7 Fun Ways to Start Decluttering

The following post is from Joshua of Becoming Minimalist:

source: Leans

As I have done more and more speaking on the topics of decluttering, simplicity, and living with less, I have begun to notice some recurring themes emerge. Interestingly enough, regardless of venue, people ask many of the exact same questions. They want to know about holiday clutter, sentimental collections, and childrens’ toys collections.

But mostly, they just want to know how to get started. The idea of living a simplified life with less stuff sounds attractive to them. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but quickly get tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

They begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated before they even begin. It will unfortunately prevent some from even getting started. And that’s too bad because the decluttering process doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun ways to get started decluttering.

Consider these 7 fun and exciting ways to start decluttering:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Dave Weaver at What I Got Rid of Today gives away one item each day. Or as he puts it, “It’s just my experiment in getting rid of the things I don’t care about – to discover the things I do.”

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To help identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all of your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard.

5. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter that you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and I… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Experiment with Project 333. Courtney Carver has made a part-time job out of challenging people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little,  adjust the rules as you need. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these seven or one of countless others – the goal is to make decluttering fun, exciting, and attainable. When you finish your first room and enjoy the benefit of living with less, you’ll be glad you did.

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Last week, my first book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life debuted on Amazon. I was surprised to see it quickly climb to become the #1 Self-Help Book on Amazon for  7 straight days and the Top 100 of all Kindle sales (fiction or nonfiction). To celebrate its launch, we have discounted the price to only $0.99 until Sunday, November 20. Thanks for checking it out. I really appreciate it. And you’ll really enjoy it.

Are there any fun decluttering techniques that you have used in the past to spur you on?

Joshua Becker inspires and encourages others to live with less on his blog, Becoming Minimalist. He has also authored two e-books, Simplify and Inside-Out Simplicity. But more importantly, he loves his wife and two small children.
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