At what point does the amount of ‘stuff’ we have in our lives start becoming problematic?
Spending the entire day organising his garage instead of playing in the backyard with his son was the catalyst for Joshua Becker to declutter. Now the founder of the Becoming Minimalist website and author of several books on decluttering, Becker realised he wanted to spend more time with his kids instead of maintaining his many possessions.
You don’t need to be a parent to relate to this scenario. Many of us are time poor and are looking for ways to fit more into our days. If some of your day is being spent searching for your keys in a cluttered house or working around the clock to pay for those big purchases, decluttering can give you back both time and money. Clearing out your life can result in a cleared out headspace as well, giving you more mental energy for your career and relationships.
Decluttering, the act of paring back and reducing unnecessary things from your life, has become increasingly popular. The drawbacks of owning and pushing for more are becoming apparent. Even IKEA’s Head of Sustainability, Steve Howard, was quoted as saying, “In the west, we have probably hit peak stuff.”* Reducing your consumption and streamlining your life can create space and time for the things that really matter to you. Your hard-earned money can be spent on what you value, rather than what’s being marketed to you as a ‘must-have’ item.
Review your posessions
While having a decluttered home and life will give you back time, it does take time to achieve it in the first place. Set aside a weekend to begin to tackle the clutter in your home. Even if your home isn’t packed to the rafters with possessions, it’s likely you’ve been holding onto things you no longer need. If this task feels overwhelming, the best way to approach the job is one room at a time or even start with tackling a particular space like a cupboard or a specific type of item.
Ask yourself the following questions when you review your possessions, “When did I last use this?”, “When will I use it again?”, “Is this item useful?” “Does it make me happy?” Categorise items into piles, a pile for items to be thrown out or recycled, one for those that can be donated or sold and you can even have a pile for the items that you don’t quite know what to do with (not too many of these though!).
These items didn’t arrive in your home by accident, so take a look at your spending habits. Do you buy the latest gadgets? Are you a big clothes shopper? Do you purchase a lot of gifts for your loved ones? Being conscious of what you’ve been purchasing and what your triggers are will help you hone in on potential areas to cut back on. And now that your home has been organised, you’ll have a much better awareness of what you already have and what you don’t need more of.
Consider your commitments
Once the clutter in your home has been addressed, take a look through your calendar. Is it packed with appointments, social engagements, driving the kids around? Consider what commitments you can let go of and delegate. Once your schedule has been freed up, it can be tempting to utilise the spare time you’ve just created to fit other things in. Be mindful that you don’t fill it up again out of habit. We all need some downtime to recalibrate and relax. This might mean saying no to more things, which can be difficult if you’re a people pleaser, but it’s important to protect your time.
Decluttering does involve an initial commitment in time and effort, however it’s a worthwhile activity that will pay off in the long-run. The popularity of decluttering is due to the positive impact it can have on your life. It can provide a greater sense of contentment and calm amid our increasingly chaotic and busy lives, as well as saving money and time.