Have you heard the buzz about the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo? It’s a New York Times best-seller, so clearly, this how-to guide to simplifying your life has touched a nerve for millions of readers.
After the holiday buzz is through, it is the perfect time to delve in to the subject of clutter. Time to clean up our lives and make way for the new year – something the Japanese do yearly as part of their New Year’s preparations.
But decluttering can be a scary proposition for those of us who like our stuff or just see it as too much of a process to begin. The good news is that even starting small can lighten your mental and physical load. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Set and maintain boundaries. When well-meaning friends or family offer to share items with you that they’ve decided they don’t need anymore, politely explain that you’re on a mission to declutter – and stick to it. If shopping is your weakness, make other plans. When birthdays and holiday celebrations roll around, think experiences versus tangible items. Tickets to a sporting event, dinner at a restaurant, or an afternoon rolling up your sleeves to help a local charity all present the gift of unforgettable memories for your spouse or children.
- Focus on one room at a time. Don’t start pulling out the clutter in every room at the same time, that is the ticket to getting overwhelmed. Begin with the outer edge of the room with the easy stuff, like trash. Then gradually work your way into the center of the room. Make three piles: one for trash, one for donation and one for keeps.
- If you haven’t used it in one year … then it’s time to part ways. If you think you might use it within a year, put it in a box and come back to it in one year’s time. If you haven’t used it yet, it’s time for it to go.
- Get rid of duplicate items. How many mugs do you really need? Pare down your inventory – you’ll be happier for it.
- Load donations into your car, and dispose of them immediately. Don’t let donation piles sit around for months.
- If you’re a parent, your kids are inevitably bringing home loads of artwork. Admittedly, it’s tough to part with any of it, but if you don’t, you’ll be swimming in a sea of glitter and construction paper. Purchase a large plastic box with lid, and save only your favorites from each school year – say, 10 to 15 items per child.
- Schedule time for decluttering. Some areas of the home are just prone to clutter; for example, the kitchen island or counters, the home office desk or the table in your entryway. Make it a point to do a sweep nightly or weekly. Small steps now prevent overwhelming tasks later.
- Assign one spot for incoming mail/papers. Create an inbox on the counter, then go through it once a week. Make a rule for yourself that your inbox must be empty by the time Monday morning rolls around.
- Celebrate every success. With each bag that either goes into your car for donation or into the trash, praise yourself for a job well done.
Remember, the hardest part is just getting started. Begin with these steps and you’ll be on your way to living with less clutter in the New Year. And who knows, you may feel a little lighter too!