Decluttering For A Fresh Start in 2018
In January I decided to take part in the Minimalist Game. I started late, and I had nobody to play against, but it's never a bad time to declutter.
The rules of the game are simple: On the first day declutter one item, on the second day declutter two items, on the third day declutter three items, and attempt to keep it up for 30 days. By the end, if you've succeeded you'll have decluttered over 400 unneeded items from your life.
Every day I'll be updating the items I declutter in my IG story and saving them in my story highlights on my profile, for no other reason than to hold myself accountable and to inspire you to hold yourself accountable too. (Currently on hiatus from the challenge, TBC in February!)
But I'm aware a lot of people may not have the mental energy to take part in a daily challenge at the moment, so this blog post is a general guide for the kinds of items you can easily find around the home and declutter in one day.
When we talk about "decluttering" we talk about removing anything that is no longer used or wanted in the home, making space to store and arrange the items you do use in a more practical way that gives you more room, both physically and mentally. Things that we don't want, like or need do nothing but add to our housework as we have to clean and organise them. Nobody wants that.
So to keep things easy, over time I've worked on a list of items anyone can declutter from their home this January to start 2018 off fresh.
My recommendations for a good declutter are to make a list of the types of items you want to get rid of (e.g. the list I've provided below), set aside two to three hours on a Sunday afternoon, put on a great Spotify playlist, and just go for it. Pull out your wardrobe onto your bed, stick a donation bag in the kitchen and a rubbish bag in the bathroom, and just start removing the items that don't meet your criteria. There are few physical possessions you can remove that if missed, cannot be replaced.
Anything broken or expired
If it's broken and you kept it out of guilt that it should still be in use, put it in recycling and let it go. If it's torn clothing, it can be down-cycled into rags or donated for textile recycling. And if it's an expired beauty product that you've not been using but felt guilty that you didn't use it in time, bin it, let go. If you minimise your bathroom to just what you need, you will have the ability to use up what you have and prevent this mistake from happening again. Let go of your mistakes, move on and do better next time.
Gifts you pretend to like
Got something you're hanging onto out of guilt that you'll hurt someone's feelings by rehoming it? I want you to imagine that scenario in reverse. If you gave someone a gift that caused them stress because they didn't have room for it, I know you'd want them to let it go. Holding onto that item doesn't strengthen a relationship, it strains it. Try setting yourself a time limit rule for holding onto gifts and if you haven't used or learned to love the item by then, let it go on to a new owner.
Things you wish you used, but you're just not that person
Ever invested in something with the best of intentions of being a better version of yourself, that you used once and never picked up again? Something that makes you feel guilty every time you look at it? Weights? A yoga mat? A juicer? Cycling gear? Self-help books? If you haven't used them yet, there's a fat chance that tomorrow you're going to wake up a completely different person. It's time to resell these items to someone that will use them and remove that source of shame from your life.
Things you spent too much on so feel bad getting rid of
This category could intersect all others. This refers to anything you would have been ready to give away with the rest of your stuff, but are keeping purely because it was expensive. A formal dress you only wore once, a second computer monitor you don't need, your old phone after you upgraded, a blender you don't use, or those shoes you bought in the wrong size but cost so much you still hope to wear them one day. Expensive items are usually easier to rehome than cheap ones because anybody buying a high ticket item is always looking for a bargain. Thanks to a thriving Facebook shopping community, these things are easy to send to a new home where they'll be valued. Sell it on, get some of your investment back, and put that money towards things you really do use and get value from.
Double-ups are anything you have multiple of, where you don't use each item equally. For example, I have many white t-shirts. This was an intentional choice I made, as I prefer to wear a white t-shirt most days, and they need to be washed after each wash. However, if I were to have two black jumpers but always favoured the style or fabric over one and consistently chose it over the second black jumper, that unused jumper is a wasteful double-up. (Yes, this is personal experience.) I can get rid of those double-ups without any loss to my life. This applies to all things from spatulas to couches, and TVs to pyjama pants.
Knick-knacks that have no purpose
Everyone's house is full of those little things we've managed to accumulate over our lifetime, just because they were cute or mildly sentimental. Travel souvenirs, Secret Santa gifts, toys from childhood, bits and pieces we inherited. So many of these things in our home hold no valuable sentimental value, and also no practical purpose. They are simply clutter. Try leaving a box out somewhere obvious like on your dining room table for a week and as you go through life and come across little knick-knacks in your home, hidden away in drawers, that seem to have no purpose, you can pop them in the box and sell or donate them at the end.
It's healthy to take some time every six months to a year and declutter the paperwork you've accumulated. All those bits and pieces of things with information noted on them that you "might' need one day. Check in regularly, and toss anything that you no longer require in the recycling bin or upcycle the empty backside of the paper into a notepad. This includes all paper clutter like invitations, appointment reminders, online shopping receipts, expired warranties, hotel bookings, addresses you've noted down, and absolutely anything you already have a digital copy of. You don't need it, it doesn't benefit your life in any way, stop clogging up your home with it.
Uncomfortable clothes, or clothes that don't fit your lifestyle
Anything you haven't worn in a year because it's uncomfortable, ill-fitting, stained or simply doesn't fit your lifestyle has to go. This doubles up with things you've spent too much on, and things you wish you used but you're just not that person. If you never run, you don't need a running outfit for seven days of the week. If you never go clubbing, you don't need multiple choices of sky-high clubbing heels. If it isn't something you love, that makes you feel comfortable, and that you use every six months, it's time to let that item of clothing go on to somebody that can appreciate it more than you. For more on decluttering your wardrobe, I have a minimalist wardrobe post here.
Electronic bits and pieces
I know you know what I'm talking about. All those random chargers, connecting pieces, cords and various electronic accessories you've never used because they just come as extras with your original electronics purchase. There is no reason to hold onto these. Even your extra chargers. Keep a spare charger. Keep three spare chargers! But you don't need to hoard large amounts of extra chargers "just in case". They're cheap to replace, available everywhere, and you'll soon enough replace your electronics item and get a new charger with your next purchase. In the meantime, try selling or giving away the extra chargers you have so others that lose theirs don't need to buy new electronics and create even more waste. Everyone wins.
Old magazines and books you won't re-read
You've read them? Cool, their job is done here. You don't need to hold onto every magazine and book you've ever owned out of guilt for the waste. The paper was printed whether you read it once or one hundred times. Magazines can be donated to Doctor's offices, women's shelters, libraries, retirement communities, preschools for crafting, and many more places. Books can be resold online if in good knick or donated to any charity shop and resold for a few dollars. Keeping your favourite, life-changing dog-eared books that you know you'll treasure for years to come is AOK. But holding onto everything you've ever read without revisiting it? It's not necessary, it doesn't add value to your life, but it might add value to someone else's.
Decluttering your possessions never has to mean tossing everything in the bin. If you look at decluttering as losing things, you're more inclined to put off the practice. Instead, think of decluttering as breathing new life into the items in your home, and creating more space for the things you keep to be appreciated.
With your extra stuff you can choose to hold a garage sale, sell on eBay or Facebook, sell on platforms like Etsy or Depop, donate to a charity shop or women's shelter, or directly hand your things onto someone you know would benefit from them more.
If you honour the gifts you've been given and the money you've spent by sending your unused possessions to new homes where they'll be genuinely valued, you can enjoy the weight off your shoulders of unnecessary clutter without the guilt of being wasteful or ungrateful.
For more on making a fresh start in 2018, read my previous post below.