Best Tips for Decluttering a Home
You deserve better than digging through junk. You shouldn’t have to open a box labeled “Jimmy’s Winter Clothes” to find what you need. Especially when “Jimmy” is now “James”. And a lawyer. With a wife.
Clutter is a natural formation in any active household. The way it forms is rather interesting. Excuse me for a second, while I do a perfect Malcolm Gladwell impression.
Clutter, as a concept, is the result of the human thought process. The human mind, as proven by several studies, hates losses way more than it loves gains. This concept, in the academic realm of behavioral economics, is called “loss aversion”.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Say you find $20 on the ground. SCORE! Maybe you’ll take your daughter out to lunch later. $20 goes a long way at Chipotle. You find a certain amount of joy finding that money on the ground. That constitutes a gain on your part.
Now compare that joy to the feeling of having $20 stolen from you. The feeling of anger and sadness will be far more severe and intense than the feeling of joy. This is loss aversion.
Clutter stems from loss aversion. We acquire and acquire and acquire to no end. But when it comes time to “lose” (i.e. to donate or throw away things we no longer need), we seem to be far less ready to commit. Clutter forms as our net acquisition of things exceeds our current ability to store or get rid of those things.
Clutter is shown to be detrimental on your mood. Having a clean house is good for the mind. Today, we’re going to walk through the most powerful ways to declutter and find some more peace in your life.
Minimalism as a Cleaning Strategy
Minimalism is the philosophy, and indeed the practice, of maintaining possession of only the smallest amount of material goods that are necessary. All other items, beyond food, water, shelter, and clothes, are superfluous.
Now, minimalism comes in many different forms. At its most extreme, minimalism is homelessness, living off the land or off the waste of others. Diogenes, who is said to have lived in a barrel and used the public street as his personal restroom, is widely considered the most extreme minimalist philosopher.
We’re not suggesting you go that far. While there is something to be said for simplifying your life, I think we can all agree that modern bathrooms are included in the current definition of “necessities”. But we can still use minimalism as a framework for improving our lives!
You almost certainly have stuff you don’t need. In fact, most clutter, by its very definition, is mostly stuff you don’t need. If you do need it, it would be in a drawer or cabinet where it’s easy to find in a timely manner. We tend to group things by function. Dishes go together, Tupperware goes together, tools go together. Junk goes together, too. When you use something only a few times, and then either consciously or subconsciously recognize that you won’t be needing it again, it goes directly on the junk pile with all the other clutter.
By this logic, we can assume that most of your clutter is useless stuff that you can probably throw away without missing it too much. Your first strategy when de-cluttering your home should be throwing away (or, better yet, donating), stuff you don’t need.
It’s easier than you think. Just start with any given pile and go item by item. Be brutally honest with yourself about whether each item is truly something you want or need. By the end, I promise you’ll have way less stuff. You’ll feel a lot better too!
Make Decluttering Easy by Starting Small
The single largest inhibitor to getting rid of clutter is procrastination. But why do we put off decluttering?
The main reason is that it seems like a far bigger job than it actually is. Clutter builds up to a level that is overwhelming. Since we know it’ll take hours of work, we don’t even try.
But there’s a fallacy in that mindset that we can easily circumvent. There’s absolutely no reason why the job of decluttering all has to be done at once. If you break it into smaller, more manageable pieces, it doesn’t seem so insurmountable.
Commit just 5 minutes per day to decluttering. This could involve throwing things away, donating them, or just putting them back where they belong. If you break decluttering up into shorter time slots, you’ll be far more likely to actually get started. In fact, once you get started, you’ll probably go for a lot longer than 5 minutes without even noticing.
Sure, 5 minutes a day isn’t much. It’ll mean your clutter will be around for longer. But it was going to stay there forever anyway, so that doesn’t really matter.
Using Clever Organization to Declutter Your Home
The scale of a decluttering project doesn’t just create concerns over the time it’ll take. It can also make the project seem exceedingly complicated or tedious. But there are a few ways that can simplify the process drastically and give you the power to declutter as quickly and easily as possible.
Start by getting three large boxes. Label them “trash, “donate”, and “put away”. Move through your clutter one item at a time, placing each item in its appropriate box. Once each box is full, you can simply do with them what you need. For the trash box, just put it out with your garbage on trash day, or bring it to a dump. For the donation box, you can drop it off at any thrift store or Goodwill (always be sure you’re donating things they can actually sell.) The “put away” box should be placed at a central point in your home. Then, you can move through that box and put things away in their proper place. Don’t store that box out of sight, because you’ll forget about it. Eventually, that box will become clutter itself.
This three-box process helps your brain deal with decluttering by giving more structure for item analysis. Our brains like patterns, so if you have a quick assessment of each item within these three categories, it will make the process easy, and sometimes even fun!
Clutter makes your house yucky. Your guests don’t like it, you don’t like it, and your brain doesn’t like it. It can even make you sick more often, since a buildup of clutter can give places for mold and bacteria to fester.
Here’s a little-known but very important tip: After decluttering your home, you should change your AC air filters. These filters can get very clogged and gross, especially in a dirty home. Replacing them after a clean can drastically improve your air quality.
Visit Filter King’s online filter store to find the exact air filter you need. Our fast, cheap shipping is part of what makes us the most trusted air filter delivery company in the world! We want your home to be a sanctuary. We make that happen by giving you the air quality you deserve at the price you need.