How Your Surrounding Space Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

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Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Whenever there’s an opportunity to make yourself feel better, seize it! The world is a hectic place, but your life doesn’t have to be.

Therapy isn’t the only way to improve mental health. There are some things you can do on your own to make yourself feel better – the space around you plays a big role in that. 

Do you know that feeling after cleaning up the house or decluttering your desk? That’s exactly what we mean by making yourself feel better. That feeling of motivation and positivity proves to what extent our surrounding space impacts our mental health. 

Here are some tips that can inspire you to improve your well-being and make meaningful changes to your space (and hopefully your inner and outer peace). 

Declutter regularly

“When my house is not in order, I don’t feel in order.”

Clutter can feel like your worst enemy. Picture yourself at the happiest you’ve ever been. Now imagine entering into a cluttered apartment. That feeling of disappointment that you are feeling only at the thought of clutter is proof that your surroundings play an enormous role in your life. The good news is that it doesn’t take that much effort to bring a positive change and to make yourself feel better. Decluttering requires a little will power and a couple of hours of your life (weekly or monthly depending on your desired level of decluttering).

Redecorate

Everybody enjoys a change here and there. Redecorating and changing your space can have a positive impact on your mental health. Those changes don’t have to be immense. Even the slightest update in your living room can put a smile on your face.

Why don’t you consider adding more plants to your space? You probably already know how healthy they are for their air-purifying elements, but they have some healing powers too. Plants will create a more natural atmosphere that will be more pleasant to be in.

(Caitlin’s note: I recommend Wild Interiors and Just Add Ice for indoor plants!)

Apart from adding green to your surroundings, you can bring more colors to your life by painting the walls. Colors can influence moods, so you should choose them carefully. For example, the blue color is known for its calming and soothing power, while yellow can boost your energy and put you in a better mood. 

Rearrange the furniture

While redecorating might require some time and money investment, rearranging the furniture definitely takes less effort but has a big role in elevating your mood.

My mum used to do this a lot when I was a kid, especially when she was feeling blue. A different living room set-up would always brighten up the house. Since my childhood, this was my go-to method for making myself feel happier.

Eventually, which furniture set-up works the best for you and your family depends on, well, you and your family. Try more options until you settle for the one that fits you the most and supports your daily activities in the most productive way.

Spruce up your workplace

“We are defined by where we spend our time.”

For most of us, our workplace is where we spend the majority of our time. There’s no denying that our job and office highly impact our mental health. So how do we turn this to our advantage? 

1) Add more plants

Plants are a must-have for every office space for health reasons and productivity. Even if you’re not working from home, but in a shared office space, there’s no way your colleagues or managers will object to having plants in the office. 

2) Clean and organize your desk 

Your desk needs to be taken care of regularly. Try to tidy up your office desk as soon as you are done for the day. Avoid keeping unnecessary documents or paper on it, that’s what file cabinets are for. Your desk should be fully optimized and free of clutter. Office tools like binders can also be very practical and can help you keep your space organized.

3) Let there be light and air

Good lighting and fresh air are crucial for every workspace. Nothing like those sun rays to make you feel productive and alive! 

Bonus tip: Leave the window open while you are on your lunch break. There is less chance that you will feel sleepy after eating if your office is well-aired. High temperatures can also cause you to feel sleepy, hence not productive, which is another reason to let air circulate.

4) Get a pet

A pet-friendly atmosphere will lift the mood of any workplace. If you are working from home, why don’t you consider getting a pet? If you are managing a workplace, definitely consider getting a pet for your employees. Not only that you will have a beautiful distraction from work, but you will also give and receive so much love, which will eventually make your work blossom.

5) Get inspired

Different people get inspired by different things. Your office space should reflect your personality, your desires, and your goals. You’ve surely noticed how some parents put framed photos of their children on their desks. It is what keeps them going, what makes them feel good and productive. It can be anything, from photos of your close ones to vision boards, places you’d like to visit, anything. What makes you good at your job? What’s your goal? Feel free to frame it and put it in a visible place so that you can get daily reminders of your path.

6) Add some colors

You will hear quite often that employees complain about the lack of color in their workplace. If you are one of them, share this constructive feedback with your managers so that they can consider adding some colors to your office. 

If you are lucky enough to be working from home, you should definitely do some research on colors that would fit you the best – not only can the right colors do wonders for your productivity, they can also improve your well-being and lift your mood. No need to paint your home office walls if that’s not your cup of tea; there are other ways to add color – rugs, paintings, photos, ornaments, etc.

The most important advice I’ve ever received was to always listen to myself. You should do the same. If it makes you feel bad, get rid of it. Experiment with your home, office space, walls, and furniture as much as you want until you get it right. Create a space where you will feel peaceful and happy – what more could a person ask for?

About the author

tess

 

Tess Cain loves being organized. If she is not working at office.eco, then she’s dedicating her time to staying clean, clutter-free and organized. She also likes the outdoors, working out and volunteering.

The Simple Bundle: 17 Minimalist ebooks available this weekend only!

I write more about social issues, trauma recovery, and self care these days than my original days of decluttering and minimizing my space, but I’m still a minimalist at heart and in practice so I am thrilled to share with you an absolute steal of a deal if you’re an aspiring minimalist!

The Simple Bundle is available this Labor Day weekend only, August 31 – September 2, 2019. And it’s only $37 for a $225 total value of 17 ebooks and online courses! Check out the offerings below:

  1. Joshua Becker — Clutterfree with Kids eBook

  2. The Minimalists — Essential eBook

  3. Patrick Rhone — Enough eBook

  4. Francine Jay — Miss Minimalist eBook

  5. No Sidebar — 30 Days to a Simpler Life Email Course

  6. Courtney Carver — Microbusiness Email Course

  7. Erica Layne — 9 Hard Truths about Clutter You Need to Hear eBook

  8. Tsh Oxenreider — One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler

  9. Pia Edberg — The Cozy Life eBook

  10. Anthony Ongaro — Break The Twitch eBook

  11. Sandy Kreps — Fresh Start eBook

  12. Colin Wright — Considerations eBook

  13. Simplify Magazine — The Declutter Issue

  14. Kathy Gottberg — RightSizing: Reinventing Retirement eBook

  15. Courtney Livingston — The Smart Girl’s Guide To Surviving Her Twenties eBook

  16. Allie Casazza — The Ultimate Guide to An Uncluttered Life

  17. Minimalism Co. — The Minimalism Challenge eBook

Simplify your life and your space by building consistent habits around a minimalist mindset. While there’s no single how-to that’s perfect for everyone, I am sure there’s at least one resource in this bundle that’s just what you need!

Here’s the link again if you want to buy: The Simple Bundle 

Read more from me!

Interested in supporting Born Again Minimalist? You can sign up as a supporter on my Patreon page for $1 per month, follow me on Medium and clap for my stories, follow and engage with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and buy my book!

21 New Years Resolutions for Minimalists

Happy New Year!

dreams

At a time when most of us are plotting the course to become a Totally New Me, I’d like to remind you all that you are doing great already. You’re enough, just as you are, and you don’t need to lose 50 pounds or get a boyfriend or achieve a certain level of income to be loved or worthy or enough. That said, New Years Resolutions don’t have to be about absolute life changes. You might find that if you focus on small lifestyle focus areas, you’ll reap large-scale rewards. I’ve put together a list of minimalist resolutions to help you simplify your life and focus on what matters most to you.

A look back

Take a moment to reflect on the year behind you. I can say for certain that when I was approaching 2018, I could not have predicted anything that was about to change for me. In 2018, I realized I was living half a life in an abusive marriage, so I left. In 2018, I lost my stepdad. In 2018, I cut contact with loved ones who damaged my mental health. In 2018, I socialized and made new friends and developed two healthy and loving romantic relationships. In 2018, I discovered a new favorite restaurant. In 2018, I accepted a book deal and wrote a book. It was a BIG. YEAR.

Related: MarketWatch – What to do when your best year at work is your worst year at home

Self reflection and goal setting

To help you reflect on your year in review and find the areas you want to work on for the next year, I recommend finding a few minutes to focus and reflect. This guide can help you out with guided questions and printable sheets to brainstorm.

First, reflect:

  • Did you achieve your resolutions and goals in 2018?
  • Do you have unfinished 2018 projects? Why?
  • Did you take time in 2018 to make a plan for your goals? Did you give yourself the time and resources needed to accomplish your goals?

Then, prepare:

  • Set clear, definable goals with measurable progress and success
  • Think about how you’ll react if you don’t achieve your goals
  • Decide how you’ll motivate yourself to reach your goals

Decide on the areas you want to improve, and then focus your goals on those key areas. The smallest consistent actions can create big improvements.

On to the resolutions

Depending on your areas of focus, here are some resolutions you may be able to adjust to your needs for 2019!

Career

  • Get in early. Resolve to arrive at your desk 15 minutes early this year. Having a few minutes to slowly get your mind into work-mode will leave you feeling more productive and less rushed. This doesn’t mean spend an extra 15 minutes working! Spend this time to close your eyes, set an intention for your work day, and get ready to work.
  • Update your resume. The simple act of updating your resume and polishing your personal brand can help remind you of your skills and make you feel more confident. You don’t even have to look for a new job if you don’t want to – just looking at your credentials and experience on paper is a great reminder of how you’re doing in your career.
  • Learn more. Resolve to read a book or take a webinar or workshop related to your career on a regular basis this year. Check out resources like Lynda, which may be available for free through your local library. Lynda has courses about almost everything.

Physical Health

  • Go to bed. You need more sleep than you are getting, if you’re like most Americans. More rest means better health, regardless of how much you’re hitting the gym. Working out while your body is exhausted can set you up for injury and burnout, so prioritize getting your ZZZs. Try to keep a consistent bedtime and wake time to teach your body your new habits and rhythms.
  • Stretch daily. Rather than commit to a year-long weight loss goal that so few people achieve without a heap of negative self-talk, choose a simpler resolution. Wake five minutes earlier so that you can stretch before you start your morning routine, and perhaps you’ll see that just a small amount of movement can help naturally inspire more.
  • Hydrate. Resolve to drink enough water on a daily basis – this will have a huge and lasting impact on your health. You’ll have healthier digestion when your body is properly hydrated, and you’ll also notice healthier skin.

Mental Health

  • Go to therapy. If your medical insurance covers therapy, find a therapist! Even if you don’t feel like you need one. It can be extremely helpful to have someone to talk to who isn’t knee deep in your personal life. They’re a neutral third party and can help you find other areas of your life to work on.
  • Try mindfulness. Many apps are available to help guide a quick meditation during your day, or you could try keeping a daily journal to jot down some affirmations, intentions, and gratitude.
  • Add plants. Houseplants are one way to improve your mood and mental health. While they’re obviously no replacement for therapy or medication, being around plants and natural microbes found in soil can help boost the immune system as well as inspire joy and decrease symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Social Life

  • Say no. Minimalism is about what to exclude from your life moreso than it’s about what to include, including your schedule. Learn to say no to some social plans so that you can say yes to the ones you really want to attend, without burning yourself out or overscheduling.
  • Try a new place. If you’re a homebody who wants to try going out more, set yourself an easy goal like trying one new place or route per month.This could be going to a new cafe to read a book, visiting a different branch of your local library system, or even taking a different route on an afternoon walk. Just try something different.
  • Give compliments. I used to be pretty quiet in public places, always staying in the shadows while my sister rained rainbow sparkles of joy on everyone she crossed paths with. “Love your earrings!” “That dress looks great,” “Your hair is awesome,” etc. etc. etc. After I went on medication for depression and anxiety, I was less scared of being seen as weird in public by engaging with people I didn’t know. Now I love to tell a server that I love their eyeliner, or give props to a coworker for a job well done in our weekly meeting. Resolve to say something nice every day. It will change your whole outlook on life.

Generosity

  • Leave bigger tips. If you normally tip 20%, resolve to tip 25% at minimum in 2019. This is a great way to be generous and make a big impact with a small change to your current habits.
  • Support marginalized artists on Patreon. Find someone on Patreon who is marginalized in an area of life where you have privilege. Donate to them monthly for the entire year. (For example, if you’re a cisgender white person, donate to a transgender person of color).
  • Declutter for a cause. When you’re decluttering and minimizing in 2019, donate linens, business casual wear, formal dresses, unopened toiletries, non-perishable foods, etc. to local agencies, women’s shelters, and other charities that help people. Even stained or torn towels and linens can be donated to most animal shelters to be used as bedding or cleaning rags.

Finances

  • Minimize your budget. Go over your past few months of bank statements and see what you’re spending money on that you forgot about, don’t really use, or are not seeing a good return on. For me, this meant finally canceling my Beachbody Coach account. I kept it active long after I stopped selling workouts and shakes, because I got an occasional commission and felt like “passive income” was a good reason to keep it up. But I hated the clutter of my monthly budget, so I canceled it and freed up a whole segment of my budget that I no longer had to think about.
  • Go “No Spend.” Resolve to have a no-spend week or month a few times a year. During this time, use up items in your freezer and pantry, learn to do without online shopping for the period in question, and give homemade or pre-owned gifts to people if an occasion falls during your no-spend challenge.
  • Live on half. If at all possible, challenge yourself to live on half of what you make in order to achieve your savings or debt payoff goals as fast as possible. If you can’t live on half of what you make, challenge yourself to spend half as much as usual on something in your budget for a month.

Physical Environment

  • Donate once a month. Make a resolution to take (at least) one full box to the local donation center each month. This is a low-stress way to declutter and minimize all year long.
  • Try Project 333. This capsule wardrobe project challenges you to go three months with only 33 pieces of clothing and jewelry (undies and workout clothes excluded). This experiment can help inspire a closet makeover in your home and help reduce future spending on clothes, once you realize you don’t even wear most of what you have.
  • Commit to one area. Resolve to keep one small part of your home as minimal and simple as possible. Your minimalist save point. It could be a whole room, or it could be as simple as your desk or one nightstand in your bedroom. Just find one spot that you’ll keep to your minimalist standards on a daily basis all year. The joy of seeing it so nice will likely inspire a similar commitment to other areas of the home.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

Book Review: The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

minimalist home

Photo from becomingminimalist.com 

Everybody has the aha! moment that starts their journey to minimalism. For me, it was a basement full of stuff at my mom’s house after my first divorce. For some, it’s knowing there’s a pizza cutter somewhere in the kitchen but being absolutely unable to find it in all the chaos. For Joshua Becker, it was when a neighbor mentioned that people don’t actually have to have so much stuff when Joshua was mid-garage-cleanout.

Joshua is the mind behind the Becoming Minimalist blog and the author of Clutterfree with Kids; Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life; The More of Less; and the freshly published as of December 18 The Minimalist Home. I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. So here we go, my honest review of The Minimalist Home.

First, it’s similar to other minimalism and decluttering books. But everyone has their own spin on the approach. Where Marie Kondo suggests touching everything to check for joy, category by category, and Dana K. White outlines the way you can declutter whether you have five minutes or five hours, Joshua Becker has a blended approach. His decluttering method goes room by room and follows the same basic steps each time, but what I really found differentiating in his book was the checklist for each room that was based on questions to ask yourself that focus more on how the space feels vs. how it looks.

Here’s an example from the chapter on kitchens and dining areas:

  • Is my kitchen easy to maintain and keep clean? Does it promote safety?
  • Is this a space I enjoy cooking in?
  • Are the tools I use most frequently easy to access?
  • Have I removed visual clutter from counters and surfaces?
  • Does my kitchen promote healthy eating habits?
  • Does this space encourage optimistic attitudes in the morning?
  • Does my dining room offer freedom to move about, rather than being cramped and cumbersome?
  • Does my dining area offer opportunity for meals together as a family – a place where we can recap the day?
  • Does my dining area encourage me to show hospitality to others?

Some of these questions are predictable and common sense (clean counters and surfaces, tools easy to access, etc.), but I was opened up to a new way of thinking about clutter when the questions became “is this a space I enjoy?” and “does the space promote optimistic attitudes?” and “does my dining area encourage hospitality?”

Suddenly the kitchen is no longer just another room to pass through on my way into the house after a long day, but the place I start a productive day with a healthy breakfast and the place that my partner and I feed each other and our friends. We actually enjoy hosting friends for dinner, and we’ve benefited from organizing our kitchen and the rest of our home in a way that makes the entire place feel more hospitable and welcoming.

Also throughout the book, Joshua includes stories from his readers and followers about the real-life ways minimalism has given them freedom. Freedom is a big theme of the book, whether it’s the freedom to travel, freedom of income when you stop spending so much on random stuff, freedom to whip up an impromptu scone because you know exactly where all the baking equipment is in your well organized kitchen. The combination of real life experience helps drive home the points that Joshua makes, because you can clearly see the tangible and intangible benefits of simplifying your space.

The chapter that made the biggest impact on me was about the home office. Having a simple and pleasant work space makes all the difference, whether you work from home or just need a place to pay the bills. I moved in with a partner about three months ago, and the whole house feels optimized… except the office. My desk has become a repository of stuff I haven’t dealt with yet. But I am an author and I work from home part-time for my day job, so I kind of NEED TO DEAL WITH IT. Joshua’s questions (“Does this space encourage me to focus on my work?” “Does this space invite me to enjoy the work I do?” “Is this space easy to maintain?”) forced me to acknowledge that I want to create a safe haven for my work so that I can feel better and more excited about sitting down to be creative. Thanks, Joshua.

After a room by room guide to minimizing, the book also includes a Minimalism Maintenance Guide, with tips on staying minimalist once you’ve pared down to a new baseline of simple living. This is often one of the hardest parts of minimalism, especially when you live with someone and must contend with other people’s possessions too.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Minimalist Home. It’s an easy read and very skimmable if you already know the basics and just need a refresher, but reading it closely will provide more context and a better feel for the why behind simplifying and de-owning possessions. The book is full of shareable bite-sized wisdom you can tweet or write down for later, such as “Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you have to fill it with stuff,” and it comes from a wonderfully approachable perspective. Anybody can start minimizing and creating their own minimalist home!

Keep up on where you can buy The Minimalist Home on Joshua Becker’s website. Many sellers are already out of stock!

 

 

 

Book Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life

It’s been a while since I did a post on decluttering and minimalism, and I am so excited to give a rave review of Dana K. White’s book Decluttering at the Speed of Life. I downloaded it using the Hoopla app (which lets you use your library card to borrow six titles per month for FREE) and listened on my commute.

I’ve been through some stuff lately, y’all. I am moving for the second time in seven months. When I packed up and moved out of my ex-husband’s house, I realized that I was barely taking up space in that house. I’d pack my items up in each room and look at what was left behind, bewildered that it looked essentially the same. I had been trying to take up space for four years and though I’d hung art on the walls and organized the Pyrex containers the way I liked them, it never really felt like home.

With this move, I was determined to take up space and make my apartment a true home for myself filled with joy. I made a reading nook corner that I never used, I found the perfect chair at the Habitat for Humanity Store that I never sat in, and I used an air mattress as a couch because screw giant furniture. And I was happy there. Until I decided to move again ahead of schedule as part of Operation De-Stress.

Turns out, I still had stuff I didn’t use, need, or even want. Like the two sets of towels I received as wedding gifts that are still in their packaging. We got married over two years ago. Plus, some of the cute towels I bought when I moved in aren’t all that absorbent despite the fact that they match my bathroom theme. They’re in the donate box now. LuLaRoe clothing that I held onto for their resale value are just in the donate box. The white linen skirt I wore at my wedding, which I had planned to use in some piece of inspired transformative artwork, is in the donate box.

Because, hold up, this book has changed my life.

First of all, Dana K. White is the author of the blog A Slob Comes Clean, which started as an anonymous “practice blog” where she could confess her dirty house secrets. But then it turned out that a ton of other people related to her clutter woes and she ended up building a huge following and brand and I’ve consumed her books Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.

You should read these books if you have a messy home that you feel like you can never get out from under. Right now. Find them.

Here are the things Dana has taught me:

  1. The Visibility Rule: Start your decluttering project in the most visible places in your home. Where do you enter your home (and where do guests enter)? Look at your home as if you are a visitor and start decluttering the most obvious spaces. Clear your “slob vision” by looking at your home through new eyes.
  2. Don’t Pull Everything Out: I used to postpone decluttering because I wanted to go in KonMari style and do whole categories at a time. But I have other stuff to do, and I don’t always have the time or energy or wherewithal to pile every piece of clothing I own on the bed, touch it, and ask if it brings me joy. Dana helped me understand that I can declutter effectively without this en masse approach.
  3. The Container Concept and One In One Out: This is something I actually had done before, in my earliest days on the blog. I had a small bookshelf and decided I’d only keep the books that fit. The bookshelf was my container. But this method died a quick and painful death when I moved in with my “collector” ex, who had shelves upon shelves upon totes upon totes of books, technology, toys, hobby equipment, and clothes. And he was a shover. I cannot stand shoving. If a drawer is too full to close and needs shoved, there is a problem. Dana’s book reminded me that if there’s shoving, it’s time to remove something until the container is actually containing things.
  4. Start with Trash and Easy Stuff: Dana’s decluttering steps are so simple and obvious, I feel ridiculous that I never did it her way before. When you’re in your most visible space, start by throwing away or recycling the trash. Then look for Easy Stuff, things that obviously don’t belong in this space. Then…
  5. Take It There Right Now: Get rid of your Easy Stuff by putting it in its proper place as soon as you pick it up. Also, as you’re decluttering, ask yourself “Where would I look for this first?” and take it there RIGHT NOW. (MIND BLOWING – No “Keep” Boxes allowed).
  6. Donate the “Almost Perfect:” This one hit me so hard. If there’s something you keep around but don’t tend to use because you don’t like one thing about it, it’s time to say goodbye. This is what helped me let go of a super cute dress that didn’t fit right in the bust, as well as the aforementioned not-super-absorbent-but-really-cute towels. But now all my towels fit on one shelf in the linen closet with no more shoving!

There’s plenty more, but I really seriously want you to read her book. Also, she has a podcast. I am gonna die of excitement.

How to Purge Your House: By Category

how to declutter your house by category

Last week we talked about how to purge and declutter your house by going through each room and completing it before moving onto the next room.

Another option to declutter your home is to purge by category. This means you gather up all related items from the entire house and sort them all at once, then put them back in their respective homes.

Pros and cons of the category method

I personally dislike this option because it requires a lot of running back and forth between rooms and gives you opportunities to miss items that might be hidden away or stored somewhere. This is a way for distractions to take hold, if you happen to notice something that needs dealt with while you are moving from room to room gathering items.

However, this is a good option if you happen to have your clothing or other items in multiple rooms or closets because it helps you understand how much “clutter” you are dealing with in a certain category.

For example, I have a pair of boots by the back door, 3-4 pairs of shoes in my bedroom closet, and a couple pairs of shoes in the coat closet. For me to look at any one of these locations, it would seem like a decent amount of shoes, but when I get them all together, it is clear that I need to pare down my shoe collection.

If we were to amass all of the books in our home in one place, we would probably collapse a hole in the floor. Maybe we won’t declutter those by category. You know, for structural integrity’s sake.

Declutter categories

Potential categories for this purging method include:

  • Accessories
  • Bags
  • Blankets and bedding
  • Books
  • Car related items
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Clothing
  • Craft supplies
  • Cutlery and kitchen utensils
  • Dishes
  • Disposable items
  • Electronics
  • First aid supplies
  • Food
  • Furniture
  • Games
  • Jewelry
  • Magazines
  • Makeup and toiletries
  • Medicines
  • Movies
  • Office supplies
  • Pictures
  • Purses
  • Shoes
  • Spare parts and hardware
  • Spices
  • Tools
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Toys

You can, of course, go by categories that make sense for you, especially if you have a collection or hobby not listed, such as photography (cameras, lenses, other goodies!) or baseball cards, etc.

How to declutter by category

The steps for decluttering by category are essentially the same as decluttering by room.

  1. Begin by clearing a space for your stuff, such as a bed, table, or floor.
  2. Gather all items throughout the house in the category and bring them to the central sorting location.
  3. Evaluate all items, asking the same questions listed in the previous method – have you used or do you plan to use the item in a month, three months, six months, twelve months? Do you love it? Does it belong?
  4. Sort your items into donate/sell/trash/keep boxes.
  5. Take the trash out, take the donations to an organization, put the sell stuff into a designated space, and put the “keep” stuff away.
  6. Continue to the next item category on your list.

Which sounds best for your particular situation – decluttering by room or by category? Tell us all about it in the comments.

How To Purge Your House: Room by Room

Declutter house part one

For a lot of people, minimalism jumps upon them swiftly when they look around and suddenly wake up to the fact that they’re surrounded by unneeded stuff. For others, they take a slower approach.

I find that the quick and dirty process gives much better results and helps you stick with it long term, because you put in all your effort in one huge push of time, energy, and sweat, and you do it while focusing on the fact that your goal is to have LESS STUFF. You go from being a person of stuff to a person of less stuff, rather than saying “Oh I’m working on decluttering!” for a year at a time, all the while still accumulating more stuff.

(I feel the same way about dietary changes. Don’t hem and haw about reducing your sugar intake by grams per day… just cut it out and bask in the glory of a better life).

There are a few methods of purging your home – this post will focus on how to purge and declutter room by room.

Purge Your Home By Room

Purging your home by room is just what it says – you go one room at a time and complete the decluttering process on the entire room. I like this method for a few reasons:

  1. It saves time – you do not have to go around finding things from multiple rooms. You just do the room you’re in.
  2. It is intuitive – you can work throughout your house in an order that makes sense to you, either top to bottom, clockwise by room, do bathrooms then bedrooms, etc.
  3. It is conducive to breaks – you need breaks when you work, and completing an entire room gives you an opportunity to take a break at a meaningful point.
  4. It is easy to chunk – while the best option is to do your entire house in one fell swoop, that isn’t always possible. Decluttering by room gives you a way to complete sections of the house and know where to pick up where you left off.

Begin by making a list of every room in your house, and number them in the order you will complete the decluttering or purging process. Got your list? Ok – let’s do this thing!

Be clear about your goals

Before you begin, take some time to get clear about your goals for decluttering and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. What do you hope to gain? Here are some ideas:

  • Having a home without clutter will help me feel more at peace.
  • Minimalism will help me prioritize physical and emotional “stuff” in my life.
  • Purging the house on a grand scale will help me move on from an emotional trauma.
  • Not being tied down by so many possessions will allow me to feel free.
  • When I purge my belongings I will be able to pursue a dream.
  • When my home is free of unneeded items, I will be out of excuses and will work on a goal I have been avoiding by hiding behind the mess in my house.
  • Finally accomplishing this task will give me a sense of pride in my home.

Once you have your goals and affirmations clear, you can begin. It may help to write some of these things down so that when you’re halfway through bedroom #2 and you want to crawl on the couch and watch the latest season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix with a bottle of wine and a pint of gelato, you will be able to stay clear on your intentions and power through he process.

12 Steps to Purge a room

  1. Get some boxes, bags, or baskets for sorting items.
  2. Remove everything from all cabinets, drawers, etc. If you’re in the bedroom, empty your closets, dressers, nightstands, and shelves. Nothing is to be in a storage space.
  3. Put all the room’s stuff in a pile on the bed, kitchen table, floor, or other handy flat surface.
  4. Clean cabinets, drawers, etc. This step is optional but you may as well take advantage of the fact that they’re empty and give them a quick wipe down!
  5. Inspect each item carefully. Have you used it in the last month? Three months? Six, nine, or twelve months? Do you PLAN to use it in the next month/six months/year? Is it past an expiration date? Do you love it? Do you use it? Does it belong in this room?
  6. Sort everything. You should sort into the following categories: Keep (in this room), keep (belongs in another room), trash, recycle, donate, sell.
  7. Take the trash and recycling out of the room (or, ideally, out of the house entirely) as you fill bags.
  8. Take “sell” boxes to a designated storage space in your house. Write the date you decluttered the items on the boxes. If you haven’t held the yard sale within 3 months,this stuff goes to Goodwill.
  9. Take “donate” boxes and bags to a donation facility at the end of the day.
  10. If you have truly “undecided” items, put them in a box and mark the date on it. If you do not go looking for the items within 3 months, donate them without opening the box.
  11. For things that belong in another room, take them to the room where they belong (you don’t have to put them away yet, because you’ll be decluttering this room later).
  12. For things that you are keeping in the room you are decluttering, put them away when you have finished sorting.

Repeat these 12 steps for every room you declutter.

I recommend you set aside an entire weekend and devote it entirely to decluttering your house. This type of rapid fire approach leaves little time to second guess yourself.

Decluttering traps

So many things can derail you when you finally get the ball rolling on your decluttering plan. Watch out for these bad boys of the purging process:

  • Sentimental items. I know, it’s hard, but unless you truly cherish and regularly use or gaze upon an item, it is okay to let it go. This is relevant to the inheritance of relatives or even your high school calculus notes. I know some of you have a tote of school stuff in your mom’s basement. Get real. You’re not using it.
  • Gifted items. I always feel like I owe it to a gift giver to keep their gift. It was thoughtful of them to get me something, right? That is true, and it was thoughtful, but try considering that the gift’s true purpose, which was a moment of joy when it passed from gifter to giftee, has already been fulfilled. It is ok to let go of a gift you no longer use or need.
  • Paperwork micromanaging. This one has been my downfall since the dawn of decluttering. You find yourself moving at a good clip and then suddenly – PAPERWORK. I will give you a pass, just this once, to throw all paperwork in a box to be sorted and/or digitized later. Your main goal is to declutter your whole house.
  • Organization containers. These containers exist for one reason: to make hoarding look pretty. There is a time and a place for organizational containers, but you don’t need to make a run to the office supply store in order to achieve your decluttering goals. Focus on moving through the room before you worry about cute ways to store cotton balls and Q-tips.

Get to work! Or, learn more next week.

Does decluttering by room sound like a good method for you? Great! Get to work and tell me how it goes. Or, if you want to learn a different method next week, stick around, because I have more to teach you!

Share any other pitfalls you run into when decluttering and I’ll include them in the next post.