Cleaning Up: Tips to Help You Declutter Your Home (and Your Mind)
These methods can help you get started!
Decluttering isn't only beneficial for your physical space, but also your mental space. According to Psychology Today, cleaning and organizing reduces anxiety, and an uncluttered area energizes those who are in it. Beginning the process can be daunting, but with the help of a few techniques and a bit of time (and patience), you'll enjoy the benefits of having more room to move in.
There’s no one correct way to clean and declutter your home, but there are a few techniques to make things easier for you so that you won’t get overwhelmed by all the stuff you need to do, or spend too much time deciding whether or not to keep or throw an item away (how many times have you found yourself distracted by something you’ve unearthed?).
To help you out, we’ve collated cleaning methods you may already know about, and some that you may be hearing for the first time. Choose one that you feel will work with your pace and space best.
One of the most popular techniques in the recent years is the KonMari method by Marie Kondo, whose book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has become a New York Times Best-Seller. It has four basic principles, as mentioned in a previous Real Living feature:
- Throw out what out what you haven’t used for a year
- Create a lot of storage space
- Tidy up a little bit every day
- Tidy up per room
If you’ve seen the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, then you know how it looks like in action—being decisive about what should be kept and being grateful for what should be donated or thrown out. Things that “spark joy” should be kept, which means, while the method encourages you to dispose of unnecessary clutter, it also asks you to keep what matters to you, whether it’s a childhood toy, or your ex’s love letters. Narrow down your possessions to those that you deem important, all the while changing your mindset about having too much and appreciating what’s necessary.
Swedish Death Cleaning
The name and the concept behind it may seem macabre—“it calls for cleaning the house before you die, rather than leaving it up for your loved ones to deal with later”—but it actually helps put things in perspective. When faced with a home with a lot of clutter, cleaning like there’s no tomorrow will help you decide which of your possessions you should keep and which ones you can do away with; and those you let go of don’t necessarily go to the bin. “Instead, you are encouraged to share them with your family and friends.”
The Minimalist Game
The brainchild of The Minimalists’ Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the Minimalist Game requires you to declutter items pertaining to what date it currently is; so if it’s the first of the month, you declutter one item. If it’s the second day of the month, you declutter two. On the third day, you declutter three items, and so on and so forth. Whatever you decide to do with the item—whether you want to donate or to throw them out—it has to be out of your space by midnight of each day.
5-Basket System/4-Box method
The 5-basket system and the 4-box method are pretty similar: you bring in 5 baskets, each labeled “put away,” “recycle,” “fix,” “donate,” and trash; or you bring in 4 boxes marked “put away,” “give away,” “throw away,” and “undecided.”
The process is pretty straight-forward—fill in each box with items corresponding to the labels. Make sure, however, to be decisive about where to put your things, because your “undecided” box can quickly overflow if you keep on being uncertain.
Cleaning expert Melissa Maker’s 3-wave system involves sectioning your room, working your way clockwise from your entry point and back. “You’ll start at the door and you’ll finish at the door,” she says in a feature on Business Insider. “That way, you know that everything is done.”
You also have to consider working your way from top to bottom, in order to avoid dust and dirt from settling on an area that you’ve already cleaned.
First wave: Go around your room (clockwise, top to bottom), and see which items don’t belong in it. Have a bin or two ready so that you can easily put in items that belong in another area of the house and the trash. Once you’re done, you can actually start cleaning your room.
Second wave: Do a second circuit around your room—this time “dusting, polishing, and disinfecting.” Bring in your usual cleaning tools, and make sure that everything you clean is placed back in its proper place.
Third wave: Since you’re done cleaning and dusting from top to bottom, your floor will most probably be dirty. Vacuum dust and them mop, working your way out the door.
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