Is it time to declutter?


Are you at the stage of your life when you are starting to shed possessions and declutter?

It seems we spend decades getting enough ‘stuff’ together to get through all life stages.

Stuff for children, stuff for the house, stuff for the garden. It just seems a steady progression until at some point, you have too much and it’s time to sort it all out.

Whether that’s because you are downsizing, the kids have moved out or you are sorting out a relative’s house, decluttering can be a mammoth task.

Here are a few tips to get you started and some advice from an expert.

Steady as she goes

Don’t take on too much. Imagining you are going to declutter the whole house in a week is, frankly, a fantasy.

Set doable goals such as a day for the pantry and a week for a study.

And if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, just stop. Coming back in an hour or even a week will clear your mind and hone your decision-making.

Rule of three

Start three piles: keep, donate and throw away.

This immediately simplifies the process. This is also a good task to do with an uninvested companion. Sometimes you just need a second opinion on that manky poncho you bought in Mexico two decades ago on a trip of a lifetime. My tip: it needs to go.

And donation doesn’t necessarily mean off to the op shop. Your local Facebook buy/swap/sell group is a great resource to get rid of your stuff.

Facebook marketplace is another terrific option and it’s easy to use. I offered a toy box and decorative shelf for free and they were gone in the hour.

Picture this

Take before and after photos. When you see the finished project it will motivate you to keep going.

Away with you

If you have made a donate-and-throw pile, don’t let them hang around. It’s a demotivator to have piles of bags hanging around your hall or cluttering your car for weeks.

Make a solid plan to head off to the op shop. My tip is to wait until a Tuesday. Op shops are usually overwhelmed with donations on a Monday as people put the weekend to good use.

To some it’s old clothes, but this vintage coat would be a thrilling find for a collector. Photo courtesy of Lissane Oliver.

Pay someone

If you are too emotionally invested, finding it too hard or just simply overwhelmed by the task ahead, there are plenty of professional declutterers out there.

Lissanne Oliver founder of SORTED! says it’s not a job you should leave to the last minute.

“It can seem like the easiest option to hire a skip and turf everything in, but this can have negative implications for family members,” Ms Oliver says.

“Especially with deceased estates, the emotional load can be overwhelming but calling in an expert you can make sure that important items are located and distributed to loved ones and valuable objects are recovered, possibly sold or donated to make the biggest social impact.”

And besides, if you rush, you may miss something precious.

“It’s common to uncover treasures that have been feared lost,” Ms Oliver says. 

“I get really excited when I find important family belongings that can really tell a story.”

“It can be so easy to lose valuable family treasures in the rush to ‘finish the job’.” 

Have you decluttered? Did you discover a few processes to make it easier along the way? Why not share you tips in the comments section below?

Also read: How long do pantry staples really stay fresh?

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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