It’s not always easy to let go or keep your living space uncluttered and peaceful! Here are 5 simple rules that will help you start, finish or live a less cluttered life.
Rule #1: No “just in case”
One of the most common reasons for storing unnecessary things that will undeniably encumber you is that you may need them eventually. But that “just in case” can make all the difference between a clean, relaxing living space—and a cluttered, messy, stressful one.
How to do it?
Ideally, keep only the things you love and get rid of the things you don’t use on a regular basis. Anyways, if you have too much stuff in your house, chances are you won’t be able to find the stuff you’ve kept just in case when you need it!
If you regret getting rid of something eventually, there’s nothing stopping you from buying it back. The number of things you buy back vs. the number of things you get rid of will make the whole process worth it!
Rule #2: No Guilt
There are many reasons why you might feel guilty about getting rid of something.
First, you may feel bad because you spent a lot of money on it and feel like it’s a waste.
You can also feel guilty about giving away or throwing away things that are in perfectly good condition.
Finally, you can feel guilty because a loved one gave you the thing you want to get rid of… And you don’t dare let it go for fear of hurting the ones you love! In the same spirit, it can be difficult to get rid of a family heirloom that was left to you.
How to do it?
My trick to getting rid of guilt (and I promise you, I’m really good at it after a few years of practice!)—is to put things into perspective. If I’ve spent a lot of money on something, I remind myself that the money has already been spent and that keeping something that I don’t use or that doesn’t bring me joy won’t help me get back the money I spent on it. Plus, I know I’ll feel guilty every time I see that expensive thing cluttering up my space! So it’s a no-brainer, I donate it or throw it away.
If I feel like I’m wasting something that is still in great condition, I remind myself that the thing is no longer useful to me and could be useful to someone else. So it’s a win-win to give it away!
Finally, it can be particularly difficult to get rid of gifts and things with sentimental value… So to deal with this kind of situation, I have developed a trick that really allows me to free myself completely from the guilt that can be hard to bear: I assume that the person who has gifted me something or the person to whom the thing belonged to wanted to please me. Often, the person felt good when they gave the thing to me. And to thank them, I expressed my gratitude and then we both moved on. Now if the thing is no longer useful to me and I want to get rid of it, I firmly know that the person who gave it to me would not want me to feel cluttered or burdened by their gift! So it’s perfectly fine to pass it on to the next person. Makes sense, no?
Rule #3: Filter what comes in
If you are a bit impulsive at times (yes, like me), you may be making purchases that are not always completely well thought out. One way to avoid accumulating a lot of stuff is to ask yourself a couple of questions before allowing new things into your home, a bit like a filter!
How to do it?
Here are the questions you can ask yourself:
- Do I really need it?
- Do I have a place for this thing in my home?
- Will this thing generate work or stress for me?
- Am I buying it for a good reason?
- Can I throw something away or give something away to free up space for this new thing? (This is what I call the 1 for 1 principle: one thing in, one thing out for better balance!)
Rule #4: make tidying up part of your routine.
When everything has a place in your home and you no longer have excess clutter, it becomes much easier to maintain order. Instead of dedicating a lot of time to tidying and sorting, just make sure to put everything back in its place on a daily basis, and you’ll be able to quickly detect the things that don’t belong in your home.
How to do it?
The best way to start is to tackle the basics first: clean up the kitchen after meals, take a quick look around the bedroom after getting up, and go back to the bathroom and pick up anything that’s been left out. It’s the perfect opportunity to put away dishes, clear the counters, pick up a forgotten coffee cup, a book left behind from morning storytime, put away a nail clipper or hang up a towel.
Then you can add a few “checkpoints” to your end-of-day routine. In our home, it’s the common areas that need to be addressed each day to prevent the mess from building up and intruders from going unnoticed! These include the counter in our dining room: a space where everyone often likes to dump things they don’t know where to store (like new mail, a game, drawings or other crap). A daily mini-sorting process keeps these things from accumulating. The downstairs entry is another space where everyone dumps their school bag, shoes, sportswear, sweater, socks (no joke) and other items brought in at the end of the day. A little reminder for everything to go back where it belongs goes a long way in keeping this space from getting out of control!
Rule #5: Give, give, give
Give without restraint: this is probably the most important rule to respect! Despite the fact that I now live in a house that is almost completely clutter-free, I still have the occasional epiphany when I see things lying around or collecting dust, or when I realize that it’s time to let new things go. So I’ve developed the habit of not waiting for the perfect opportunity to sort: if something catches my eye and seems to have become useless, I get rid of it right away. A quick trip to the clothing donation boxes or to a recuperating centre like Renaissance thrift shops makes me glad it’s been dealt with ASAP! It keeps me from being cluttered with boxes of items I will one day give away… And it helps avoid someone reopening the box and deciding to give the things a second life!!! 🙂
What are your tips for living a clutterfree life? Share them with our amazing community by commenting on this article!