A lot of my friends talk about having an uncluttered home, and personally, I understand it’s not easy to know where to start. When your home is filled with clutter, trying to tackle a mountain of stuff can be quite overwhelming.
So here’s my suggestion: create rules. Principles to help guide your decisions as you attempt to rediscover your floor. While rules without implementation won’t make a dent in your mountain, it is a start.
You probably already have a set of rules in your daily life (i.e. going to the gym twice a week, eating healthy meals five days a week, or reading two books per month).
A clutter-free house needs rules too.
Looking good isn’t always good enough
My sister keeps all her shoes. Whether it’s one pair that’s five years old and she hasn’t worn for an equally long time or another with holes in the soles. She keeps them because they still look nice in her eyes. While I understand her sentimentality to keep something that has lost its function purely for aesthetics seems silly.
So I started setting aside time for both of us about once every year to go through our shoe collection and get rid of the pairs we don’t use anymore.
I convinced her that keeping only her wearable shoes helps eliminate the frustrating moments when she thinks she has a good pair only to remember they aren’t wearable anymore. Also, now she can buy new shoes to replace the old ones without cluttering the shoe cabinet like before.
Rule #1: Keep only the items you use, need, or have a purpose in your home. Any item you own must have a designated place to live. After you choose what will stay and what will go, throw away, re-purpose or donate the rest.
Even I find it difficult to resist buying a new trendy and fashionable Michael Kors handbag. But I always remind myself how will this benefit me? Do I have a place for it?
Before going out shopping, I often think ahead to list some benefits of the item I intend to buy. For example, I want a sofa for my living room. My apartment could fit a loveseat, but if I buy a sleeper sofa then overnight guests could stay comfortable as well.
Another factor that I take into consideration is whether the new item can provide a good experience.
There’s a common saying that a happy life is not about having the latest fancy stuff like a See-Thru fridge, a 4K TV, but it’s the experiences that make our lives meaningful. So whenever I’m tempted to buy more stuff, I always ask myself if the money would be better spent on a vacation or a nice night out (plus I don’t get a headache trying to find a space for these things in my house).
Rule #2: Think twice before making any purchases, whether they are a physical item or an experience. Decide how you can make use out of it first.
One in, one out
In my second rule, I mentioned how planned purchases can help my home stay uncluttered, but what about a new blender that works better and more accurately meets my needs?
Well, it’s simpler than you think.
Get rid of the old one. Sell it via Facebook Marketplace or donate the old item to an organization in need. By applying a one in, one out rule you can stop clutter from growing uncontrollably. You’ll find the temptation to go out shopping will decrease as well (I’m not a shopaholic, but why take a chance!).
Rule #3: Every time a new item comes into your house, an old or similar item must leave.
Habits make a huge difference
Put the cutlery back in the drawer! Hang that jacket back in the closet!
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But not all of us do it. A healthy clutter-clearing habit needs effort in developing, and the easiest way to make sure things get put away is to do it immediately. The beginning will be a slow crawl, but eventually, the habit will become ingrained and you won’t even think about putting it off.
I have practiced this habit for years. Every time I feel so much more relaxed and free afterwards. Now I don’t have to worry about organizing my house daily to maintain it’s clutter-free state. And when I see how much better my home looks, I’m that much more motivated to keep placing items back into their designated spots.
Rule #4: Do not procrastinate. Put items away as soon as possible, because the more energy you put into removing the clutter, the easier it will be to find and develop habits to better manage the things you keep.
Sometimes when I go through a pile of stuff, I know exactly what to keep (the stuff I like and use) and what I should discard or donate. But then there’s some stuff I don’t use often, but think I might want or need someday.
Or those little things like tape measures, pins, etc. that get used a lot but don’t have logical places in the home.
Instead of agonizing over finding a place for every miscellaneous item, I created a junk box and put those miscellaneous items inside. The box is then stored somewhere out of the way with a note on my calendar, so I can remember where to find them. I also like to label what’s inside, in case I lose the sticky note.
Rule #5: Create a labelled junk box to store miscellaneous items (whether they’re used often or less often)
The Last Drawer
Living in a clutter-free house means I have more energy and free time with my family. Less time is spent looking for items and fewer arguments are brought up about missing belongings.
Everything has a place. Even the inside of my handbag is clutter-free.
What is your rule of thumb for an uncluttered house? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!