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Katherine Moon
Katherine Isabella Moon
Meow, hello there, my name is Katherine, but you can call me Kat; because I basically am a cat. Anyways, I am a 26-year-old, lifestyle blogger, with an INFP-T personality type, from the United States. I love fashion, the color pink, cats, dogs, and spending all my time on my computer. I'm often seen wearing cat ears headbands.
The Kat Life
The Kat Life

how I'm choosing to live my best life

Friday, January 24, 2020

A "Beginner's" Tips For Decluttering

Sorting through clothing
Photo courtesy of Sarah Brown on Unsplash

A year ago, I never thought I'd be writing a post like this. Not just because I hadn't even started my blog yet at this point last year, but because for the longest time, the thought of thoroughly decluttering scared me a little. I couldn't fathom the idea of letting go of something if there wasn't anything wrong with it, or if I knew there was a way that I could possibly repair it. My yearly "decluttering" consisted of nothing more than just tossing damaged or worn-out items and donating clothes that didn't fit. It was rare that I'd throw away much more than what could fit in a Walmart bag, and at most, I'd have about one or two pieces to donate. Yet going into my closet was stressful. Opening my desk drawers was stressful. Opening my makeup drawer was stressful. Dusting was stressful because of all the little knick-knacks I had to move out of the way. Sometimes just being in my room was freaking stressful! 

I think you get the idea. I had so much shit that it was stressing me the fuck out. Excuse my language, but seriously. I had to do something about it. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, not just because I had so much shit I had to go through, but because I was going to have to change my mindset as well. But it needed to be done. It should have been done a long time ago. But rather than guilting myself for not doing it sooner, I'm just going to focus on the fact that I finally made cutting the clutter a part of my life. And that it really does feel amazing to live with less clutter!

A Beginner's Tips For Decluttering

Start with a strong why that works for you

If you've never really been one to declutter or take on a major decluttering project, one thing that really helps is to start with a strong why. Seriously, ask yourself why you want to declutter. Once you recognize your reason (or reasons) why you want to declutter, I suggest writing them down. And writing them down somewhere where you'll see them. That way you can refer back to them if, and when, you need a reminder of why you're doing this. Your reason can be something as straightforward as preparing for a move or to redo your space, or it can be a little more personal to you. You can also have multiple reasons for decluttering, you don't have to settle on just one. As long as it motivates you, the more, the better. Here are a few common reasons why one may choose to declutter...

Reasons one may choose to declutter

I'll be honest, when I first started decluttering, my primary "why" was the fact that my closet was basically full, and I wasn't going to get much more into it. Plus, just opening my closet stressed me out. I knew if I wanted to get anything out of it, I'd be in a wrestling match with everything in it. My closet was also so packed, there was a legitimate possibility that I could tear one of my favorite pieces trying to take it out. I could not have that happening! Especially since a lot of the stuff in my closet was no longer my style, and it hasn't actually been my style since early high school, and I'm in my mid-20s. There is no reason I should be fighting clothes I've had since middle school, and rarely even think about, to wear my new clothes.

At first, I was only going to declutter my closet, but as I went along and it started getting easier to let things go, I wanted to do more. The more "meh" pieces that I tossed into the donation pile, the more liberated I felt. As I put my favorite pieces back, I wasn't fighting to get anything into my closet. I actually wanted to look in my closet. Everything had a place and wasn't just crammed wherever I could fit it into my tiny closet. My closet was actually organized the way I wanted it to be for the first time in years. I wanted this for the rest of my room too!

Address any fears or concerns you may have

The idea of going through with a thorough declutter was daunting to me. Not just because I knew I had a lot of stuff to sift through, but because the idea of "letting go" had always scared me a little bit. I also had concerns about what I'd be left with or feeling like I'm tossing money away, among many other concerns that I'm sure are common. So I had to address these fears and concerns that I had before I started the process. And perhaps find a new way to look at the concerns that I had.

Concerns one may have about decluttering

My biggest concerns came with what would I do about gifted and sentimental items that didn't "spark joy" for me, or that didn't really fit with my style or my interests. So I chose to just go about each of these at my own discretion and use my best judgment. 

Plan it out

If you have a lot of stuff to go through, the idea of taking on the task of decluttering is likely going to be rather daunting, so you're going to want to plan it out. Not only do I strongly suggest working in categories, but I also suggest breaking down those categories into smaller subcategories, just like Marie Kondo recommends. For example, when you're tackling your clothing, rather than trying to go through everything in your wardrobe at once, try going through your pants, skirts, dresses, tops, athleisure, pajamas, socks, undergarments, and whatever else you may have separately. Here is how I've chosen to break it down...

My Marie Kondo Inspired Categories For Decluttering Or Tidying Up

You can also choose to break all of the smaller subcategories down into even smaller subcategories if you wish. Perhaps you may want to sort things by brand, style, or even by color. It's 100% up to you! You may also find that you have completely different categories of items to sort through than I do, which is completely fine. Just do your best to come up with a system that works for you and your own needs.

Start with the easiest things first

Marie Kondo's method for decluttering recommends starting with clothes because they are the easiest thing to start with mentally. Following the Marie Kondo method, after tackling clothing, you'd then move on to books, papers (which I included with office supplies), miscellaneous items (which I've broken down into my own categories), and then sentimental items; in that exact order. While I did follow this method, for the most part, I can't say that going in this order would be mentally the easiest for everyone. Had I known that I was going to go beyond my closet when I started the tidying process, I would not have started with clothes. Clothing was actually one of the hardest categories for me mentally. Although that could be because I was brand new to decluttering when I started clearing out my closet. Personally, if I could do it all over again, I would have started with one of my miscellaneous categories first. Most likely, my office and art supplies. I think the next time I decide to tidy up a little bit, I am going to go in the following order...

  1. Office & Art Supplies
  2. Beauty Supplies
  3. Media
  4. Clothes & Shoes
  5. Accessories
  6. Decorative Items
  7. Miscellaneous Items
  8. Sentimental Items

Personally, I feel that starting with office and art supplies would be easiest because as much as I love my stationery and crafting supplies, it's not that hard for me to tell what should stay and what should go. I also know that I can very easily repurchase most of these items should I need to. With beauty products, I could go by which products are expired, broken, or nearly empty, as well as by which products just don't work for me. Media can be a little tricker as I'm hesitant to let go of books, CDs, DVDs, or anything of that sort. Same with clothes and shoes, or accessories. Decorative items aren't difficult to deal with per se, although some of them may be a little more sentimental than others. With miscellaneous items, it depends on the item. And, of course, sentimental items pose the biggest challenge, as they're the most difficult to even fathom letting go of.

Organized desktop
Photo courtesy of Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Try to get it all done as quickly as possible, without overwhelming yourself

The quicker you move through the decluttering process, the better, but don't feel like you have to get it all done in one day. I'd say at the very least, try to get through at least one major category per day, and try to avoid dragging out the process for too long, but you should also be patient with yourself and the process. Depending on your schedule and the amount of stuff you have to sift through, it could take a few days to go through everything. It may also take a few weeks or even a couple months if you have a tight schedule. Just try to be consistent with the process and do as much as you can at a time.

It helps to plan out how you want to go about the process. That way, you can build your schedule around it. And don't forget to allow yourself to take a five to ten-minute break if you start to get overwhelmed to the point that you're no longer working efficiently

Minimal clock
Photo courtesy of Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Have four different piles to sort things into

As I was sorting through my things, I found that it was easiest to have four separate piles to sort things into; a keep pile, a donate pile, a trash pile, and a pile for items that I am unsure about to come back to later.  I feel that these piles are pretty self-explanatory, but here is the basic rundown of how I decide what goes into each pile...

  • The keep pile - Items that "spark joy" for me or that I need. 
  • The donate pile - Items that are in good condition that I don't want to keep.
  • The trash (or recycle) pile - Items that are worn out, torn, broken, stained, or just not in good condition. This also includes any open beauty products that I don't intend to keep, as well as expired products.
  • The "unsure" pile - Items that I'm having a hard time making a decision on, and that I'm setting aside to keep the process moving. I will come back to the items in this pile when I finish going through everything else in the category. 

If you wish, you could also make a pile for items that you would like to sell or gift to someone you know would enjoy them. Just one thing though, if you're going to give away any of your things as a gift, be sure it's a gift that the recipient would enjoy. You don't just want to just hand off clutter to your friends and family.

Ask yourself more questions when you're unsure

Following Marie Kondo's advice, the first question I'd ask myself about each item was whether or not it sparked joy. If the answer was yes, the item would go straight to the keep pile. If the answer was no or I wasn't sure, I'd ask myself if I needed it. If I did need it, then it was a question of whether or not I had the means to promptly replace it with something I might like better. If I couldn't, the item would still stay, at least until I had the means to upgrade it. But for some items, the decision isn't that simple. The answer to the question of "does it spark joy" isn't always clear, so I need to ask myself a few more questions in regards to the item.

More questions for when "does it spark joy" isn't enough

These are just a few of the questions I ask myself about items that land in the "unsure" pile. Another great question could be how willing you are to dust or clean the item, and whether or not you really want to deal with it when you're cleaning the house. Honestly, the primary reason I've always abhorred dusting so much was the fact that I had so many little things to move out of the way. Not to mention that, eventually, all those little decorative knick-knacks need to be dusted. So keep things like that in mind too. 

Additional tips

If it's your first time decluttering, it's bound to be a rather daunting and time-consuming process, so you're definitely going to want to prevent the clutter from reaccumulating. You don't want to end up back at square one. Especially as the process of decluttering can also be emotionally draining if you're a sentimental person like I am. Here are a few additional tips to make the process a little bit easier and to prevent the clutter from building back up...

Organized minimal workspace
Photo courtesy of Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Show gratitude, and thank the item for what it's done for you - Like I said, not only am I a rather sentimental person but one of my biggest fears with starting this process was the idea of feeling "ungrateful" if I got rid of something. So when I read online that Marie Kondo likes to take the time to thank each item she lets go of, I fell in love with this idea of showing each item a little bit of gratitude before letting it go. A little "thank u, next" moment, if you will.

Consider the item's feelings - This is another Marie Kondo tip that, as a sentimental person, I actually found extremely helpful. Although, my initial reaction to reading this was that considering an item's feelings would make it even harder to let go. You mean to tell me that I should consider the feelings of inanimate objects, and how they'd feel if I got rid of them?! Especially if I have to put them into the trash or recycle bin, and not the donation box! But then I read into this a little more, and I saw a different side to it. Perhaps, those less loved items would be "happier" if I donated them, so someone who would love them could purchase them. And those old, worn out, items just want to be retired.

Clothes organized on a rack
Photo courtesy of Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Make a serious effort to avoid impulse buying - Not only will you save a lot of money by not buying something just because it's on sale or because it's only a couple of dollars, but you'll also keep the clutter at bay. This isn't to say you can't buy something that's on sale or that you don't necessarily need, but don't purchase it unless it sparks joy, and you have a place for it.

Learn to say "no, thank you" when offered gifts that don't spark joy - Remember what I said earlier about only giving away an item as a gift if you know the other person would want it? Well, I say this because accepting gifts I didn't truly want was actually how I accumulated a lot of my clutter. So as much as I always appreciate the offer, I have to learn when to say no. Once again, this isn't to say you can't accept a gift, just don't accept every gift you're offered when given the option of whether or not to accept it. Find a polite way to say no, and show gratitude for the offer.

Keep up with it - Inevitably, you may fall out of love with a few items or accumulate some stuff that doesn't really spark joy for you. So try to stay on top of it, and go through the decluttering process at least once a year.  

Although decluttering, especially for the first time, can be very daunting, it's worth it in the end. Whatever your reason for clearing the clutter may be, you will not regret choosing to let go of the clutter. And remember, it's 100% your choice of what stays and what goes. If something "sparks joy" to you, keep it! Even if it may seem weird to someone else. 

Do you have any additional tips for decluttering and making the process as simple as possible? If so, I'd love to hear them! 

A Beginner's Tips For Decluttering
Thank you for reading, and I hope the rest of your day is wonderful!
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