January 14, 2019

How to declutter your home: the complete guide + a checklist (1/3)

It happens to me a few years back, as I was walking down an aisle at my local book store, I found this famous book by Marie Kondo. I bought it just out of curiosity and see what was all the fuss about. It changed my life in so many ways. I know it sounds cheesy but it is the naked truth. It’s the only book that ever had that kind of impact on my life. And I swear I did read my fair share of personal development books. With this article, I wanted to share Marie Kondo’s method mixed with my own experience in order to make it easy for you to put it into practice. Knowing how to declutter your home will allow you to start your journey for a more intentional home which is what The Gem Picker is all about. But really to me, this is the starting point to making a house a home and enjoying your time there. Happy read

Decluttering. A simple word that can change the way you approach your home but your life as well. At first, it can seem a little futile: Why on earth would throwing things away change my life? The connection between the two is not obvious. But once you start to declutter your home, it grows on you and little by little you’ll see that your vision of life will start shifting.

Declutter your home and simplify your life

Why declutter your home?

Yes, why declutter your home in the first place? You could also keep all your stuff and be happy about it. What is it with this urge people have to throw things away? Those are legitimate questions and we should always examine “the why” before embarking ourselves in that kind of process.
Declutter means simply get rid of mess, complications, disorder, in one word “simplify”. So this means that one should declutter when his life/home seems to be complicated and messy. And in a way, yes, it could be the perfect timing. When you feel like everything is going wrong, decluttering can be a good step to take back control of your life. It’s something you can easily do on your own, it doesn’t demand any particular skills and you just need a good dose of willingness and time to dedicate to it.

When is the right time?

Decluttering can be a pretty long process depending on your level of clutter. So you need to be prepared for it and be aware that it’s not going to take a day or two. It can take from a week to a few months depending on the available time you have and the size of your belongings. It’s a long process and you need to do it seriously in order for it to work and to not let any clutter find its way back into your home.

The Benefits of decluttering

Declutter your home and simplify your life

Since decluttering can be a long and daunting process, it’s also logical to ask what are we going to retrieve from it? These points are from my personal experience.

A sense of what you own

Do you think you are aware of exactly all your belongings? As it’s impossible of responding yes to this question, unless you are a true minimalist, having a good idea of what you own is already such a game changer. Because, possessions is like having kids, they depend on you (okay in a less heavy way than kids…but still). So imagine having more than thousands of kids… How can you possibly be ordered and clear-minded? Each of these belongings will some time to time take a tiny part of your brain energy without you even realizing it. How would you like to give brain energy to an old juicer that hasn’t work in years?

Bringing stuff into your life with intention

You know that feeling when you arrive in a boutique hotel and everything has been arranged and organized in a very functional and thoughtful way. Well, that’s how your home could feel and even better once you got rid of all the things that don’t serve you anymore. And you’ll see that after that big purge you’ll never ever want to bring something into your home that you don’t genuinely like or need.

Peace of mind

Having the busy and stressful life that we all have these days, heading back home should always be a source of joy. Home should be a place where you can be in peace, recharge your batteries to be motivated for the next day. However, coming back to a cluttered home with things everywhere can hardly be a source of joy. It’s rather a source of anxiety and tension. Be prepared to say goodbye to your stressful home and hello to your peaceful home and by extension peaceful self.

Be in control

Declutter your home can also bring you a feeling of being in control of your life. It can empower you in ways that you cannot imagine. Being in control of what you possess, makes you realize that after all you have an impact on your life, once you take action there are results. It could, for example, give you the confidence you were missing to quit your job, say goodbye to a very toxic relationship and much more.

Pure joy

All in all, decluttering is a process that can only bring you joy. Even so, you need to embark this journey with seriousness and not under the influence of anyone else. Perhaps your husband or wife is trying to convince you to do it but in the end, only you can sort out your belongings. Nobody can do it for you. That’s why it’s really important that you mean to do this. But the moment you decide to go for it, believe me, you’ll be so happy you did.

4 simple steps to declutter your home

I have divided the decluttering process into 4 steps:

1.One category after another

This is a very important rule that Marie Kondo insists on in her book. Taking one category after another is probably not the most obvious way of doing this but it is the most efficient for sure. Naturally, we would take one room after another. But this will prevent us from realizing how many objects we possess from the same category. It’s not unusual to have objects belonging to the same category in different rooms. So don’t try to do it room after room even if it seems more logical.
Marie Kondo has divided items in 5 categories: These categories go from the easiest to sort out to the most difficult things to get rid of. So it’s also important to respect this order as you will get better and better at this :

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Paper
  • Komono (Japanese for miscellaneous items)
  • Sentimental items

Download the detailed categories checklist to help you in this process

Declutter your home and simplify your life

2. Lay out all your belongings from the same category

First, you need to lay out all the objects from the same category in one room. This will help you see how many items of the same category you have. Don’t be afraid as this can be really daunting at first. What is really important here is to take EVERY item of the same category, even the ones that are in the basement or in the garage or in any storage facility you may have. Once everything is laid out in a room, you can officially start to declutter. Exciting isn’t it?!

3. Does it spark joy?

You might have heard this phrase more than once. It seems a little funny at first but when you really think of it, it actually makes a lot of sense. The idea here is to take in your hand each and every item that is laid out and ask your self does it sparks joy? If it does, you keep it if it doesn’t, you don’t. You might stumble upon a few items from for example the clothes category that area actually belonging to the Sentimental items category. Do not treat them, just reserve them for later, when you’ll be taking care of the sentimental items.

Declutter your home and simplify your life

4. Decide if you want to donate, trash or sell it

Some items that won’t spark joy for you anymore can still spark joy for someone else. It would be a shame to put it all in the trash. In addition, it may be easier to get rid of something that doesn’t spark joy but is still functional if you know that someone else will benefit from it. So, while you are sorting things out, make 3 piles. A pile of things you keep, a pile you want to donate and a pile to trash. You can also make a pile of things you want to sell, but you have to be really picky with this one as selling things might take some time. So pick only the things that could really be easily sold such as luxury items or designer furniture. I use Vestiaire Collective to sell luxury clothes, Facebook market is also very efficient for all kind of things.

Download the detailed categories checklist to help you in this process

Bypassing the obstacles

For most items, you’ll know instantly by just touching it if it brings you joy or not. But you’ll probably face moments of doubt and items that you have no clue what to do with. That’s okay, it’s totally normal. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t let your inner talk influence your decision too much. It should really be a more instinctive choice. You shouldn’t take your decision based on “it might be useful one day” or “I can’t throw this away, this is such a waste”. First, that day almost never comes. Second, it’s not a waste, even if it’s something entirely new that you’ve never used. It taught you something. It taught you that, that particular thing is just not for you. Think of clothes for example. You might have bought something that you thought you would wear but never did because the color doesn’t suit you or the shape.

>> Quit binge buying with these super easy steps

Decluttering: what’s next?

Decluttering is the first step to a home where you feel good and that reflect your personality. But it’s surely not the last. Now that you have gotten rid of all the clutter, what’s next? The next logical step is to tidy all those things that bring you joy in order to never let the clutter back into your life! So learn the 4 simple steps to tidy up your home after decluttering. It’s based on the Mari Kondo method, I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. I hope it can help you as much as it did for me.

Download the detailed categories checklist to help you in this process

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Declutter your home and simplify your life


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Wonderful post! The benefits of decluttering are endless and I’m glad you listed them… People tend to think that decluttering is just throwing stuff away and emptying shelves but I believe that is much more than that.
For me, it symbolizes getting your shit together (classy!) and saying “bye” to everything that doesn’t matter anymore. It begins with clothes and kitchen supplies. But after, as you said, it gives you the courage and confidence that you need to ditch more complex things as toxic relationships and unhappy routines.

It is isn’t it?! It’s really magic! in a sense it frees you from being the slave of your belonging and helps you recognize when you really and genuinely want and need something. Hence, It gives you so much control over your life, it’s liberating.

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