Decluttering is hard.
Let me rephrase. Giving yourself permission to declutter is hard.
The general American society has an attachment to their stuff.
Inherited stuff. Received-As-A-Present stuff. Thought-You-Could-Use-This stuff. Thought-I-Wanted-This stuff. If-I-Only-Ordered-The-Part-It-Would-Work stuff. If-I-Was-A-Different-Person-I-Would-Use-This stuff. I-Paid-Hard-Earned-Money-For-This stuff.
I used to live in the home of stuff. I had stuff-paralysis. I was afraid to throw anything away because what would happen if I ever needed it…wouldn’t it be wasteful to buy it again? What if I just lost 10 lbs, then those jeans would fit? I could learn to like steamed vegetables, so the food steamer we received as a wedding present won’t go to waste. My Great-Grandma worked hard on that sewing machine, and even though I don’t sew or have any desire to sew, I should keep it because it was given to me by my Grandmother.
And those emotions about stuff, made me keep stuff (and clean it, maintain it, find a storage place for it) that I no longer needed, wanted or had a desire to use. Until I was drowning in stuff…and decided to make a change.
Decluttering a freeing process. It allows the old to be removed. And after completion, you are now surrounded with open space. Open space helps our psyche, makes us not feel controlled, and give us peace that “things” are not the way to happiness.
But decluttering is a process. So start easy (aka NOT with Great Aunt Edna’s tea-towels that were given to you by your Grandmother), but on items that you have no emotional attachment. Items that are utilitarian. Things that are just things. The stuff.
So here is a list of 16 ways of how to declutter your house. Each activity should take under five minutes to complete, but you will notice the effect instantly in your house and workspace.
How To Declutter Your House – In Less than Five Minutes
1. Magazines. Put all of your magazines in one place. Pick out any that are over six months old. Throw away. (Seriously, just do it. Whatever in those magazines is either out of season, date, or style.) Pick out any that are from the current month. Set aside. With the remaining magazines, decide why you are keeping them. If you haven’t read them yet, throw them away and make a note to cancel the subscription. If there is a recipe or article you wanted to keep, cut it out and place in a three-ring binder. Place the final cut of magazines in a small basket and promise yourself you will NEVER have more magazines than the basket can keep.
2. Extra Wire-Dry Clean Hangers that are not in use. Recycle them in either your curbside recycling or take to your local cleaners. Most likely your closet is filled with these and they shouldn’t be. Dry-cleaner hangers are harmful on your clothes and further more, they are the LAST ones anyone chooses to hang up their clothes and they make your closet look disorganized.
3. Socks with no match. If you have done over 10 loads of laundry and have not found the match…your chances are 1 in a 100 that it is going to show up. Throw them away and make your laundry area clutter free.
4. Candles with no wax (or very little). Either burn the candle up or throw it away, because right now the only thing it is doing is collecting dust and sitting on your counter. Besides, most candles lose their scent after being burned 75% or more.
5. Pens and Markers with no ink. Crayons that are broken. Pencils without erasers. What’s the point of keeping of pen or marker with no or little ink? No one wants to use it. It gets picked up. Then the person who picked it up is frustrated because it’s worthless for coloring or writing. So it gets thrown back into the box and process is repeated. Same with crayons that are broken. Life is too short to color with broken crayons. Throw the old stuff away.
6. Dead batteries. If the battery didn’t work in your daughter’s toy, it isn’t going to magically work in your remote control. The “old days” of items using different amounts of “charge” are gone. If it doesn’t work…it doesn’t work.
7. Old hairbrushes, old makeup, and old cosmetics. Have you used the item in the last six months? If the answer is no, throw it away. Cosmetics and makeup begin to fade after three months…so the amazing lipstick you bought last year may have completely changed in color and consistency if you wear it today. And any perfume that you haven’t worn in the last year…it needs to go too.
8. Random mugs. People love to give coffee mugs….for gifts, as a thank you, as a advertising platform. No kitchen needs more six mugs (unless you are a huge family). Pick out your favorite six and throw or give the rest away.
9. Old spices. (And not the hunky man kind.) Go through your spice rack and throw away anything past it’s expiration date. Spices lose their flavor quickly (especially when they aren’t stored in the right way). And if you haven’t used it by the expiration date, most likely you purchased it for some special recipe that wasn’t that good.
10. Unidentifiable chargers. If you have no idea what the charger belongs to, throw it away. Technology is constantly changing, so the charger to your Palm Pilot (circa 2000) most likely won’t come back into fashion.
11. Food Storage Containers Without Lids or Badly Stained. Can you really store anything in a container without a lid? Also, the quality of plastic used five years ago is different than today. If you have stained or scorched plastic storage containers, please throw them away. Most likely they are releasing “chemicals” every time they are being used. Being healthy is worth new tupperware.
12. Old florist vases. How many fresh flowers do you get a week anyway? Enough to keep twelve vases? Keep your three favorites and recycle the rest. And don’t try to sell them at a garage sale…everyone does that…and none of them sell.
13. Broken stuff. Broken hairdryers, curling irons, vacuums, mixers, umbrellas, space heaters, blenders, toasters, etc. Unfortunately, in the current day in age, it is cheaper to purchase a new item than it is to get an old item fixed. That appliance might have been expensive and had a good life, but if you didn’t instantly get it fixed, most likely you never will. Thank it for it’s good work and throw it away.
14. Any underwear or socks with a hole in it. I’m not even going to go into the reasons why…just because it needs to be done. Period.
15. Sheets for beds you no longer have. My kids started in a crib. Then had a twin bed. And are now in queen/full beds. Is there any reason to keep crib or twin sheets in our house? No. None. Donate them. And make space in your linen closet.
16. VHS Videos. Do you still have a working VHS player? If the answer is yes, then keep them. If the answer is no, then it is time to throw them away or donate them.
Remember, part of the process of decluttering is giving yourself permission to release the items from your house. In the case of every item above, you should not worry about the emotional attachment. They are impersonal things that have served their purpose and now it is time for them to be discarded. You might be surprised after you get through this list, what other items you find.
What are some trouble spots in your house for clutter? Leave a comment. Someone might have a solution for it.