You’re sick and tired of looking around at the clutter all over your home, right? And you are ready for some serious changes and want a drastic difference today, eh?
Box it all up.
Many people don’t want to commit to serious change immediately. In fact, they want to declutter but when they think about getting rid of an item, they think “What if I need it??”
So, try an experiment. Want to see what it’s like to live minimally? Box all your stuff up and put it in another room. See what minimal living will be like without a serious commitment.
Putting those extras aside for a time means that if the extreme isn’t for you, no worries- you can retrieve whatever you’ve been missing.
The Minimalists had a packing party where they boxed up everything and retrieve over the month only what was needed, leaving 80% of their belongings untouched. This method makes such an impact if you think you need to keep things ‘just in case’ you have need of them.
Be honest with a buddy
There isn’t anything that compares to being honest with someone when you are decluttering. Make a commitment with a friend to sort together each week: having to explain why you are keeping something to a friend can help you realize exactly what you are wanting when keeping an item.
Ask each other the tough questions:
- Why do you want to keep that?
- When are going to use it?
- Have you used it ever, if so, when? Does it make your life easier or add more work to your task?
- Does it help you achieve the life you are looking for in minimalism?
Set a limit
Most often it’s the extreme minimalists who pride themselves on only owning 100 items, or being able to fit all their belongings in a backpack.
That’s fine for a single person who works remotely and travels full time. But if you have a home and family setting a limit that extreme complicates your life instead of providing the freedom that minimalism is known for.
But setting a limit on items can be a useful tool when decluttering and help you focus on what is important.
When it’s time to declutter my children’s rooms, it’s hard for them to think “what do I want to get rid of?” and even using the KonMarie method, I have a couple of kids that say “everything sparks joy” so that doesn’t help.
I have found it helpful to say “You can keep 20 personal items.” This is their own personal stash of toys or things, not legos or sets of blocks/trains, etc. We rotate the sets of toys, so only one is played with at a time. And they have a designated area (basket/box) for their personal items.
You can use the same method when you work around the house:
- Determine how many glasses & coffee cups you use on a daily basis, for example, 2 parents, 3 kids = 2 coffee cups, 3 milk cups, 5 water glasses and now you know exactly what your family’s limit should be.
- Determine how many towels you use on a weekly basis, for example, 2 parents, 3 kids = 2 towels per person per week, so the limit will be 10 towels.
- Everything owned can be limited based on daily/weekly use. (Seasonal items can be stored in the garage, and limited on how consistently it’s used during the season.)
- Sentimental items can be limited to based on the size of a keepsake box, what you enjoy having displayed, etc.
Set a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly goal
Declutter gurus have been promoting decluttering challenges for years:
12-12-12: “A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house.” ~ Joshua Becker
365 things: Make a commitment and get rid of one thing every single day. If you are overwhelmed at the idea of getting rid of large amounts of items, finding one thing to put in the donation box each day feels much more feasible. Though 365 things aren’t going to make a drastic difference in your home, it’s a wonderful place to start and gets you thinking through what you keep in your home and why you have it, which is the biggest step in the whole process of embracing simplicity.
40 Bags 40 Days coincides with Lent, Ann Marie has a free printable, Facebook group and daily email e-course to help you stay focused and motivated through the challenge.
2019 in 2019 My own personal favorite, of course! 😂Getting rid of over 2k things a year for 5+ years made a tremendous impact on our home, taking me from chaos & clutter to minimalist. The kids loved marking little squares on the chart and we celebrated each big markers: 1000 things gone and we went out to ice cream.
The Minimalist Game The idea is to get rid of the same number of items as the day of the month. One the first day of the month, you get rid of one item, on the second day get rid of two items, on the third day, get rid of three items and continue the pattern through the end of the month, so on day 30 you get rid of thirty things. It’s encouraged that you find a friend who is willing to do the challenge with you so you have accountability.
Establish a routine
I can’t say it enough! If you don’t wash your dishes twice a day, you a missing out on minimalist living.
It doesn’t matter how little you have: if the house isn’t clean it will still feel cluttered and messy. You have to work on it every day, regularly. Put things away immediately.
Now, I know it’s hard to change- I’m not saying this is going to be easy and some people have to work at putting things away as you go. But here’s what this looks like:
- Have a sink full of soapy water as you cook dinner and put the dirty things in it as you cook.
- When you get done drinking your coffee, take it to the sink, rinse it out and put your cup in the dishwasher.
- After dinner, have the kids take their plate, rinse it and put it in the dishwasher.
- Finish loading and start the dishwasher before sitting down to relax.
- When the dryer rings, fold the clothes and put them away.
- When you bring the mail into the house, sort it over the trash/recycling and toss junk mail immediately
- When you are getting ready for bed, do a quick pick-up of the living spaces- but coats away, shoes on the shoe rack, etc.
- Have a weekly re-set where you put things where they belong, dust and clean the floors.
Focus is hard to learn, but it CAN be learned.
For me, I use rewards:
- Mark it out on my planner and give myself a sticker when it’s done.
- Have a checklist and put a checkmark with a pretty marker.
- Put up a wall calendar and cross the day off that your routines were completed (like Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” method.
- Give myself a gift when I’ve completed a full chart or a certain number of days in a row.
You know what motivates you. Use it!
Set the timer for 10-20 minutes and only allow yourself to work on one category, self, counter or pile.
Commit to one area of the house and fully declutter it before working on another space.
Invest in a course
There is a ton of free information on decluttering and you can absolutely do it on your own. But if you feel like you can’t keep the momentum going and you always start but never finish your decluttering goals, then investing in yourself is like finally grabbing a life preserver that someone tossed out to you. There is no need to struggle with trying to swim to the boat on your when you have someone can help pull you in!
When we invest in something, it’s a stronger commitment. We take it seriously. Think about it- how many free Kindle books do you have on your Kindle, but have never read them? I can tell you- I have at least 53. Why? I like free!! But the fact is when I buy a book for $14.97 I’m 100% more likely to read it.
When I wanted to get fit, I knew I could take a walk every day and lift weights, but it wasn’t until I invested in an exercise program that took me through a daily workout that I actually did what I’ve been intending to do for years.
There is no shame in this- some of us just need that extra push to accomplish what we want. It doesn’t matter how we accomplish it- what matters is that we do accomplish it! Want to get an overview of my methods? Click here to watch my free webinar and get a discount on my signature decluttering course.
- How to Experience Minimalism Before Going All-In
- The Success Formula for Decluttering
- Decluttering 101