Hello, my name is Kirsty and I am a self-confessed hoarder. I find value in pretty much everything and I find ‘letting go’ of things to be a genuinely very stressful experience. I have watched enough documentaries on hoarding to know how many boxes I tick. The amount of stuff in my life is, realistically, somewhat overwhelming…but it’s not quite as bad as it used to be.
A few years ago I started taking steps to reduce the amount of stuff in my life, and it wasn’t totally unsuccessful. In my first big push to make space in my bedroom (before buying my house and moving out) I got rid of almost 40 bags of clothes and a couples of boxes of stuff. That is an insane amount of stuff for one person to get rid of, and the reality was that it just chopped a chunk off the top of the iceberg.
Needless to say it is a much better situation for my parents now that I have moved out and taken (most of) my stuff with me – for starters my clutter is no longer pouring (literally) into every other room of their house.
I continue to have occasional clear outs, especially when I was moving house, and I thought this might be a really good opportunity for sharing some of my tips for decluttering, as a person who genuinely finds throwing things out to be hard!
- You’ve got to be in The Mood. I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but maybe you need to see it written down to acknowledge it – there’s absolutely no point in trying to declutter if you’re not feeling it.
- Donate. This made a massive difference to my initial efforts because yes I like this jumper but was there maybe somebody out there who needed this jumper more than me? Sometimes the answer is yes and it makes it a lot easier to get rid of things if you can tell yourself that they are going to a home where they will get the love they deserve.
- Have a reason why. When I was initially clearing out my bedroom, it was because my Godson was coming to spend Christmas with us and I wanted him and his mum to be able to stay in my room comfortably so that everybody could have a really enjoyable Christmas. So if I started to feel a little defeated or overwhelmed I would think about why I was doing it and it would really help me. If you don’t have a specific reason and you’re just decluttering because you want less clutter and more control then of course that is perfectly fine too!
- You need to do it alone. I understand how overwhelming a task it is and how much you’re going to want support but unfortunately the reality is that nobody else can help you out when you’re decluttering. Only you know what is okay to let go of and what is not, and having someone else there can actually make things worse as they can try to pressure you or not understand your reasoning and that only agitates an already stressful and unpleasant situation.
- Get the stuff out the house as quickly as possible. Here’s the bit where you can ask for help – getting it out the house ASAP! This is so that you can’t lapse into that mood of clinging everything back and undoing all of your hard work. Also this doesn’t mean that you rush yourself in sorting it out – that will just lead to burn out. Once you have stuff that you have decided that you are willing to let go of, however, get it out of there as quickly as you can. Even if you just put it in your car ready to take to the skip or charity shop in the morning, you’ll instantly start feeling the benefits of having less stuff in your space.
- Stop when The Mood leaves you. Once that glimmer of light fades, it’s pointless forcing yourself to carry on because you’re not going to make any meaningful progress. Whether it lasted 10 minutes or 10 hours, you did well. You tried. Congratulate yourself on taking those first steps. Step back from your decluttering, go and do something else and allow yourself to recover. The Mood will return, I promise!
- Don’t overdo it. It’s exhausting, so make sure that you acknowledge how mentally and emotionally strenuous decluttering can be and take breaks to recharge when you need to.