Knowing how to declutter your life is an important step in living happily. Our life is full of “things” and sometimes these objects cover the importance of experiences, which in our opinion are worth much more. How to declutter your existence from things is therefore a step in giving more space to what can make your life better.
We have decided to write this post after having gone through two different periods: few months in which we knew exactly how to declutter our life, followed by a busy period in which things have been piling up again. Moreover, the more your life start getting free, the more you will appreciate small things. Happiness is an ephemeral state of being, and knowing how to declutter will help a lot.
Why should you know how to declutter?
Before jumping in the step-by-step list on how to declutter, we should give you a hint on why living with less things is an amazing thing. We believe that there is a certain amount of elements in your daily life. Objects takes some part of this space, thoughts, feelings, emotions, experience and memories fill the bucket after it. Our society is very much focussed on owning things, but in reality the more we fill our life with objects, the less space we leave for everything else. An object can give us temporary relief, but after the effect is gone and we replace the object with another object, our life becomes filled with things that just make our life busy. Removing things from our houses leaves more space for our thoughts, for our emotions and more time to live experiences. These are the things that make us happier.
Knowing how to declutter will make this process easier and it will integrate it in everyday’s life. We understand you might be skeptical, but trying to live with less things and more “you” is not an esoteric, yippie culture, it is a happier one.
So, if you want to learn how to declutter your life in 6 steps, you should do nothing more than read below:
1. Focus on one area
To learn how to declutter my life, I had to go through years of living in the middle of things. For a period of my life chaos reigned, but now that I have learned how to declutter I know that the only way to survive is to do things little by little and doing it often. You can start from your desk, or a specific part of your bedroom. Just don’t overdo. Do not try to get rid of everything in one day: that’s a path to failure. Start from one small area of your life and focus exclusively on that one: the chaos in other parts won’t matter now!
Knowing how to declutter starts from knowing that one small step at the time works best that trying to do too much.
2. Pick everything and divide in piles
Once you have identified the area you want to clear, you have to clean it up completely. Move everything out of it and go through your object one by one. Aim to divide them in three separate groups
- Things you can live without
- Things you haven’t used for a long time, but you don’t want to separate from
- Things you want to keep
The first pile is the one you should give away. Trash what ought to be trashed, and give to charity all the rest.
The second pile is composed by objects you are attached to, but that you haven’t used in a long time. They should all go in a box, sealed and away from your eyes. I generally review those boxed every 3 to 6 months, and the realisation that I don’t actually need those things drive them in the first pile after a while. Please don’t seal the box just yet…
The last pile is what you want to keep for yourself, things you use or object which are very important for your life. Those are the things to keep.
Knowing how to declutter also means not having to judge you if the first and second piles are small and the third is big. Decluttering is something to do often, and the first times are always the hardest.
3. Learn how to let go of things
We all know that letting go is challenging. It is a skill you can learn, and something that, in our opinion, makes your life easier. To learn how to declutter you need to appreciate the art of letting go of physical things. Yes, you have spent money to buy them. Yes, they may hold an emotional value. But do they really enhance your life? the money have already been spent, and you can take a photo to hold the memories of the object.
Letting go of things also mean looking at things and putting in the first two piles instead of the third. No judgement. When I do it, I feel light!
4. Organise what has to stay
When the first pile is in the bin or ready to go to charity and the second is in a box, it is time to find space for the third pile. Right now you should have less things than when you started, so space should not be an issue; however, every time you pick up something to place it in its spot, try to ask yourself: do I really need this? Can I live without it?
Going through the same process you went before a second time will give a different perspective to things. You should be more relaxed in letting go of things, so you may decide that few more things may go in the (still opened) box. Some may also go directly in the bin as well.
You can also move the things you want to keep in an area you haven’t decluttered yet. Same thing applies if you don’t know where to place an object. It will be a good moment to see it again when you will move to declutter that area later in the month.
Knowing how to declutter also mean to stop and look at your newly found order. It is an extremely pleasant sensation to see less things, in a better order. Remember to enjoy these moments.
5. Seal the decluttered area
One of the most important thing is that once an area is decluttered, it should remain as such for as long as possible. If my desk is clean, I won’t put anything on it for some time. When I am decluttering another area, I won’t place things I have saved from that area on the desk. Of course there are things that were misplaced in the first instance, so you can of course find the right place for that object. The idea, though, is that you should preserve an area as clean as possible after having cleaned it.
Knowing how to declutter also mean to enjoy the newly found space in your things. Try not to start cluttering it again for as long as possible.
Decluttering is not a one-off. To make the most from this “how to declutter” guide, you should repeat as many times as needed. You shall repeat the process in different areas (kitchen counter, bathroom, drawers, …) and through time. The more often you do it, the more you will be able to let go of things (yay) and the easier it will be to keep your life empty from things and full of happiness.
You will also learn to see the cluttering elements before buying them. Remember the resistance “I can’t give this away, as I paid money for it”? Well, you will be able to stop yourself before, giving you the possibility to invest the same money in experiences, in things that will make your life happier for longer!
PS: While I was writing this post, I took some time to declutter my desk. It is now empty from things, and I am finishing writing this post with a renewed energy.