We’ve been downsizing for several years now, the last year and a half in earnest. The next six months before we leave on our trip will be a whirlwind. If there were master’s degrees given in the subject of decluttering we would each have one. With honors.
Your desire for simplicity might be less extreme than ours, but the same lessons apply. The specific tasks involved in decluttering are important, but the main thing is to change your thinking from one of acquisition to one of simplicity. By doing this, you open up a huge space in your life (literally and figuratively) for the things you really want.
clutter: Pronunciation: \?kl?-t?r\ : to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness
5 lessons we’ve learned from decluttering
- Decluttering is an ongoing process. You are never really done because every day you have the opportunity to bring something new into your life – papers, clothes, books, etc. That is why developing the habit of simplicity is far more important than one big cleanup weekend. Better to start decluttering in 15 minutes a day over the long haul than devoting a day to clearing out a room.
- Simplicity is a state of mind. It is far easier to keep your life simple when you think in simple terms. Is the thing you want really necessary? How can you make do without it? Once you start thinking this way, you’ll recognize the things that are necessary from the things that will eventually just be clutter in your life. And you’ll avoid acquiring them in the first place.
- Decluttering is good for your social life. When your house no longer looks like a junk store, you are more inclined to invite friends over. At the very least, you are not thrown into an anxiety attack when someone just drops by. In fact, my house is neater now on any given day than it used to be when I frantically cleaned up for company.
- If you don’t have a place for something, it doesn’t belong. Those things that keep getting shuffled around your house – the stack of old mail, clothes that don’t fit in the closets, or boxes stacked against the wall – are not important enough to you to be given a permanent place. That should tell you something.
- There is a cost of ownership in every possession. Whether it is financial, logistical, or emotional, you do pay a price for your possessions. Evaluating which ones are worth that price is the key. Otherwise, you are just throwing away money, space, and energy that could be used for things you really want.
To read more about the specifics of decluttering, check our month-long series from last year.