Note: This is a guest post from Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.
Decluttering is usually the first step people take to simplify their lives. It is often the easiest and most effective place to begin. Removing the excess from our homes naturally encourages us to look at the more challenging, often hidden things that also complicate our lives: debt, busyness, mental clutter, just to name a few. But it often starts with physical possessions.
Decluttering teaches us how to let go and create space. Owning less helps us save time and feel lighter. And it often causes us to rediscover the joy of giving.
If you feel overwhelmed with stuff or struggle when it comes to letting go, start with some of the items that don’t come with major emotional attachment—or at least, the items without positive emotional attachment.
If you are looking for a good place to start, let go of these 10 items to jumpstart decluttering:
1. Clothes you don’t wear. Clothing is a great place to begin. Most of us have too much of it, but we still wear the same things over and over again. Donate the jeans that don’t zip. Toss the socks with holes. Remove the outdated fashion. And if you have an extra coat or hat, give it away. There are lots of people who could use it this time of year.
2. Unidentifiable items in your junk drawer. It might be too soon to jettison the entire junk drawer, but you can easily remove the items that have no name, no place, and no meaning instead of saving them just in case you remember why you put them there in the first place. If you don’t know today, you won’t know tomorrow.
3. Lotions and potions. Get all of your lotions, potions, makeup, shampoo, and other products into one place. Put the things you use every day back where they belong. Toss the rest.
4. Lonely items. If it can’t be used without a match, and the match is long gone, it’s time to let go. Think cassette tapes without a cassette player, Tupperware tops without containers, and lone socks.
5. Kid stuff. Instead of shaming your kids into decluttering, make it fun for them. Announce a prize for every 10 things they can collect for donation. The prize can be a family activity or your child’s favorite meal. If you have more than one child, offer a bonus if everyone hits their goal to encourage them to work together.
6. Stale food. Set a timer for 15 minutes and go through your pantry, freezer, or refrigerator. Dump anything out of date, or opened and stale. If you find things that are good but you’ll never eat, bag it up and drop it at a homeless shelter or church.
7. Extra dishes. If you have two sets of dishware, silverware, or glassware, one can go. If you love your good dishes, use those everyday. If they are stuck in a box somewhere and you never use them, give them to someone who will.
8. Other people’s stuff. If your home has become a storage facility for friends and family, make a few phone calls. Be kind, give notice, and politely ask them to remove their stuff or offer to help if they aren’t interested.
9. Things that bring you down. Sentimental items are usually saved for later on in the decluttering process, but letting go of things that remind you of people, places, and events that have hurt you in the past will make room for more joyful memories.
10. The guilt. This might not fall in the “easy” category, but if you let it go now, it will make the rest of the journey more meaningful. You paid enough already with time, money, and attention. Guilt is the worst payment of all. With guilt, you continue to pay with emotion, by holding onto the past and by punishing yourself for old habits. Say goodbye to guilt.
Letting go of these items will lighten things up and encourage more decluttering, more simplicity, and more freedom. Once they are gone, celebrate your progress and dig back in.
A simple life is waiting.