Living clutter-free by eliminating junk and the stress, anxiety, frustration, and guilt that comes with it opens the door to the comfortable and rewarding lifestyle you so deserve. If you aspire to cleanse life of the nonsensical possessions weighing you down, maybe, just maybe, I have the perfect plan for you.
Mammy, the Minimalist Gypsy ✧ Living Clutter-Free
I remember my great-grandmother’s home being small, modest, and completely clutter-free. She had few possessions, primarily adored heirlooms, most of which I have today.
Mammy had an intriguing aura of otherness. Besides her dark hair, skin, and eyes contrasting the light features of the rest of our family, her unique sense of inherently focussing on what truly mattered drew me in. She was a product of the depression but didn’t hoard like many others in her generation. She maintained and valued the few sentimental possessions she had, never yearning for more.
Although much of her life was a mystery, I felt an uncanny connection to her. Years after she passed away, I began poking around to learn more about her. After a lot of digging, I eventually discovered she descended from a band of gypsies. What an aha moment.
It’s no wonder I was especially drawn to this otherworldly woman. I too have always been a free spirit who embraces the impractical. The discovery of her lineage helped make sense of my own quirky yearning for frequent moves and new beginnings. I can’t help but believe she instilled the same vibe in me, preferring adventure over square footage and people over stuff.
A majority of our modern society clings to possessions, some in an extremely unhealthy way. We live in a world where instant gratification and more-more-more consumerism has run amuck. This can easily lead to frustration, guilt, unhappiness, and emotional, psychological, and even physical illness.
Do you suffer from negative feelings associated with your cluttered space? With a few tips and tricks, you too can break through to the realization that tossing all the unnecessary stuff will bring you the sense of wellness you’ve been craving.
The Big Question ✧ Living Clutter-Free
Let’s be honest, we need very little to live contently. It’s a proven psychological fact that the more things we acquire, the emptier we feel. Keeping things simple instills a calm peace of mind.
At some point today, scan each room of your home. Pay close attention to where your eyes hesitate. This hesitation is telling you how you truly feel about that particular space and the objects in it.
Pick up those objects. Do you feel distaste or indifference? Does this [thing] bring you joy?
As you progress emotional questions might arise.
- Should I let this go if I spent a ton of money on it?
- What if I lose ten pounds and fit into it again?
- Should I keep this ugly sweater my mother-in-law gave me in case she asks me to wear it?
- Shouldn’t I save everything my child has ever created?
- I might need this someday, right?
There are better questions to ask yourself.
- If I were shopping right now would I buy this?
- Have I used this in the last year?
- Do I have a similar item that serves the same purpose?
If you apply the ‘does this bring me joy’ technique and ask yourself these three additional questions, you’ll resurface from the drowning depths of clutter a whole lot lighter and brighter.
Ditch the Dinge ✧ Living Clutter-Free
When I help clients declutter their closets, I’m always surprised by how many keep dingy clothes ‘to wear around the house.’ There’s only one place for dingy clothing and that’s the donation drop-off. I’m a firm believer in wearing clothes that make you look and feel great, no matter if you’re out and about or in your own home.
I recently learned about the H&M Sustainability program. You can bring any unwanted garments (no matter the brand) to their stores, where they can be sold as second-hand clothes or broken down into fiber. Since its 2013 launch, the program has collected more than 32,000 tons of garments to be reworn, reused or recycled. This is a great resource for us and a much-needed reprieve for our landfills.
Tchotchkes are Clogged Chi ✧ Living Clutter-Free
Chi means energy flow. In feng shui, clogged chi is believed to affect health and wealth. Random items on your countertops or stashed in drawers and closets are stagnant energy weighing you down. Magazines, catalogs, manuals, spare cords, broken electronics, containers missing lids, gifts you feel too guilty to discard… it’s all clogged chi. Ditch it and make space for things that are useful and bring you joy.
Book It ✧ Living Clutter-Free
How many physical books do you own? When is the last time you re-read those books? That’s what I thought. It’s time to book it to Half-Price Books for resale. Remember, if it’s not currently adding value to your life, it doesn’t belong in your life.
You may have a short stack of favorite books you refuse to part with. If so, display them with intention. Although I only keep my journal bedside, my kids have a few favorites they keep stacked beside their beds.
Although you will find books in their rooms, you will not find electronics or toys. This is another interesting facet to feng shui. The absense of electronics and toys keeps bedtime calm, peaceful, and free from stimulating distractions.
Frame It ✧ Living Clutter-Free
If your kid’s artwork is that good, frame and display. There is zero reason to keep artwork stashed away. If it’s not worthy of displaying, out it goes. Little Van Gogh won’t notice it’s gone, although concealing it under recycled newspapers until pick-up day is not only recommended but strongly encouraged.
Shred It ✧ Living Clutter-Free
Do you have piles of files? If your home was ravaged by a natural disaster would you need those files?
The solution is scan, Dropbox, and shred, my friend.
It’s much easier to find electronic receipts than digging through papers. Block a Saturday and start shredding.
Sale vs. Substance ✧ Living Clutter-Free
Do you know someone who purchases a case of potato chips because it’s on sale? Where do they store all these chips? Where do they store the fat from all those chips? Like Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Repeat after me: It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.
I keep a Pinterest board of things I want. If an item on my board goes on sale, awesome. Otherwise, I don’t buy sale items, especially in bulk.
The big takeaway from living clutter-free? If you don’t love it or use it, let it go.
If you happen to need a little extra inspiration, check out my recommended Books page that includes a few minimalism gems. And check out The Minimalist’s Blog: Our 21-Day Journey Into Minimalism. It’s an absolute game changer.
Clutter happens. Your kids bring home party goodie bags and your partner returns from business trips with conference swag. You should find it easier now more than ever to get rid of this clutter — because you have the tools to make it happen.
Feng shui teaches that everything we own carries energy that enhances or diminishes our happiness. Investing five minutes a day to return things to their designated spaces is the easiest way to keep the good energy flowing.
Your home should be a statement of who you are, a source of pride. Instilling respect for your home within your family members is of tremendous importance. Everyone living in your home must adopt the clutter-free routine and pull their weight. You’ll be doing a tremendous service to your children by brainwashing… I mean instilling these simplistic values in them.
And that’s good juju.