Thursday, 30 July 2009

How to Start Decluttering

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Out of all the things I have done in my quest for a simpler life, I think one of the hardest things that I've had to do was to declutter.

This was my pile of tops (yes tops only!) before my declutter of my wardrobe.

When you've lived most of your adult life accumulating STUFF, as I have, letting it go is hard. Its hard for a number of reasons.

Sometimes its hard because there's so much just the thought of doing it is overwhelming.

Sometimes its hard because there's a lot of emotional baggage attached to the stuff - memories or unfulfilled expectations associated with that stuff.

See, I have learned that when I bought stuff, I was often buying for several reasons - there's the actual "use" for it but sometimes I bought it because I wanted it to help me "be the person I wanted to be".

Therefore, getting rid of it is letting go of that fictional person I made up in my head.

Sometimes its hard to let it go because then one is truly confronted with the amount of waste and excess that one has. There's nothing more daunting than facing up to the fact that this "landfill in one's home" is still LANDFILL. I have often felt guilt when decluttering because I'm confronted by evidence of how much I am contributing to landfill.

Still, in my journey, I have realised that too much stuff and living a simple life just didn't work for me. Too much stuff meant a lot of work - a lot of work in finding storage for it, maintaining it, constantly re-organising then trying to keep track of it.

Too much stuff also meant that when it came time to actually use something I often couldn't find it amongst the pile of stuff!! Which then resorted to me going out and buying the item all over again... it was an awful cycle really.

I've found that the hardest thing about decluttering is starting to do it. I wonder if its the same for people out there?

So here are my tips for how to start decluttering:

1. Make a commitment to STOP procrastinating and just DO IT!!

This is the hardest step for all the reasons I've stated above. Procrastinating takes a lot of energy. Stop using up your energy procrastinating because you'll need that energy for the actual job.

Commit yourself to STOP procrastinating first. For me, usually it means just stop finding excuses why you can't declutter....then a few days later actually *do it*.

2. Set a date.

Make sure that everyone knows you'll be busy on that date. Eat well and have plenty of sleep the night before. Decluttering (at least for me) is physical AND emotional work. You need as much rest and nutrition beforehand.

Make sure that your decluttering day is on a day when the tip/dump is open. That way you can take all the rubbish to the tip that day without it just hanging around.

If available in your area, make sure that your decluttering day is on a day near "hard rubbish pick-up" or on a day when you can access the large Charity bins. You can even make a set appointment with some charities to pick up your excess stuff so you then HAVE to declutter by that date. (Note: make sure it truly is worth donating and not just rubbish!)

3. Set a goal.

Sometimes, that goal for me meant tackling one room on that date. Sometimes that goal meant that I had decided to only have so much number of items. Then I stick to that goal.

And that's it. Just do it.

After decluttering my wardrobe - all my tops in one drawer only! Full post here.

Of course, once you've decluttered, its another story to make sure it doesn't happen again. But perhaps that's something we can talk about another time.

In the meantime, what are your tips for starting the decluttering process?