How to Declutter Your Life

declutter your lifeAre you overwhelmed by your possessions? A lot of people are. We go through life accumulating new things and rarely bother to take the time to cull old belongings. We keep things for sentimental reasons without considering their practicality, and it can be easy for things to get out of control.

The concept of decluttering has been around for a long time, but it has recently received a great deal of attention. It might seem like you don’t have the time to declutter, but here are some simple suggestions to get you started – and keep you going until everything in your house is in order.

Five Minutes

The first technique you can use to declutter is to dedicate five minutes at a time to the job. Five minutes might not seem like much, but in five minutes you can clear off a counter or desk, organize a cabinet, or separate the books on a shelf into piles to donate and keep. A five minute segment keeps the work feeling achievable, and it can even be fun for kids to participate. Set a timer and challenge them to sort through as many toys as they can.

Four Boxes

DeclutterIf you want to declutter your entire home, a good way to start is to put four boxes in each room. One box is for items that you want to keep; the second is for items you want to donate; the third is for items you want to trash; and the fourth is for items you want to recycle. Label each box clearly and sort items into them as you go. As you fill the boxes you can replace them with new ones. Items to keep can be put back in place when you’re ready, and the remaining boxes can be handled as needed.

The Rule of Three

Not everybody has time to take on a massive decluttering project. However, if you want to cull your belongings slowly, one good way to do it is to use the Rule of Three every time you clean a room. If you’re cleaning the kitchen, get rid of at least three things that you don’t use or need as you clean. The items can come from anywhere, and you can choose to sell, donate, recycle, or trash them – as long as you get them out of the house.

Donate Two

Let’s face it, most of us have clothes that we never wear, and yet we continue to buy new things. One way to combat the accumulation of unworn clothing is to use the buy one, donate two system. Every time you buy a new shirt (or pair of jeans, or purse, or whatever), donate two things that you don’t wear from your closet. You can narrow down your choices by asking a few key questions:

  • Have I worn this in the past six months? Unless it’s a seasonal item that you know you’ll wear soon, if the answer is no, get rid of it.
  • Does it fit me? If it doesn’t, it goes.
  • Is it stained, torn, or otherwise damaged? If it can’t be fixed, toss it.
  • Do I love it? Life’s too short to wear clothes you don’t like. If the answer is no and it’s in good condition, donate to someone who’ll love it.

This method can help you ensure that the only things in your wardrobe are things that you love and wear.

Ask One Question

The final technique you can use to help you declutter is to ask yourself one simple question about every object in your home: If I had the opportunity to buy this right now, would I do it? If the answer is no, you don’t need it. It might seem overly simple, but think about it. This question can help you get rid of clothes that don’t fit or are out of style, linens, outdated electronics, books and movies you didn’t like, and so on.

The key to decluttering is to be methodical about it. Instead of trying to do everything at once, take it one room at a time – and if you need to, one minute at a time. As long as you work steadily, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can declutter your entire life.

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