When you embrace a lifestyle of less, one habit you need to pick up is that of regular decluttering. It seems no matter how intentional you are with letting new ‘stuff’ into your home, somehow items end up inside that don’t meet the criteria as essential, useful or loved. Another scenario for recognizing new clutter is that you finally accept that you really are not going to use an older item, or that you are not as attached as you once were to something. These items then become clutter.
Developing the habit of decluttering on a regular basis can help you avoid those time-consuming, go through everything you own, once a year decluttering sessions.
Developing the Habit of Decluttering-
We’ve probably all heard about the scientific study of habits, whatever the habit is we are trying to create, the process usually takes around 21-30 days to ingrain in our minds and become habitual. There is actually not a lot of real data to back that up. I have found personally, that something really becomes a habit for me after 3 to 4 months of continually working at adding it to my life.
The reason I say this, is that I don’t want you to get down when you have setbacks as you are developing the decluttering habit. There will be times when you purchase or are given items that you bring into your home that you didn’t really want. There will also be possessions that you know deep down you could declutter, but you just can’t say goodbye, yet.
That’s okay; continue to work towards developing the habit.
Let’s look at some ways to create the decluttering habit-
Do a little everyday. Decluttering for just a five or ten minutes each day will go a long way in helping make it a habit. Repetition is one of the main steps in habit creation, and you’ll begin to notice items here and there around the house that you can declutter, and realize when you come across something you haven’t seen, or thought about in a while that can be put in the donate pile or sold.
Keep a donate box handy. This is one area that I found essential when I was cultivating my declutter habit. If I didn’t have somewhere to move the item I was jettisoning, I would just let it sit where it was and tell myself “I’ll remember later”. That didn’t usually work. Now, I keep a box or bag right inside the garage that is my ‘donate’ area where I can immediately move the items I am decluttering. I usually drop it off at the local thrift store every two weeks.
Declutter before you organize. My first instinct is to organize instead of declutter. I think that comes from the idea of not wanting to get rid of or ‘waste’ items I have purchased. When you are creating the declutter habit, make sure it always comes before organizing. Take everything from the space you are decluttering, and only put those items back that you love or use on a regular basis. Everything else should go to a new home to live up to it’s fullest potential.
Ask yourself questions. Some may consider this a separate habit from decluttering, but I have found they go hand in hand. Before I purchase anything, or declutter anything, I have an automatic set of questions my mind calls up. Call me crazy, but when I very first started on the minimalism journey, I had these questions written on my shopping list to help myself not purchase unneeded items. They work wonderfully for determining whether you should get rid of something too.
-How often do I use this item?
-Do I love it?
-Do I have a place to put it?
-Do I really need it, or do I have another item that could do the job?
-Am I using it to it’s fullest potential, or could someone else?
By creating the habit of asking questions about items you are considering donating, or purchasing, you are able to relinquish ownership of a lot of things, as well as avoid accumulating more.
Remember, the process of creating a new habit that sticks is most likely longer than 30 days. Repetition, intentionality and asking yourself questions, and giving honest answers will go a long way in developing the decluttering habit.
Take time to:
-Do a little everyday.
-Keep a donate box handy.
-Declutter before you organize.
Good luck! I’d love to hear your stories and where you are in your decluttering journey!