When it comes to cleaning, January is the new Spring. As we prepare to ring in the New Year, we begin to look at our lives in a new light — one that emphasizes all the junk we no longer need. The stress of disorganization is so real that it can seem unmanageable, but I assure you it’s not. Whether you’re dealing with disorder in your home or emotional baggage, these tips will help you declutter your entire life.
1. Buy this book
2. Make a list
This step is easier said than done – but it’s extremely healing. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start jotting down things, people, thoughts, hobbies, habits, roles, identities, and lifestyle choices that no longer serve you … then start crossing them out. When you feel your list is complete (you can always add to it later!), begin to actually remove these things from your life. If you scratched “the pink t-shirt I’ve had since high school” off your list, donate it or toss it in the trash. If you deleted “biting nails”, vow to never bite your nails again. This isn’t a simple task, and it certainly won’t be completed before the New Year. But that’s okay! Continue to check in with that sheet of paper throughout 2018, and keep the cleansing process rolling.
3. Maximize your space
If you’re anything like me, you can walk across your entire home in less than fifteen seconds. Understandably, people who reside in small spaces – or large spaces with large families – have a more difficult time decluttering, since even a few too many items makes your house look like an episode of Hoarders. Luckily, there are many creative ways to make use of limited space. Floating shelves are my personal favorite. They’re easy to install, and they utilize wall space that would otherwise go unused. Turning nooks and crannies and corners into organized storage areas is another sneaky way to stow away clutter and, ultimately, improve energy flow throughout your home!
4. Go cold turkey!
Some things are difficult to extract from your life. But others are simple! Part of decluttering is understanding the difference, showing compassion toward yourself and others, and prioritizing. If you’re struggling to cut an old friend out of your circle, for example, take it slow. In most cases, human beings cannot be dissected in one fell swoop – they have to be phased out. Objects and certain behaviours, on the other hand can – and should – be removed immediately. So give it a try! Identify a few aspects of your life that you can easily say goodbye to, and go cold turkey. Clean out your car, throw out all your socks that have holes in them, and make a firm commitment to stop eating dairy. Once you tackle all the “quick” tasks, you’ll have more space and time to do away with the more challenging ones.
5. Embrace change
I often have a difficult time letting things go because they once meant a great deal to me. I think this is a common reaction to decluttering, and therefore a very important one to address. One of my New Year’s resolutions, for instance, is to spend less time on social media. I know it’s an unhealthy habit, and it’s something that I need to remove from my life. It’s not “clutter”, per se, but it’s certainly contributing to a certain amount of unnecessary stress, and eating up a lot of my valuable time that could be better spent on things I truly love. In other words, it doesn’t bring me enough joy to justify holding onto it. But for some reason, I feel a deep-seeded resistance whenever I think about cutting back my precious Instagram time.
Upon digging a little deeper, it’s clear that the reason I’m struggling with this particular resolution is because I’ve put so much time and effort into posting great content and building my following. To remove it from my life would be equivalent to not watering a plant I grew from a seed – it feels inherently wrong. But part of decluttering is accepting that you can’t hold onto everything forever. In order to make room for growth in your life, you have to bid farewell to what no longer serves you – no matter how difficult it is.
6. Picture the other guy’s face
Donating is one of my favorite things to do. Selling your stuff online is a hassle, and the thought of a perfectly good sweater winding up in a landfill hurts my soul. Donating is the perfect solution that lets you declutter your life in the most compassionate way possible. It’s easier for you, it’s better for the environment, and it brings joy to others! If you’re having trouble parting with something, take a moment to picture the face of the lucky recipient who buys it at a second-hand store. He or she may get years of life and joy out of the object that you – admit it – just don’t feel anymore!
Meditation is mentioned in nearly every single blog that I post… for good reason. This practice is so unbelievably therapeutic, and absolutely crucial (in my opinion) during the process of decluttering. Let’s face it – cleaning and organizing is an emotionally taxing process that requires a clean bill of health and a stable mindset. Making modifications to your life – no matter how small – starts to weigh on you after a while, and meditating can help lift that burden. On an emotional level, meditation can help you reach the conclusion that less is more, and release any lingering negativity.
The act of sitting and breathing will also help you decide what to get rid of and what to hold onto by opening your mind and helping you see more clearly. Start by sitting in the middle of your living room with your eyes closed. Take a few deep, abdominal breaths. Feel your shoulders drop away from the ears, and soften the muscles of your face. After ten inhales and exhales, slowly open your eyes. Mindfully scan the room, paying attention to the emotions you intuitively attach to every item. You might notice that certain things instil a bad feeling in your gut. If that’s the case, get rid of them.
8. Escape the mundane
Decluttering is exciting – but it can also be very dull. Add some pizazz to the process by finding a unique method of decluttering that gets your engine revving! In his article on creative ways to declutter, minimalist Joshua Becker lists innovative ways to declutter your space. Give away one item each day, try the Oprah Winfrey Closet hanging experiment or challenge yourself to fill an entire garbage bag full of things you no longer need.
Keep in mind that decluttering wouldn’t be healing if it wasn’t a challenge. Use these points as a guideline, embrace the struggle, and think about how fantastic you’ll feel once it’s all said and done!