Guest Blogger,  Housekeeping

7 Simple Ways to Begin Living a Clutter-Free Life

Special Note: This article is part of an intentional home series by Davonne Parks. To view the rest of the articles in this series, go here.

Money was tight. We were young, newly married, figuring out how to make our way in the world, and often scrimping to get by. Though we didn’t solicit help, we did gratefully accepted each hand-me-down that was offered to us, from furniture and clothes to vehicles and toys.

The very thought of giving away any one of those items felt incredibly wasteful because we never knew when we might need something we didn’t have the cash to buy.

As the time passed, however, many items started to feel like burdens instead of blessings. Entire rooms in our home couldn’t even be used because of the excess. The things we had saved “just in case” were filling in the spaces. And with a preschooler in the house and a new baby on the way, we needed the extra space more than we wanted the additional stuff.

We also needed to trust that God would provide our needs.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:25-26

As I wrestled through the emotions of knowing something needed to change, I finally realized the waste was not getting rid of things – the real waste was hanging onto items that were rarely used.

Some of the items could be enjoyed by someone else who needed them. Other things simply needed thrown away. But all of those rarely-used items had one factor in common: They were preventing my family from truly enjoying our home. The stuff was pushing out space.

And we needed the space. For life, for love, for creating memories, and for having room to invite others in without hesitation.

Figuring out what caused me to hang onto stuff was pivotal in my own journey towards creating a clutter-free life. Because until I understood the inward why, I would never make lasting progress about the outward mess.

I don’t know what’s been causing you to hold on to your own possessions. Maybe you had a house fire that caused you to lose everything, so now you want to keep what you can. Maybe a family member died suddenly and things are all you have left. Perhaps someone else threw your possessions away, making you feel like what you had wasn’t valued. Or, maybe you’re following patterns of those who raised you because you were never taught to clean.

Whatever has been holding you back, whatever you’ve been fighting against – that doesn’t have to define your future. You do not have to give your past experiences permission to rule your life. You can take back your time. You can be free.

Here Are 7 Simple Ways to Begin Your Own Journey To A Clutter-Free Life:

1) Identify what’s been holding you back.

Think about what has happened in your life that’s made you resistant to, or afraid of, letting go of your possessions. Honor your memories, and spend time in prayer and scripture if you need to emotionally relive painful experiences in order to heal. Give yourself time to process what’s been holding you back.

2) Talk to someone about your reservations.

Tell a trustworthy friend, share with your spouse, call a counselor, open up in the Tidy Up Facebook community, or leave a comment on this post. Seek out kind truth-tellers who can help you process your emotions.

3) Imagine that your home is already organized.

Close your eyes and pretend your home is clutter-free, organized, and peaceful. How do you feel? How does your home look? Do you notice all the extra space that’s available when stuff isn’t blocking the way?

4) Give yourself a quick success.

Clean out one small area in your home. It can be a dresser drawer, one shelf in the bathroom closet, your medicine cabinet, or your coffee table. Donate or toss anything you don’t use often. Work on this space until it’s completely organized, then notice how energized and amazing you feel when you’re done.

5) Focus on one room at a time.

Add another quick success to the first. Clean out a second dresser drawer or a different kitchen cabinet in the same room you worked on in step 4. Continue doing this, giving yourself several quick successes in a row, slowly building to the more difficult areas. Whether it takes one day or three weeks, keep working in this room until it’s 100% clutter-free and organized.

6) Have a maybe box.

Don’t allow yourself to become mentally paralyzed by indecision. Have a box or basket ready for those tough-to-decide items. If you look at something for more than 10 seconds, toss it into the maybe box.

Come back to that box after the rest of the room is finished – it’s often easier to make a decision for those items when you know there’s only one measly box standing between you and a finished project.

7) Remember that throwing away items doesn’t erase memories.

People give us things to bless us. If you’re burdened by rooms full of stuff you rarely use, the items are no longer serving the giver’s intended purpose. Letting go of the item doesn’t erase the original blessing, and it certainly doesn’t erase any memories. Not at all.

Giving away unneeded items creates space for new memories, while still honoring the old.

Personal Thought/Application Question: What’s been holding you back from decluttering, and how are you going to work to overcome that?

******************************************

Davonne Parks believes that your role at home is valuable and she wants to help you thrive in your environment. Click here to receive immediate access to the FREE printable library she created just for you.

4 Comments

  • Melisa Hall

    Great article…definitely needed that! It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one. I have found it helpful for me to take pictures of the hard to let go items to preserve those memories. Pictures take up a lot less space on the computer than the item itself. I keep the pictures organized in one file so not to mix them in with everyday life, holiday, vacation photos. Thanks for the article, it was excellent!

    • Davonne Parks

      That is a great idea, Melisa! I especially love the idea of having a memories folder on the computer. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tara

    I love the idea of Matthew 6:25-26, but I find it so hard to translate into life. It’s difficult to draw the line between trusting in the provisions of the Lord and doing my own due duty in a responsible way. For example, I trust the Lord to care for my family, but I also know that if I don’t go to the grocery store and prepare a meal, there won’t be one. Or, if I don’t save any money and spend it all even say on charity, what am I to do when the furnace breaks down? Busyness and worry are two sins I struggle with the worst, but I just can’t make sense of how to avoid it and still be responsible for the care of my family. It just seems too unwise and unfair to not plan ahead and expect the Lord to bail me out later. But by planning ahead, is that failing to trust? Hoping to gain some wisdom in this area.

    • Davonne Parks

      I’ve struggled with this idea too, Tara.

      As far as trusting God for the future, I don’t think it means we don’t go to the grocery store or we get rid of every couch in our home. But, when we’re hanging onto things “just in case,” like dishes we never use, or baby clothes when our youngest is twelve, those are things we need to let go of and trust God to provide the resources if we ever do truly need the items again.

      As far as finances, I think it’s important to save and have an emergency fund in place first, then give. You could even have a fund that you put, say $50 a month into (or even $10 a month, if that’s what you can afford), that’s your designated “giving” fund. That way, when a need arises, you’re ready and already know what you can afford to give without taking away from your own family’s needs.

      I think we should plan ahead, but not worry about the future. We can peacefully plan, knowing that “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).