I have too much stuff.
Sometimes I get so frustrated at the amount of stuff in my home, I grab a box and start putting things in to toss it all. I eyeball Pinterest pages of minimalist homes and envy people who are able to have simple, clean homes. The time I start to feel the most overwhelmed is the end of the year when anticipate my home being filled with even more toys and decorations. Forget spring cleaning; I look forward to fall cleaning every year!
The only problem is sometimes even the thought of downsizing my stuff gives me anxiety! Over the years, I’ve tried different approaches to clearing out my house, and while I’m not perfect, I’ve come up with four solid rules to ensure I don’t get overwhelmed.
Rule Number One: Think Minimal
Change your internal dialogue from “what can I get rid of?” to “what is the minimum I should keep?” Instead of pulling out the things you can remove from your home, set aside only what you need and get rid of the rest. I’ve been shocked at the number of things I’ve gotten rid of that I thought I needed, but weeks went by and I never thought of them, never needed them, and in some cases couldn’t even remember what I got rid of.
Rule Number Two: Enact a One in, One out Policy
If something comes into the house, something leaves the house. Each box full of stuff that we get (like a new kitchen gadget or a toy my kid just had to have) is quickly re-filled with things that leave the house. This rule can be the most overwhelming, so here are some ideas for easily implementing this policy in your home:
- If you use Amazon, you probably have a lot of random boxes that come your way. Amazon has partnered with The Give Back Box, so you can receive your items from Amazon, fill up that same box, print a free shipping label, and send it along to a charitable organization. Learn more here.
- Every box I get (from shoe boxes to bulk food I purchase) I fill up with items that either need to be trashed, shredded, or donated. Trashed items go out each week (or taken to Fort Worth’s Solid Waste facilities depending on the item).
- Items too big to send using The Give Back Box mentioned above get picked up by a non-profit organization. The Arc (here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex) will come and get your items. Learn more here.
Rule Number Three: Keep It Digital
When I get an invitation or an appointment card, I put it in my Google Calendar and then toss the paper. I try to get receipts and bills through email. (CVS, Home Depot, Macy’s, and Whole Foods offer digital receipts — just to name a few stores.) I keep a select few child art creations and recycle the rest. When I get the mail, I walk straight to the recycling bin, open the mail, keep the few pieces I need, and toss the rest. Cutting down on the amount of paper I have has also cut down on how much time I spend looking for missed items and organizing them!
Rule Number Four: Teach the Kids
I have one kid who loves order and one kid who thrives on chaos and hoarding. While there are times when I take certain items without consulting them, more often than not I give them their own boxes to fill up with the explanation that we should only keep the things we love. They often surprise me with their willingness to part with things they don’t often use.
I don’t know all the magic science behind it, but ever since implementing the four rules above, I’ve been happier and less anxious. Because less stuff means less to clean, I also have more time! I like looking around my home and seeing less. Knowing I have just what I need and nothing else has brought me a lot of peace.