Decluttering, it’s a great idea in theory, but when it comes down to actually doing it, that’s when the anxiety and overwhelm kicks in—especially if you’re just diving into it for the first time! Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to feel freak out! I’m going to share with you six decluttering secrets, ways to help you declutter more efficiently and without the anxiety.

Consumer’s Guilt

Sometimes when you get something—whether you’ve bought it yourself or it’s been given to you as a gift—you think, “I don’t really need this, but I can’t get rid of it”. This is what we like to call  “consumer’s guilt”. Essentially, this is when you feel bad about getting rid of something because you (or someone else) spent money on it. The reality is you’re only keeping it because you have this sense of guilt, and that’s ridiculous. Go around your house and identify those things that you’re just hanging on to because of this guilt, and if you’re not using it, it’s time to get rid of it. Donate it and move on.

storage boxes

Evaluate Storage Needs

Dr. Maker here to solve your case of containeritis with a very simple antidote. Take a hard look at the number of bins and containers that you’re using to store your stuff. If you feel the need to buy more storage containers—more bins, more baskets, more shelves—well, the problem really isn’t how much storage space you have, it’s how much stuff you have. So, before you run out and start buying more bins, boxes and containers, think about what you have in those containers and slim that down first, then reassess your storage needs.

The “30 Day” Rule

When I was 20 years old, I went to a tattoo parlor, and yes, I got a tattoo. It was a very impulsive thing to do. Since then, I’ve implemented this rule about purchasing large items (or tattoos!) and that is, wait 30 days for the item in question. If after that time you still want it, get it. The point is to give yourself a little bit of a breathing room between when you see and fall in love with something, and when you actually buy it. This will give you the time to decide, “Does this make sense for me to have? Do I really need this? Do I really want this?”.

cluttered garage

Clutter Black Holes

You know that saying, “out of sight, out of mind”? Well, this may be true for a lot of things, but it doesn’t work when it comes to clutter. Just because you can’t see the clutter doesn’t mean the clutter doesn’t exist! In each of our homes, we have black holes—clutter black holes. It’s those places that you don’t really see or think about: the tops of your cupboards, the area under your bed, the garage, that little drawer at the bottom of your vanity. You think nobody sees these spots, but you know they’re there. In my house, this happens to be the creepy little area in the basement under the stairs. It’s full of old luggage, broken computers, a ceiling fan, some paint and tiles… the list goes on. It’s all this junk that we never use that just lives in this black hole. I want you to go to this space, kiss the frog, look at it and start decluttering. I know it’s something Chad and I are going to be doing in the near future.

Stay Focused!

It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re doing chores, and decluttering is definitely a chore. So, what I recommend is this: don’t have your TV on, don’t be on the phone, don’t have anything by you that’s going to distract you. No computer, no social media, nothing that requires your attention. Instead, focus on the task at hand and say, “I’m going to be here for 30 minutes and get as much done as I can”. This will really help you stay focused and on track. Now if you want some entertainment—frankly I can’t do this kind of work without being interested by something—I’ll either listen to music, a podcast or an audiobook.

declutter toys

Rotate Toys

Parents with young kids, this one is for you. I hear all the time from our audience that they’re completely overwhelmed by the number of toys in their house. And then, God forbid, a birthday or a holiday comes around and they’re bombarded with even more toys. There’s a solution to this problem, and it’s a great way to teach your kids how to declutter from a young age. Kids don’t need a million toys to be entertained, they really just need a handful that they love. A great way to slim down the number of toys is the “one in, one out” method; if 3 new toys come in, then your kids have to pick 3 toys that they can part ways with. This also has a nice charitable element to it, which I love. It allows you to keep control of the flow of stuff coming into your house so that you’re not overwhelmed and overburdened.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


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