Declutter Like You Mean It

Is anybody else in major decluttering mode? With shiny new Christmas gifts in focus, and a fresh new year around the corner, a lot of people are getting the urge to purge before the sun sets on 2018.
succi (1)A spiritual friend of mine once explained to me that it’s important to keep our spaces clean and free of dust, because when things are cluttered and dust settles, it means energy isn’t able to properly flow through a space. I definitely feel that – for me, a cluttered space is a cluttered mind. There is something so calming about going into a house where there are minimal items but everything that is there is beautiful and chosen with love or for a purpose, and has a place where it belongs.
I personally want my house to have beautiful vintage furniture, life giving plants, books that I love and only the clothes, practical items and notebooks that I really need and use. I think the less things you have, the more grateful you are for them and the more you actually use them. It makes your day more efficient and productive and really can make you happier.

The best resource I have come across for learning how to declutter properly is a little book called ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo. I listened to the audiobook version and it made it a lot easier for me to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. The biggest lesson I gained from this book, is to only keep things in your house that bring you JOY. The ‘KonMari method’ basically goes like this:
  • Work through one category at a time – not one room at a time. Categories might include Books, Clothing, Toiletries, Cosmetics, Decor, Papers, Sentimental items, Photos.
  • Start with the easiest category (eg. Books) and work through to the hardest category (eg. Photos). Gather every book in the house into one place.
  • Sort everything in that category into subcategories.
  • Hold each item in your hand one by one and ask yourself, ‘does this bring me joy?’ Notice how you feel when you look at this item. Switching to this focus will totally change how you look at your belongings, and enable you to get rid of way more stuff than you thought possible! All those hand me down clothes, gifts you never liked, cables that you don’t know wtf they are for – they can go. The trap of usual methods of decluttering sometimes means you will just ‘organise’ everything you own instead of getting rid of it. The goal here is to pretty much halve your belongings. Some things won’t directly bring you joy but serve a practical purpose that indirectly brings joy, eg. cleaning items. You can keep those.
  • Discard everything that doesn’t make you happy.
  • For each item you kept, choose a place for it to belong.
  • Repeat for each category.
The book goes through how to deal with tricky categories like gifts, sentimental items, photos, things that cost you a fortune, study notes (my biggest problem) and everything else in your house. According to Kondo, who specialises in tidying and decluttering, this entire process could take up to 6 months for some people (eg. if you have a family home) but the sooner you complete it the better. 
I started on this process a few months back and have picked it up again in spurts when I’m in the mood (like now!) and I am pretty close to refining everything down to just the right amount of belongings for me. I’ve found that for the areas that I completed decluttering, I haven’t accumulated any more unnecessary items and I haven’t missed anything that I got rid of. I like to burn incense while I declutter, for the cleansing vibes, but I find I can’t listen to music or podcasts during because I need to focus! It’s also important to take breaks and be careful of how you’re sitting while you sort things out so you don’t hurt your neck or shoulders.
To fully complete the process, I’ll need to:
  • Discard some items responsibly at the tip or charity stores (electrical goods, books, other things I didn’t want to throw out).
  • Sell some bigger items that I’ve tired of or don’t have the time for (bedroom furniture, bike).
  • Repair some items I love but that need mending so I can use them (clothes with broken zippers, vintage couch needs reupholstering, NutriBullet needs a new cup).
  • Buy some good quality, carefully chosen new items that I will love, to replace the things that I do need but really needed to refresh (bedroom furniture, linen, clothing), or to add a touch of organisation.
  • Write a lot of blogs to get some of my health knowledge gems off paper (so I can ditch it) and out to the people! (I have been health obsessed for about 15 years and that adds up to a LOT of paper notes I’m hesitant to part with. Kondo says you can throw out basically ALL papers (eek!) so I’m working on digital copies.

If you have loads of things to get rid of, it might be best to have a big garage sale or carboot sale, or put it on Gumtree or Facebook. My preference is to donate most things because it feels so good to just get rid of them, and also it actually feels great to donate something you know cost you $250 but you never really liked – because now someone else will get an amazing bargain and that item will be loved.

Going forward, if you have a pristine space with only things you love, you’ll be much more particular about what you allow into your home. I think the rule of quality over quantity definitely applies to furniture, clothing and linens, especially in our current environmental situation. Cheap fabrics and disposable fashions are poisoning the planet and are also just super annoying to own because they’ll stop bringing you joy as soon as they start fading and stretching or breaking. There are many great eco conscious fashion, jewellery and furniture companies out there now to choose from and many will customise a piece just for you that you will bring you joy for a lifetime.

Hopefully this inspires you to get tidying and give your space some fresh energy! Leave me your tips below. x

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