These 5 decluttering rules revolutionized the way I keep my home.
I am not a naturally organized person. I didn’t move out of my parent’s home until I was 21 and graduated from college, and I drove my mom nuts with all my “piles” in my small bedroom. Decluttering was not in my vocabulary.
I perpetually stacked crafts, homework, books, paints, canvases, and who knows what else under my bed and around my room. My system made sense to me, plus I reasoned that once I moved out I would need what was in my small room to fill an entire apartment. (And it really did…)
My room was also very hot, so in the summer I hung a Venezuelan hammock across the bedroom and ran a fan under it. It’s a great trick to keeping cool!
I will say, my piles have disappeared – perhaps into drawers and organizers, but I am no longer happy to have them living on the floor. We don’t have a large home, so clutter and projects lying around make it looks smaller in a hurry! Having a set of rules for myself has been key to keeping the stacks and piles out of my home.
1. Purge, don’t organize!
If you keep organizing your clutter, it will just be moved from one place to the next. If you don’t need it, purge it! Don’t stow it away in a dark corner where you’ll have to purge it on another day.
2. Only keep what is useful or beautiful.
I’d also add – sentimental. But that criteria should be used SPARINGLY. I really only keep something sentimental if it is also useful and/or beautiful.
The times I struggle with decluttering something that doesn’t fit these criteria is if it was expensive or if it was given to me.
Biblical thinking has helped me in the area of decluttering expensive items.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)
When we have an eternal view of earthly “treasure”, then we will know that it can be gone in a moment, and one day it will be gone in a moment. Can you think of an acquaintance or a missionary you know of who gave up everything to go overseas and start completely over? How can this person’s example help you personally on your decluttering mission?
3. Don’t keep duplicates.
Just because one is good doesn’t mean two are better.
4. Seek to be generous.
Think of who you can bless with the things you are purging. Instead of delivering loads and loads to the local thrift store, be more creative. Can you take stuffed animals to a women’s and children’s shelter? Can you pass on kids’ clothes or toys to a friend’s kids? Does your church have a Facebook page for giving items to others for free?
5. Replace instead of increasing possessions.
I know the urge as an American is to increase the amount of possessions we have. We have homes that are larger than in many places of the world, full of storage, with large garages and sheds. Not only do we have all this on-site storage, but we rent out storage facilities to keep all the extra junk!
If you really have all the things you need, then seek to only buy more to replace what is broken or needs upgrading. Buy fewer things. Take more time in thought about your purchases. Think quality, not quantity. A good rule of thumb is to get rid of one thing each time you bring a new thing home.
With children’s toys, continue to re-evaluate what they actually play with. My oldest daughter Hailey spends almost all her time happily with a stack of paper and colored pens. Madelyn, my middle daughter, gives the majority of her creative attention to her box of plastic princesses and her Disney castle I bought for $5 at a garage sale. I hone down on toys to those I know my kids will enjoy, also being mindful of what their friends or little boys who come over will want to play with.
Click the image below to download this free printable of the 5 Rules of Decluttering!