A new year always inspires us to quit bad habits and declutter our homes. However, once we’re back at work and settled into old routines, our best intentions fall by the wayside. So how do we make decluttering a reality in 2019?
If you haven’t heard of her yet, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and the author of a little book called, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising’. In it, Kondo breaks down the basics of tidying up your wardrobe, your home, and ultimately your life.
As Kondo explains, this method of organising (coined as the KonMari Method) is based on the principle of holding an item in your hands and asking yourself, “does it spark joy?” If it doesn’t, thank it for its service, place it in a bag or box and give it away. When you use joy as your standard, Kondo says that you’re able to confront each item earnestly and decide whether or not it really makes you happy. The same principle can then be applied to the rest of your life – such as work, relationships, etc.
With that in mind, here are 11 simple tips to help you tackle your clutter in 2019:
1. Work Out Where It’s All Going
Do this before you start. The satisfaction you feel when clutter leaves your house is huge, but the irritation you feel when you trip over boxes in the passage for a week is almost as powerful. Decide which charity you’ll donate to and stock up on rubbish bags or boxes. Keep a box aside for recyclable items and one for those destined for the rubbish dump.
2. Don’t Get Overwhelmed
This is the number one reason that good intentions fail. We start off with a huge rush of energy, then after a few hours, ‘decision fatigue’ sets in. Don’t think, “This weekend I’ve got to clear it out.” Instead, say, “This weekend, I’ll devote three hours to sorting through my clothes.”
3. Bin What’s Out of Sight
Moving stuff into an attic or garage is not decluttering, it’s simply building a bigger problem for later. Rather than keeping something on the off chance you might need it, resolve to get rid of items. If it’s in the garage, you’ll forget you’ve got it.
4. Swap Roles
This has the potential to cause a fight so tread carefully. The fact is that it’s easier to throw out someone else’s junk than your own. You don’t feel any remorse about chucking your husband’s old golf shoes (he’s got new ones), your son’s old text books (he’s left school) and the large collection of shoes your daughter no longer wears. In turn, though, you need to let them get a bit ruthless with your blind spots. Be prepared to negotiate and don’t get rid of anything without the owner’s permission.
5. Be Closet Savvy
Follow Kondo’s simple rule that if it doesn’t make you feel good when you touch it or put it on, don’t keep it. Yes, we all have a few items we’d like to keep for nostalgic reasons but limit yourself to four. Do you have clothes you may get into again or that may come back into fashion? They all need to go.
6. Be Ruthless
If it’s broken and you haven’t found a moment to fix it in the past year, you never will. Found stuff that’s not even yours? Give it back. If no one knows who it belongs to, get rid of it. Don’t keep items “just in case” you might need them. Chances are that if the occasion ever does arise, you won’t be able to find the item anyway.
7. Try A Neat Nostalgia Test
Sentimental attachment is a major reason for holding on to things. Try the emergency services test… what would you grab if there was a fire? Second easy criteria… what items make you happy? Store items you love in a memory box, but make an edited choice. You’re unlikely to remember the things that aren’t there.
8. Recognise (and move past) Guilt
If you’ve started keeping things (like those watercolour paintings done by your great aunt) just because you feel bad rather than because they really mean something, get over it. It’s time to free yourself of guilt and dispose of them.
9. Donate It
Be generous and give away as much as you can afford to. Transporting bulky items like furniture can be a logistical and cost problem for some potentially grateful recipients but it’s possible to source cheap delivery services by searching on Gumtree with a filter for your area. If you’re clearing out books, most urban areas have a charity bookstore which will gratefully take your old volumes.
10. Sell It
There’s an online market for almost anything these days and selling second hand goods is easy. Post your items at a competitive price on Facebook or Gumtree (use the Price Checker feature) and you’ll be amazed at how much you can make. If speed is of the essence, then go low and say “first to collect it gets it”. If you’re prepared to take a little longer, then go a little higher. Always post a clear picture of the item and describe it as well as you can.
Selling furniture and household goods is usually easy at the beginning of the year because so many people are moving into new rental accommodation. Refrigerators are the third most searched for item on Gumtree, so you should be able to quickly shift your old one or that spare drinks fridge.
11. Take Your Time
Take a moment to revel in the bliss of your clearance and don’t immediately replace old unwanted stuff with a new load of future clutter. Only buy items in 2019 that you really need or, as Marie Kondo would say, that will bring you genuine pleasure.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst
As the food and decor editor of Woman&Home, Claire enjoys nothing more than eating great food in beautiful locations. In a perfect world, she would travel for a living and have a Lord of the Rings marathon every weekend.