to simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, complications, etc. declutter your life
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
“Declutter” has to be one of the most prominent topics in pop culture. I’ve been trying to understand why. Many of us feel better and accomplish more in a clutter-free environment, so that may explain the appeal of decluttering our living spaces. However, I suspect that there are deeper, perhaps even subconscious, reasons that we are drawn to this concept.
In an effort to explore my theory, I have been thinking about the “big picture.” This larger picture involves the lifestyles (or philosophies) known as “minimalism” and “simple living.” Minimalism is related to, but not the same as, simple living. Both inform us to cut back on what we own and what we do. Both eschew consumerism and the mindset that says we need more and bigger. That phrase cut back on what we own and what we do is where decluttering comes in.
In fact, Colin Wright notes that decluttering can be applied to possessions and ideas and relationships and activities: “What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities – that don’t bring value to your life.”
Leo Babauta further delineates the relationship between “”minimalism” and “simple living”: “So how is minimalism different? It’s basically an extension of simplicity — not only do you take things from complex to simple, but you try to get rid of anything that’s unnecessary. All but the essential.”
Joshua Becker defines minimalism this way: “At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” He describes his own minimalist journey this way: “We embarked on a minimalist journey to own less stuff. As a result, we discovered more money, more time, more energy, more freedom, less stress, and more opportunity to pursue our greatest passions: faith, family, friends.”
Now, with the big picture in mind, let’s focus on just one thing to declutter: your home. If the experience of others is any indication, you will likely progress to decluttering other things in your life as well. Many minimalists claim that their “simple living” journeys began with the decluttering of their possessions.
There are a plethora of benefits to be gained by decluttering your home. I was originally going to come up with my own list, but The Green Minimalist has such an excellent list (actually two lists) that I refer you to theirs instead:
First let me say – there is no one way to do it. Furthermore, many others have written some excellent articles and even books on this topic. At the end of this post, you will find a list of some good resources.
I will share some guiding principles:
I’ll also share my own decluttering method. It’s very simple. Go through each and every item in your home. As you examine each one, put it into one of three categories: “keep,” “give away,” or “discard.” Do this surface by surface, drawer by drawer, cabinet by cabinet, closet by closet, room by room; until you have reached into every nook and cranny in your house.
To illustrate, I’ll describe how I tackled my own kitchen:
For me winter is the perfect time to declutter and clean. Since I do not like being outdoors in the winter, it’s a good time to get the indoor chores out of the way. It also seems an appropriate way to start the New Year “off right.”
Please do leave a comment for us and our readers. Have you decluttered your own home? How did you do it? How did it make you feel afterwards?
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates
“One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.” – Francis Jourdain
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupe
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann
“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.” – Swedish proverb
Kimberly Lauren Bryant explains how to mindfully declutter any sort of thing we want to let go of: “a stale friendship, a drawer full of junk, resentment about the past, or clothing you haven’t worn in 2 years.” Read her excellent article in Living Green Magazine: Mindfully De-Clutter Your Life: Living Simply in 5 Easy Steps.
These two blog posts pertain to decluttering a home; the first deals with “principles,” and the second with “method“:
There are several good blogs with a “minimalist” focus. Here are a few of my favorites: