Before we jump into the decluttering aspect of a simple living lifestyle, let’s take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far:
Next, we learned how to increase our daily awareness so we could understand and accept what in our lives is creating discontentment.
And last time, we took a look at how creating a rhythm rather than chaining ourselves down to routine can add enrichment to our daily lives and help us accomplish our vision for life.
But maybe after following all of these steps, you still feel lost. You look around your home and anxiety builds in your chest, your fingers tremble, and you close your eyes and think of something, anything other than change. Your physical and mental states are a bit of a disaster, and there’s no room to move forward.
I used to dread any sort of cleaning. As the classic shove-under-the-bed, hide-the-mess-in-the-closet-and-pray-mom-doesn’t-look-there “cleaner,” it took me a while to appreciate a clean space. To this day, I still have a hard time keeping up with tidying and cleaning. But one thing I’ve learned to love is decluttering, and the more I declutter, the easier it’s been for me to keep up with regular tidying.
Today, we’re going to tackle two main areas that are often far too easy to fill with clutter: physical and mental.
So, which one do we tackle first?
There are arguments for both sides. Some say you can’t physically declutter without first clearing your mind so you have a transparent vision moving forward. Others would argue you can’t possibly move forward and gain a clear perspective without first surrounding yourself with a clean, organized space.
While I don’t think there’s one right or wrong answer, I personally fall into the latter category.
If you went through the previous three blog posts linked above, you’ll have hopefully already created a blueprint vision of what you want out of your simple living journey, whether that be mental or related to something physical, such as your home or health. From there, it’s so much easier to jump into decluttering.
How to Declutter Physically
- Start with the project on your mind.
Countless Youtube channels and blogs have encouraged their viewers to start small so as not to get overwhelmed with big projects. But I say, large or small, start with the project that’s on your mind. That could be a single kitchen drawer that has a hard time shutting or it could be your entire bedroom, from the closet to underneath the bed. If you tackle the clutter that is weighing on your mind first, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction you’ll get afterwards will spur you on to finish the rest of your space.
- Break it down
If you constantly find yourself keeping onto “someday” items, hoarding duplicates, or getting sidetracked by sentimental pieces, break it down into categories. Be real with the reasons why you’re holding onto certain things, and throw them in their own piles. Give yourself a time limit to go through each category, keeping it realistic but not so long you’re inviting yourself to second-guess (5-10 minutes for “someday” and “multiple” categories, half an hour for the sentimental pile).
- Be ruthless
It’s time to stop half-heartedly going through your personal possessions. Be ruthless in minimizing the things you no longer need or don’t use. The blazer that looks like it was custom-made for your body but is a bright green color you don’t wear? Pass it along and embrace your affinity for neutral clothing. The beautiful china set you received as a wedding gift but haven’t used in 20 years? Sell it or re-gift. Be honest with yourself as you declutter your home, and really think about a) the last time you used this item, b) if it still serves a purpose, and c) does it still fit in with the vision you’ve created for your home (or, if you saw it in the store now, would you still buy it)?
- Don’t make a big sell pile
Unless you’re planning on hosting a yard sale the moment you’re done decluttering, don’t make your sell pile too big. It’s tempting to hold onto your nicer items and dream about the money you could make off of them, but more often than not your “decluttered items” will end up sitting in your spare bedroom or under your bed for 6+ months while buyers wait to see if you lower the price. Pick a few pieces, give them a time limit between 2 weeks and one month, then donate or pass along to a friend once that time is up.
- Address your budget
What good is all this decluttering going to do if you’re still spending mindlessly? Take inventory on what you bring into your home every month. Is all of it necessary? What could you cut back on not only to save money but to free up space? Create a specific shopping budget, or set limits, such as you can only buy one new clothing item a month, or you have to place the desired item on a wish list and wait two months before purchasing. Consider those things that aren’t necessarily physical — do you really need a subscription to three different streaming services along with all the DVD’s on your bookshelf? Take control and stop the constant flow of unnecessary clutter into your home and give purpose to your possessions.
How to Declutter Mentally
- Brain dump
Grab a piece of paper (or notebook, if you’re feeling that inspired) and start writing down everything on your mind. Ask yourself questions such as why you feel stressed and discontented. Why you want to declutter. Why you think simple living might help you. Write down what you believe simple living is and refer back to the lists you made in previous posts detailing what you envision as your ideal life. Get everything out in the open between you and that piece of paper and pen. This is your way to determine what mindsets are cluttering your thought life and holding you back.
- Defeat negative self-talk
Negative self-talk is something I’ve struggled with for years. I’m no expert in overcoming it, but over the past year, with the help of therapy, I’ve learned ways to cope and shut out the harmful, negative self-talk. And through this healing I realized just how negative self-talk left my mind in a constant state of overwhelm. Replace thoughts of “can’t” and “not good enough” or “never going to happen” with positive affirmations. Shutting down negative voices the moment you recognize them popping up with encouragement such as, “This is one day,” “I am capable,” and “This problem is one speck, but the future is wide open,” can help you take a deep breath and realized you can get yourself to a better place.
- Identify + Accept Positives
As you learn to quell the negative in your life, positives will blossom and become easier to recognize. Stop pushing aside the positivity that pops up in your life. Start identifying what you can do and what positive ideas or goals come up throughout the day. This is a free mental boost you can give to yourself every single day. The more you recognize and accept the positive in your life, the clearer defined your goals and vision becomes.
- Perform a monthly priority + vision check in
You have a list of your top priorities in life and a vision for the lifestyle you want to embody, whether you created them using my guide in the previous posts or listed them during the brain dump process. Keep these written out ideas somewhere safe or create a secret Pinterest vision board and refer back to these at least once a month so you can keep on track and remind yourself why you started.
Decluttering is one of my favorite steps of creating a simpler lifestyle because it’s an actionable step. You can jump on each of these stages right now and immediately see results and benefits. Savor this phase and process and let me know in the comments where your journey takes you!
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