Thursday, September 21, 2017

Learning to Declutter

We recently moved into a smaller apartment. Not only do we have less rooms, the rooms themselves are smaller. Mine in particular is giving me some problems. I have a queen size bed, a nightstand, a chest, a bookcase, and a behemoth of a desk. I have to try to fit all of that into one tiny room. It's not working very well for me.

I've decided that I'm going to have to declutter. The problem with that, is that I'm planning on moving within the next year or so. When I move out on my own, I'll have much more space for things than I do now. So the problem has become: should I declutter this thing I love because I can't find a place for it now, or hold on to it because I will have more room soon?

I have a few questions that I'll be asking myself during this process. I'm also going to make sure to ask the top question every time I'm online, and every time I'm in a store. Here are the questions:

Before you buy: will you some day declutter this?
 -If the answer to this is yes, for any reason other than "when it is damaged beyond repair/no longer fits me," don't buy it. Not only will it be a waste of money, but it will also just be a waste of time (decluttering it) and space.

Do you absolutely love this? Does it bring you joy?
 -These questions are more for things you already have. If the answer to these two are not "yes," consider getting rid of it.

Is it a duplicate of something you won't need for a while? Did you forget you had it until you saw it? Will you miss it? Be honest, will you actually miss it? Do you remember how or why you got it? Do you have something that serves a similar purpose, making this redundant? 
 -If the item is a duplicate, or similar to another item that serves the same purpose, do you really need it? And will you truly miss it if you get rid of it? Also, if you forgot you had it, you should probably get rid of it.

Have you worn it in the last 6 months? Does it still fit you? Does it have damage (stains, rips etc)? Do you know someone who needs (or wants) it?
 -If the item is damaged, or you haven't worn it in a while, get rid of it. We all have items in our drawers or closets that sit there collecting dust because they're "just in case" items. Or you bought it because it looked pretty, but it still has tags on it. Or someone gave it to you as a gift and you didn't want to hurt their feelings, but you've never worn it. Say goodbye.

Is it displayed, or has it been sitting in a box for more than 6 months? Do you have room for it? Will you have room for it in the next 6 months?
 -If it's been in a box for a while, you might just want to get rid of it. I had items packed from my old place for literally the entire time I lived there. We lived there for two years. The only things I kept were things that were only packed because I didn't have the space for it in my bedroom. Since I plan to get my own place, some things will have a place later on.

Do you need it? Do you use it often?
 -Think carefully about this. When was the last time you watched that DVD, or listened to that CD? When was the last time you needed that cup, plate, or 5th cutting board? If you don't use it often, you probably don't need it. If you don't need it, chuck it.

Does it have some historical or personal significance?
 -I have things that are packed in boxes because my mom gave them to me when I was really young. I can't display all of my porcelain dolls right now, but I don't want to get rid of them either. The same goes for some of the books and knick knacks my dad gave me. But I did get rid of the monkey that poops candy that my parents gave me for Christmas several years ago...

Does it solve a problem in your life? Does it create a problem, even if small?
 -If it doesn't solve a problem, it may not be useful. But if it creates a problem, you should seriously think about getting rid of it.

What is the value of the item to you? (Monetarily, how much would you be willing to spend on it if you bought it again?) What is the worst-case scenario? Is it easily, or inexpensively, replaceable?
 -Think about the worst case scenario. If you chuck that bin now, and you need it in two years, can you go to the dollar store and replace it? You probably can, and if it's not something you're using right now, you shouldn't hold on to it. A lot of people have the "what if I need it" mentality. You really need the "is it currently useful" mentality.

Decluttering can be simultaneously stressful and relieving. It's stressful to have to think about the stuff you have and if you really need it. But when it's gone, you'll feel so much better. We don't need a million things cluttering our spaces. And whether you live in a 2000 sqft house, or a 100 sqft bedroom, clutter is the enemy.

Do you have any tips for decluttering? Let me know in the comments below!

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