When houses get bigger, cheap products become easily available and sales become more and more appealing. The unavoidable consequence is garbage cluttering your space.
As the trash cumulates, it begins to annoy and overwhelm you. If you barely have any clarity because of the abundance of possessions, it’s a sign you need to declutter. These 12 ways will help you get started.
1. Donate your old unused books to a local library.
Recently, I donated 20 kg worth of old books that I hadn’t used for years. To be honest, getting rid of books is tricky. They are valuable items that we associate with knowledge and improving our lives. The fact is, however, they don’t contribute any value lying on your shelves. If, for some reason or other, you gathered tons of books and didn’t read even one of them during the last year, I promise you, donating them is the best thing you can do.
You get more space and other people can read more interesting titles. It’s a win-win-win situation!
2. Replace a pile of books with an ebook reader.
Here’s another point dedicated to books, maybe because I just love reading. The truth is, since switching to an ebook reader, I increased the time I spend reading tremendously. Firstly, I can carry the reader anywhere I go, so any moment of free time that pops up suddenly can be devoted to books.
Secondly, I decluttered my shelves (later, I also removed them), so there’s no longer a big pile of books collecting dust and distracting me.
Last but not least, my digital library can become so huge that the equivalent of a traditional library would need at least one extra room. Using a reader, you can carry it in your pocket.
3. Get rid of your collection of CDs.
In the era of such drastic technological progress, CDs quickly became old-fashioned. Yet many people still keep them. I used to be one of them too, until I realized there’s literally no value hidden in a stack of films and video games. Everything can be accessed online, which is also a way more ecological approach. By switching to digital versions over buying CDs, you not only support the environment, but you also no longer need any extra space to store your collection. Kill two birds with one stone!
Maybe you can even make some extra money by selling your CDs. There are some serious collectors (who’ll probably never get the idea of decluttering) who can pay you to get ahold of your stack.
4. Donate or throw away clothes you didn’t use in the last 3 months.
Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply to a winter jacket when it’s summer, but you get the point. We all tend to gather clothes and keep them although we don’t wear them, even occasionally. Over time, this can make you need another wardrobe. Instead of letting your collection of clothes grow bigger and bigger, devote an afternoon to decluttering.
You can sell your clothing, donate it, or simply throw it away, depending on the quality. The worst you can do is convince yourself you may need something in the future even though you didn’t use it for years. Whenever you feel like not throwing away an unused item, be aware that it’s the biggest sign you should actually remove it.
5. Determine possessions that take a lot of space and no longer serve you.
The more furniture you have, the more likely you are to fill them with useless possessions. Oftentimes, they take a lot of space, so you waste your time organizing, rearranging, cleaning, and storing. And the bitter truth is, you don’t use them! Almost everyone, except the serious minimalists, stores some redundant items without even questioning their purpose.
The cellar is often the place of choice to store the long-forgotten garbage which has no real value, but for some reason, we tend to keep it. When it comes to decluttering, you need to be ruthless and ignore the sense of attachment to possessions which, most of the time, turn out to be nothing but outdated junk.
6. Get rid of the garbage on your desk.
From personal experience, nothing leads to more procrastination than a chaotic desk stocked with office accessories, documents, papers, books, and dishes. At least, this is what my desk used to be like before I became a minimalist and more mindful.
A disorganized desk is a serious focus killer. If you tend to waste your time in front of a computer, I’m almost sure your desk begs you to clean it.
Once you adapt a few simple rules, keeping your desk tidy and neat is a piece of cake! First and foremost, put your stuff where it belongs and don’t let your dishes become an inseparable part of your desk. When there are just a few items on it (in my case it’s a keyboard, mouse and two screens), cleaning it takes less than a minute!
7. Review your expenses and monthly bills.
Keeping track of your expenses is one of the best financial habits you can adopt. And if you didn’t yet, it might be the case that your expenses require some serious decluttering (so your wallet can get heavier). Determine the amount of money you spend monthly on various things. Once you have the list, look for services and subscriptions which you don’t use anymore, yet pay regularly for (what a gold customer!).
One of the examples is a gym membership you pay, even though you haven’t lifted a single weight for months. The better option would be to finally hit the gym, but if you know you won’t, stop fooling yourself and cut off the futile cost from your budget.
If there are any unnecessary expenditures, stop paying them. You’d be amazed how much more money you could save monthly by carefully reviewing your expenses.
8. Stop buying souvenirs wherever you go.
When I was younger, I had a huge tendency to buy tons of souvenirs wherever I’d go. As a result, I managed to create a sizable collection of dust gathering garbage which I thought would store the priceless memories. It was not until I realized the memories live in your mind that I was finally able to stop the pointless habit of stocking up on mementos during every occasion.
Do you have countless tiny souvenirs which clutter your shelves, windowsills, and racks? How many of them do you pick up regularly to bring the memories back? Keep the ones which do that, and donate the rest.
There will be times when you can’t help but buy a fancy souvenir. Whenever it happens, ask yourself whether it wouldn’t be a better idea to invest in experiences.
9. Buy better quality items.
Instead of filling your home with low-quality, cheap products which don’t last very long, go for high-quality items. Oftentimes, by buying low-priced substitutes, you end up paying twice the price of a branded product only because you have to replace the crafty item over and over again.
To be clear, I don’t encourage you to look only at overpriced brands. In many cases, buying substitutes is a way better option. However, when it comes to electronics, shoes, gear, etc., by going for quality you avoid the clutter and save money over the long term.
10. Abandon time-wasting commitments.
The best way to do this is to learn that there are many things you don’t need to say yes to. Saying no at the right moment can be a life-saving decision when it comes to mental decluttering. Oftentimes, we limit ourselves through excessive commitments, responsibilities, and promises.
You need to realize that your time is precious and you are the master of it. Once you accept the full responsibility over your time and stop caring about people’s disapproval when you decline, you’ll create plenty of space for things that matter the most for you.
I will make myself clear: you shouldn’t start treating others badly. However, you should pay attention to what you spend your time on. Are there time-wasting activities which serve you no value? Replace them with some more meaningful ones.
Also, if you’d like to offer your time to people in need but you feel overwhelmed by the amount of folks who ask you for help, schedule a few days when you are available into your monthly schedule. That way, you can be both accessible and not overwhelmed.
11. Stop pursuing too many goals at the same time.
Goal-overkill can destroy your ability to be persistent, focus on one thing, and give a hundred percent. Achievers tend to set too many goals, since they are ambitious and always aim to keep growing. However, trying to accomplish way too many things kills your progress.
My to-do lists used to be long and paralyzing. The load of items to check off was just scary. So I would procrastinate or work haggardly. As I learned my lesson the hard way, failing to complete my goals over and over again, I realized that decluttering your goals actually helps.
Don’t view it as being satisfied with mediocrity, but rather making extra space so you can fully commit to one thing that matters most.
A good way to start is to adopt a simple principle from a great book: “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” Gary Keller shares an essential question you should ask yourself before taking action, namely: what is the one thing such that by doing it everything would be easier or unnecessary?
12. Declutter your digital world.
Nowadays, we can’t forget about digital decluttering. Ignore it, and you’ll end up surrounded by distractions whenever you enter the online world. To give you only actionable advice, let me present a few principles I use for my digital hygiene.
First of all, keep your desktop clear. There’s no need for countless icons which fight for your attention whenever you turn your computer on. Then, don’t bookmark every site that seems interesting. Eventually, you won’t read the majority of your bookmarks anyway, and saving them “for later” is a big lie, since later never arrives. Additionally, don’t install every app you stumble upon. It will not only slow down your phone, but also distract you every time you grab it to check the time or call a friend.