I’ve been decluttering my life and environment since I moved in December 2015. I started with getting rid of things that are no longer useful to me or no longer make me happy, then began decluttering the toxic thoughts and oppressive parts of my mental and digital environment.
Since I began decluttering:
- I no longer feel bogged down by digital noise
- Everything I own serves a purpose or makes me happy
It was a long process (I’m still in the thick of it). I used to have a lot of stuff, even after I moved. The video below is all the things that came out of my closet in the beginning of when I got serious about decluttering.
Here are five ways decluttering changed my life.
1. I don’t think about organizing things anymore
Before beginning the decluttering and minimizing process, I was always trying to come up with new ways to organize all my things. I had a pinterest board dedicated to it (it still exists, but for aesthetic reasons now).
I bought silly things that could help me organize my stuff and not only did it not work, but it didn’t inspire me to always put things back where they belong.
Since Decluttering, I have fewer things to organize. Everything has a home and rarely do things not go back where they belong after being used. I don’t waste time with organization schemes anymore. My stuff kind of organized itself once I got rid of the extra things that were taking up space.
2. My stress levels have decreased.
I still get stressed out, but not like I used to. I realized late in high school that having a dirty, messy, or disorganized room stressed me out and made it difficult to sleep or be productive when I needed to be. After decluttering, very rarely does my room get “messy.” Very rarely do the shared spaces of the house get “messy.” Having fewer things means fewer things to pick up around the house.
Cleaning has also become easier. I used to stress clean. Everything needed to look, smell, and actually be clean for me to be happy and relaxed. I no longer feel that. To say “I’ve let it all go” would be inaccurate. In reality, I was never “cleaning” I was putting things away and not actually solving the clutter problem that made the house feel dirty to begin with.
I spend less time cleaning because I don’t feel like I need to be cleaning all the time. A good sweeping, wiping down counters, and folding some blankets is enough to make sure the house is put back in order each week.
3. I have more time to do things I want to do.
Like I said earlier, I don’t spend a lot of time stress cleaning or trying to organize things. Instead I have more time to read, write, reflect, sleep, cook homemade meals, and watch shows/movies/youtube.
I used to have plenty of free time, but didn’t realize it. I spent it worrying about being productive, whether the house was clean enough, and generally feeling stressed out. Now my free time is obvious. I see when I have free time and what I can do to make sure I am spending it in ways that are enjoyable.
4. I see now what makes me happy and what was just clutter
I used to have so many things I thought I loved; so many things I bought and collected because I thought they made me happy. I kept things because I thought they would be useful or meaningful eventually, not because they were useful or meaningful at the time.
I used to collect a bunch of things just for the sake of collecting. I used to hoard things I though had sentimental value because I thought I would forget about the event, thing, or person if I didn’t keep it. I even kept things with painful memories. It wasn’t healthy to be honest.
I went from having a trunk of sentimental items to a small photo box with plenty of room to add more if I wanted to.
I went from having a massive collection of tea cups to a small collection of the ones that make me happy and are important to me, not just a collectible item. I still have the teacups I decluttered because they’re beautiful and valuable and can be made into meaningful gifts for someone else. I like teacups. I love having tea parties. I didn’t need, and wouldn’t enjoy, to entertain 38 tea party guests. It was only practical to have a few, and for those few to be the truly special and loved ones.
I realized I collected things because I thought that’s what everyone did. I thought extensive collections of something were important parts of life. I realized that my collections instead limited many of my interests to specific things and added clutter to my life. Have you ever tried to dust 38 sets of bone china teacups? Its stressful and time consuming. Collecting can also look tacky and it wasn’t until I stopped collecting things did I realize that I hadn’t been happy with my environment aesthetically.
After decluttering, I began paying attention to the things that made me genuinely happy and the things I just “liked.” Instead of cluttering my life with things I “like,” I surround myself with a few things that I love.
5. I don’t find myself spending money everywhere I go.
I’m much more practical when I make purchases now. I don’t go on a “no purchase diet,” but I am more thoughtful about the things I spend money on. I have become selective in my purchases and only buy things that fit my lifestyle, will last a long time, bring me joy, or fulfill a need I have had for a while. I wanted and needed rain boots. It took me over a year to find rain boots that fulfilled my need, were what I wanted, and fit. I no longer “settle” with my purchases. I make sure that every purchase I make or that is made for me, is loved for as long as it is useful and actually gets used. If I buy something just because it fits an immediate need (if I settle) I know I will have to declutter it later, effectively making the initial purchase meaningless.