I recently stumbled upon a YouTube channel, The Minimal Mom, and learned some amazing decluttering tips from her that helped me to let go of items that weren’t serving us and get our home functioning better. If you think I’m exaggerating by referring to these tips as “life-changing”, please hear me out! I truly believe that having a decluttered and organized home can change your life.
I’ve always considered myself an organized person, but I was amazed at some of the tips that The Minimal Mom shared, which helped me to see my stuff in a completely different way. I was able to take another look at areas of my home that weren’t functioning the way I needed them to, and finally felt like I had the permission I needed to declutter items that were only getting in the way! I tackled our pantry and kitchen cupboards first (just the ones that were driving me crazy), and they are now functioning so much better! First piece of advice- if you don’t know where to start, the kitchen is often the best place!
After learning these fantastic tips, it reminded me how important this topic is for creating a happy & healthy home environment. Your home should support a healthy lifestyle, rather than causing stress, overwhelm and preventing you from accomplishing your goals! Your home should NOT be a burden! It’s very difficult to accomplish your goals in a space that is cluttered, messy, or unorganized. No wonder so many of us have such a hard time cooking our own meals consistently- we have so many things to manage that it’s hard for us to keep up with daily tasks!
I wanted to share my favourite tips that I learned from Dawn (The Minimal Mom) so you can implement these changes too, and start enjoying the benefits. Get prepared to have your mind blown! This will be a bit of a longer post as there are so many great things to share. Also, be sure to check out The Minimal Mom YouTube channel as there is so much more to learn than what I can sum up in one blog post.
Here are the BEST tips for decluttering and organizing your home:
Firstly, I wanted to point out that the first step in organizing your home is decluttering. You can’t organize a space if there are simply too many items to fit in that space. And that leads us right into the first tip…
“Make the boundaries the bad guy!”
Let your space be the boundary for what items you keep. The boundary can be any “space” that you need it to be. For example, one specific bin that all the Christmas decorations have to fit into, or one room where extra furniture has to be stored, or one album where all your photos have to fit into. Having these space limitations in place reduces the guilt of getting rid of good items that could be used one day, or sentimental items that aren’t being used.
If you are a parent, this means you can make your storage limitations the “bad guy” for your kids, rather than you being the bad guy! You can tell your kids that their toys all have to fit in specific storage bins (or in the closet, etc.), and the rest have to be donated. Studies have shown that kids are actually happier in a space that is clutter-free and organized. Having less stuff actually helps them to be more creative and imaginative, the same way it does for adults!
Another example of this is the size of your home. If there are items that simply do not fit well in your home, then you don’t have to keep them! Let’s say your family is passing down some furniture that you don’t want for whatever reason. Your space limitations are the bad guy, not you!
We live in a condo with legitimate storage limitations. We don’t have a garage, a basement, an outdoor shed, or a spare bedroom that is never used. This means that we simply can not own as many things as other people. And that is totally ok! It actually makes me feel more at peace having less belongings to worry about.
The Silent To-Do List- What Your Stuff is Telling You (from the book ‘Goodbye Things’ by Fumio Sasaki)
Here’s a tip that can truly be life-changing! Seriously… this tip put into words something that I have unconsciously felt for as long as I can remember. It was like someone finally understood and put into words why I NEEDED to have items organized in a certain way. I finally felt like I wasn’t crazy!
The idea behind the “silent to-do list” is that every item in your home is sending you a message. A dish might be saying “clean me”, and a piece of mail saying “read me”, and a pair of shoes saying “put me away”. An unfinished project might be saying “when are you going to finish me?” and other items might bring to mind a memory that is either good or bad. This is why visual clutter stresses us out so much. If you have an item that is making you feel guilty every time you see it, or something that tells you “you’re lazy!” every time you look at it, why continue to let it do this to you? Let it go! (Or declutter your home so these items can have a designated spot where it’s out of sight.)
Once your home is decluttered and organized, it becomes MUCH easier and quicker to clean. You’ll be able to develop habits and systems that help you stay on top of maintaining your home, so there won’t be as many things to clean and put away. But it all starts with owning LESS first.
We Only Have Today
As sombre as it may sound, none of us are promised tomorrow. We only have today. We allow our belongings to dictate how our homes function, even at the cost of our current sanity. You will find so much more joy by living in the present through keeping the items that are serving you today. There’s no harm in keeping some items as emergency supplies (in fact, I recommend being prepared for emergencies), and a couple of items for “just in case”, but we also have to put a limit on these things. If you keep an entire wardrobe of clothing “just in case” your size changes, this can be a huge source of guilt and stress! And what if your size never does change? What if, instead, you only owned the items that you are actually using TODAY and let go of the rest? How would that change your mental stress and the organization of your home?
As mentioned with the first tip of “making the boundary the bad guy”, determine a boundary for how many items you are reasonably able to have in storage. This will help you figure out what you can reasonably keep for emergencies or “just in case”.
The Idea of Inventory & Mental Capacity
Every single item in your home has to be managed. It has to be cleaned, stored, and organized. This not only requires physical energy, but it drains your mental energy and capacity too! How much stuff do you want to manage? What capacity do you have right now to manage these things? Even items in storage have to be managed. Similar to the “silent to-do list”, this helped me to understand why even items in storage made me stressed out. I didn’t want our closets to be full of stuff or unorganized. Just knowing that the items were there took up some of my precious energy. Understanding that this was a REAL emotion that I was experiencing helped me to let go of some items.
The “Time Will Tell” Bin
A big reason that we all struggle sometimes with letting go of certain items is because of the guilt we feel. We may feel guilty that we spent money on something that hasn’t been used, or because the item was a gift. There are many tactics and pieces of advice that can help with this, but here’s just one that can help. Create a “time will tell” bin. When you come across an item that you are really struggling with deciding whether or not to keep, store it away in a “time will tell” bin, and store that bin somewhere out of sight. Then, after several months or maybe the next year, you can look at the items in the bin and you’ll know whether you missed the items or not. If you realize that you never even thought about those items, then it’s probably safe to let them go! Or if you have thoughts like “I was wondering where that was!”, you’ll know that it’s probably better to keep that item.
What About Gifts & Sentimental Items?
In regards to items of sentimental value or items that were gifts, these can be trickier to let go of. There can be a lot of guilt surrounding these types of items, so here’s a new way to think about them. If the item didn’t work for you, remember that the person who gave it to you wouldn’t want you to have negative feelings about the gift. They wouldn’t want you to feel guilty about it or obligated to keep it even if it didn’t work for you. As always, “it’s the thought that counts” and it’s ok to let go of items if it will reduce your stress and allow your home to function better. You can appreciate the gift when it is given, but you don’t need to keep it around if it didn’t work for you in the long run.
Remember Your “Why”
If you start to feel overwhelmed during the decluttering process, it helps to remember why you are decluttering in the first place. Do you want to have more time to spend with your kids? Do you want to spend less time cleaning so that you have more time to exercise and cook? Maybe you are wanting to have a home that is more tidy and clean on a consistent basis so that you don’t feel embarrassed when company unexpectedly come by. Or maybe you want all of the above! Whatever your reason for decluttering, keep your “why” top of mind, and it will really help you to make decisions.
Lastly, I wanted to add one more thing that you’ve probably heard before. The phrase “a place for everything and everything in its place” couldn’t be more true! Your stuff should be just as easy to put away as it is to bring out. If you have to grab a stool, pull a bunch of things out of the way, and hold things back so they don’t fall on you, just so you can put an item back in its place, no wonder that item sits around for days before being put away. If you have a designated spot for every item, you won’t have to think about where to put it. This eliminates many of those small decisions that we have to make on a daily basis… decisions that start to wear us down without us even realizing it!
I really hope these tips have inspired you to declutter and organize your home. They certainly helped me to see my stuff in a different way, and I’m really looking forward to the benefits of having a simplified home as I continue to declutter!