Just over a month ago I wrote a post: Can Less Give You More? In an attempt to answer that question I set out to declutter my house by getting rid of 465 items in 30 days. The idea was to get rid of 1 item on day 1, 2 on day 2 and so on up to 30 items on day 30. I’m pleased and proud to say that over 30 days I managed to eliminate a total of 505 items of clutter! Life is feeling lighter and although there’s more to do to get the house in order, I’ve found a new motivation, focus and drive to complete these tasks and I’m definitely less stress with less clutter around me.
Here are eight of the key things I learnt during the process:
- It’s easy to stop seeing clutter when you look at it every day. Items disappear into the background and become ‘part of the scenery’. It wasn’t until I really started looking that I found lots of items stuffed in drawers, behind sofas and on top of cupboards to be ‘dealt with at another time’. Another time which never came. Look at each room in your house as if you were a stranger arriving for the first time. Do you spot items you forgot you had? If you’ve forgotten you had them do you really still need them? Get rid!
- It takes less time and brain power to make a decision than delay a decision. As I said above I found a number of items around my house which I no longer actively used but which I had delayed making a decision about. This process helped me look at items and be more decisive. I’ve also found that as well as being more ruthless with the items in my home I also became more decisive about incoming items – which has helped avoid new clutter replacing the old. Whether it’s packaging, a free magazine or even buying something for the house/me. I make more decisive decisions to get rid of or not buy the things I don’t need and, so far, I haven’t regretted any of my choices.
- Clutter isn’t just physical stuff. When I first started the challenge I assumed all the items would be physical pieces in my house. In fact, once I started I realised the modern age we live in means there is clutter all over my life – from contacts in my phone, to email newsletters which arrive into my inbox just to be deleted unread – this clutter as well as the stuff in my house was making me overwhelmed so over the last month I’ve also had a digital de-clutter.
- I suffered from FOMA and FONA. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMA) meant my inbox was overrun with email newsletters and updates I never read. Fear Of Needing Again (yes I made that term up but I think it’s quite apt!) kept me holding on to items I really didn’t need any more. Letting go of that fear made it a lot easier to get rid of the items. I’ve not missed out on anything (as far as I know!) and I’ve not needed again anything I’ve got rid of plus I feel less overwhelmed.
- It never gets easier to get rid of sentimental items. Sentimental items for me are something I found most difficult to part with. But I’ve realised so many of my sentimental items were tucked away and inaccessible. When I went through them it gave me pure joy and I’ve now made sure those items are accessible so I can look over them when I need a little pick me up.
- You don’t have to get rid of something for it to no longer be clutter. Some of the items I saw as clutter and which were causing me stress I didn’t need to get rid of to feel lighter. Just giving them a home where they can be enjoyed – like the photos and sentimental items which are now in frames and a display book, stopped them being clutter in my mind but they’re still in my life.
- The desire to buy stuff to satisfy a need has gone. I used to have a tendency to shop if I was feeling down, believing that finding the perfect ‘something’ would make me happier/ make my life easier/ make me feel satisfied. I’ve realised happiness and satisfaction will only ever come from inside me. There are external items I need and want in my life – so I don’t think I could become a minimalist in the purest definition – but I no longer look to items to make me happy. I look to myself, my relationships and the activities I do. To this end, this year for Christmas I’ve asked for no physical presents (although I know the more organised people in my family who have already done their shopping have got me some physical gifts!) Instead my partner and I have asked for experiences and will be giving experiences in return. Will post more about this after Christmas as don’t want to spoil the surprise for family members who read this blog!
- Having less does give you more. Well at least it’s given me more. More space – physically and mentally. More relaxation and a greater sense of calm as the stress and overwhelm caused by stuff and clutter and unfinished jobs has reduced. More happiness as I can now enjoy the items which were hidden under clutter.
Want to do your own 30-day declutter? Read more on this post to find out how to get started!