ideas for living without clutter

ideas for living without clutter

Minimalism means different things to different people. To me it’s about only owning things you truly love and use — nothing more. It isn’t about living in an almost empty home where there is nothing but the bare necessities. A few pieces of art, some favourite decor objects, loved coffee table books and more are all very much part of making your home unique to you and creating a warm, calm and cosy environment, without any clutter or chaos.

Minimalism can mean a little more for some people and a little less for others but in general it means less. I like the Swedish word ‘lagom’ which means not too much and not too little — just the right amount. If you start hanging on to things just because you have them or you keep impulse buying, thats when clutter starts to build up and up and up!

Over the last year I’ve been working towards decluttering anything extra in my home and aiming to only hold on to what I truly love and use. This isn’t just about home decor but includes clothes, kitchen stuff, books and pretty much anything that occupies space in my home. I am by no means there yet but I am making progress with each passing day.

The feeling of having less every time I get rid of something is like a weight off. And I can honestly say I can’t think of one thing I’ve missed since getting rid of it.

There have been a few decluttering techniques and methods that have helped me along the way. I hadn’t heard of some of them before I started my journey to pare down my belongings so I thought I would share them here as they could help you.

What I love most about these ideas is that they all allow you to declutter without feeling overwhelm which is what holds back so many of us. Some of the ideas are made up by me while others are from my research. So if you’re keen to have a more minimalist home where you only own what you love and use, these are some methods that will help you get there.

minimal Scandinavian bedroom

How to declutter without feeling overwhelm

1. 30-day decluttering challenge

There are all sorts of challenges out there so why not a decluttering challenge? The simplest and best one I’ve come across is the 30-day decluttering challenge by the minimalists.

The rules are very simple. You get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two, three on day three and so on. The minimalists suggest doing this with a friend so you turn it in to a competition where the person who keeps going the longest wins. You could even turn it in to a bet where the loser has to treat the winner to a meal or a movie or something fun.

What I especially love about this challenge is the simplicity. You can declutter anything from anywhere on any day with the only condition being that you have to get it out of your house that very day.

I also love how this challenge allows you to build momentum as it starts off very easy and slowly gets harder each day. Anyone can declutter one, two or even a handful of items from their home, but when you start getting in to more than 15 items a day, it can get challenging. The best time to start this challenge is the first day of any month so that you know exactly how many things to declutter each day.

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2. one in three out

Most of us have heard of the one-in-one-out rule where every time you buy something new you get rid of something that you already own. This is a great rule to live by once you have decluttered but it doesn’t help you cut down your possessions.

While I’ve been trying to become more minimal, I started getting rid of three things for every one thing I purchased and that has really helped me.

This isn’t the fastest way to declutter but over time you will see a big difference. I am not someone who can spend a day or even half a day decluttering as I hate the task too much and so I keep putting it off. Doing it this way has made it so much more effortless and allows me to declutter without feeling overwhelm.

I don’t have any rules around what you should declutter with each new purchase – anything goes. But some people may find it helpful to stick to categories so if you but a new vase get rid of three other decor objects or if you buy a dress, get rid of three other pieces of clothing.

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3. turn your hangers around

This idea is specifically for decluttering your closet and for most of us the closet can be the biggest hurdle for decluttering.

All you do with this method is turn all your hangers the other way around. Once you wear a piece of clothing you hang it back the right way. After six months you’ll know exactly what hasn’t been worn.

I love this method because it makes getting rid of clothes much easier as it takes decision-making out of the equation. Most of use have several excuses for holding on to clothes (i’ll lose weight, sentimental reasons, guilt and so on) so taking each piece and deciding to keep or get rid is very hard.

With this hanger method though there is no debate – you know you haven’t worn it for six months so it goes. This, together with the one-in-three-out method, has been a huge help for me in really paring down to my wardrobe to (almost) only what I really wear.

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4. the 20/20 rule

This is another idea by the minimalists and really works for small items and things you hold on to ‘just in case’. The 20/20 rule is that anything that can be replaced for £20 (or $20) or under in 20 minutes or under, can be gotten rid of without a second thought.

Think small kitchen utensils that you rarely or never use, things in your junk drawer, excess notebooks and stationery (I’m guilty here), extra cables and chargers… the list goes on.

The 20/20 rule is great because it helps you to get rid of those ‘just in case’ items. When you look at it through the lens of replacing it within 20 minutes for £20 or less, why would anyone hold on to clutter?

If you live by this rule you’ll never accumulate those little things that take up space yet serve no purpose.

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5. 15 minute daily declutter

I really dislike decluttering which means I can’t do it for hours on end. If I try, all that happens is I get distracted or take a trip down memory lane. In other words, no decluttering happens.

I came up with the 15 minute daily declutter where you set a reminder for the same time each day and declutter for just 15 minutes, using a timer. You can choose to focus on one drawer or go though a box of stuff or get rid of a few things from every room in your home — anything goes. The two rules are that you do it daily and stop after 15 minutes and that’s it.

I love this method because it feels effortless. One of the biggest obstacles to decluttering is overwhelm but when you know you’re just decluttering for 15 minutes, there is zero resistance. Even though 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much, you can get a lot done in that time. And after just a week of daily decluttering, you’ll be amazed at how much you were able to get rid of.

If you want to start even smaller, try this super easy decluttering idea which will allow you to declutter without feeling overwhelm so much so that you won’t even feel like you’re decluttering but it works.

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Some of you may have noticed that none of these decluttering methods involve sitting down and doing a whole room at a time or even blocking out a whole afternoon to declutter. That’s precisely why these methods work so well because most of them feel easy and do-able, even for the most reluctant out there.

All these ideas allow you to declutter without feeling overwhelm and also leave no room for procrastination which is what holds so many of us back.

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