In the beginning of 2017, I took on the challenge of decluttering my entire apartment room by room. The goal was to reevaluate my living space and be more critical of the things I allow to take up space. By paying more attention to the things I own, I was able to get a better idea of what things were making me happy. Less clutter means more room for the things you love!
I went over each room twice and, in total, I let go of over 565 items. I don’t even know how all these extra things were fitting inside my tiny apartment! And let me tell you, I don’t miss a single thing I got rid of.
Decluttering was slow at first, but became easier as I went along. Now that the project is complete, I’m going to share with you all the tips and tricks I learned along the way. Once you’re ready to declutter your own home, download the free checklist at the bottom of this post to guide you through the process room by room! But first, here are my Top 8 tips for decluttering.
1. Give yourself a time limit.
Something that really got me sorting through my junk quickly and effectively was imposing a time limit on each project. For example, I would start decluttering my closet in the morning knowing that I had an appointment in the afternoon. Having that time pressure gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get to work and be ruthless. I was motivated to work quickly so that I could check that project of my list and feel good for the rest of the day.
A time limit will also stop you from overthinking. If you give yourself an unlimited amount of time to clean a space, you’ll likely spend a ton of time pondering over your possessions. If you’re forced to sort through your things quickly, you won’t have much time to second-guess your decisions or dwell on your donation pile.
2. Hide your giving away pile.
Once you’ve decided to get rid of an item, stick it in your giving away pile and don’t look at it again. I repeat: do NOT look at your giving away pile a second time! After spending hours sorting through tons of junk, you probably won’t even remember what’s in your donation pile. And that’s how it should be!
If you go back and double-check your junk pile, I guarantee you will come across cute things and get sentimental about keeping them. You’ll be like, “What was I thinking throwing out this lovely moon-shaped candle holder that I’ve never used? It’s adorable!” But there’s a reason why that candle holder landed in your donation pile – so have confidence in your decisions and don’t look back!
3. Be thorough.
If you’re serious about making a lasting change in your home, you’ve got to be thorough! This means doing more than a surface cleaning of your home. If you’re decluttering a cabinet, empty the entire contents of every drawer and ask yourself about each item that you find. Do you need to keep those old batteries? Do you really need that pile of elastic bands? Emptying the contents of each drawer may seem time consuming, but it will give you the best results. With everything out in front of you, you’ll likely uncover a ton of junk you didn’t even know you had!
4. Photograph things you aren’t ready to part with.
If you find yourself really stuck on an item that you can’t seem to part with – photograph it and give it away. This can work for anything from an old teddy bear to a sentimental piece of furniture. It seems silly, but having the option to keep a digital photo of something can help you feel secure enough to get rid of the item. The item will no longer be taking up space in your home, but you’ll still have a reminder of it in photograph form. Down the line, you may feel that you no longer need the photo copy at all. P.S. It’s totally okay to hold on to the teddy bear, too 😉
5. Be ruthless with unwanted gifts.
As you go through your things, keep an eye out for items you’re holding onto because someone gave them to you. We tend to hang on to gifts we receive from others because getting rid of them feels ungrateful. But even the most well-intentioned friends give us gifts we don’t need or love.
When dealing with an unwanted gift, remember that the giver gave it to you in the hopes that you would find value in it. If the gift isn’t providing you value, you’ve done nothing wrong. It is your responsibility to appreciate the gift in the moment when it is given to you. Once you’ve thanked your friend and shown your appreciation for the gift, it is okay to decide to recycle the gift by giving it away. So skip the guilt!
6. Store your DVDs in a CD pouch.
Unless you’re a collector who finds great value in their stacks of DVDs, chances are you’re holding on to a bunch of movies you’re not even watching or enjoying. When you go through your DVD collection, only keep those DVDs you know you’ll watch again. A simple tip for free-ing up space is to recycle your DVD cases and store all your movies in a CD pouch instead.
7. Scan your documents and photos.
Over time, we all accumulate paperwork. Things like old mail, guides for our electronics, tax papers, letters from loves ones and stacks of photographs. These papers and photos are a huge source of mental and physical clutter and just looking at them can be exhausting.
You can completely eradicate this clutter by sorting through your papers and storing the ones you really need in digital format instead. Scan your papers and create file folders on your computer where you can organize the various documents. Back up the copies on a usb key (or two!). Need some extra motivation from friends? Think about hosting a Photo-Scanning Party like Josh of The Minimalists did!
8. Get organized.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I. Love. Lists! As you go about decluttering your home, I strongly recommend keeping track of your progress. You can use a notebook, the Notes app on your cellphone or on a simple Word document. I like to jot down a list of the rooms I’m going to declutter and check them off as I go. Making a list will not only keep you on track, but will give you that motivational boost every time you check off an item. Double win!
In honour of my love of lists, I’ve created a free Declutter Your Home Checklist to help you get going. This checklist takes you through each room in your home and tells you where to look to uncover the clutter – the rest is as simple as checking off items on a list! Grab the checklist by signing up to my vip list below. You’ll also get access to my entire library of free resources for a simple living lifestyle!