Sure it’s not frontline stuff, but the simple act of clearing things out can be a great way of passing time in lockdown.
Firstly, it’s a good distraction: one that’ll yank you right out of that scary news feed and knee-deep into the mottled shoe collection lurking at the back of your wardrobe.
Secondly, it’s physical but without being too taxing. When decluttering, you can work with your hands (something that relieves stress and helps solve problems) while listening to a gripping podcast or blaring out your favourite Beyoncé power anthems at the same time.
And for the hat trick, decluttering carves out headspace in a way that’s quietly profound. When you get rid of stuff, you make organisation and tidying up 100% easier to achieve.
But also, the very process of throwing things out is therapeutic, meaning you can think clearly again and make better decisions – a philosophy that stands at the heart of Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.
So, without further ado, here are 10 great tips from the wonderful world of Pinterest to get you started with your own decluttering process over the course of the long Easter weekend.
1 - Use the 5 Second Rule
It’s amazing how easy it is to procrastinate when you’re clearing out your stuff. But overthinking is an enemy you want to avoid. Marie Kondo’s concept of “sparking joy” is one way to do this: you hold something and know immediately on gut feeling whether it’s worth keeping or not.
The 5 Second Rule explained below is another clever trick to bypass dithering. If you can’t remember when you last used something in the space of five seconds, it’s time to get rid of it. You could also set yourself strict time limits for decluttering each area (for example, your closet or under your bed) to help drive forward the decision-making process.
2 - Stick to topline principles
While ultimately you want to declutter by category (bathroom cabinet, wardrobe etc.), there are some golden rules that you can refer to on all “to keep or not to keep” decisions. This list from Apartment Therapy is a useful rundown of how to keep your eyes on the prize (i.e. a beautiful, clutter-free home) when it comes to throwing things out.
3 - Target easy throwaways
While it’s great to learn to make quick decisions, you can kickstart the decluttering process further by zoning in on items you can get rid of straight away. Things like burnt out candles, old makeup or holey socks generally won’t be sentimental, so they represent easy wins. Once you build up a bit of momentum by getting rid of the culprits below, you’ll be ready to tackle the more challenging areas, like books or that pair of skinny jeans you love but never wear.
4 - De-bloat your wardrobe
You’ll likely start and end most days near your wardrobe, so getting rid of stressful bloat here is key. As with all areas of decluttering, you need to be a bit ruthless – there’s no point keeping hold of that little black dress you never wear simply because you once had fun in it. The below “yes” or “no” flow chart is a nice easy way to get stuck in, and will nix that temptation to overthink what stays and what goes. Remember, most of your discarded items can find a great new home either on eBay, in a clothes bank or in a charity shop (post-lockdown, obviously).
5 - Beautify your bookshelves
You may love books but do your bookshelves really reflect that? Or are they just a mish-mash of reads from 1998 to now – along with boxes of pens, unframed photos and other random keepsakes? Below is a handy guide on how to make your bookshelves beautiful again: a challenge that involves a hefty amount of empty space. This simple technique, along with plants and prints, can go a long way in terms of creating a standout visual effect. Once you’ve cleared out the books you don’t need, you can also use the more artistic cover designs for display purposes, too.
6 - Reclaim bathroom space
“How much stuff can one woman really hoard in her bathroom?”, you may think – but prepare to be surprised. Below is a long list of all the daily clutter that sneaks its way around our sinks, baths and into our cabinets, taking up every last iota of space. From out-of-date meds to product samples or toiletry gift sets that have long since passed their prime, you’ll recognise more than a few of these usual suspects. And nearly all of them can go straight to the bin. Hello, bathroom zen…
7 - Tackle kitchen debris
The kitchen is another place where clutter can pile up quicker than you can say “Kondo this place right now.” Old takeaway menus, random piles of tupperware you never use, spices that went out of date in 2017: you name it, there are dregs to be found everywhere. Use the round-up below to work your way methodically through all the debris getting between you and a kitchen you can covet.
8 - Declutter your desk
There’s no point having a desk to work from if it’s piled sky-high with dirty mugs, receipts and files you never read. In fact, Marie Kondo would say that when you clear your desk, your work dilemmas will lift in parallel. And whether or not you find that idea convincing, it’s still soothing to arrive at a clean, minimal workspace in the morning. Even if your “desk” is in fact the kitchen table, the same rules apply in keeping it clear and clutter-free.
9 - Create a moodboard for paperwork
It’s too easy to let paperwork get lost in an ever-growing mound. But if you mount it on the wall, you’re much more likely to pay attention to and deal with it. For starters, it’s right in front of you, where you can’t miss it. And also, it forms a semi-display, which means there’s an incentive there for you to keep it minimal (it’ll be immediately obvious when you’re losing track). You can divide racks into spaces for bills to pay, receipts or recycling, and think about displaying your calendar and To-Do lists in the same place. It’s simple yet effective way of staying on top of everything.
10 - Get rid of your “just in case” stuff
According to Marie Kondo, we tend to hold onto things we don’t need either because of attachment to the past or as insurance against the future. The latter category includes lots of “just in case” items. That gas bill from 2003 just in case anyone ever questions you on it. That cat carrier than your four-legged friend has long since outgrown. Those cans in paint for that time you might move house and decide to redecorate. These things tend to linger in your garage or equivalent: basically whatever slice of space (a room of doom or that nook by the boiler) serves for stuff you’ve put aside so as not to think about. This category of things can all go, and the summary below can be your helpful prompt to weeding out what isn’t needed.
Main image: Getty