A few years ago I learned the importance of an organized and clean environment to foster creativity and support overall wellness. The space we occupy can make us feel at peace or can unconsciously stress us out.
Your home and work space has an impact on your wellbeing. Spaces that are messy and cluttered can affect our moods. I’ve found the more dark and cluttered a space the less creative I feel. I originally thought allowing my space to looked lived in was more comfortable. But I began to discover being “use to” clutter and disorganization isn’t the same as comfort.
So I began a process of decluttering my space. I learned some best ways to declutter my space that supported my wellbeing.
Decluttering can help you stress less and save money. It’s a rewarding process if it’s done right. Done wrong, decluttering becomes a futile effort that only increases your stress level and wastes money.
The best way to declutter your home is by avoiding these 7 mistakes:
1. Taking an “All or Nothing” Attitude
Many decluttering efforts never get started because it’s too daunting to finish in one go. It’s important to set small goals for yourself–a drawer, a closet, a room–rather than trying to finish your entire house or apartment in one day.
Remember, things will get worse before they get better. The space you’re working on will become a bigger mess as you sort and purge. The mess the process creates can make you believe your decluttering effort is useless and visually overwhelming. So you end up quitting with the job half done. It will get better! Keep to your small goals and chip away at clutter at a slow and steady pace.
2. Fearing the “Empty the Room” Approach
Remember that “worse before it’s better” warning? Nothing makes the task at hand look worse than pulling everything out of a closet, drawer or room and laying it all out. However, if you try to declutter and reorganize without doing this, you’ll never get a clear picture of what you’re dealing with.
Emptying the room lets you see how much stuff you have as well as how much space you have to store it in. It also makes it easier to keep your “trash” or “give away” piles from returning to the clean space.
Do you have old books, DVDs, CDs and tech gadgets? You can sell them to services like Decluttr without having to deal with selling to other people.
3. Falling Prey to the Emotional “But”
Everyone falls prey to emotional “buts” when decluttering. “But it was a gift and but I paid money for i or but it reminds me of a certain memory and the but I’ve had it since way back when ” there are a million emotional excuses for keeping clutter.
Keep in mind that these emotional stumbling blocks are mental tricks. We often forget we have those items until it’s time to declutter. And in many cases the gifts we don’t like and purchases we don’t use make us really unhappy when we see them. Let go of guilt, of sunk costs, of nostalgia. If you don’t, those “buts” will keep you from decluttering success.
4. Forgetting the Calendar
A calendar is one of your best decluttering tools. If you haven’t used an item in a year then you probably won’t use it in the future; toss those items. Since many items are seasonal, a year is a good marker to ensure you’re not throwing away useful holiday items.
Using a calendar (or calendar app!) is also a great way to tackle those on-the-fence items. Not sure if you’ll wear or use something again? Set a deadline (three months, six months, a year) with an automated reminder. If you haven’t used it by the deadline, go ahead and find it a new home.
5. Stopping at the Door
Decluttering isn’t done until the “to-go” items are gone.
As soon as you finish with a room, take out the trash and recycling. If you know which local spots take electronics and scrap metal, you may even make a few bucks on your trash. Put your boxes of donations in your car immediately and drop them off the next time you leave the house.
Put sellable items on Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, Offerup or Craigslist right away. Use that calendar app to set a sell-by-or-donate deadline. I’ve had lots of success with Craigslist and wrote tips on how to get your items to sell on Craigslist.
Don’t put these tasks off or your purged items will start trickling back into your clean spaces.
6. Overlooking Shopping Habits
How did your space get so cluttered in the first place? Bad shopping habits are a big culprit. Do you buy items you neither want nor need just because they’re “a good deal”? Grab the latest gadget, only for it to sit in disuse? Frequently update your wardrobe without getting rid of old duds?
Don’t declutter without addressing your spending habits. Always use a shopping list whether you’re shopping for clothes, groceries, or Christmas presents. Utilize wish lists. Think you want a new gadget or gizmo? Add it to a wishlist and, you guessed it, set a reminder on your calendar. If you still want it in a month or two, you’ll know it’s more than a passing fancy. Adopt the one-in-one-out rule for clothes. Remember you are in control of your shopping, your shopping isn’t in control of you.
There are people who are making money selling their used clothes on apps like Poshmark. So you can declutter your closet and make some cash too.
7. Never Asking “Why?”
Of all the mistakes to avoid, this is the most important. Did you even know why you are decluttering? Is it because you can’t see the floor? Are you losing important items? Does the mess make you stress? Do you overspend and also purchase duplicate item because you no longer know what you own? Are you moving? Planning to cohabitate? Having a baby? Looking to earn some extra cash?
Get into the heart of knowing why you want to declutter. It’ll help you stay motivated through the process.
Decluttering success is within your reach! So keep these tips in mind, put on your favorite podcast and get going.