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So, you just stepped into your home and asked:
“Did a bomb just turn off?”
Well, at least that’s how I felt…
For months, I was bothered by all the junk I accumulated over the years. I had no idea how I stacked a pile of clothes, papers, mail, pencils, pens, Bath ‘n Body soap wash, etc. – you name it.
A collection of that stuff can really sap the energy from your rooms.
As we know, owning less and living a simple life provides enormous benefits. Those benefits include less cleaning and organizing, less debt, less stress, more productivity, more money, and more time to pursue your passions.
With that said, I got serious about decluttering and owning less.
After a week’s worth of cleaning and organizing, I finally felt a sense of freedom.
Now I have more energy to concentrate on things that matter to me. That would be blogging, refurbishing furniture, and focusing on growing my net worth.
(Not to mention, I also feel better about inviting people over now.)
What about you?
If you’re in the same boat, then it’s time for you to clear your mess!
It makes reference to Darcey Rojas, a healthy home designer, who mentioned “A clutter-free environment allows you to perform tasks of daily living more efficiently because everything you need is readily available and within reach,” and she also adds that it leads to healthier habits.
On top of that, decluttering frees your mind. It helps you stay focused and concentrated on what you’re doing.
According to a research study from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, clutter can negatively impact your brain’s ability to focus and process information.
For example, take a look at the image below.
Put into similar perspective, you can’t ignore this, like the same way you can’t ignore a kid who cries.
In other words, the clutter [like the crying kid] is an eyesore and becomes visually distracting. This distraction eventually causes us to lose focus on our tasks.
Start decluttering and de-owning!
Now that you know clutter affects your productivity, are you ready to tackle your rooms?
Not sure where to start?
Don’t worry, I can help! 🙋
But before you dispose of anything, think about what you can recycle or donate.
Or if you’re looking to build an emergency fund, you can host a yard sale and earn some cash back.
As you all know, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Generally, it’s perfectly fine if you prefer to declutter based on sections and rooms of your home. But personally, I find decluttering by category (i.e. papers, mail, toys, clothes, etc.) more efficient.
At the end, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Let’s get organized first.
Start off by labeling your bins as a guide:
Keep – things that you use frequently. They add value to your life almost every day.
Sell – new or lightly used items that no longer serve a purpose, but can get you a decent amount of cash back.
Donate – items that are lightly used (or in good to fair condition), but no longer serve a purpose. Not to mention, it’s not worth your effort to sell them.
Disposal of – accumulated notes, letters, and documents. This list also includes items that cannot be brought back to life such as your obsolete electronics and broken furniture.
Sentimental – you’ll know the things you can’t seem to let go of, but don’t worry, I’ll help you get through as you read on.
So, what are you waiting for?
Start off by ditching the stuff you can easily part with.
1) Credit card and bank statements
To make life easy, opt for paperless billing. Automating and reviewing everything online improves your efficiency.
2) Old receipts
I generally accumulate receipts without realizing, in case of a price adjustment, exchange, or refund. But once expiry date is up, it’s time to throw out.
3) Newspapers and magazines
Get your recycling bins ready here!
Not to mention, it’s also a great habit to keep recycling paper as they come in, because you’ll avoid a build-up of clutter.
4) Old textbooks and school notes
Eliminate old notes, assignments, and exams. If you have old textbooks lying around, sell or donate them.
5) Books, DVDs, CDs, and vintage tapes
Did you buy a lot of books but never had the chance to read them?
Thought about re-reading some of them?
Chances are you won’t, so sell them or donate them.
The same applies to your DVD and CD collection. If you accumulated those vintage cassettes and VHS tapes from the early 90s, it’s time to let it go!
6) Electronic, cords, USBs, and cell phone chargers
Raise your hands if you’re guilty for buying because it was “on sale” for really cheap?
Thought they’d come in handy for the future, huh?
Keep one or two as a spare, but say bye bye to the rest!
7) A collection of cream, face wash, makeup, and cologne/perfume
You probably accumulated a collection from your family, friends, and coworkers as Christmas gifts. If they’ve been sitting in your bathroom unused for over a year, it’s time to toss them out.
Likewise, if you have sealed and unexpired makeup, you can sell them to get some cash back.
8) A collection of unused stationary (school supplies)
I admit it.
I’m was a victim to buying and hoarding “cute” stationary (especially the ones from Japan), but thankfully I stopped a few years ago.
Why do humans hoard?
Honestly, I was never able to let go of my collection of school supplies, but fortunately, my mindset changed when I stumbled upon an article explaining why humans have trouble getting rid of clutter.
After reading this, I became less emotionally attached to stuff.
To share some insight, here’s what I learned.
It was mentioned that humans feel more pain from “losing” than pleasure from gaining. Psychologists term this the “loss aversion” effect.
This irrational behavior explains how we feel because our minds go something like this:
“OMG, I can’t lose those cute pens. I’ve had them since college and I paid so much for them!”
How to overcome the feeling of loss:
To overcome the feeling of loss, I viewed my collection of stuff as a sunk cost. In economics, it means that the costs cannot be recovered. As a result, it should not influence your current or future [investment] decisions.
Put differently, you’re worse off keeping the stuff because it will eventually own you, instead of you owning it.
With that said, you’re far off better tossing it than to invest more of your time keeping it, for the sake of keeping it!
Let it go!
Before letting go, ask yourself these questions:
Will I use it today?
Does it add value to my life at the moment?
If I did not have this, would I go out to purchase it now?
Again, it does not matter how much you paid in the past. The build-up of stuff will eventually control your life and become a burden. As a result, hindering your mental health and productivity.
Going back to my school supplies, after thinking this through, I was selective and kept only my favorites.
After donating the rest, my study room has become more organized than ever! It’s now easy for me to navigate my drawers to look for things.
At the end, the secret comes down to applying the “sunk cost” theory. It will help you make rational decisions. This especially holds true when you’re sorting out your clothes, the next item of things you should clear!
This includes underwear, boxers, bras, belts, shoes and any accessories. If it’s worn out, then it’s time to say goodbye!
If you have gently used, or new with tags (NWT) clothes, consider selling them for cash. That’s what I did, and you’ll be surprised how much it adds up!
Based on my experience, clothing in “good” condition goes faster only when you sell them in lots. For example, I sold three Aritzia skirts for $25 instead of $10-$12 each.
Keep in mind that you will have to lower your expectations for items when they’re in “good” condition compared to when they’re NWT or new.
Lastly, items that have signs of wearing, rips, or holes can be tossed. But check to see if your community wants them because they can be used for crafts or projects.
I recommend the Freecycle: Trash Nothing! app. With this platform, you can post items that you want to give away. Alternatively, if you have a lot to donate, make a trip to your closest thrift shop.
10) A collection of mason jars
Idk about you, but I tend to be a hoarder of mason jars.
I see soooo many Pinterest craft ideas on these cute little bad boys! But needless to say, we don’t really need that many, now do we?
Unless you’re a DIY crafter on YouTube, or you craft for extra income, then I don’t see a point in hoarding these jars.
If your jars have been sitting in those cabinets for years, chances are they’ll be there forever, so make an effort to chuck them out.
Now that the easy-to-toss stuff is out of the way, let’s help you get through with the sentimental items that you just can’t seem to part with.
The KonMari Method
In the search for help, I stumbled upon a few blogs and articles that talked the KonMari method of decluttering.
One great advice that I learned is to determine whether the item “sparks joy” when you hold it. If it not, then it’s time to say sayōnara!
Surprisingly, this method worked out really well for me!
11) Old postal and greeting cards
I decided to only keep the birthday, anniversary, and Christmas cards from my boyfriend. Using the KonMari method, these are the only cards that truly spark joy and warm my heart when I look back at them.
As for the rest, I recycled them. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them (I do), but the messages were nothing more than a simple “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas” from friends, family, and coworkers.
Believe me. They won’t even remember which cards they wrote you, so don’t feel guilty about it!
But, if you absolutely cannot live without them (because they’re just so special), consider creating a collage and hang it on the wall. On top of that, a fun idea would be creating a scrapbook of memories.
Again, as you’re sorting through your pile of cards, stay focused with your main goal – that is, to declutter and free up your space!
12) Other sentimental items
Here comes the hardest part.
It could be that blanket your grandmother knitted for you when you were four years old. Or maybe it’s that expensive graphing calculator your dad worked so hard for to buy you, because it was required at school. It could also be that first Lego set from your grandpa when you were six.
Yes, yes… not surprisingly, the list goes on.
Whatever it is, it’s time to say bye to some of it.
To put things into perspective for you…
At this rate, you won’t be able to make space for the new and awesome things!
This is where you need to ask yourself “does it spark joy?”
I admit I held onto a lot of things that I felt attached to, but only a few sparked joy when I held onto them (you’ll know what I mean). That said, I only kept those few.
A lot of the sentimental stuff triggered happy memories, but to be very honest, I forgot about them until I saw them again. As the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind.
But to hang onto those memories, I followed the KonMari method:
– took pictures of them
– thanked the item for serving me a purpose in the past
– waved it goodbye
As a result, it felt great! Not to mention, I felt completely guilt free as well!
For the parents out there, it’s similar to that feeling when your kids graduate from college and move out.
At the end of the day, you just gotta learn to let go and move on!
Try it out yourself. Don’t forget to show gratitude before sending him off.
It’s been a week and it feels great!
Overall, I can finally breathe again.
My rooms are clutter free and organized. It’s easy to navigate through my wardrobe because there are fewer items. Now I won’t be wasting mental energy or time deciding what to wear each day. Not to mention, it’s easy to mix and match outfits because there’s fewer to choose from.
In addition to an organized wardrobe, I’m no longer walking into a study room with an explosion of stationary in front me. In fact, I refurbished a filing cabinet that provides great functionality for the stuff I kept.
Over to you
Well, that was my decluttering session – a hectic week, but well worth it!
It’s your turn now. Tell us all about your decluttering journey.
I hope this inspires you to get started 🙂
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