Clutter can quickly build up and make your home feel cramped and messy. It can occupy space that you could use for other purposes and it can make cleaning more difficult. Certain types of clutter may even become a hazard (for example, a pile of letters in a kitchen next to an oven could become a fire risk). Clutter is also not good for our mind and can make us feel more stressed and overwhelmed each day.
All in all, there are many reasons to declutter. But just what is the most efficient way to deal with clutter? This post offers a 10 step process for sorting and shifting clutter in your home.
Which room is most cluttered?
An efficient way to declutter is to go room by room. It may be tempting to start with the least cluttered room first (which is typically the bathroom), but actually it’s usually better to start with the most cluttered space (providing you can access it). This allows you to get the worst room out of the way, giving you more motivation to take on the rest of your home. Common clutter hotspots include attics, garages and bedrooms.
What brings you joy?
When deciding what to keep and what to part with you could take inspiration from professional organizer Marie Kondo. Her method is actually different to the room-by-room method and involves taking on items category by category (clothes, books, papers, etc.), which you may prefer. However, whether you sort by category or room, it is worth using her most famous principle to sort through clutter, which is to work out which items bring you joy. Items that no longer spark any joy can be discarded, while items that do bring you joy should be kept. Just make sure you’re honest about what truly brings you joy.
What would be a burden to your loved ones?
Another method some people use to sort wanted and unwanted items is the ‘Swedish death cleaning’ method. What on earth is Swedish death cleaning? It basically involves viewing your clutter from the perspective of loved ones after you die. What items would be a burden for them to keep? Which items would your loved ones actually want to hang onto? This can be a great way of sorting through sentimental items from a practical perspective.
What is unfixable/expired?
Got broken items gathering dust? It could be time to stop hanging onto them. Unless you truly are willing to repair them, there’s no point keeping onto them. As for sorting through cans of food in your kitchen, make sure to look at expiry dates. You could find that many of them have expired and are therefore not worth keeping.
What are you unlikely to ever use again?
When it comes to items like clothes and gadgets, think realistically about what you are going to wear/use again. The Oprah Winfrey hanger method is a common way of sorting through clothes which can determine which items you’re not actually wearing. It involves pointing all the hangers in a certain direction, and then returning the hanger facing the other way whenever you wear and put back an item of clothing. After 6 months, you will be able to clearly see which items you are wearing and which items you are not.
What can you digitize?
Many photos, old documents and even books can be replaced with a digital version. If you have lots of physical photo albums, piles of paperwork and a library’s worth of dusty books, consider whether you could save some space by digitizing some of it. Some physical versions of photos and books may still be worth hanging onto, but ask yourself: ‘do you really need all of it in physical form?’.
What can you sell?
Once you’ve sorted what to keep and what not to keep, you should then determine what is of value and worth selling. You could make yourself a lot of money by selling working gadgets, good quality furniture, collectibles and seldomly worn clothing that you no longer want or need. Consider selling these items through second hand sale sites, yard sales, flea markets and consignment stores.
What can you donate?
Some items may not be of much monetary value, but could still be useful to others. Start by considering your friends and family – could any of them benefit from your unwanted items? You can then consider donating to other places such as charity stores. Old books could be worth donating to schools or libraries, while toys may be possible to donate to orphanages.
Can you relocate it to storage?
If you don’t currently have the time to deal with certain items now, you can still clear up the space they’re taking up by moving them into self storage. Just make sure that you do find time in the future to sort through these items, otherwise you’ll be paying fees to cling onto stuff you don’t want or need. For many people, the self storage fees can prompt them to sort through their clutter. Bulky items that you may only use once per year (like skis or xmas trees) may even be worth relocating to storage.
Is it time to chuck it?
Finally, you should be left with items you don’t want and which you cannot sell/donate. These are the items that you should throw in the trash. Certain items may be possible to recycle by taking them to local recycling centers or scrapyards. You can also hire skips to sort through your waste. Bear in mind that certain items may need to be collected by specialists waste disposal services such as old refrigerators.