Slow Decluttering

May 05, 2020

Slow Decluttering

One thing I've learned from talking about slow living and minimalism is that not everyone is as ruthless as I am when it comes to decluttering. I'm very pragmatic and somewhat brutal. Once I've realised I don't use something anymore, out the door it goes as quickly as possible. I'm not sentimental and I rarely think twice. Not everyone finds decluttering as easy as I do.

Something that really helped me to embrace minimalism to the fullest was realising you don't have to be equally minimalist in all areas of your life. It's OK to want a library worth of books in your home if you enjoy them; hobbies bring stuff into your space but it's worth it for the joy that interest brings; if food is important to you, don't scrimp on the ingredients just because you feel judged by other minimalists. Defining what clutter looks like to you is important.

There's room for slow decluttering; making space in your home by getting rid of the things you don't need or want in a way that works for you. Without rushing, causing anxiety, or unnecessary regrets. You don't have to be as cold-hearted as I am!

We often make a subconscious link between what we own and who we are, it makes decluttering difficult. Letting go of our possessions can often feel as if we're giving away a part of ourselves. Learning to let go of the stuff we don't use will do so much more for us than just free up space in our home.

Decluttering can be revolutionary. It makes room in our lives for the things that mean the most to us by getting rid of the things that don't. Keep everything that you find beautiful or useful, get rid of the rest. I prefer to rip the band-aid off quickly and swiftly but you might prefer a slower approach. This is how to declutter slowly and successfully with a grace period to prevent any pangs of regret.



Stop bringing new things into your life

Making room in your life starts with not filling it with stuff in the first place. If you treat shopping as a hobby or are a compulsive keeper of everything, try to limit what you bring into your home. Refuse gifts you don't need and say no to freebies you don't want. You'll sidestep some of the clutter (and waste) at least.



Start with things you don't care about

The junk drawer, office supplies, garden shed, or garage. Whatever you're not bothered about, start there. It's much easier to get rid of stuff you're unattached to and couldn't care less about, and it builds up your stamina when you need to get stuck into the harder areas. A low buy or no spend month can help curb your shopping habits and encourage an appreciation for what you already have.



Move onto the hard stuff

Everyone has something they find difficult to let go of. Whatever yours is, it's time to face it. Remember: you do not have to let go of something you love and use. Only get rid of things you don't want, need, or like. Be honest with yourself. We all know deep down when we're hanging onto something for the wrong reasons, hoping at some point in the future we'll be able to wear it or make use of it. It might take you a while to reach the point where you can start to declutter the more difficult stuff, and that's OK. Take your time.



Ask yourself the tough questions

Why do I have this?
Do I use this regularly?
Would I buy this again right now if it broke?
Am I keeping this out of obligation or expectation?
Is this worth the space it takes up or the time I spend caring for it?
Am I holding onto this because of what I think it says about me as a person?
Am I ready to let it go?

Asking ourselves questions makes us mindful about why we have and keep things. A lot of the time we're hanging onto stuff because we feel obliged to, whether that's because someone has gifted it to us, we love the way it looks, or we think we might need it in the future. Decluttering requires a small leap of faith; the risk that perhaps we make a mistake and get rid of something we later regret. That risk is small. The reality is, if you haven't used something or worn it in the last year the chances are you never will.



Give yourself a grace period

I encourage you to be firm with yourself when it comes to decluttering. If you allow yourself to box everything up "just in case" you need it, you'll end up with a heap of stuff hidden away all over your house. However, giving yourself a grace period for things you're desperately unsure of is a nice way to ease yourself into letting go. For items you're sentimental about or want to give yourself one final shot at making use of, a 3-6 month grace period is a good buffer. Put these things away, out of sight, and see whether you reach for them. It's likely you'll start to feel less attached to them making it easier to declutter.



Pass it on to someone who cares

Decluttering is made so much easier when you give away your unwanted things to people who really want them. Knowing the possessions you haven't appreciated are being gifted to someone who will truly love them will give you peace of mind that you're doing the right thing by letting go. Dresses you never wore, books you've never read, home decor you never liked, and all that stuff you never knew you ever had in your drawers; it can all be given to better homes where it will be loved and used.


If you'd like more help with decluttering your life, download my eBook: The 5-Step Method For Decluttering. A non-nonsense, straight-talking guide to decluttering your space sharing all you need to know about preparing to declutter, what the best methods for decluttering are, and the everyday habits for keeping your home clutter-free, forever.




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