I will not claim that I am a true minimalist, but I do like to keep things simple. Clutter can make a home feel smaller and disorganized, and if left too long things can start to look like a hoarder lives in your house. Not the impression you want to make when friends and family stop by! I personally try to keep things tidy as I go because I feel like I have ADHD when I see so much stuff laying around. I use to do things like leave my dirty clothes laying around and then plan to clean up on my day off of work. The problem is that quite often I ended up too busy to pick up when I planned to and things would pile up until it felt like a mountain of work that needed to be done around the house. That's when I decided I needed to take action, and with the New Year upon us it's a great time to address the elephant in the room and reduce the clutter in your home as well.
Here are 5 easy ways you can start simplifying today.
1. Limit Holiday Decorations
This is a simple but effective way to reduce clutter in the basement or garage. I see plenty of people who have their garage busting at the seems with decorations for every major (and minor) holiday. You could go all in and decide to reduce things to one simple plastic tote for each holiday. If you have too many decorations to take a giant leap like that, try narrowing things down by getting rid of one tote full of things. Then commit to reducing by one tote each year - and don't by anything else. I personally think that less is more when it comes to decorating. You don't have to light up the whole neighborhood at Christmas time. The neighbors will thank you.
2. Sort Through Your Wardrobe
For a lot of people narrowing down their wardrobe might be the hardest step to take when starting to reduce clutter. But it can also be one of the best ways to simply. I know a lot of women out there are groaning at the idea of giving up shoes and clothes, but a simple wardrobe with less items means you wear and enjoy the clothes you really like more often. I like to be fashionable as much as the next girl, but I keep myself focused by only adding a few new pieces each season, then making sure to eliminate one article of clothing for each new one I buy. First, start off by getting rid of any clothes with holes or paint stains. Keep one outfit for project or clean-up days and trash everything else. It's also a good idea to get rid of clothes that don't fit anymore or that you have not worn in six months. There has to be a reason you never wear it right? Mr. Right wrote about something he calls the genius wardrobe, and I think his article is full of great ideas to help you simply your wardrobe and free up space.
3. Stop Collecting Stuff
Having a hobby can be rewarding and is a good way to forget stress, but take a look at your collection and think about the amount of joy you get from it. All the key-chains, tourists souvenirs, toys, etc are expensive and take up a lot of space. Has it just become an obsession or competition between you and your collecting friends? Other than my obsession with Funko Pop figures, I try not to collect things. In order to keep my collection small, I focus on collecting only my favorite characters from my favorite movies, and pass on all other figures. My boyfriend collected Hot Wheels cars and was able to simplify it recently by going through his collection and paring it down to just his favorite models of cars. He put all the unopened double (and triples) he had in a box then donated them to a local Toys for Tots charity. Let's just say that a LOT of kids had a lot of really cool stocking stuffers. We also have a lot more room in the house.
4. Deal with Bills and Paperwork
I know plenty of people with "The Box". I'll bet you have something similar - a collection of mail that you just have not opened. It may bills you are behind on, accounts sent to collections that you are ignoring, etc. but having multiple bills and letters laying around unopened means you are avoiding things. That's not good for your mental health or your credit score. If you can't keep up with bills, open those letters and throw away duplicates then pick up the phone and try to make some payment arrangements. It's time to deal with those collections before you can't get out from under the debt.
5. Go Digital
Plenty of people have HUGE collections of books, movies, and music stuffed into every nook and cranny of their living space. That means you need to buy new furniture to house your collections. I'll bet if you think about it you probably don't even watch most of your movies again, or re-read many of the books. If donating them is not an option - why not go digital? I am an avid reader, but rather than fill up bookshelves I only purchase digital editions on my Kindle or smartphone. When we decided to thin out our DVD collection, we purchased a handful of favorites on Amazon and decided for movies that are not favorites, we would just watch them when they came to Netflix. Amazon Prime members get plenty of music included in their memebrship, so now is a great time to give Amazon Prime a try. Click here to get a free trial.
Brooke Bailey is a personal trainer, masseuse, and student in health and wellness.
She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Facebook.