A 5-Step-Guide to Decluttering!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Not sure if you guys read this article that was published on Asia One's Business page roughly a month back, but I am really startled to hear that a whopping 69% of Singaporeans are actually hoarders!


Based on the survey, 47% admitted to have never decluttered their homes. That means, things just get piled up over the years.

I, on the other hand, am a fan of decluttering. Every other month I'd be clearing out the wardrobes, the store, the kitchen cabinets... anywhere that I see items cluttering up. Since 2015 is coming, I think it is a great time to declutter to welcome the new year!

Here are 5 simple steps to help you start decluttering:

1. MINDSET

A correct mindset is the fuel for long-term decluttering. Many of us can do a one-time decluttering, but how long can that last before our junk builds up again?

The reason that spurs me on to declutter is to think about the amount of dirt that is accumulating at that particular corner of the house. Think about the silverfish that is happily munching on your forgotten magazine right now... think about the dust mites that are happily reproducing in your unused bags... those mildew that is forming so beautifully on your 1999 organiser that you never bothered to throw away.

Not so sure if you would want to meet Silverfish, even though its name sounds rather superhero wtf
2. BRAVE YOURSELVES

The first steps to decluttering is always the hardest. Why would you want to drag out a box of stuff that will potentially cover the rest of your (clean) house with dust, right? Can you imagine picking out all these dusty, yellowed items and then wonder why the hell are they in the house in the first place?

All these thoughts often discourage you to get started, ever. But think about it. Once you get going, it will only get cleaner, and if you keep it up, you will never have to face these sheer amount of dust and dirt ever again!

I'd recommend gloves and masks when you start off. I had to brush some icky little bugs off my arms a couple of times when I first started decluttering. It was horrifying.

3. BE HEARTLESS

Yes, a particular item may be from your best friend's uncle's brother's girlfriend when you met back in 1995, but I read somewhere that if you haven't used it in three years, it is most likely you won't use it ever again. Which is quite true, I think!

I mean.. you would probably not even know this item exists. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

So.. sell, donate or throw. You decide. But it has to get out of the house.

4. CLASSIFY & COMPRESS

After you've successfully sorted out your items into the KEEP / DONATE / THROW pile, make sure that you actually throw the throw pile and donate the donate pile. Some of my friends really couldn't make pass this step because of various reasons like...

A. It is too much stuff to send down to the Salvation Army! (And hence the Donate pile remains in a pile in the corner of the house forever)

B. I've no time to bring it down leh (And hence the similar result as above)

C. I think I may still have use for this one... (proceeds to fish the 6th item out of the throw pile)

After you've gotten this barrier, you should then classify your items based on their use. Personally, I've an OCD of using containers.

(Source) You know what? I have these chalk-labelling stickers as well! You can always erase and rename the containers whenever you change the contents. Taobao sells them very cheaply. You can get a dozen for about $5 in Singapore as well.

I have so many containers in my house to store every single thing. Containers for my skincare products, containers for my colour pens & stationery, containers for babies' clothes that they no longer wear, containers for my undies, containers for my food in the fridge, containers, containers, containers.

They make mess look so much neater, they compress items into a more compact size and they make stacking much easier. I love containers. I cannot live without them.

After you've successfully sorted your things into drawers/containers/boxes and stow them away, I can assure you your house will look significantly neater!

Other useful 'compressing' cheats I use are folding plastic bags into triangles & storing my bedsheets into one of the accompanying pillow cases.

Source Learned this from my mother-in-law. She taught me how to fold these nifty little triangles and I have a little drawer to store HUNDREDS of these.
Brilliant household hack I learned from Martha Steward... except that I can never make them fit the pillow cases perfectly like these. There must be some formulae to it.....

5. MAKE AN EFFORT TO STAY CLUTTER-FREE

Of course, after a lengthy process of decluttering, the next step will be to keep your homes clutter-free. Some of the things I do as an effort to keep my house neat would be:

- not to take more than what I need
Like plastic bags, for example. I now shop with a recycle bag and get the cashier to dump everything into it so that I don't accumulate them at home and take up storage space. Also, save the environment right?

- throw into the rubbish/recycling bin immediately
It is very easy to just leave a certain flyer on the table out of convenience sake and then forget about it. Over time, these stray pieces of paper will pile and pile... and become clutter.

- keep everything away into their respective containers immediately

The rule of thumb is that it is easier to maintain a neat area than to clear up a messy area. I no longer do major overhauls to the house anymore, ever since we transformed the study into a play room. Most of our junk was cluttered there and now, I just do regular maintenance to keep everything neat.

For this coming new year, I will be giving the cushions new clothes, the beds new bedsheets and hopefully the walls a coat of new paint. What about you?

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