It’s Saturday afternoon, and you’ve just finished cleaning up the kitchen from lunch. You step into the living room to cozy up on the couch, but you feel pain as the 1000th Lego piece from your child’s dump truck set pierces the ball of your foot. You grab the wall to brace yourself but knock down the pineapple painting someone guilted you into buying at the garage sale you visited last week. It falls loudly into the pile of silver teacups you have not put away into the China hutch you inherited from an aunt because it’s already stuffed, and you can’t fathom throwing anything away because you have a scarcity mindset about belongings.
Now let’s picture a very different home.
It’s Saturday afternoon, and you’ve just cleaned the kitchen. You step into the living room, relishing the rug under your feet as you cross over to the couch. Your book sits ready on the end table, encumbered by nothing else around it. You grab a cozy blanket, stretch your legs, and begin to read, soaking in the freedom to do exactly what you want because your home is at peace.
Which home is closest to yours? Can you spot the major difference? In a word, “clutter” makes the difference. Decluttering can take a space from infuriating to calming with a small amount of time each day.
What does it mean to declutter?
To declutter means to get rid of anything that consistently gets out of control or that has no home in your house. The Lego piece that stabbed your foot can’t go into the Lego box because it is too full. The Legos can’t consistently stay in the playroom after playtime because the room is too full. If you have too many toys, your house may feel out of control. Decluttering can solve this problem by appointing the Legos to the Lego box, the toys to the playroom, and the house to manageability.
Where should you start?
When beginning to declutter, there are many suggestions on where to start. I adhere to Dana K. White’s method of decluttering, and she suggests starting in the most visible areas first. She reasons that seeing your visible progress allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, which will then motivate you to keep going, creating decluttering momentum. I wholeheartedly agree. Decluttering flat surfaces in the room I spend most of my time immediately makes me feel calmer, propelling me to keep going until I reach my tool shed.
What rules should you use when getting rid of things?
As for the rules of decluttering, you can get rid of anything you don’t want or need. But for people like me, the easiest rules to implement are Dana’s rules. Her process is only five steps long, and once you grasp the main principles, it becomes so easy to mentally zoom through and get rid of whatever is in your hand.
- Is it trash?
- If it’s trash, put it in the trash bag/ recycling.
- Is it easy?
- Easy means it has a home somewhere else in the house. If so, take it there now.
- Is it a “duh” donation?
- A “duh” donation is anything that obviously needs to be donated.
- Ask the two decluttering questions.
- If I needed this item, where would I look for it? Take it there now.
- If I needed this item, would it occur to me that I already had one? If yes, then what? Take it where you would look for it.
- Make it fit.
- Put your favorites in first. Anything else, get rid of it.
What are the short/long-term benefits?
There are many benefits to decluttering, and some of them customize to your situation. Decluttering has opened so much space and time for me to enjoy my family and home. I used to be so angry whenever I found the toys strewn out of the playroom or a bedroom after a clothing emergency had hit because I knew a huge chunk of my time would be spent cleaning it up, only for the same thing to happen shortly after I finished. But now, most rooms in my house take less than 15 minutes to tidy up because I don’t have to maneuver around things I don’t need or have room for. I kept going so far with decluttering that now I lean towards a minimalist mindset when it comes to my house, especially in high-traffic areas. Minimalism provides the freedom that we would not have found otherwise. Long-term benefits include peace of mind (no nagging tasks that tidying has not happened), a sustained sense of calm (visual clutter takes away peace), and improved housekeeping skills (you begin to see clutter before it makes its way into your house).
In 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul desired that the younger widows “marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” (Emphasis mine) Now, I’m not a widow, but the principle is clear: our homes are to be managed, not just lived in. Decluttering allows me to manage our belongings and honor the family contained within.