How To: Start Decluttering

Decluttering can be a really overwhelming idea. It seems really simple as a concept but when you’re faced with space after space of stuff it can get really daunting.

To help ease that overwhelming feeling I like to start with smaller spaces. These tend to be spaces that you can clear in under an hour and still feel a real sense of accomplishment. Do enough of these spaces and you’ll feel like you can take on anything.

  • Bedside tables. This is one of the easiest to clean out. I tend to fill mine with stuff that I can’t be bothered getting out of bed for so it’s usually filled with lip gloss, books, wrappers/packaging from books and a few other bits and pieces. Some of it actually belongs in there but most of it doesn’t.
  • Shower/bath area. Most people I know keep their necessary products in the shower/bath area. These things are usually shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, loofahs etc. But its important to narrow it down to what you actually use. Pre-renovation my partner and I had probably about 15 products in the shower between us. Post-reno we have 2 toothbrushes, toothpaste, 2 cleansers and soap.
  • Bathroom vanity. This depends on the size of your vanity and storage but this is another one that is easy to do. Go through your products and throw out those you simply don’t use. You’d be very surprised how many you rack up. If, like me, you keep cleaning products in your vanity, go through those too and see what you actually need. If there’s anything that you’re not sure about find another place for it with other ‘like’ items.
  • That junk table. We all have one of these. Whether it’s a buffet, coffee table or kitchen table, we all have a flat surface where everything goes that doesn’t have a specific place for it. Ours is usually overflowing with mail and stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere.
  • Linen. Go through your linen and see what you actually need. For a spare bed you really don’t need more than 2 of everything. In fact you can get away with having just the one set if you’re happy to wash and dry quickly. For my spare bed I kept two sets and this is simply because I am lazy and live in Melbourne where any day can have 4 seasons in a day. I used to have 7 sets because my fiance’s mother bought so many for him (it was his bed before it became ours) but it was just taking up space and I didn’t like any of the sets. For my actual bed I have 3 sets. I can get away with 2 but this bed was the first bed we had bought as a couple and the first bed where our linen wasn’t chosen for us. So I found some really good deals and splurged because I could.
  • Towels. Same deal as linen. Many people have more than they really need. Again we were given so many sets when we moved in together that we had about 20 at one point in time. We whittled that down to 8 and now we have 12 because I bought some new ones when we renovated the bathroom. Again these 4 were the first that I had actually bought for us and weren’t a gift. A few of the older towels will be donated to an animal shelter shortly so I can put the new towels into rotation. I know I can do with less but in our house the towels take around 3 days to dry so I’d prefer to have a few spare on hand just in case.
  • Cutlery Drawer. Its amazing how many things you have in a cutlery draw that you do not use. We used to have so many knives, forks and spoons. We had 3 whisks, 4 wooden spoons, 8 tongs and about 20 cheese knives. Go through and take out anything that you have multiples of that you don’t need. Go through your cutlery sets and see if you really do need 12 of everything. We narrowed ours down to 8 sets as we entertain a lot but my sister has 6 and that’s enough for when she invites myself and my partner and our parents over. Otherwise she’d just have 4.

Clearing these spaces can make such an impact. As mentioned earlier, they’re small enough to be handled in mere minutes but big enough that they can really change the way you feel about your space.

Whilst it’s a really great feeling, my big issue with decluttering is that I remember how much I spent on each item. But it’s important to separate the financial aspect with what your end game is. Trust me, I know how hard it is to let go of items that cost a lot of money that aren’t used and I know what it’s like to think “but one day I’ll use it.” If this is you this is what you can do – Get a box. Store all these “one day” items in the box. Close the box and put it away somewhere out of mind. In 3/6/9/12 months get the box back out. If you have not once opened the box in the time you’ve allocated, get rid of the contents. Make a promise to yourself that on opening the box you won’t assign fake sentimentality to items or worry about the monetary value of them. Promise that you will find a new home for the items or throw them out if they can’t be given to someone else.

It can be hard and it’s ok if decluttering is hard for you. It is difficult to let go of things especially if they have sentimental value but it’s always a good idea to start small and to trust yourself. If you’re having a really hard time letting something go, then don’t. Deal with it next time you declutter. Or don’t – it’s perfectly ok to hold on to things if they add value to your life.

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