Spring cleaning sessions and little bursts of decluttering feel good, but like lost pounds, clutter comes creeping back. If you want to make your decluttering efforts stick, engage in purposeful decluttering.
When you identify why you want to let go of your stuff, it’s more likely that you will protect your decluttered space. When you approach decluttering with the purpose of creating a calmer space, less stressful work-week, or a healthier, happier life, you won’t be easily derailed by the allure of more stuff.
7 ways to engage in purposeful decluttering
1. Identify the why.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to live with less. They can be as simple as “clean countertops” or something that means more to you like, “working less” or “downsizing to a smaller space.”
Use those whys as leverage to prevent the clutter creep. When you come across a great offer at your favorite store, or see a compelling advertisement, go back to your why.
2. Choose what to keep.
Anuschka Rees says, “When you are decluttering your house, you are actively shaping your life by creating a space that makes you feel happy and relaxed, that energizes you for all the things you want to do. By putting the focus on what things you want to keep instead of throw away, you are diverting your attention to the positive aspect of decluttering, which makes the whole thing a lot easier and more effective.”
3. Use mindfulness.
Instead of getting rid of a few things because it’s spring, create an intentional practice of letting go.
- Use Marie Kondo recommendation from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and hold each item in your hand and ask “Does this bring me joy?”
- Intentionally give away 50% of your stuff.
- Create your own intentional practice or challenge.
Use mindfulness to make the practice meaningful and give your decluttering efforts staying power.
4. Enjoy the other side of clutter.
Instead of working all weekend decluttering, checking it off the list and moving on to the next thing, stop. Take time to celebrate your new space. Breathe and move around in. Revisit your whys and linger in your new space.
5. Institute a purchase pause.
To be purposeful about living clutter-free, you’ll have to be purposeful with your purchases. If you’ve purchased things you don’t need or want and later regret the decision, check out these 5 ways to start a purchase pause. With a small time out, you can fully consider your purchases and make informed decisions about what really makes you happy.
6. Let go of comparison.
Create a life and a home that you love, not what you think you should love, and not what other people love.
7. Trade guilt for gratitude.
If you struggle with guilt about letting go, holding on, money spent, or time wasted, it’s time to shift every guilty thought to one of gratitude. If you are thinking, “I shouldn’t have spent that money?” trade your thought for “I’m grateful that I recognize what’s most important to me now.” Allow your guilt to trigger gratitude and move one thought at a time from guilt to gratitude, because you have paid enough.
If you need to boost your feelings of gratitude, try the 100 days of happiness challenge, keep a daily gratitude journal, or send a thank you note once a day, or once a week to someone who makes a difference in your life.
The next time you declutter, identify what you are making room for. Knowing what brings you joy, and matters most will help keep the clutter out for good.