A guide to decluttering your life

New year = fresh start, no? It often feels like the best time to release and begin again. Sometimes, all the things we own can start to feel slightly overwhelming. The start of a new year prompts us to introspect and take a long hard look at our lives. What better time than to read a quick guide to decluttering your life?

But you don’t know where to start and feel like you want to live with less, it can feel like there’s too much information around.

Now, there are a few ways to “get rid” of your stuff, from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to reading Goodbye Things: The New Minimalism. I personally don’t adhere to any of those principles or movements, but they are good to have a look at.

Figure out why you want to declutter

Before you even start tackling your wardrobe, bookshelf or house: sit down and think about why you want to do this in the first place. Sounds pretty silly to do? Well, it helps to have a purpose otherwise you’re likely to undo your progress within six months. Whether you’re moving, want to live with less or have a lifestyle change there’s plenty of reasons to start the process. There’s no judgment here, just find the motivation you need to begin this in your life.

Start slowly

The urge to declutter might be strong, but you’ll be overwhelmed if you do everything all at once. Feeling smothered and panicked usually leads to it not happening at all.  I’ve followed a few 30-day minimalism challenges, from YouTubers like Pick Up Limes to Rachel Aust.

Pro-tip: You don’t have to stick to 30 days either, you can tackle whatever aspect when you need to.

How I declutter

  • Choose a particular section to start with (jackets, coats, shoes, books etc)
  • Take everything out of that particular section (wardrobe/bookshelf/linen cupboards)
  • Create four piles (donate, keep, maybe, throw out)
  • Sort your stuff out and be realistic (not just ruthless). You have to think about whether you’ll genuinely wear or use an item. If you’re keeping clothes that no longer fit, seriously consider whether they will fit anytime soon. I can guarantee if you packed that item away for six months, you probably wouldn’t even know it was gone.
  • Repack the items you’re keeping neatly. Put the “maybe” items in storage and revisit in three months or so. Put the donations in a bag (and get rid of them as soon as possible). The throw-away pile might be able to be repurposed as cleaning cloths or something else useful. Save the earth 2k18.
  • And you’re done!

Stick to it

Once you’ve decided to move forward with this whole process, dedicate time to regularly decluttering and stick to it. I’ve personally felt like decluttering helps clear my mind, my space and helps me focus on what I really need.  It’s also good to revisit why you bought certain items or things – chances are you won’t really remember why.

If you can, is there a pattern with your shopping habits?

Do you purchase things when you’re sad/happy/upset?

There’s nothing wrong with retail therapy, but it’s not great when you end up with a bunch of things you don’t use or need. This might prompt you to try out a low-buy year or even do a shopping ban for a period of time.

Donate responsibly

You’ve followed the 30 day challenges, cleared out your wardrobe and your cupboard looks great. Please consider donating your items to a shelter, host a clothing swap or give your unworn items to your friends.

If you live in Cape Town, I’ve put together a guide to where you can donate clothes, books and more.

I hope this helps!

x A

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