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Top 15 Practical Ways to Declutter Your Home and Life!

I'm trying to live life as a minimalist, and I must say I'm really loving it. I've moved homes 5 times and am expecting to move some more.

Possessions are incidental in the journey toward reaching your full potential.

Possessions are incidental in the journey toward reaching your full potential.

Possessions Are Incidental

The focus and pursuit of minimalism is life: life desired, life enjoyed, life maximized. The possessions you have or don't have is not the real issue. Possessions are incidental in the journey toward reaching your full potential.

So, let's get you on your way to decluttering your home and your life with 15 practical ways to help you craft the life you want.

"The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't."

— Joshua Becker, author of "The Minimalist Home"

1. Skip sales and OP shops unless you have an actual shopping list.

Checking out sales and op shops when you don't actually need to buy anything spells big trouble. If window shopping is a spare time habit of yours, well, unless it's related to your work or business (like buy-and-sell trading), then it's time to stop the habit.

Aimless or purposeless shopping, whether in the grocery shop or department store, greatly puts you in harm's way because it can make you accumulate a heap of unnecessary items for all the wrong reasons, including:

  • It's interesting or new on the market.
  • You don't yet have one.
  • It's cheap and you can afford it.
  • The shop is clearing out and you may need one later.
Say NO to window shopping and unnecessary bargain hunts!

Say NO to window shopping and unnecessary bargain hunts!

2. Don't bring home what you don't have money, space, time, or energy for.

Perhaps you've personally experienced one of the following scenarios. They've happened to many of us.

  • You buy a home exercise machine you plan to use one day.
  • You buy something on sale with your credit card even when you know you don't have the money for it now or later.
  • You buy one more kitchen appliance with no spot to place it on.
  • You take appointments, schedules, and offer to do favors you don't have time and strength for.
  • You keep appearances with people you know you are not compatible with.
  • You maintain relationships you can't [or shouldn't] handle.

Refuse to let these happen again. Say NO to stuff you don't have money, space, time, or energy for.

3. Go for quality over quantity and choose what's multi-functional.

Be strategic with your purchases. Sometimes making an expensive investment is the better choice. Don't you think it's better to have one high-quality pair of shoes that can serve you a long time instead of multiple pairs that wear out quickly? Like with shoes, for instance. Won't you rather make space for one quality pair that is made of enduring materials {colors that don't fade, etc.) which you can confidently wear to the shop and to work, instead of keeping multiple pairs because one won't look good enough in your job uniform?

A foolproof decluttering hack is to invest in multi-functional items that can take the place of multiple pieces of equipment or wear. For some ideas:

  • Multi-cookers can clear your kitchen counters. No need to buy a separate rice cooker, bread maker, steamer, and more.
  • Barista coffee brewer machines can now come with a built-in grinder and frother. No need to set up different appliances for that.
  • Multi-Food processors can now juice, chop, slice, and blend ingredients.
  • All-in-One printers can scan, copy, print, and transmit documents.
  • Compact home gyms can provide a variety of workouts and reps.
  • Classic colors, cuts, and designs are multi-functional. Choose them in shoes, clothes, jackets, belts as they are easy to pair. It's good to be color-coordinated but if you're scaling down; keep multi-functional colors to maximize their use. Making this choice can really shrink your wardrobe clutter.

4. Reduce before you organize.

Organized clutter is still clutter. And life is easier, simpler, and more free when you have less stuff to organize. Imagine all the time you'd be freeing yourself to doing instead of laboring to organize a mound of stuff you rarely get around to using.

So make the commitment to letting go and get down on it. Then move on to organization.

5. Keep surfaces and paths clear.

The goal of creating space is to keep it open, not to give it an opportunity to accommodate more clutter. Make a habit of clearing counters, desks and pathways daily. It's so easy for items to pile up and squat across your home. "Everything in its place and a place for everything." If you can't find a place for it, then it has no business being in your home and life.

That goes with your time. Make a habit of clearing your schedule so you can make room for what's important and worthwhile.

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6. Deal with items as they arrive.

Yes. Deal with matters as they arrive.

  1. Open and sort mail as they come.
  2. File necessary mail, clippings, and documents as they come.
  3. Throw away receipts and warranties when you have no use for them.
  4. Discard mail boxes, food delivery and takeaway packs, plastic bags, and containers after use.
  5. Throw away Christmas and birthday wrappings, especially if you have no space for them.
  6. You've pumped the life out of those toothpastes and shampoos. Just throw them already.
  7. You've had laughter and relaxation with that wine. Chuck out what's left with the bottle, please.
  8. You don't need all those empty water bottles and glass food jars of tomato sauce and jams. Throw out (or recycle) after consumption.

"Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination."

— Christine Scalise, author of "Organize Your Life and More"

7. Forego freebies and dispose unwanted gifts.

You don't need to get all those free items. Your life does not depend on having them. Have the heart to let somebody else benefit from freebies you don't need. And don't feel guilty about disposing of unwanted gifts. Appreciate the giver and the gift, but put it to better use in the hands of someone who needs them instead.

8. Exercise quantity control.

Keep your inventory within reasonable numbers. This is an important practice especially when your quarters and stockrooms are limited in space. You have to say no to real bargains when you have no space to put them in. You have to make do with a week of groceries if there's not much pantry space. You have to limit your wardrobe and shoes when you share a closet with other family members. Have you tried living on two shelves or drawers of clothing? Have you tried making do with a few pairs of footwear? You actually can!

The essential minimalist can still downsize this.

The essential minimalist can still downsize this.

9. Nurture a habit of giving.

To the generous, letting go is easy. The mind does not wrestle with the thought of losing something. The mind is excited about making others happy and helping others out. Generosity is a good virtue to nurture in yourself and in your future family, especially your kids.

When kids grow up seeing you ready to part ways with excess items in your home and life, they find it easier to make the same decisions when the time comes for them to do their own home and life management. But hold on to things even if they're too much. Grab on to things even if they're no longer of use, and you'll be setting up your kids into believing that they need things to feel happy and secure in life.

Make it a habit of giving away stuff. Bless someone. Do it regularly. Make donations to charity on a weekly basis. Declutter your home and take them to the OP shop every week before you do your groceries.

10. Replace and displace (FIFO).

Observe the first-in-first-out principle on all your possessions. When someone gives you a mug, displace an old one. Replace, meaning, get a new hairbrush only if the old one's broken. Install better-looking furniture only if you can remove the present one from its place and out of the house. NO, not into the garage. Remember to create the space before you bring in the new piece, especially when it's a bulky, space-hungry type.

11. Upsize and downsize according to the season in your life.

If you're in-between homes, it's unwise to accumulate stuff at the moment. If you're renting short-term, the same goes with that. If you've purchased a home that's smaller than what you're used to, accept and learn to enjoy this major life change. You may find it greatly fulfilling to downsize as you take a survey of your things and keep what's most valuable and usable for you. Think of increasing supplies and furnishings only when the need to upsize is certain and imminent.

If you're in the empty nest season of your life, it's time to let go of a lot of unusable inventory, even those with sentimental value. The most valuable souvenirs are those forever tucked in your heart and you won't need a lot of things to remind you of them.

12. Refuse to pile.

You have to admit that a pile is always clutter. ALWAYS. So establish the following routine on a daily basis:

  1. Inspect. Evaluate the item.
  2. Discard or give away an unwanted or unneeded item.
  3. File or find placement if it's important or reusable on a regular basis or on a certain future.
  4. Store at an accessible and viewable place if it's a necessity.

13. Quarantine arrivals.

Sometimes, you can't address items promptly. In cases like that, it's good to have a quarantine box to put those new stuff in. Keep it to a medium size to force yourself to deal with the items at a sooner time. Make it a ritual to quarantine arrivals before introducing them into your home space. Prohibit yourself from propping new entries onto countertops and floor areas.

14. Correct the way you think about cabinet and drawers.

What they are not:

  • They are not for concealing excess, uncategorized items.
  • They are not for keeping excess items. Meaning, they are not made for clutter.
  • They are meant to assist in organizing not cluttering.

What they are:

  • They are for keeping possessions you have regular use for.
  • They are for categorizing your items. Have a set place per person, per item type. Shirts with shirts and shorts with shorts.
  • They are for storing items in an easy to retrieve and easy to identify manner.

Remember to resist the habit of dumping random stuff in drawers and never dump items you don't want to deal with. They will probably never be dealt with at all.

15. Most importantly, do the mental interview.

This is actually the first thing you need to do. You need to ask and think to yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I really need this? A real need is something you can't survive a week or a day without. A real need is something essential to the satisfactory performance of your duties or tasks. It is needed for you to produce or create something.
  2. Do I need this now? Sometimes, when you delay, you get to eliminate purchasing impulsively. Or you realize you don't actually have a need for something you thought you had need before.
  3. Will this expense, activity, or relationship really add value to my life? Is there a profitable ROI (return on investment)?
  4. Is there a place for it in my home? Do I have the resources to have this in my life?

© 2019 Ana Menez

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