Clutter happens. We all have that one drawer that seems to be full of things we just don’t know what to do with. Or that end table that collects all the mail that we never seem to go through. Over time we get frustrated coming home and seeing things built up and not having a clue where it all came from.
Using some minimalist hacks, you can begin to remove the clutter from your life and gain a new perspective and even a better outlook. When we begin to remove items we don’t have a use for, we tend to feel better, enjoy our used possessions even more and worry less about appearances, infestations, and even ridicule.
This article will cover some of the hacks you can do right now to clean up your life and reduce the clutter you have accumulated, all without stress, worry or regret.
Rules of Engagement
You don’t have to be (or want to be) a minimalist to achieve the benefits of living on less. According to some reports, we, as Americans, are more depressed with more things than we have been for decades.
This only goes to show that material possessions don’t bring us very much joy or happiness. At least not in the long run. So what can we do? For starters, you can pick a rule and start to follow it. There are several minimalist “rules,” so you have plenty to choose from.
The Project 333 Rule
This rule is designed to reduce clutter in your closet and dresser. The basic idea is to pick 33 items of clothing that will get you through the next three months.
By doing so, you can eliminate the bulk of your wardrobe, free up space in your bedroom and save time by having fewer choices to wear when you head out of the house to go to work or an event.
Did you know that on average, you will spend an entire year of your life standing there deciding what to wear? Project 333 virtually eliminates the choice making the process by giving you fewer options.
The 3 Month Box
The 3 Month box is one of a few minimalist hacks that is designed to show you that you don’t need (or even want) a lot of the crap we hold on to. This is also used as the 6-month box, so you can pick which one you prefer.
The idea is to place things in a box that you haven’t used in a while. This can be anything from a frying pan to everything in that junk drawer. When the box is full, seal it, write the date on it and put it away.
If, after three months, you haven’t broken the seal, everything in the box can be tossed out. Though instead of putting it on the curb, you can donate items, recycle items or have a small yard sale.
The 20/20 Rule
This isn’t for your eyes as much as it is for the things you rarely use. Similar to the three-month box idea, you go through your belongings looking for things you don’t regularly use, like those candle holders hidden in the back of the pantry.
When looking at your items, you simply ask yourself “can I replace this for $20 or less?” Then ask yourself if you can purchase that replacement within 20 miles of your home. If you answered yes to both questions, get rid of the item.
Is There Value?
This isn’t so much of a rule as the basic idea behind minimalism. The value we place on items needs to be focused on the highly valuable instead of the highly obtainable. If you have decorative pillows around your home, that is fine. Do you need 15 of them though?
Instead of having 15 pillows strewn about, pick three or four that you really love and ditch the rest. The same goes for pictures, wall art, kitchen gadgets, etc.
Placing a value on your items and only holding on to those that rank the highest is a sure-fire method of reducing clutter.
One a Day Rule
The final “rule” for reducing clutter is the one a day rule. Following this method, you will pick one item to remove from your home, car or life each day. It can be anything, large or small, but it must be done daily.
By following this rule, you will reduce your inventory by 365 items per year! By the end of the year, you will have high-value items, and most likely your sentimental items are remaining. From there, the choices get harder, but it can be done.
Start With the Car
The car you drive can easily become an area that collects a lot of extras. Garbage and empty cola bottles aside, you may find that going through your car produces a box full of items you once just had to have.
CDs, for example, are easily disposed of. You can burn the CDs using your computer and place every song on a single MP3 player. Now, instead of 20 CDs rolling around your car, you have one small device to connect to your radio to listen to the same music.
Keeping the car clean inside and out is just one of the many minimalist hacks that will go a long way in helping you in the home, as well. When you have a clean and organized car with little extras inside, you will find that you notice more of the clutter when you leave the car and enter your home. Use it as motivation.
Stop Getting Gifts
This may sound a bit harsh or mean, but people buying you presents for your birthday, holidays and anniversaries can really pile up.
You can tell people to please not to get you anything, but few will listen. It is inherent to celebrate with physical goods on these special days. Instead, you can create lists (even post them online, or use services like Amazon to publish them).
By doing so, you will only receive gifts that you need and won’t have to feel bad or disappointed at yet another Sea Monkey farm.
What about those gifts you already have? Donate them. If you aren’t using them, they are just taking up space. The same goes for the cards and boxes that came with them. You won’t hurt Aunt Sandy’s feelings if you donate that patchouli oil candle set she got you three years ago for your birthday.
Find a new home for these gifts and presents that you don’t need, want or use. There are even apps you can put on your phone to help you get rid of them and get a little cash back for your efforts.
Reduce the Use of Electronics
Easier said than done in today’s age, but you may have too many electronics. Do you need a television in every room of the house? How many mobile phones and tablets can you use at one time?
Try to reduce your electronic reliance to a single instance of each one. You will find that you spend less time using the gadgets and more time living your life. Go out and do something with your free time instead of plopping down in front of one of your eight televisions.
Do Sentimental Items Have to Stay?
Getting rid of things that hold a special meaning to us, or were from someone we care deeply about can be near impossible. It can be done though, and should.
I can promise that your three shoe boxes full of birthday cards won’t be missed by those that sent them to you. I am sure they have already forgotten about them anyway, and so should you.
Knick-knacks are also hard to let go of. Like that spoon from Spain Grandma got for you in 1994. Find a new home for it and all the other items you don’t have a use for. Grandma won’t mind. If she ever brings it up, tell her how you found a spoon collector that was only missing Spain and the sheer joy on his face when you presented it to him; she will forgive you.
The basic rule is this: If you don’t use it, get rid of it. If you don’t want it, get rid of it. If it doesn’t serve a daily purpose for you, get rid of it. Starting to see the pattern?
While you may not want to be a true minimalist, reducing your junk to a manageable size is crucial to your overall happiness. We may think we need an item, purchase it and use it once before putting it in the cabinet where it slowly works itself to the back, being long forgotten.
Reduce your current possession list, reduce the number of new items you receive or purchase and start appreciating the higher value (to you, not monetarily) items you do have. It’s a lot easier than it sounds, you just have to start.