There are many benefits to de-cluttering your home. You create more space because you’re ridding yourself of extra stuff. You can make other people happy by donating unwanted clothes, shoes and books. You can help the planet by recycling furniture, boxes, plastic containers, piles of paper and a whole lot of other stuff. Probably the best thing about de-cluttering your home is you can make a little money on the side selling the stuff no one close to you wants or stuff that you think still holds value for some people willing to pay for it.
But the actual art of de-cluttering is hard, especially if you’ve been building your war chest of stuff and keeping it for years. Back in Montreal, I’ll admit I was a bit of a hoarder. I used to keep all the books I read in my small library; I kept all my beat up toys, hoping they’d be vintage one day. I still kept my old phones, computers and tablets, even their boxes and manuals! My clothes numbered in the hundreds; my shoes more than a dozen. My solution was to keep everything in storage because I didn’t want to sift through all of it.
Say NO to Storage
Now, before you call in Montreal movers to haul all your gear into storage, consider the fact that the whole lot of it is just going to sit there, unused, for a long, long time. By the time you see your rented storage space on reality TV, your old stuff would probably be worthless. Don’t make the same mistake I did. It’s time to de-clutter your home, and this time, for good. Forget storage! Get rid of the stuff you don’t need, simplify and make your life as uncomplicated as possible.
The Four Box Method
When I moved to Toronto, I used this method to de-clutter. Get four boxes and label them recycle, donate, keep and sell. The recycle box is for the items you want to discard. These go straight to the dump or to the recycling plants to be re-purposed for something else.
The donate box is for the stuff that still has a little bit of value, like a sweater you used six times, or a used pair of perfectly serviceable steel toed shoes. Redundant gifts and old toys also go into this box. Underwear is optional.
The keep box is pretty obvious, but before stuffing it silly with all your stuff, ask yourself if that particular item brings you joy and happiness. If you’re still excited to be holding it in your hands, chances are you still need it and will use it. But if you have no emotional attachment to it whatsoever, it’s time to let it go.
The sell box also doubles as your maybe box, but only for a time. Place items here you want to sell, or if you’re undecided if you should discard or keep an item, keep It here for the time being. Actively seek buyers or post in online! Don’t be lazy and just store it. Shop it around and look for buyers. When a buyer comes along with cold hard cash, you’ll forget you ever needed the item in the first place.
You have to be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of your old stuff. It doesn’t matter how attached you are to the inanimate objects in your life. It doesn’t matter if you hurt their feelings ala Toy Story. If they have to go, if they serve no other purpose except take up space and contribute to upkeep, then it’s time to go. Always remember that emotional attachment to an object is kind of silly when you think about it.
Yes, I’ll admit some things in life aren’t meant to be discarded, like a family heirloom, or a Patek you got from dad. These are keepers, just like so many others in your life. But the old college shirts, the old plates, old toys, old chair, 80’s magazines, extra hammers, I mean, would you be using them anytime soon? If not, bid them farewell, and in the box they go.
Don’t Look Back
Don’t give in to the temptation of looking back inside the boxes to see if you made a mistake. You got four chances already to decide what you want to do with an item. You really don’t need a fifth. Looking back will only stall your progress and hinder you efforts to de-clutter. Place the items in the box and forget about it.
I hope these few tips can help you de-clutter your homes to make more space and help you start your journey into living a simple, uncomplicated life. Personally, I’m looking forward to the day I can really drop most everything and live in an all minimalist home, with all my books in my Kindle and everything else in the cloud.