5 Benefits of Clutter Free Living
The definition of clutter is “a lot of objects in a state of being untidy”. But the problem is, some people have learnt to live with their “clutter” and have developed ways to keep it tidy. I know, because I used to be one of those people.
I had drawers full to the brim with flawlessly folded clothes, kitchen cupboards full of perfectly arranged utensils I’d rarely (if ever) used and a drawer full of neatly folded carrier bags just in case I ever landed myself in a situation that required over 50 plastic bags. I told myself I was organised and prepared for anything but the reality was, I was afraid to throw anything away; I was being ruled by my belongings. Every time I bought something new I would spend ages arranging and rearranging things so it would all fit in. It was exhausting and I hate to think how many hours I wasted!
Time for a change
All of this changed when I moved abroad and could only take limited luggage with me. I soon realised what I actually needed or loved, and what I could live without. It’s funny how when you’re under time pressure, decisions that you’ve been putting off for ages suddenly become easy to make. I was pretty ruthless (although I’ll confess I did put a couple of things in my Mum’s garage for safe-keeping, only to get rid of them later anyway!). I just felt so free. Every time I opened my wardrobe I was greeted by clothes that I loved; deciding what to wear seemed so much easier. I created less washing up because I got better at using pans and utensils for multiple purposes AND I had more time to do things I loved because I wasn’t constantly organising all of my junk!
Organising vs Decluttering
Now don’t get me wrong here, I LOVE organising (I’m pretty sure I breathe it and dream about it too) but as much as organising can feel great, it’s just temporary. Sure, everything looks tidy; your clothes are folded neatly, the kids’ toys have been categorised into cute little boxes and you know where everything is… for now. The problem with organising without decluttering is that often you organise things without giving consideration to whether or not you actually want/ use them.
Decluttering is the process of intentionally going through all of your items and consciously deciding if they are still wanted. With decluttering, the decision to throw something out is permanent. Items you no longer love or need are gone from your home, bringing in their place more space and a feeling of lightness and calm.
In a battle of organising vs decluttering, decluttering wins every time for me. Decluttering really gives you the chance to get to know exactly what you have and because you’ll have less stuff to remember, you’ll be more likely to know exactly where everything is. Plus, when you declutter, you inevitably end up organising anyway and you may discover useful things you forgot you had. Bonus! 😀
When you declutter first THEN organise, you’re onto a winner! When you’re getting rid of things and you find that sweet spot – the moment where something just clicks – that’s when staying tidy feels effortless. We all live busy lives and there are only so many things we can remember, so investing some time into sorting through your clutter could really help save time in the long run. One of the main benefits of decluttering is that it’s like taking inventory of everything you own and then being able to easily recall where things are.
So, why declutter?
Clutter doesn’t just affect our physical spaces. It affects us emotionally as well. If you find yourself constantly feeling like there’s something you have to do or you find it hard to relax then clutter could be the culprit. If you find that you struggle to stay organised or things keep getting messy, that’s a sure sign that you need to declutter. If you’re still not sold, I’ve come up with a list below of five of my favourite benefits of decluttering.
- More space. This one may seem obvious but the feeling you get when you have extra space is amazing. The air feels lighter, you can open cupboards and be pleasantly surprised that they’re no longer crammed full and being able to pick from a wardrobe full of clothes that you love will set your day off on the perfect foot. Just knowing that everything is in order can contribute to a happier home (and a happier you!)
- A fresh start. Decluttering can be incredibly cathartic and give you a real sense of motivation and accomplishment. It can be a brilliant way to move on from a difficult period in your life.
- A chance to reconnect with your belongings. That purse you forgot you had but you love? It’s like buying it and getting to use it all over again! (except this time, it’s free!)
- Make money/ help a charity. Whether it’s a friend or a charity that it goes to, if the items you no longer want can be reused, donating your unwanted items is a great thing to do and means that someone else can benefit from them. The same goes for if you decide to sell your belongings and make some money for yourself. If you do decide to give something to a friend, only give it to them if they’ve already expressed an interest in it or you KNOW they’ll love it. Giving stuff to others, especially if they’re not very good at saying no, doesn’t solve the problem of clutter – it just shifts it to someone else who doesn’t want it!
- Less stuff to clean! Less stuff to pack if you ever move house. Less choices. Less overwhelm. Less = more.
What most people find is that once they do decide to get rid of their unwanted items, they rarely miss them or think ‘Dammit, I wish I still had x, y or z’.
If you’re someone that likes to be prepared for all occasions, think about how often those occasions actually arise. If you find yourself unable to get rid of an item, ask yourself why? Is it for sentimental reasons? Are you really going to find a use for that bent broom stick? Will you honestly ever get round to mending those jeans? If you’re coping fine without it now, and chances are you have been for some time, you’ll be fine without it in the future too.
If in doubt, throw it out
I warn you, once you get used to it, throwing stuff out feels so good it can become addictive. Just make sure you check with your family before you start throwing their things out too! If you’re not sure about an item, take a break or set it to one side to come back to. Sometimes you just need to work your decision-making muscles a little more 🙂
From what I’ve found, living with less definitely gives you more freedom. You may also find yourself more mindful of what you’re spending your money on, more assertive and better at saying no when someone tries to impose something on you.
What would you do with more space?
It all comes down to what is more valuable to you. Holding onto things ‘just in case’ (and let’s be honest, that time rarely comes) can result in feelings of overwhelm and stress. If you apply that principle to everything then before long your home will be overrun with things that you aren’t actually using or even like!
If you’re struggling to make a decision, ask yourself what you’d do with more space – and that doesn’t mean space that has to be filled! It’s fine to have empty shelves or cupboards. You can either leave them empty, space stuff out more or rearrange things from a freestanding unit into somewhere with spare room and then give yourself the gift of more space by moving or getting rid of the freestanding unit.
Getting over overwhelm
Just start. Somewhere. Anywhere. Don’t let overwhelm get the better of you! Even if you just have the time to declutter one drawer, it’s still a start. And you never know, you might actually enjoy it! Many clients I work with actually tell me that once they get into it, they find decluttering a very therapeutic process.
Keeping on top of it
Once you’ve decluttered, as long as you have the commitment, anyone can stay organised. It’s just a case of putting things back where you got them from and have regular mini decluttering sessions to re-evaluate your belongings to check if you still want them. Another key thing here is to make sure you’re not just impulsively buying things to fill your home. If you are, chances are you’re trying to fill a void, one which if you’re being honest with yourself, possessions won’t fill.
Next time you go to buy something, try to go for quality over quantity. You will appreciate it that much more, and you’re more likely to look after it better, especially if you’ve parted with a little more of your hard earned cash over it. But the main point here is that you should love using/ wearing it!
I did this not long ago and bought a new frying pan that was more than I usually would have spent but as cooking is a hobby of mine, I get so much enjoyment from it that it was totally worth it! For an even bigger bonus, try and find products that can do multiple jobs (like a big sieve that you could also use as a colander) or instead of having 5 frying pans of varying sizes, just have 2 – one relatively big and one on the smaller side. Less cupboard space needed to store them and less washing up!
The definition of clutter will be different to everyone. If you have clutter, you’ll know it. Some people like having pictures and nick-knacks surrounding them and think that minimalist homes are cold and unwelcoming. On the other end of the scale are those who like to have everything out of sight and the absolute bare minimum of belongings; any form of clutter makes their skin crawl. Then there are those (like myself) who are somewhere in the middle. Ultimately clutter is a perception; I see clutter as anything I wish wasn’t in my home or is taking up space that I’d rather use for something else.
I also wrote a post about How To Fill Your Home with Things That Spark Joy where I talk about the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Japanese author and now world famous declutterer, Marie Kondo. This book really breaks down decluttering and I really recommend it to anyone looking to improve their decision-making skills, especially if you’re one of those people that always wants to keep things because ‘it might come in handy later’.
Let me know if you decide to start decluttering your home and how you get on with it in the comments below!