If your counters are so full that you’re struggling to make a cup of coffee, it’s time to declutter, but that’s also easier said than done. There are often emotions tied to our possessions, making it difficult to let go. However, sorting means fewer items lying around, plus less to clean and deal with in future. Read on to discover 7 easy ways to declutter when you feel overwhelmed.
1. Start with the sock drawer
Still holding onto socks with holes in them? It’s unlikely you’ll mend them, so it’s time for them to go. By tackling your socks, underwear, and other “easy” articles first, you’ll gain the momentum you need to address bigger objects and areas later. There is nothing better than feeling as if you’ve made progress, no matter how small the items are! Before you know it, you’ll be moving onto shirts, dresses, or (dare we say it) shoes you haven’t worn in over a year.
Sort your things into piles of what you plan to keep, donate, or bin. Once you’re satisfied, neatly fold and organize what’s left so you can easily find and enjoy them in future.
2. Tackle the linen cupboard
When last did you assess the state of your towels? If you’re honest with yourself, do you even use them all? There’s always one or two that get lost at the back of the closet, so unpack one shelf at a time and set aside any worn or unnecessary items for donation (including bedding). Local shelters will be happy to accept them!
EspaceProprio Tip Decluttering can be intimidating if you take on too much at once. Instead, deal with one area only, and immediately place unwanted objects in the garage (for garbage day) or in the car (for charity). If you feel up to it, move on to the next category!
3. Toss expired cosmetics and medication
In the bathroom, start with the items on the counter. Replenish cotton wool wipes and swabs, storing them in clear holders. Replace toothbrushes with frayed bristles and pop the toothpaste back in the drawer. Throw out any empty containers, as well as expired toiletries and makeup. Safely dispose of expired medication by returning it to your pharmacist. Aside from taking up valuable space, old cosmetics can cause skin and eye irritations, and lapsed medicine is just downright dangerous.
If there are any unopened (and unexpired) hygiene or bath products you don’t wish to keep, consider dropping them off at a shelter or charity. This is also a good use for all those hotel amenities you’ve collected on your travels! Finish by packing all your wanted items neatly back into drawers and cabinets.
EspaceProprio Tip Decluttering not only removes physical mess, it also makes your home a calmer, more tranquil space to live. This goes a long way to improving your mental health and wellness.
According to Sachiko Kiyooka, founder of the Montreal-based professional organizing and feng shui consultancy, Soulful Simplicity, our environment has a huge impact on how we feel every day.
“Surroundings can literally support or drain our mental, physical and emotional well-being.”
– Sachiko Kiyooka
4. Sort through papers
From the magazines on the coffee table to the junk mail in the kitchen, it’s time to recycle and organize. If your home office is chaotic, start by sorting bills, receipts, and loose documents by whether they need to be dealt with urgently, recycled, shredded, or delegated. If you don’t require hard copies, scan files to an external drive or memory stick. Then, throw out any pens and markers that have dried up.
When you’re feeling ambitious, unsubscribe from all those annoying mailing lists in your inbox. A digital detox is always good for the soul!
5. Clear the entryway
Spend a few minutes straightening the shoe tray and relegate anything that doesn’t fit to a basket, closet, coat rack, or bedroom. Clothes and footwear that are out of season should be cleaned and stored, including umbrellas, jackets, and hats. Walking into your home, the first thing that should greet you is a calm, tidy, and peaceful atmosphere.
Sachiko Kiyooka says that in feng shui, we talk about the entry being the ‘mouth of chi’ (life-force energy).
“Clutter, obstructions, or anything in disrepair at the entry will ‘greet’ you each time you open the door, and this will subtly affect you over time. It also makes it difficult for chi to enter and circulate in your home.”
– Sachiko Kiyooka
6. Discard old food and condiments
Working systematically, look through the products in your cupboards or pantry. Discard anything that has expired (including spices) and save good but unwanted food for shelters. Then do the same with the fridge and freezer. Remember, there are always a few jars and condiments stuck at the back—now’s the time to bin them without regret.
It’s worth investing in a few transparent food containers for things like pasta, rice, nuts, sugar, and flour. Their uniform shapes make them easy to store, and you can see what you have—so nothing gets lost or forgotten.
7. Donate duplicate kitchenware
Finally, check one cupboard at a time for duplicate or broken utensils, kitchenware, plastic cups, or mismatched mugs. Donate the extras and toss chipped crockery in the trash. Sort through your cleaning supplies, recycling empty containers and refilling any that can be replenished. Decide which small appliances deserve a spot on the counter (ideally those used most often), and demote the others to a cupboard, pantry, or nearby closet.
EspaceProprio Tip Make a rule that for every item you wish to buy, a similar object in your home must be thrown out or donated to charity. This way, you’ll never end up with clutter again.