You may have noticed that decluttering is something of a trend these days.


For the last few years, purging physical items from your home and life has been embraced as a form of self-improvement. As proof, consider the cult-like status of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by the Japanese mistress of minimalism, Marie Kondo. It stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for months. Kondo’s philosophical yet practical decluttering method has earned legions of devotees, who tweet and Instagram their tidying successes online.


There are even mass decluttering challenges to take part in, such as the “40 bags for 40 days challenge” and the “30-day declutter challenge”. Clearly, after the age of excess and the economic downturns of the last few years, the world is ready for more minimal, frugal living.


The benefits of being clutter-free

As for the benefits, there are many. There’s the spare cash you can earn if you sell off the things you don’t need. And once you’ve embraced simpler living, you’ll likely think twice before spending on more “stuff” and be able to save for the important things, like holidays or retirement.


You’ll also save space – and precious time. With more room to move, you’ll spend less time searching for things when you need them, and cleaning can happen much quicker.


The mental and health benefits of decluttering have been proven. An Indiana University study found that people with tidier homes tend to become more active, and thus healthier. Another study, in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed that less cluttered spaces help people focus, as they’re less irritable in them.


An untidy, cluttered space adds unnecessary stress to life. In a survey by About Health, over a third of respondents said they even avoid spending time at home because of the mess.


Living wastefully, with unwanted items gathering dust, is a drain on your mental energy. So to clear your head and your home, make a plan to declutter. Here’s how…


How to declutter, step by step

Treat decluttering as an act of mindfulness. The whole process can be meditative and calming.


Start small with manageable goals. Marie Kondo suggests you start with clothes. You could decide to begin with your socks drawer or your shoes. Set aside a specific date and time to tackle your chosen problem spot, and don’t deviate from your plan.


Then follow these steps:

  • Set up containers or areas for sorting items into categories such as “to keep”, “to donate”, “to sell” and “to toss”.
  • Now purge, category by category. Ask “Do I use this thing?” and “Do I love it?” If not, let it go. You can compromise with yourself. Say, choose one sentimental item you get to keep for every three you clear.
  • Stop only if your mind is feeling too muddied to discriminate, and you find yourself either overly tossing or overly holding on. Otherwise, continue until you achieve the goal you’ve set.
  • Reward yourself for goals reached.
  • Make a plan to maintain the new level or order you’ve achieved. Everything should have a place, and everything should be put back in its place, every time.

Help managing the clutter

If all this feels like too much of a challenge, remember there are experts on call to help. Examples of professional decluttering services in South Africa are Cloud 9 Organised and All Sorted Now.


Also, consider storage for items you don’t use but aren’t ready to release, that you need some time to sell or that you won’t need until next season. For example, moving summer gear like surfboards, children’s inflatables, a tent and camping chairs into storage for the winter months could free up significant space in your home.


XtraSpace specialises in providing affordable, secure storage spaces, ideal for storing all kinds of business and personal items. For more information, contact us at XtraSpace or browse our list of branches.


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