As we are about to check out for 2021 & put an out of office reply on our emails, there is no better time to dedicate some time in our day, whether it be an hour or more, to declutter our spaces & homes. Decluttering has a proven & profound effect on our mental state, stress levels & overall wellbeing. The simple act of removing things from our life & spaces that we do not need can feel like we are taking a physical weight off our shoulders. A pre-Christmas declutter avoids us experiencing the dread and overwhelm of a cluttered home waiting for us when we return from our celebrations & holidays.
Decluttering can initially feel overwhelming. We peg it in the too hard basket & we know sometimes a thorough clean up seems to make the situation worse before it gets better, but I can assure you the satisfaction & feeling of letting go will make the process seem incredibly bearable. Below are my top 10 tips & some of the wonderful benefits of decluttering!
1. Avoid Overwhelm. Begin by decluttering one room (or even a drawer) a day. Ideally, begin with the kitchen and work your way around the house. Attempting to do it all in one day can lead to us being overwhelmed and exhausted. A small, consistent effort will lead to the best result.
2. Live with less & consider creating a capsule wardrobe. This is a bold and big move & you don't need to go all-in at once, but the theory is that you pair back your wardrobe to around 30 items (yep, just 30 items). It focuses on selecting good quality staple items that you can regularly wear (and across different occasions), rather than an overflowing closet of clothes that don't fit & have probably not been worn for six months. Understandably, if you aren't ready to be quite this extreme, consider doing a cull of odd socks, clothes that no longer fit & items that you feel comfortable parting with.
3. Marie Kondo said it first, 'does it bring you joy?'. This can apply to everything you own. Never use your slow cooker? Given up yoga? Started an Audible account & have a vast collection of books collecting dust? Got a mountain bike, stamp collection, fishing rod or old magazines stuffed in boxes in the garage? A lamp in your living room that you don't use? Take a look around your home & take a moment to reflect on if your possessions are contributing to the happiness of your life. It is absolutely ok to have physical things & possessions that we love, to be house proud, enjoy nice things, hobbies that require equipment & appliances that make our lives easier. However, if there are things around your home that do not serve you, consider letting them go!
4. Repurposing, re-gifting & donating. So you've found a few belongings in your home that weren't contributing positively to your life? Now is an excellent time to consider whether that skateboard, table tennis table, Karate outfit can be repurposed, re-gifted or donated so it can bring joy to somebody else this Christmas!
5. Find a place for everything. Clear, clean spaces invite calm & serenity. Have you ever noticed how putting kitchen appliances away, removing keys, pens & other junk from your countertops, shelves & tables makes an instant difference to aesthetic & feeling in your home. Designate places for the items you use every day; a spot for your handbags, shoes, the dog lead & your laptop. Giving these 'on the run' items a specific home will eliminate that day to day clutter that builds up around the house without even thinking. It will also save you so much time when you are trying to leave the house and can't find your sunglasses.
6. Get focused. Decluttering will help reduce stress & anxiety. It has also been shown to increase energy levels, motivation & focus. It's the ultimate win-win situation for your home & your mind. Shedding physical clutter reduces mental & emotional clutter, freeing up space for more joy, creativity & productivity.
7. Decluttering allows you to make space for relaxing & creative spaces in your home. Don't allow the spare room in your house to be a dumping ground for all the crap you don't want to see. Purging the belongings that have ended up in this 'black hole' will allow you to create a space that will bring positive energy to your life. Roll out a yoga mat, a reading chair, an artists desk & set up a little zen den, a unique space for you to enjoy that you will not allow to fill up with useless junk.
8. Easy to maintain. This is a simple one. Although the initial effort of a cleanse & declutter does require some time commitment, eventually having less in your home, emptier drawers & closet space will inevitably mean you have less to tidy, clean & maintain. What a bonus!
9. Declutter & disconnect. Clutter is not only experienced in the physical sense. I strongly encourage you to consider disconnecting and detoxing from technology at some point this Christmas & regularly. There are benefits to establishing boundaries around work communications & emails, social media use, online habits & mainstream news consumption. With technology allowing us to be connected 24/7, the relentless news cycle & the endless ability to scroll socials, we need to be proactive in turning off the noise. Challenge yourself to switch off or leave your phone at home when you head out to social events this Christmas & choose to engage fully, be present & appreciate the moment. It will feel a little foreign, and at first, as you feel for your phone in your pocket to check for notifications or look at the time, you may feel uncomfortable. As you settle into this unfamiliar feeling of being 'offline', the uneasy feeling will pass.
10. Finish up the year with a feeling of accomplishment & satisfaction. Enjoy your Christmas day or holiday with the comfort of knowing that you are returning to a clean, organised, stress-free home. I can tell you from experience that letting go & giving an exit to possessions that no longer serve you feels like lifting a physical weight off your shoulders. It is guaranteed to leave you feeling lighter & brighter than you did before.