9 Decluttering Tips to Live with Less Stuff

9 decluttering tips to live with less stuff

America is drowning in clutter. In fact, one in every four Americans is facing a clutter problem. And it has taken an emotional, financial, and environmental toll.  

The things we possess end up possessing us. A cluttered home is observed to be one of the primary cause of stress and can even affect your mental health in adverse cases. According to LA times, an average American home is stuffed with 300,000 items. Needless to say, hoarding all these unnecessary objects eats up space, money, and eventually, our peace of mind.

Let’s revive the old saying – “Less is more”. Owning fewer possessions will help you declutter your life and your mind. It’s about time you tap into the power of minimalism and cut down on your clutter with these ridiculously simple tips:

#1 Start off with the Easiest Clutter-free Zone

Getting the job done right trumps getting the job done quickly. If you’re a first-timer, this piece of advice will definitely help you a long way. Make a list of spaces that you need to declutter. Next, zero in on the simplest target and start from there. For instance, focus on decluttering your living room and bedroom before moving on to the garage and attic.

Conquering mess in spaces with fewer items will build up your confidence to tackle the tougher areas in your home. Moreover, the freshly honed decluttering skills will help you make better decisions to get rid of stuff that no longer serves any purpose in your life.

#2 The Famous Four-Box Method

Trophy, trash, or trade – break down your possessions into the fitting category with this straightforward technique.

You will need four cardboard boxes, labels, and some motivation to begin with.

  • The Put-Away Box: This one is a keeper (pun intended). All the items that you use frequently or on a daily basis but need a ‘proper spot’ should be placed in this box. You can even take a step further and directly put away the item where it belongs.
  • The Give-Away Box: This is your opportunity to give back to your community. Donate valuable stuff that you don’t need anymore. Your old piece of clothing might become someone’s prized possession. You can also list your items for a garage sale and make money off of it.
  • The Toss-Away Box: This one goes without saying. Worn-out items that either need to be trashed away or recycled end up in this box.
  • The Storage Box: Stuff you do not use often but might need later (like seasonal clothes or decor) belong to this box. Do not forget to make an inventory of every item.

#3 The 80/20 Rule for Lazy Clutter

Look around, there are a lot of unwanted items piling up in your closet or on any flat surface in your home for that matter. Magazines, unused gifts, freebies, unworn seasonal dress – all these possessions accumulate out of negligence and make up for most of the clutter at your place. On the upside, getting rid of this lazy pile is pretty easy.

The harsh reality of our cluttered lifestyle is that we only use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. And this goes beyond clothing and apparel. The crux of the 80/20 evaluation is to part with 80% of the items that you don’t use on a regular basis.

#4 Benefit or Burden: Figure out the Clutter Cost

Let’s admit, parting with expensive stuff is painful. The sight of letting go of a priced possession—even when it’s not begrudgingly—can hurt even the most stoic declutterers. The guilt trip can easily cloud your judgment and put you off track.  

Whenever you face the dilemma of decluttering a pricey object, evaluate its clutter cost. Every item carries a burden and a benefit. The clutter cost is evaluated on the basis of the burden to benefit ratio. The parameters involved in this assessment include money, time, energy, and space. Weigh each factor thoroughly before reaching the verdict.

#5 Keep a ‘Just-in-case’ Box

Truth be told, we all have some items stashed away at our homes that we’ve barely used but simply cannot part with. Vintage kitchenware for special guests; out-of-style accessories; and other similar possessions. They can all be put in the ‘just-in-case’ box.

Put all the just-in-case items in this box and hide it out of plain sight. Add a note on your calendar to look for it five or six months from now. If you haven’t needed any of those stuff in this entire time, you might as well give away the entire box. Indecisive declutterers should definitely give it a shot. It’s a tried and trusted hack.

#6 The Oprah Closet Hanger Experiment

The closet hanger experiment is a neat wardrobe decluttering trick brought into light by Oprah Winfrey.

Open your closet and turn all the clothes such that the hangers face backward. Whenever you wear a piece of clothing, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct way, i.e., front-to-back. If you take out a dress but decide not to wear it, make sure you put it back the same way (back-to-front). Do this for the next six months. You will be amazed to see the number of dresses you own but never wear. Sell or donate them to someone in need.

#7 Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Art of Letting Go

We all hold possessions that are more than just an object for us. An old sweater; a diary; an old letter; an inherited dinner set: they are a memento bound to us emotionally. But, hanging on to this stuff can often cost you more than letting go.

“Spark joy” – a phrase conceptualized by the famous Marie Kondo – will help you part with the unnecessary memory clutter.

When you hold an item, does it spark happiness? If not, it’s time to let it go. You’re not obligated to savor things you don’t like just because they’re a keepsake. You are living in the present and making new happy memories. Don’t burden yourself with something that evokes no feelings or brings up sadness. Let it go. It might seem hard at first, but once it’s out of your life, it’s gone for good.

#8 Fight the Urge to Own Stuff

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of decluttering to keep clutter at bay once and for all. The reason your home is cluttered because you impulsively shop for things you don’t need in the first place. You may break your back to live in a clutter-free home and yet go back to square one with all the new stuff you have just bought.

You need to change your shopping habits to break out of this vicious cycle. Make a 30-day list and jot down all the items that you want along with the date. Wait out for 30 days before you buy anything – except the necessities, of course. If the urge has settled own, you didn’t need the item right from the beginning, you just wanted to own it. The 30-day list will help you save a few bucks and some space in your home.

#9 Eat - Sleep - Declutter - Repeat

We hate to break it to you but decluttering isn’t a one time fling. No matter how hard we try, we tend to own things that don’t matter or no longer serve any purpose in our life. Living completely clutter-free is a far-stretched imagination. This is why we strive to achieve perfection by decluttering as often as possible.

How is your experience in living clutter-free? Have any helpful decluttering tips or thoughts to share? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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Comments (1)

Greetings, Neha
I just came across your website. Sorry to be a bit late to discover it, but I share your minimalist (bag resistant) philosophy.

I am a just-retired teacher after having taught Humanities over twenty years, including media literacy and consumer economics. I became especially dedicated to empowering and educating children and their parents about commercialism’s impact, including the effects of inundating youth with messaging to buy more.

Nowadays, I am happily living in Spain with my wife trying to live a downshifted, Hemingway-styled life of writing, though the closest I have come to the Hemingway part is a house full of demanding cats. I write extensively on media and financial literacy, from regular articles on financial sites to a three-book series on educating elementary, middle, and high school students about media messaging and marketing to them (the books are designed for teachers and parents).
More immediately, I’d like to invite you to consider a children’s play/story that is fun to read and also designed to get kids thinking about commercialization messages that push them to only look for what’s next to be bought. The story is about a village that has never heard of the word “enough,” but told they never seem to have it, go off in a fun and funny pursuit to get it at any cost (until they learn what it means to have enough…sort of).

https://www.amazon.com/Enough-Stuff-one-act-snuggled-bed-reader/dp/1697663982/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3Q6ODTFLM7QHG&keywords=jim+wasserman&qid=1570543942&sprefix=jim+wasser%2Caps%2C229&sr=8-3

Thank you for both the work you do in our common cause. I look forward to reading more of your site.

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