside collection or take it to the recycle tip myself
    Lanie
    19th May 2019
    8:51pm
    I help clients to Declutter without giving them any pressure whatsoever, by just packing contents into boxes that the client can go through later on at their leisure, without the stress of thinking that they have to throw things out. It certainly doesn't stop them from cluttering the home up again, but it does give them temporary happiness. ACE Clear Out Services

    20th May 2019
    8:57am
    We just decluttered Canberra
    Bye bye Shorten
    PlanB
    27th May 2019
    9:00am
    I wear clothes I have had for decades around the house, don't really give a hoot what they look like, as I am working in them, they are still always clean anyway -- and I also buy classic styles so they also do me for many many years till they are worn out -- I am not into having to have the latest fashion -- I am always clean and tidy and well dressed when I go out.


    Tags: how to, clutter,

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