I had a virtual decluttering session yesterday with a lady who was looking for some tips and strategies. She’s a normal mum with two young children. She wanted to declutter some clothes, children’s toys and some sentimental bits and pieces. I thought some of the tips I gave her might be useful for you too, so here they are in no particular order.
Turn Your Hangers Round
If you want to see at a glance how much of your wardrobe you’re actually wearing, this is a good trick. Place all your hangers the same direction. When you put something back in the wardrobe after use, put it back with the hanger the other way around. You’ll be able to see at a glance which items you’re wearing regularly. Knowing definitively what you haven’t worn for a while can help you make easier decisions about what to let go.
Ask Yourself This
When deciding which clothes to keep, ask yourself whether you’d wear this over that. You might like a particular piece but if never seem to wear it and there are other items you always end up wearing, ask yourself when you would choose to wear it instead.
If you can’t think when you’d choose it over something else, it’s probably time to let it go.
Declutter by Category
Here’s another way to make decisions easier when deciding what to keep: declutter by category. Women seem to own a lot of pairs of jeans and black trousers! When you look at them all together it’s easier to see the sheer volume of things in that category. When you can see all that you have it can be easier to see which items you really want to keep. (Remember to focus on the things you’re choosing to keep, rather than putting the emphasis on what you’re losing).
Keep a Digital Memory
My client had boxes of old birthday and Christmas cards given to her children. She wanted to keep them to show the children when they were older. She also felt sentimental about letting them go because they had personal messages and drawings from the children’s friends. However they were taking up a lot of space. Thinking out loud she considered putting them into some covered storage in the kitchen. She then realised that it’s still clutter, even if you can’t see it. (And I do believe that our external clutter represents our internal clutter, especially when it’s sentimental stuff.)
One option if you have things like this that you want to remember, is taking picture and saving them digitally. I did this years ago with a number of cards and letters…and never looked at them since! However, they are available should I suddenly have an urge to read them.
Although we don’t really want to create a load of digital clutter, this can be a way of reducing the physical without the heartache of completely getting rid of something sentimental.
Start with Broken Toys
Decluttering your children’s toys can be tricky business. An easy way to get started is to get rid of anything broken or with missing parts. These can’t be played with so they are a quick win to creating space.
Involve the Children
Involve the kids in your decluttering. Explain that you want a nice space to live in where you don’t all fall over things or have too much to see what there is. Even if they’re young they’ll follow your example so show how you’re decluttering other areas of the house.
Take a trip to the charity shop together. Ask the children to find x number of toys each they’d like to give to other children who don’t have any. Get them to choose and then take them to the charity shop together.
I find children are generally pretty empathetic. If you ask them to think of others you may find decluttering is much easier then if you just try to take things off them. Even adults who feel like they’re being forced to get rid of things turn into possessive toddlers!
Have a 1 in 1 out Policy
This works for toys and for clothes. Once you get yourself to a place where you’re happy if you get something new, another item needs to go out to make space for it.
Rotate Items on Display
You don’t have to have absolutely everything on display. In an ideal world you’d only keep those things that make your heart sing and have them all on display to enjoy. In the real world, you may be short on surface space. Having lots of things in too small a space is one definition of clutter. If everything you love is squished together it’s not ideal.
Consider storing a few things elsewhere and then bring them out to rotate with the other items from time to time.
Declutter in Pieces to Reduce Overwhelm
If you have small bits of clutter here and there you can collect them up in a box to sort out later. Sometimes clutter takes quiet and contemplation. Sometimes it just needs a bit of time to sort through without too much concentration.
For these things you might find it possible to sort them out in front of the TV (if you get time to watch TV!). You can make progress on these things without having to put extra time aside.
Taking pictures of the birthday cards mentioned above is an example of something that could worked though like this. It’s a bit of tedious job but doing a handful each evening would get it done.
If you’d like some strategies, tips and mindset flips to deal with your clutter, book yourself in for a virtual session. You can do so here.