While having “stuff” can be helpful to our daily routine, having too much stuff can be stressful and hinder us from our goals. It is stressful due to the space all that extra stuff is taking up in your home, the extra time it takes to keep it clean and organized, and the extra work that it will take to move it. It also costs more money because you have bought more stuff (obviously), but also because you have more stuff to maintain, fix, and/or replace. This extra stress can take its toll on our mental well-being.
Most people know that the feeling of having too much stuff is not a pleasant one. But in case you need some convincing: This study found that having too much stuff affects your brains ability to focus and process information, while this other study found that wives who used clutter words to describe their home had higher stress levels and were more likely to feel depressed.
So where do you start? And how do you decide which items to get rid of and which to keep? This article will get you well on your way to becoming the proud owner of a crap-free home.
1. Go through storage regularly
Don’t let certain areas of your house become dumping grounds for stuff you are “saving”. Every once in a while you should go through the neglected areas and sort out the items you don’t actually need while organizing the stuff you intend on keeping. You will need to decide on a time frame that is reasonable for you, such as once every few months. The more you go through your stuff, the more items you will discover that you don’t need to keep around.
2. Check expiry dates
Some people get into a bad habit of saving items forever that have long expired. You may not even realize they have expired, this is why you need to go through your stuff and check. The main areas of your house in which this is important is your fridge and pantry, your supplements/prescription pills, and your bathroom items such as lotions and make up. If you have an item that you have been hanging onto but aren’t really sure why, seeing a passed expiry date can give you the motivation to chuck it.
3. Don’t keep books you don’t plan on re-reading
The same goes for movies and video games. People seem to feel the need to have a physical copy of everything in their possession, but this just isn’t practical. If you don’t plan on re-reading a book, then why do you still have it? If it was a good book, give it away to a friend to read or donate it to your local library (or thrift store). Books, movies, and video games can all be sold as well. You don’t have get rid of every book, movie, and video game that you own, but only keeping your favorites will cut way down on the clutter. Similarly, don’t buy new books when you haven’t finished reading the books you already own.
4. Sell things you aren’t using
Some people keep items in their possession even though they don’t plan on using them again because they are valuable. Selling these items is a great alternative to just giving them away. There are tons of online sales groups for this type of thing. Craigslist is a popular one. In Canada we also have Kijiji. Facebook buy and sell groups for your specific area also work well. Sell-able items include movies, video games, electronics, furniture, jewelry, and brand label clothing that is in decent condition.
5. Donate clothes you don’t wear to a second-hand store
If you have clothing you don’t want and isn’t particularly valuable, you can get rid of it for free by donating it to a second-hand store such as Goodwill or Value Village. If you are uncertain as to what to donate, try this trick: Turn all your hangers in your closet to hang backwards. When you take the clothing article out to wear it, put the hanger back the normal way. After 6 months (or another time frame you have decided on) check out which items have not been turned around. The items you haven’t worn should probably be gotten rid of. If you have any items in your wardrobe that are ill-fitting, get rid of those too. Life is too short for uncomfortable and unflattering clothing. Some people tend to keep clothing that doesn’t fit in the hopes that they will one day fit it again. This isn’t a bad idea for a few items, but if you are keeping an entire wardrobe of clothing that no longer fits, it may be time to re-evaluate your saved pile.
6. Don’t keep more than 1-2 of the same item
There is just not a lot of point in having more than 1-2 of the same item. For specific items it might be good to keep a second around as a back up (such as a cell phone, in case you break your current one), but having any more than that is unnecessary. Do you really need 5 different pairs of black leggings? Do you really need 3 hoodies that all look very similar? Chances are if you have a lot of very similar items, you probably don’t use them all. So figure out which ones are your favorite, and get rid of the rest.
7. Minimize seasonal decorations
For seasons such as Halloween and Christmas it can be a lot of fun to put up decorations around your home, but when your entire storage area is packed with bins of seasonal stuff, it might be time to cut back. You will have to decide for yourself what an acceptable amount of seasonal decorations for your household is. A lot of seasonal items are dollar store items that aren’t supporting a good industry to begin with, so it would be better to avoid buying them when possible. Try limiting yourself to 1 bin per season, or another amount that is realistic for you.
8. Try to recycle and reuse where you can
Recycling and composting are both great ways to help reduce the amount of waste you are producing. Selling things is also good for getting rid of stuff without throwing it out, but some items can’t be sold. If you have some old clothes that are too far gone to be donated to a second-hand store, you could try some more creative ways of getting rid of them/using them. For example, you could put some of the old clothes in a box and make a bed for your cat. From personal experience, I can say cats usually like a box full of old fabric more than a store bought bed anyways. This reduces the waste of throwing out the clothes, plus saves you money on a cat bed! Old clothing can also be used as scrap fabric for patch jobs, and crafts/DIY projects such as this t-shirt headband.
9. Don’t be afraid to throw things out
Sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do with an item except toss it, and that’s OK.
10. Don’t repeat the cycle
If you keep buying new stuff you are going to have to continuously de-clutter your home. Try to learn a lesson when getting rid of an item. Some of the stuff you are getting rid of may be stuff you never even really used; learn the lesson of being more mindful when you shop. When you do go shopping ask yourself how often you plan on using the item you are considering buying, or how practical of an item it is. This will save you money as well!
Bonus tip: watching fight club might help motivate you to de-clutter.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found these tips useful. If you have any additional tips that have worked well for you, I would love to hear about them in the comment section!