If you are wondering why in the world I’m writing a post on decluttering your home, let me first clarify: this blog has not gone Martha Stewart! As unintuitive as it might be, our homes play a very important role in the process of our personal growth. Why is that the case?
In one of my earlier posts on creating an inspirational room, I mentioned 3 reasons why it’s important to put attention into how your room looks/feels like:
- You spend a large amount of your time there
- It’s where a lot of your thinking and decision making take place
- It has personal, emotional significance.
These 3 reasons ladder up to 1 thing – the effect your environment has on you. Your environment and you have an interlinked inside-out, outside-in relationship. Inside-out, meaning who you are as a person manifests itself in how your room/home looks like. Outside-in, because how your room/home looks like affects the way you think and feel. Both reinforce each other. Change one thing, and the other will change as a result.
For that reason, decluttering your home is one of the first steps to creating an organized, positive life. If you want to be organized, it’s hard to think/feel organized if your own home isn’t tidy to begin with. Imagine waking up to an untidy, cluttered place every day. Or coming home after a long-day to a messy place. How will you feel? Chances are, it’s not going to make you feel good. You are probably going to feel a little bothered by the clutter. Even if you do not consciously pay attention or feel bothered by it, on a subconscious level, your mind is taking in stimuli of clutter. These subsequently affect how you think and feel.
Decluttering your home also means a) purging of junk which you don’t need b) stuff is kept in its rightful places c) you have an easier time finding things you need. This goes a long way in helping you be more productive!
Decluttering My Home
There used to be a lot of clutter in my house. It was normal for my living room to have magazines and newspapers strewn everywhere. The toilets had a lot of random haircare/skincare products, many of which were half-used and not touched for a while. The storeroom had a lot of junk. My room had stuff from way back when I was in primary school. My wardrobe was over-packed with old and new clothes alike.
At first, I didn’t pay much heed to decluttering because the effects of my occasional decluttering sessions never lasted. After each session, the clutter would just pile back on. I thought it was a waste of time to keep doing it again and again.
Yet after a while, I realized my environment would affect the thoughts I had in my mind. Because it was often untidy, I would feel disorganized and mentally cluttered too. What’s more, I felt subconsciously repelled by my own home – I wasn’t keen with the idea of inviting friends over. After all, it wasn’t exactly the type of homely environment I envisioned.
So last year after I quit my job, I took the opportunity to turn the place around and tidy everything up. My parents probably felt bizarre when I suddenly turned stepford wife for that one week! At the end of it, I felt really good from the overhaul. Besides being just a physical decluttering process, it was also a form of mental, emotional and spiritual decluttering too.
How to Declutter Your Home
Here are my 8 recommended steps on how to declutter your home. These steps will work perfectly for any place such as your office too:
1. Plan it in your schedule.
Clutter clearing can easily take up hours if you have a huge amount of clutter to clear out. My massive decluttering took me a whole week! Set aside time in your schedule and segment the task into different parts. For example, set aside X amount of hours for your wardrobe, followed by your bedroom, then your storage room, and so on.
When I decluttered my house, I broke it down into phases: first with my room (it was already in shape after the big revamp in 2007, so it was more about upkeeping it), the living room, followed by the kitchen, then my parents’ room, the washrooms, and finally the storage room. This made the whole task much more manageable.
2. Enroll the help of someone.
Many hands make light work. If it’s possible, get a family member or a friend to help out. This can be a very tedious task, especially if you have not been doing it for very long. There were times when I had to shift the furniture around and it was much easier with my Dad and brother around to help out. Besides that, it’s much more fun to be doing it with others than alone.
3. Start with a small area.
If there’s too many things to clear and you are not sure where to begin, start off with a manageable spot. If it’s your room, start off with your table. If it’s your wardrobe, pick one of the smaller compartments. Before you know it, you will be done with the area and you are ready to the next.
4. Let go of things you have no use for.
In the past, my default action was to keep something just in case I needed it in the future. Over the years, it just resulted in a huge pile of junk. Not only that, I never had an occasion where I needed that thing. Now, my principle is to ask – ‘Am I going to need this in the foreseeable future?’ If the answer is no, I’ll throw it away. A lot of clutter comes from keeping things that you think you’ll use, but never do in the end.
Whenever I declutter, I will use a huge garbage bag to dump everything I don’t want. It makes it much simpler to discard stuff. You might want to try it for yourself too.
5. Finish clearing first, then organize.
Some people try to clear clutter AND organize at the same time. Personally, I feel that this isn’t very effective. I prefer is to finish clearing the clutter first (within the area), then organize the stuff inside. It’s much easier to arrange when you know what are all the things that need to be sorted. Not only that, it can be both mentally and physically disruptive to change back and forth between ‘clearing’ and ‘organizing’.
6. Make use of effective furniture and tools.
Filing systems, storage boxes, magazine files and multi-compartment wardrobes are just some of the many great tools to help you organize your stuff. Ikea is well-known for having many furniture and accessories which streamlines organization. I particularly am a big fan of storage boxes – they provide an easy avenue to pack things in a compact manner, and the boxes fit perfectly under the bed.
7. Designate spots for common items.
I have fixed spots around my room to put commonly accessed items – such as my mobile phone, necklaces, accessories, bags and so on. These items are placed in their respective spots every time, which eliminates the need to go into a mad search for them before I leave the house each time.
8. Schedule a regular clutter-clearing session.
After you finish clearing out the clutter, schedule a quick 30 minutes session every week as a form of maintenance. your home and weed out whatever clutter has gathered in the past week. With continuous maintenance, you will get to reap the benefits of a clutter-free home.
Once you are done clearing your clutter, you might want to move to creating an inspirational home environment, which you can read in my guide on how to create an inspiring room.