Are you desperate to declutter your home but feel overwhelmed and not sure how to tackle it? Jessica Rose Williams shares some top tips and speaks to some other slow living bloggers about how they approach the task of decluttering and refreshing their homes for the season ahead.
It’s official! Minute by minute the days are getting longer and the mornings are getting brighter. It’s time to rise and shine. Slowly but surely, we are starting to feel more energised as spring bursts into bloom. Goodbye winter duvet and nights spent under a blanket binging on Netflix. Best of all, adios to that winter fatigue.
A fresh season calls for a fresh start and we naturally feel more motivated to take action during times of transition. Now is the perfect time to take back control of your living space and edit out what is no longer serving you.
The thing with tidying and organising is this; the easiest way to do it is to get rid of stuff. We stand in front of our overflowing wardrobes feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. You can rearrange your wardrobe to your heart’s content but unless you get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit, make you feel uncomfortable or just don’t feel like you, you’ll never crack it. My advice is to start with whatever feels easiest, it might be your wardrobe, a junk drawer or your desk. Ask yourself this one question and you’ll soon see stuff start to disappear - have I used this in the last year?
Past predicts future and if you haven’t used something in a year, chances are you never will. Allow yourself to enjoy the feeling that comes from a wardrobe that’s only filled with your favourite things and give your stuff the care it deserves. This tutorial on how to fold your clothes is brilliant. Items take centre stage when they have room to breathe and you’ll appreciate them more.
When it comes to your no pile, divide this into ‘sell’ and ‘donate’ piles. Be careful not to leave things you want to discard lying around. If you do that, you’ll lose momentum and they’ll end up stuffed in a cupboard, which defeats the whole point of decluttering. Ebay or Depop are great for unwanted items that others may find value in. I also find giving to charity really rewarding. The Salvation Army will make blankets out of clothes you may think are only good for the bin.
When it comes to tackling the clutter in our homes I think the biggest hurdle for a lot of people (and as a Mum of 3 I know it was for me) is time. We tell ourselves we’ll sort it next weekend, or next month and somehow it’s years later and we are still unhappy in our own homes. I found the best way to tackle this was to break the process down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Next time you find yourself pulling out your phone to while away some time, decide instead to set a timer for just 15 minutes and pick a shelf, a cupboard, or surface to tackle and start sorting. When the timer stops you can go back to whatever you were doing but you will be surprised how much you can clear out in just 15 minutes. Doing this once a day, or even once a week, will help you to declutter huge amounts and you don’t have to find that elusive time to do it all at once anymore.
We have very little storage in our home so we often feel the space we live in can become cluttered with items that we have accumulated. Spring is the natural time for a deep clean and de-clutter and I adopt a very simple method. Due to living with a chronic illness, rather than leaping in, cleaning and de-cluttering like a mad thing, I find the best way to approach things is to take my time to slowly sort our home.
It starts with getting a few boxes and a bin bag together and leaving them in our spare room. Every time I go about the house and see something that hasn’t been worn or used in a while, I place it in one of the boxes or bag. A few years ago I watched a film called ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things’ and it totally transformed the way I think of material items in our home. As a self-confessed ‘second-generation hoarder’, I now adopt ‘The Minimalists’ approach to simplifying my life.
Every possession in our home, must either function as a ‘tool’ or add a positive aesthetic value to our life, so by asking myself “does this add value to my life?” I am then able to work out if an item serves a valid purpose or brings me joy. If it doesn’t, it goes in the box. This continues until I have enough to fill a box and then I will donate, dispose or store for the future.
As I write this, I am currently surrounded in boxes, as my Spring de-clutter began in January. I am gradually sorting, with the idea in mind that 2018 will be the year our home becomes as uncluttered as possible. I truly believe that there is no one tool I use to help me more than that one question I learnt from ‘The Minimalists’, and I now use it in making decisions when de-cluttering, as well as choices on any purchases for our home.
Trying to declutter your entire home in one go will seem overwhelming, so my top tip is to begin with a quick-win area such as a shelf or drawer and then move on to another. When deciding whether to keep things or not, I always remember the words of William Morris, who famously said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’. For every item, I therefore ask myself 'do I use it?' and 'do I love it?'. If the answer to both questions is no, I say goodbye. If there’s anything I’m unsure about, I just put it to one side and revisit it after a few weeks. If I haven’t missed it, I know I can let it go for good.
I’m particularly ruthless when it comes to home accessories, as I like to keep my house looking minimalist and clutter-free. But I still end up with more than I can display, so I store most of them in a cupboard and only have a few out at any one time. I love swapping things in and out according to the season and my mood, and it’s a great way to freshen rooms up without accumulating any more stuff.
We hope you find these ideas useful in your quest to minimise clutter in your home and restore a sense of freedom from 'stuff'. Do check out Jessica's recently published e-book on creating a year-round capsule wardrobe - something I'm sure we all strive to own!