Ok so you look around and you see clutter everywhere. You’re feeling overwhelmed and you have no idea what to do. Well, you’re in luck.
To start with, clutter is literally having too much stuff in a small space. It’s also a bunch of things you have lying around just sitting in a heaping mess. And clutter is the fact that you’re keeping things just because you might use them someday. Listen, someday typically means never.
Clutter can overwhelm us and make use feel stressed, depressed or it could even make use step back or distance ourselves from the clutter we see because we don’t want to deal with it. I know when I see clutter, I immediately get anxious. I start making piles that will eventually be brought to their respective rooms and go down a rabbit hole of organizing and cleaning.
When you think of clutter or the act of decluttering, you might immediately think of Marie Kondo. She’s the lady that encourages people to keep only the things that spark joy for you. I’ve read her first book and while her principles are great, they didn’t quite fit exactly for me. That’s why I came up with my own rules for decluttering.
I’m going to give you three (3) rules that I live and breathe by. They have evolved over time and are my tried and true rules when it comes to dealing with clutter. Here we go. . .
Rule # 1 – Say no to Duplicates, Within Reason
In your kitchen, how many spatulas do you have? If you are anything like I was, you probably have a few. When I started down this path of decluttering, I had 7 spatulas. SEVEN!!!!! Why do I really need seven spatulas? It could be because I may need them for those Summer parties or because I don’t want to dishes every day. The same would go for mixing bowls, wine glasses and even baking dishes.
What about the number of pens you have in your office? I think I had close to, if not over, 100 pens! I can really only use one at a time, so why did I need that many? Yes, I like to use colored pens in my planner for organization, but that might be around four or five pens. . .not 100!
The “within reason” part is because I want you to use your best judgement as to whether you need multiples. Having two to eight wine glasses might make sense for you if you like to entertain. And maybe having a bunch of party trays makes sense for those Summer parties. Only you can decide if having multiples of an item makes sense for you, but make sure you use reason and be rationale about your multiples.
Regardless of what area you’re working in, think about the items that you have multiples of and decide if you really need as many as you have. If not, throw out the old ones or donate the ones in good condition but you don’t want anymore.
Rule # 2 – The Six Month Rule
Let’s take a look into the future. You buy a dress for a wedding you have coming up, but COVID hits and throws a wrench in the newlyweds plans. The wedding gets cancelled and ultimately never gets rescheduled. A year goes by and you still have that fancy dress and no place to wear it because everything is shut down. Do you really want to keep it and have it take up space in your closet? Maybe. . .maybe not.
Here’s how this rule works. If you haven’t used an item or worn a piece of clothing in six (6) months, decide if it’s worth keeping or if selling it can help you make some extra money or if you’d rather just donate it because you don’t think you’ll use it. Think of the six months as seasons. Each seasons, you basically refresh your home by clearing out the old (and possibly getting something new).
The whole idea behind this rule is that it helps cut down on the excess and allows you to always be using things you like (or love). I started this rule the year my husband and I had six (6) weddings to go to in one Summer. A few of the weddings we attended that year were within our group of friends. I didn’t want to wear the same dress multiple times because there was a chance I would be in pictures from these weddings and be wearing the same dress. In the world of fashion, this is a big faux pas and while I’m not a fashionista, I still felt uncomfortable about it. I was able to wear the dress to a few of the events but at the end of the Summer, it went buh-bye because I knew I wouldn’t wear it again.
Although it sounds like this rule could make you spend a ton of money, it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to spend a ton of money with this rule, you just need to use your best judgement. Every January and every July, do a refresh and go through every space in your home. Refresh your kitchen tools, your wardrobe and your pantry and every other space in your home that needs an update.
Rule # 3 – No Purchases Without a Removal
This one seems simple, right? No purchase without a removal is fairly self explanatory. When you buy something new, get rid of something old. If you get a new pair of jeans, sell or donate an old one. If you buy a new coffee maker, throw away, sell or donate the old one.
I started this rule because of Rule # 1. I would buy something new because I wanted an updated version of my cardigan or because we didn’t have the exact kitchen tool needed. This would happen over and over again. And things would pile up. I’d end up with four black cardigans, multiple kitchen tools that were similar but would kind of do the same job and our cabinets would be overstuffed. It was just too much to handle. Every few months I would do a deep purge and get rid of tons of stuff. But ultimately, it would happen all over again.
So in came this rule. Ever since, it has been much easier to manage the amount of stuff in our house. Granted, there are times when I bend this rule a little bit – a black dress that’s tea length and sleeveless and another black dress that has 3/4 length sleeves and is a little shorter. They both can do the same thing but depending on the season, I may want to wear one versus another.
When you start to put this rule into place in your own life, go slow. It may take some time for you to ease into this one because you may need to declutter first. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t feel guilty if you cave and buy something new without removing something. It’s about gradual steps, not making changes cold turkey.
Now that you’ve heard my rules, and you’re starting to think about decluttering, what will you do with all the clutter you decide to remove? You have a few options – sell, donate, throw it away or give it as a gift. Depending on the condition of the item, how much it might be worth and whether someone you know needs it or not, the decision of what to do might change. Weigh your options and make the choice that works for you.
As we wrap up, I want to give you a challenge. Pick a day, choose the room or space you want to start with and make it happen! Once you start, you’ll get excited when you see results and want to keep going. Remember, decluttering never really ends. Just start, keep up with it and don’t give up. You’ve got this!