The parallel between one’s body and one’s home is an old one, but it is no less true today ― especially when it comes to dropping dead weight. Just as there is no universal way to diet, there is no single way to have a clutter-free home.
Nutritionists and professional organisers alike have developed thousands of unique systems to make body and home feel lighter and freer, and every person finds success with particular plans. Yet, when it comes to both dieting and decluttering, it seems that one method keeps that excess weight off longer and easier: slow and orderly change.
Like most people, you probably schedule a whirlwind cleaning and decluttering session for an entire weekend every six months or so, but the most efficient way to bust clutter is to deliberately alter your lifestyle. Here’s how you can remain clutter-free for longer by gradually adopting the minimalist lifestyle.
Today, the average American household contains more than 300,000 distinct items, and the vast majority of those remain in storage. It is easy to accumulate more and more possessions, but eventually, excess belongings become clutter. Though reorganising is often necessary no matter how much you own, the fact remains that organisation is merely the process of moving your clutter from one place to another. The things you keep in storage often cause more problems than they solve:
- They increase debt. Superfluous items necessitate additional purchases of storage space and organisational tools, like shelves and containers. By selling and donating your possessions, you could create a healthier personal cash flow.
- They perpetuate greed. Seeing your fortune amassed in various goods often makes you desire more-more-more. However, research shows that once you own something, you do not derive pleasure from it.
- They don’t help others. There are needy people who could make good use of the items you hold hostage in storage. Almost everything you own could be used by someone else, including your old boat.
Meanwhile, removing clutter and cleaning your home allows you to reflect on what is truly important in your life ― and it usually isn’t material possessions. While you handle each one of your prior purchases, you can reflect on how you came to own it and whether it provides any real value to you or your loved ones. Then, you can devote more of your funds to maintaining those items (or activities) you truly treasure.
Of course, de-owning isn’t something you do in a single impulsive episode. Ridding your home of un-necessities takes time, as you need to move slowly to change your mindset to one that requires less stuff. Moving too quickly will only change your living space without changing your thought process ― giving you more space to accumulate new possessions.
Eight weeks is perhaps the fastest possible transition between a cluttered home and an orderly one. Every day, you must tackle a specific space in your home, performing at most 30 minutes of cleaning and straightening as well as locating 10 items you no longer need. For example, during your first week, you may follow this plan to complete your kitchen:
- Day 1: Kitchen drawers with cooking utensils
- Day 2: Kitchen drawers with miscellaneous items
- Day 3: Kitchen cupboards with tableware
- Day 4: Kitchen cupboards with cookware
- Day 5: Kitchen linens
- Day 6: Kitchen bookshelf or desk
- Day 7: Any leftover kitchen spaces or items
While you work, you must seriously consider the value of the items you handle; ask yourself whether or not individual belongings are beautiful and useful enough to have for life. Often, the answer is “no.” Every week, you should collect your chosen unwanted items and donate them; allowing them to linger in your home for long will make you less likely to get rid of them. By the end of eight weeks, your home will be 400 possessions lighter, which is a remarkable feat.
“People spend a significant proportion of time searching for and retrieving misplaced items within the home – time spent searching is time that could be spent on other tasks.” Darryl Brunt, UK Sales & Marketing Director at Fellowes UK
Many people associate minimalism with the sparse, monotone living rooms seen in real estate ads, but true minimalism is simply a commitment to objects of worth and a dedicated elimination of everything else. After you shed the dead weight of your unnecessary possessions, you will feel free from your prior desire to participate in American consumption. When you lead a minimalist lifestyle, you will have more respect for yourself, your loved ones, and your belongings. Then, you will no longer have a cluttered home.
Find out how to get involved in National Clear Your Clutter Day 2017