Do you ever sit and watch a few episodes of Hoarders just so you don’t feel so bad about your own home? Do you ever wonder why it can be so hard to become a minimalist?
Yeah, me too. As I watch each cringe-worthy episode of people with mold and rats I can’t help but look at my piles of half-started crafts and never-folded laundry and think “well at least I’m not that bad.
If this is you then you’re in the right place. We’re going to be talking about what to do when you do look around from the couch after a few episodes of Hoarders and think, but where do I even start?
How do you start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed by it all?
Just like you start when you’re running a marathon. You don’t worry about the entire 26.2 miles, you don’t even worry about mile three. You start with that first step. Then you take another step and another.
Can it really be that simple?
Well, it might be a simple concept, but in reality, it’s never simple to implement so don’t worry, the article doesn’t stop here. Let’s keep going so we can talk about how to tackle each step without getting overwhelmed.
Where do you start decluttering?
So, there you are standing in your living room looking at the piles of clutter and goldfish hiding in the couch cushions. Where do you start? You’re ready to take it one step at a time, but that first step is daunting and your feet feel like lead.
When I feel like this, I like to put on some upbeat music a little too loudly. My kids literally groan when they hear Katie Perry come on the iHome speakers! But they also know that it means more room to play and feel more comfortable in their home. So this one signal is enough to get us all moving because we want that feeling at the end of the tunnel.
Once I get some tunes cranking, if it is at all sunny outside I start throwing open the doors and windows. There is nothing like a little fresh air to get your blood pumping and help you get ready to work. If you live in an area with long winters you know how uplifting that first sunny day is when you can finally open things up. So, go ahead and do this, even if it’s just for half an hour before you realize that it’s actually still really cold outside!
5 steps to becoming a minimalist in 30 days
So, you’ve got your tunes cranking and the windows open and you’re ready to tackle the clutter. But as many mommas have seen, if you don’t have a game plan you’re going to make unnecessary mistakes along the way. So let’s layout a few ground rules, or steps, you can take to ensure success as you declutter your home.
- Make your own rules
As you tackle each room in your home you need to establish a few rules that you’ll follow. Like, in your closet, if you haven’t worn it in a year then you need to donate it. Or, in the kitchen, if you have duplicates (or more!) of something, then it needs to go. These rules will help guide you so that you don’t get decision fatigue as you go through each item in your home.
- It’s okay to break your rules midway
The good news is that it’s your home. So even as you set the rules, you can also break them! You’re in charge here, not me or your mom or any self-proclaimed guru. You are in charge. Say it again. You’re in charge, so you can break any rule that you want to as you go through your clutter. So, if you get into your kitchen and realize that you’re willing to toss all duplicates except your Crock-Pots then by all means keep them both (and yes I’m speaking about myself as you all know I love cooking with my Crock-Pot!).
- Choose a system (by room/by category/by person – start with you!)
This is the most important step you need to take as you tackle your clutter once and for all. You need to pick a system and then stick to it. There are three general systems you can choose from.
First, you can choose to tackle one room at a time and stay diligent until it’s done. Or you can choose to declutter by category similar to the Kon Mari method. Lastly, you can tackle the clutter based on each person in your home.
One word of caution with this last system is that it’s easier to see other people’s clutter over your own. But you really do need to start with yourself first. As your family members see you clearing your own clutter they will be more willing once their turn comes around.
- Be willing to ask the tough questions
As you work way through each category you’re going to come across items that are difficult to decide what to do with it. You need to be willing to ask yourself the tough questions. Yes, you love that dress and yes, it’s super cute – but will you ever actually wear it again? If not, take a page from Marie KonMari and thank it for giving you fun memories and send it on to bless someone else. Take a picture if you want to, but don’t hold onto clutter just because it holds great memories. You’re not throwing away the memories, just the clutter.
- Stop digging the hole (stop buying, stop bringing it in the house)
As you work towards clearing the clutter, it can possibly take a while. And, as we established earlier, that’s okay. But as you’re clearing be sure to stop bringing more in. For myself, the onslaught of clutter can be difficult to stay on top of.
Between the constant barrage of junk mail and the continuous flow of artwork coming home from the school, it can be next to impossible to totally stop the clutter from coming in. But you also need to remember to not add to it when you can control it.
So, stop shopping out of habit, boredom, or as retail therapy. The stuff you buy when you’re randomly hitting the stores or browning the sales is sure to become clutter eventually. So, just stay away and stop adding to the clutter while you work towards tackling the clutter you already have.
Now you’re ready to take your first step
It doesn’t have to be hard to become a minimalist. But it can be daunting at times to look around your home and you simply don’t know where to start. Hopefully, now I’ve given you some concrete steps that aren’t that hard to start with.
Start with the first step and keep taking one more step until one day you realize your home can breathe again. You can get there, I promise. Just get started and don’t stop until you reach that place where minimalism makes sense for you.
So, what system will you choose? By room or by category? Either way, your end goal is still the same so it really doesn’t matter. Just choose the one that makes the most sense to you and your situation.
Get started and don’t stop and you’ll soon see the fruits of your labor when your home is peaceful and relaxing for everyone. And check out my own version of the 30-day minimalism challenge here!