Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Decluttering Tips: How I Discovered the Joy of Decluttering

Let me start this blog post by admitting straight away that I am NOT a minimalist. I own a lot of stuff, I'm sentimental about the things I own, and my stuff makes me happy. I also have absolutely zero interest in living in an all-white home sparsely furnished with a mere handful of posessions. I do sometimes ooh over beautiful minimal spaces on Instagram but while they can be dreamy, they're just not my cup of tea.

Over the past decade though I have discovered the wonderful, home-improving magic that is decluttering. Not a Marie Kondo style intensive purge of everything that doesn't spark joy, but a gradual (and ongoing!) sorting and sifting and whittling down of my belongings.

Here's a photo of some very un-minimal scrapbooks because I like my blog posts like I like my stuff: colourful!

About ten years ago I started giving a few things away at Christmas to balance out the commercialism and excess that can feel a little overwhelming in December (maybe you feel a bit overwhelmed by that at Christmas too?). This turned into an annual challenge to give 30 things away in the run up to Christmas. Then in 2010 I set myself a 100 Things Challenge to (yes, you guessed it) give away 100 things that December.

I was surprised by how easy it was to find so many things I didn't use any more or didn't even like any more... and I was very pleasantly surprised by the effect getting rid of those 100 things had on my living space. My space was tidier (and much easier to keep clean and tidy!) and I had more room to display the things I really loved.

So, in 2011 I quietly (without blogging about it because I felt sure I would fail) set myself a Less 365 challenge: get rid of one thing a day, every day for a year. Okay so it didn't work out as one thing a day (instead there were great flurries of decluttering enthusiasm followed by fallow periods when I thought I'd never ever find another things to get rid of) but by the end of the year I'd cleared out 365 things. Three hundred and sixty-five!

I did a little more decluttering after that as a natural part of moving house, then did a second Less 365 challenge - the second time it took me a year and a half to complete, but I got there in the end. Now each year I keep a list of the things I've cleared out of my house. Every year I think "well, I'm sure I'll hardly get rid of anything this year!" and every year I find more things that I no longer need or use or love.

In 2015 I cleared out 168 things, and in 2016 I cleared out 102. Big things, small things, single things and collections of things. Most of my stuff is packed up in boxes at the moment, but even so I've managed to cleared out 9 things already - including a DVD I watched and thought "yeah, I'm never gonna watch that again", a pair of trousers I tried on and realised are now waaaaay small (and also have a small hole somewhere, ahem, not ideal), and a dress I unpacked after my move and thought "have I ever worn this? where would I ever wear this?? why did I even buy this???"

After doing so much decluttering I've been meaning to write a blog post with some handy tips for years. Years and years and years. Have I ever actually done this? No, I have not. I've tried to write about it before but always failed, my word count rapidly getting out of hand as I tried to squeeze years of thoughts and feelings into one blog post.

So I've decided to write an ongoing (occasional) series of posts instead. Whether you're an aspiring minimalist or just want a slightly less cluttered home I hope you'll enjoy them!

Before I start though: are you a fan of decluttering? Do you dream of a minimalist home or do you have a house bursting with beloved possessions?

19 comments:

Shell said...

I do love having a decluttering session. Our house is bursting at the seams so when I do have a clear out it doesn't appear to make any extra space. I also love my stuff but as I've got older I am trying to be a bit more ruthless with what I really want to keep which unfortunately is most of it.

kasikk_29 said...

I'm not a fan of purity in its most etreme vesion, but I like tidiness. Home must be shipshape otherwise I can't make any project or just sit and read a book. But it doesn't mean that I don't like THINGS. I love to collect. The most of all yarn and patterns. I really don't know if I find some time to try them. ;P

VPlum said...

There's nothing that makes me feel more anxious than being surrounded by loads of stuff (and it usually belongs to my husband). I keep things which are important to me and have memories attached, but I hate being surrounded by clutter. I'm in no way a minimalist, as I like my home to feel, well, homely!

I've been known to "accidentally" throw away my husband's stuff when he's not looking.

I find clothes the easiest things to throw away. At the start of the year I hang all my clothes in the wardrobe with the hangers facing the same way. Once I've worn an item on clothing, it goes back in the wardrobe (once washed) and I turn the hanger around the other way. At the end of the year, anything which is facing the original way gets thrown out(charity usually). I do like that feeling.

Looking forward to reading your tips.

Ariadne said...

I am a fan of lots of things and my house (a flat) is full of things and I rarely declutter. I have to I must say. You are inspiring me to do it every time you talk about it. A minimalist home?What is this?LOL!AriadnefromGreece!

aggec said...

You are great! Love your blogs! The one and only I follow. Whish you all luck with your new flat!

Anonymous said...

Whew, I need help in this. I am trying, but I will surely look forward to your suggestions for getting it done.

bairozan said...

I love my things, especially gifts unused and of no use, ha-ha! I am sentimental about them and remember each and every occasion I got them. These are nice memories, they make me smile. I don't like minimalist spaces, I'd rather have a dedicated working space with many drawers and shelves. I have accumulated many crafting materials with each hobby I tried as of 2011 (it's when I started) and cleaned up only once - I got rid of two large trash bags of things and it felt good. Now I am looking for charity options - there are social activities organized for young people to keep them busy during school vacations and I am planning to send them some of my good stuff (fabric, napkins and decoupage papers, styrofoam objects, etc.). Old and non-fittings clothes I get rid off quickly, though :)

Mac n' Janet said...

I need to declutter, but turning loose is hard. I go through spells of donating, but I need to do more.

Miaismine said...

I, too, am decluttering! I love your Less 365 Challenge - and am on board! It will be fun! Here's a thought - I'm going to keep track of it on my Instagram and use the #less365challenge! What do you think? Thank you for sharing such a great idea! :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I am so looking forward to writing this series :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Shell - it's amazing how much stuff we can find space for in our homes, isn't it? I used to be very focused on organising my stuff instead of decluttering, it's been a gradual change but a very positive one for me.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Kasikk_29 - oh yes, I can cope with a bit of chaos when I'm busy but I much prefer to keep things tidy! Most of my stuff is in boxes at the mo but before then I loved how decluttering my stuff made it easier to keep tidy... And how much visually less busy/cluttered my space became. Still colourful but no longer chaotic!

Bugs and Fishes said...

VPlum - oh yes I LOVE that hanger trick. It's such a smart and effortless way to see what bits of your wardrobe you actually wear!

Bugs and Fishes said...

Ariadne - right?? Minimalism can look nice in pictures but I don't know anyone who actually lives like that! :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Aggec - thanks so much for your comment! I hope you'll continue to enjoy my blog :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Anon - thanks! I hope you'll find the posts useful xx

Bugs and Fishes said...

Bairozan - I hope you'll find somewhere useful to donate your stuff! There are some great organisations out there that need these kinds of things :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Mac n' Janet - I hope you'll find some of my tips helpful in your own decluttering! xx

Bugs and Fishes said...

Miaismine - glad you like the idea of doing a Less 365 project of your own! It's well worth trying, and great idea to share pics on Instagram. You'll find it satisfying to track your progress and sharing pics should help keep you on track and "accountable" :) Good luck with it!

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