Come January and I get the urge to purge! But more often than not, I don’t act on that urge and instead keep procrastinating. My usual mantra is I’ll start tomorrow and as we all know… tomorrow never comes.
I love the idea of de-cluttering and living in a completely clutter free house – what bliss! But I feel overwhelmed every time I think about doing it. It usually grows in to this monstrous task in my head before I even try to do anything. And then the monster grows so big that I’m exhausted just thinking about doing it.
This year something changed. I decided not make it in to this big, huge overwhelming thing. Instead, I told myself baby steps was what I needed. My goal wasn’t to do one big de-clutter which would never happen anyway, but instead to build de-cluttering in to a habit. I wanted to make it so easy on myself so I set myself a timer for 5 minutes and committed to doing this daily. Nearly 3 weeks in and I haven’t missed a day because it’s so easy to do and so painless and I’ve been quite surprised at how much you can do in just 5 minutes. I use a habit tracker that I tick off each day and with each tick it’s amazing how much my motivation grows… now I don’t want to miss a day for fear of breaking my chain of ticks.
To keep things simple and focus on building the habit, I didn’t want to get in to sorting stuff and making piles of keep, donate, bin. So I made of list of clutter that can go without even thinking about. No decisions to be made, just stuff that has to go.
If you’ve been struggling on the de-cluttering front, this list is a great place to start. It’s all stuff that you can get rid of now, without a thought. So get a habit tracker, set your timer for 5 minutes and begin today with these things. After just a few days you’ll see the benefits and you’ll begin to build a habit of de-cluttering.
1. Clothes that don’t fit
I’ve always hung on to clothes that no longer fit in the hope that they will fit again one day. But that never happens and years go by and the clothes just hang there gathering dust. We’ve all been there, right? Time to bag them up and give them away to charity so that someone else can enjoy them.
2. Accessories you haven’t worn for 2+ years
Remember that belt you bought in 1997? Or that scarf you’ve worn once? I’m a reluctant de-clutterer especially when it comes to my closet so I’ve suggested anything unworn for 2+ years but if you want to be ruthless, give away anything thats not been worn for over a year because chances are you won’t be wearing it again.
3. Books you’ll never read or ones that you’ll never read again
I’m not one to encourage getting rid of books in general but then again there are books and there are books. There are those that we cherish, keep referring too, love browsing through and re-read a hundred times and these are the keepers. Then there are those books we’ve bought but never read and never will. And finally there are those books that we’ve read once and will never read again. You know the ones to get rid of so get a box, fill it up and donate them.
What is it about magazines that makes us want to hold on to them? Ask yourself this – do you regularly thumb through your old magazines? I’m guessing the answer is no. Time to be a bit ruthless and get rid of the whole lot. I had hundreds of magazines that I threw away in one go and now I’ve not only got valuable floor space back but I haven’t missed them for a second. An easy way to stop them from piling up again is to keep only the last 2 months issues and anything older goes.
5. Expired pantry items
The biggest culprit here is usually spices. We buy a particular spice for a recipe, use a pinch and the jar stays for years. Spices lose flavour and freshness over time, so toss all that are past their best but don’t stop there. Check your other pantry stuff and anything past it’s best can be thrown away.
6. Expired and old medicines
Expired medicines can’t be consumed so just get rid of them all. Dispose them responsibly of course.
7. Old make-up (including old nail polish)
Most make up comes with a little jar-like icon on the back with a number like 6M, 12M or 24M on it (which stands for 6, 12, 24 months). This tells you that once you’ve opened the product you should stop using it after the number of months specified. The majority of products fall under the 12M or 24M category so this should make it easy for you to chuck all those that have been lying around for years.
I have a set of 6 beautiful mugs that I use all the time. And then I have another set of 6 that I use but less frequently. All good so far. Then I counted all the random, mis-matched mugs I have lying in different cupboards in the kitchen and they totalled a staggering 16. 16 mugs that are never used. 16 mugs that I don’t even like. How many do you have for the bin?
Paper comes in all sorts of guises. If you have kids then you’ll know that they go through paper like there’s no tomorrow. Except none of it gets thrown out, it just gathers in clusters around the house. Then there are cards – seasonal cards, birthday cards, invites etc Then there’s receipts and bills. And finally there are product manuals which can all be found online if and when needed. I recently spent my one of my daily 5 minute sessions purging paper from around the house and I ended up with a large bin bag full in just 5 minutes. How many bin bags will you fill in 5 minutes?
10. Old or duplicate chargers
Do you have old chargers for devices you no longer use? Or do you have like 6 chargers for your iPhone? You know what to do here.
11. Gifts that you’ll never use
We all get given gifts that we know we’ll never use and they especially tend to pile up after Christmas. Either re-gift them or give them away to charity. This can be hard to do especially if the gift was from someone close to us. But isn’t it better to know the gift will be used rather than sitting there and gathering dust?
12. The clutter in your handbag (and wallet)
Yup, we all know this builds up. And it gets messy! Use one of your daily 5 minute sessions to clear out your handbag and wallet because that is literally all the time it takes.
So what do you think? Are you going to try the 5 minutes a day method to build your de-cluttering muscles? You’ll be amazed at how much you achieve in a few short weeks, without feeling like you’ve made any effort at all. Don’t forget to use a habit tracker that will help you stay on track.
Top image via bjurfors