Decluttering Your Life – Easy Methods for a Simpler Living

You’ve probably heard about decluttering and minimizing, but did you know it can apply not just to your home but to your life?  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the clutter in your life, read on to learn about how you can make your life simpler and better.

Decluttering your life can be an incredible freeing and exciting journey. It can relate to physical spaces, getting ride of stuff, digital spaces, how we plan and utilize our time, and the relationships we keep. Decluttering can help one be calmer, feel better, and be happier.

Have you ever felt like there’s too much going on in your life and you don’t have a moment for yourself?  Is it time to reevaluate things and consider decluttering not just your home but your life?

What is Decluttering Your Life?

Decluttering your life is about reducing and organizing clutter that can accumulate over time. This can be physical, mental, or emotional clutter. It means looking at the things you own, your relationships, and what’s important to you and making choices that align with your values and priorities.

Decluttering allows you to create space for what truly matters to you. Much like with our homes, our lives can become cluttered.  It’s pretty easy and straightforward to declutter your space, but decluttering your life is slightly different.  Some things that can become life clutter include the following:

  • Social commitments
  • Tasks and routines
  • Toxic people
  • Digital junk
  • Debt
  • Comparisons to others
Check list - Decluttering Your Life - Gone Minimal

It may not seem like it, but these things are probably adding stress to your life and absolutely can be reduced or even eliminated!  Read on to learn more about how to declutter your life.

What is Extreme Decluttering?

If you’ve heard about minimalism, you know it’s about less stuff and more life.  To live more intentionally, it’s a good idea to declutter your home (and your life) and get rid of the stuff that’s just adding stress to your life.  Extreme decluttering is clearing out everything in your life that does not contribute to your happiness or get you closer to your life goals.  This includes your home, your workplace or office, even your mind and daily life!

Decluttering Your Life for Simple Living

There are so many things we collect, thinking that they will simplify our lives.  We have “smart” phones that keep our contact list, email, and appointments-but are they really smart?  We have organizing systems available to us for our garage tools, pantry, and closets, but they cost money and potentially take up more space. 

These things don’t always make our lives easier-in fact, they can make things even more complicated (especially some technology!).  Sometimes the best way to live a simple life is just to declutter.  If you feel the need to purchase organizing systems for all of your stuff, you might be better off just getting rid of some of your stuff!

Where to Start Decluttering?

As you’re reading this, think about why you are interested in decluttering your life.  Ask yourself:

  • What is motivating me?
  • Why do I want to declutter my life?
  • What can decluttering my life do for me?
  • What are my goals?
  • What do I want to keep, and what do I get rid of?

Whether you are decluttering your home or your life, it’s best to start small.  Sometimes this means a single item or category of item throughout the home.  In fact, it helps if you start with creating a checklist.  Make a list of the items or rooms you’d like to declutter, create a plan of attack, and stay on track.  You might be surprised by how quickly you can declutter once you get started!

Sometimes the best way to live a simple life is just to declutter.

Checklist for Decluttering Your Life

In order to efficiently and meaningfully declutter your life, it helps to use a checklist to make sure you address everything you need to address. 

This list is not all-inclusive and should serve as a guide to get you started and decluttered in your own life:

Area To DeclutterHow To Declutter It
Home and OfficeGet rid of the things you don’t need or don’t want anymore.  Donate clothing that doesn’t fit anymore.  Have a garage sale and sell the collectibles, unused craft supplies, and whatever else you see fit to sell.  Dispose of trash, recycle old newspapers and magazines, and repurpose those things you just can’t part with yet.
Social CommitmentsGo through your calendar and decline those events you don’t actually want to attend.  Get off that committee that you’re not really interested or invested in.  Don’t accept party invitations just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.  Hand off the homeowner’s association chair position to another homeowner.  If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it!
Tasks and RoutinesLook at your daily routine and pare down the tasks.  Commit one day per week to laundry instead of three or four if you feel that works better for you.  Eliminate the daily trip to the coffee shop and brew your own coffee at home.  Have the kids help with chores around the house and keeping up with the pets.  Ask your partner or spouse to take the kids to school or pick them up. 
Toxic PeopleThe people who bring you down, don’t value your friendship, and take advantage of you are only adding stress to your life.  If there are people in your life who don’t return your texts or phone calls, only show up when it’s convenient for them, or aren’t there for you when you need help then it’s time to cut them loose.
Digital JunkLook at your phone (and laptop) and delete the apps you don’t use anymore.  Turn off unnecessary notifications and appointments.  Upload old photos and videos to a jump drive or the cloud.  Clear out your email inbox. 
DebtMake a plan to pay off credit cards, student loans, and car payments.  Pare down your spending on unnecessary things (see the daily trip to the coffee shop above) and start saving.  Consolidate credit cards into one payment and negotiate a lower interest rate.  Consider a side hustle to earn some extra $$.  Sell some stuff (garage sale, online, etc.) and open a savings account with a good interest rate.
Comparisons To OthersStop looking at how others live on social media, tv shows and movies.  So much is glorified, edited, and staged to show the “best life” when it’s actually fake.  Look at who and what you have around you right now-that’s how you make your best life!
Files for organizing and decluttering - Decluttering Your Life - Gone Minimal
Files for organizing and decluttering

Decluttering Insights and Tips

Can Decluttering Change Your Life?

Yes, it absolutely can.  When your life is cluttered with stuff and toxic people and commitments, you’re overloaded and stressed.  You have a difficult time with doing the things you really enjoy doing, and often postpone them for other things.  Once you pare down the events and people who don’t add to your happiness, you begin lifting the burdens.  THIS can change your life.

What Should You Not Do When Decluttering?

A couple of things: don’t overthink things, but don’t be blasé either.  You want to put sincere thought into what you keep and what you pare down, especially when it comes to the people in your life.  

Does Decluttering Make You Happier?

It probably can, as decluttering leads to decreased stress and more time for what really matters to you.  I don’t know about you-but when I look around my teenage daughter’s cluttered room I’m definitely not happy!  If you’re unhappy about the state of your home, try decluttering!

Once you pare down the events and people who don’t add to your happiness, you begin lifting the burdens. 

Should I Clean or Declutter First?

I believe both choices are a good place to start.  It depends on what type of decluttering is needed, where you’re decluttering, and what your end goal is.  You could even do cleaning and decluttering at the same time.  The real question is-what do YOU want to do first?

When Should You Stop Decluttering?

Probably before you’ve emptied out your home!  But seriously-it’s a good idea to stop when you’ve met your goals.  If your goal is to get rid of all trash in your home, stop when you have succeeded in that.  If it’s to keep your closet organized and clean, that may end up being an ongoing thing.  Stop decluttering when you feel you are finished and have met your goals.

How Often Should You Declutter?

Once every six months or so is a good timeline to declutter.  The rule of thumb for keeping or discarding items is six months, so that can help keep you on track and decluttered efficiently.  Consider decluttering with daylight savings times, spring cleaning, or after birthdays or holidays.  It’s whatever works best for you!

What is Simple Living?

It’s whatever you make it!  Like minimalism, there are no rules to simple living.  It’s about finding what you need and what you don’t from day to day, then simplifying your routines and way of life by using less, doing less, and wanting less.  You don’t have to go Amish to live a simple life!

Below is an insightful video of the Konmari Method to decluttering your home.

Helpful Books on Decluttering

  • Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff (White)(2018) – Dana White is a decluttering expert that can help you identify what’s holding you back from decluttering, then guide you through breaking down those barriers and getting started as well as adopting it as a way of life.  Available in paperback, MP3 and audiobook.
  • The Home Edit Life: The No-Guilt Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing Everything (Shearer)) (2020) – A guide on how to make time for decluttering and organizing, even for busy moms and workers who travel.  The authors help the reader identify the system that works for them, including organizing by color.  Available in hardcover and e-book.
  • Real Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day (Feng Shui Decorating, For fans of Cluttered Mess) (Aarssen)) (2017) – A guide to organize, simplify, and save money while creating a beautiful home.  The author helps the reader create systems for organization that can be maintained in just minutes a day.  Available in paperback, audiobook, and MP3.

Other Resources:

Decluttering your life can sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  There are things in our lives that we don’t actually need, that we once thought made our lives simpler, that simply don’t.  Once you’ve identified the things in your life that are adding stress, complicating your day, and adding to your workload, you too can declutter and simplify to ease your mind and live a better life.  

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