November 18, 2009

The Art of Decluttering


Does your place look like similar to the picture? If so, it’s time to start decluttering.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been busy decluttering my life and all I can say is wow does it feel great! It is amazing how much clutter we accumulate in our lives, both physical and mental. And it’s a safe assumption that a lot of our mental clutter is the result of all the physical clutter we surround ourselves with.

So What Is Clutter?

When I use the term clutter, I’m referring to anything that is unnecessary. We do need certain things to be happy, but most of us need far less than we think. For example, when’s the last time you took a good look in one of your closets? My guess is there is a ton of stuff in them that you haven’t used in a long, long time.

What about your computer? I’m sure you have tons of files, folders, and random desktop icons that you don’t use.

My rule of thumb was that if I hadn’t used it in the past year, I no longer needed it. And don’t forget the things that you have multiples of. My girlfriend and I went through our kitchen cupboards and noticed we had about 20 glasses or cups, 7 or 8 plates, and a whole bunch of bowls. But did we really need that many for two people?

Sure, we might have people over that want to eat but that’s the only reason we would ever need more than two of each. So we went ahead and donated all the extras to Goodwill.

How Do You Free Yourself?

So now that we know everyone has clutter, how do you get rid of it? For me, the easiest way was to go through every room in my apartment. I made sure to check all my backpacks, boxes, and drawers that I’ve accumulated over the past few years. I also spent a ton of time going through our closets.

For every item that you find, you need to ask yourself if you truly need it. If you know you don’t need it, throw it in the get rid of pile. If you find something you might want to keep, throw it in the maybe pile. Everything else can stay in the “safe” pile.

The first round is tough because your mind constantly tries to tell you that you need ALL of it. You start thinking stuff like:

  • “I might need this sometime.”
  • “I paid like X dollars for this, I can’t get rid of it!”
  • “If I ever do blank, this would come in really handy”

It’s amazing how much your mind loves to keep everything. But eventually you have to tell it NO.

Start With Your Clothes

The first step for me was going through the bedroom, specifically my clothes. I went through every piece of clothing I own and made a pile of all the items that I had worn in the past year. Once I finished that, I was left with the following unused items in my closet:

  • 25 Shirts
  • 10 Pairs of Pants
  • 6 Pairs of Shorts
  • 5 Pairs of Shoes
  • 2 Jackets
  • 10 Hats

Talk about a ton of unnecessary baggage! Heck, some of the shirts still had the tags on them. I also had a few pairs of shoes that I knew I would never wear again. So I threw all of the clothes into 4 garbage bags and took them to the used clothing store. I managed to get a whopping 5 bucks for a few items and donated the rest to charity.

The Rest Of My Apartment

Once my clothes were finished, it was time to go through the rest of my belongings. I went through each room and cloest and made a gigantic pile of stuff I didn’t need. I was left with a heaping pile of crap in the living room that consisted of:

  • Weight Set
  • Jack Lelanne Power Juicer
  • 2 Framed Posters
  • Playstation 2
  • Computer Speakers
  • Digital Camera (crappy one)
  • Trash Can
  • Cables I No Longer Used
  • Bunch Of Random Crap

The good news is I managed to sell almost everything above on Craigslist. It’s amazing how fast people come by and pick up your stuff. I ended up pulling a profit on a few items, which made it even more awesome.

It Feels Great

I cannot believe how good it feels to not own a lot of things. Now when I walk into my apartment it feels cleaner and much easier to find the things I need. It also feels good to give your unused stuff to charity so someone else can get use out of it.

Photo Credit: allyaubry | CC 2.0

PS. Tune in tomorrow for another post about decluttering your home office.

6 thoughts on “The Art of Decluttering

  1. Josh

    Good work. I always have used the do I like this 70% or more rule plus the have I used this in the last year. This reminds me that I can definitely do this again as it has been a while since the last purge. I feel with winter coming I will have some time to do just this once the temps dip way down.

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  4. Pacific Crest Trail Maps

    Greetings from a fellow digital nomad. Great article on decluttering. I always feel like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders whenever I get rid of all the junk that has accumulated which I’m not using anymore. Craigslist and Ebay are great for offloading junk and getting a little bit of money in return. Whatever is left I garage sell and whatever doesn’t sell I leave on the curb with a “Free” sign and within a few days it will all be gone.

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