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Simple Living

How To Clear The Clutter: 7 Tips + Our Marie Kondo Experience

Thinking You Need to Clear the Clutter In Your Home? 

So, you’re thinking about clearing the clutter from your life but are not sure where to start? You are NOT alone! You can read all the motivational de-clutter quotes you want but in the end – it can be hard to get started!

If you want to simplify your life by minimizing the stuff that you have, de-cluttering is a great idea. The challenge – again – comes down to setting an actionable plan to get it done.

That said, in an effort to help you out as much as we can right now, we wanted to share a few tips that we’re using to clear the clutter from our lives. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Our Experience With Clutter

We know a thing or two about “clutter”. Bruce is very sentimental when it comes to any items with meaning or a story or memories attached. That said, he has gotten better over the years.

Lisa is more conservative in her clutter and is actively trying to get rid of the clothes and other items she has accumulated over the years! In fact, we now haven’t bought any new clothes for a year and have learned a lot from that!

Over the last few years, we have moved a lot so we were kind of forced to declutter since it’s just impossible to take everything when moving across the ocean. Looking back, this was super helpful since we feel so much better in our new apartment with very little clutter.

Having only a little bit of clutter (and a small apartment overall) also makes cleaning so much easier. There just aren’t as many things for dust to settle on.

So if you are thinking about decluttering, we can only recommend doing it! One of the decluttering methods that is super popular right now is the Marie Kondo method. We also have some experience with that…

The Marie Kondo Method And How We Use It

folded shirts in white drawer clear the clutter marie kondo
Lisa’s drawer of tops after the “Marie Kondo” method.

We had first heard about the Marie Kondo method in 2016 when scrolling through Pinterest looking for decluttering tips and coming across some very helpful articles. Unfortunately, we can’t remember the exact blog posts, otherwise we would link them here.

One of the books that came up time and time again was Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We never actually read the book, but we watched lots of YouTube videos, listened to podcasts, and read more blog posts that covered the topic.

We’re not going into her decluttering method in detail here – you’ve probably read about it somewhere else already. If you haven’t and want to learn more, then you can watch her show on Netflix or read her book. Spoiler: the Netflix show is really good and motivates us to declutter immediately after. For now, here are a few of her tips:

Having Items That “Spark Joy”

The concept of having “items that spark joy” really helped Lisa initially with her mindset shift when it came to consumption – especially clothing. Ever since learning about the concept, she has been more conscious about what she was buying. She thought more about whether she actually needed an item and actually loved or whether it was just a “spur of the moment” kind of want.

Decluttering Paper Regularly

Over time, we have also incorporated some parts of her decluttering method into our work/office life. For example, we regularly clear the paper clutter that we have in our home since it can make such a difference – even small things such as receipts.

We’re currently working on bringing less clutter into our house but with receipts, it can sometimes be difficult since we are tracking our monthly expenses and don’t want to forget anything.

Organizing Our Clothes

Furthermore, Lisa folds some of her clothes the way Marie Kondo recommends and it actually works really well for her. Everything looks a lot more organized and she is frequently reminded that she doesn’t need any new clothes since she has enough great clothing items already.

white metal drawers with folded clothes clear the clutter marie kondo
The left is Lisa.. the right is Bruce. Big difference.

Admittedly, the Marie Kondo method of folding clothes doesn’t work that well for Bruce, as you can see in the photo. He just doesn’t have enough shirts for them to stand upright – but that’s a good problem to have we guess.

Read Next – How To Store Your Clothes Without A Closet

Tips To Clear The Clutter From Your Life

Now, let’s get into some actionable tips that have helped us get the clutter under control in our home. To be honest, our apartment has quite a minimalist feel to it now.

On the one hand, this is because we know we are not going to live here forever – so we are very careful with what we buy and bring into our home. On the other hand, we have been getting sooo much better at clearing the clutter that regularly accumulates.

So, here are some tips that have really helped us with that! And no, they are not just from the Marie Kondo method – even though her book (and now her Netflix show) has certainly inspired us to some degree.

Ask For Help

This one is a given – but often a difficult step. De-cluttering takes time. It takes energy. It can be difficult for many, many reasons. So, naturally, difficult tasks can sometimes be best done with help from others.

Asking someone close to you who knows and understands your personality might be something to consider. They might be aware of what the items mean to you and can help you rationalize your choices of what to keep and ditch.

Having said that, someone with zero knowledge of the stuff in your room, house, or garage might be a great partner because they can push you to part from things sort of “cold turkey” since they have no idea what it means to you!

In the end, both might work – but choose a person that supports you and is willing to put in the time to help you along in your de-clutter journey.

Get Rid of Items Properly

One of the barriers to clearing the clutter is not knowing what do to do with things. Realistically, you could just throw everything away – but that would be super wasteful and we’re kind of conscious about the planet and all.

So, consider the other options available to you. You will likely have things that can be recycled. In fact, MOST things CAN be recycled if you research it. If so, recycle them properly!

You might have clothing, furniture, etc. that can be reused. In that case, donate them to a charity shop or local bin in your town/city that collects donated items.

If you truly have no other options, then disposing of items in the garbage is doable – but think about your environmental impact and try to reduce it in another area of your life.

Try to Let Go

Bruce knows all too well about this one… easier says that done, right?! Being sentimental and feeling a sense of nostalgia for things from the past definitely makes clearing the clutter difficult. But, you’ve got to try your best.

Over time – even just a few weeks – things can lose their value to you. If this is the case, you might be ready to get rid of them… you just have to let time pass. Remember that memories are in your mind.

If you value them enough, they will always be there in you and not reflected in stuff. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of ALL the meaningful trinkets or items in your life – but you likely don’t need them all.

Reduce The Clutter You Bring In

This one is very important – because it can help you stop the clutter in its tracks! Just be more on top of where you are accumulating the clutter from and take action to reduce that. For example, do you always buy a used book at the shop on the way home from work? Change your route a few days a week!

Perhaps you’re just really bad at throwing away waste like used paper from the office? Maybe consider changing up your workstation to include more digital organization programs? Maybe just move the recycling bin close to your desk?

These are all small but powerful ways to make sure that you stop the growth of stuff in the first place. It’ll be far less you have to do later!

Go Room by Room

If you are de-cluttering a whole house – good on you! That can be a huge task but it certainly is doable. A good way to go about that is to go “room by room”.

So, start in the easiest room to clean up and make progress. Is the office just full of old papers whereas the bedroom has clothes you need to try on? Start in the office, finish it, and move on to the bedroom then.

Use the momentum of completing a room (or even sections of a room, like just the closet) to fuel your de-cluttering of the next room. Setting goals for completion can help you with this big time. This is a great example where you can set SMART goals to help you along!

Scrap the “No-Brainer” Items First

You are going to have different attachments to different things. So, one way to get the momentum going is to get rid of the things that are the easiest to get rid of first.

What we mean is – what means the least to you? What can you live without right this second? What is garbage? Ask yourself these questions about a pile of junk and guaranteed you will be able to make quick decisions on some items and feel torn by other items. Use those “easy items” as a first step and get rid of them!

Read Next – Healthy Habits That Will Positively Affect Your Life

Accept That It Will Take Time

Clearing the clutter is not a process that happens instantly. Task depending, okay, it might be. But usually it’s not. You might not be able to clear off that desk full of papers or completely gut that closet in the basement – but if you get started, that’s all that matters!

Think of clearing the clutter as a larger process where there are lots of challenges and victories – not just one massive project that will take forever.

You will also change as a person over time – and your mindset towards the items will shift, too. This shift will help you decide on items, too. Don’t get stressed – just keep moving forward.

And there you have it – a few tips for getting you started with the process of clearing the clutter from your life. What do you think? Have you tried any of these before? Are you finding success in your de-clutter goals? Get in touch on Twitter @boardandlife and let us know – we’re always down to share experiences and support one another!

As always, Stay Curious,

-B&L

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Decluttering Tips