My Favorite Decluttering Quotes and Tips

A quick update on the clutter-clearing challenge:

This month is my self-imposed 30-day Decluttering Challenge. So far, I’ve found 20 cookbooks from my vast collection to donate. Then, unprompted, my husband and daughter each cleared out a huge bag of clothing. Decluttering must be catching! Then, I read a bit from the inspiring book, Minimalista by Shira Gill, for guidance on how to tackle my clothes. She suggests starting with undergarments. Aim to keep 10 -14 pairs, as that is all most people ever need. Given we typically wash laundry daily, 14 is more than enough for me. Within a few minutes, I pulled out the 14 best undergarments and turned the rest into rags. That was 22 pairs eliminated and now my drawer is instantly organized. Presto! This proves Francine Jay right when she aptly states:

“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away.” 

I’d add to that it is easier if you have a limit in mind. Otherwise, you risk keeping everything.

It is amazing what a simple shift in focus can do to speed up and ease a fairly painful process (being hard-wired to keep things, not discard them). I love a numeric limit as a guideline as the rational thinking has already been done. I have to agree that there is no reason to have more than 10 -14 pairs of undergarments. Gill suggests an upper limit of 10 items for any clothing category as a guideline. In some areas, 5 items may be enough. Other hard limits could be the amount of space you have to comfortably store things. My cookbooks started taking over space in the living room bookcase. So a decluttering was in order. My underwear drawer was jammed, so it was hard to see what was what. Now it is all tidy and folded Marie Kondo style. I love that I can now see everything at a glance.

Gill avoids potential overwhelm by keeping things simple and easy by clearing one sub-category at a time. So, instead of getting out all your clothes in a giant heap on your bed, just get out all your skirts or pants. Then, focus on pulling out your favorites (max 10) in each subcategory. She admits to wearing the same black maxi dress for formal occasions over the last 10 years and claims that no one has noticed. I’ve decided to reduce my formalwear collection dramatically, especially since I haven’t been invited to any balls lately.

In one day, thanks to the help from my family, we collected 90 items to donate to the charity Oxfam. Only 410 items to go and we’ll have hit my October target of 500 items. I find it easier to do in batches rather than daily but think that doing the opposite of what The Minimalists advise is easier. That is, go for 30 items on day 1, 29 items on day 2, and so on until you work your way down to 1 item on day 30. Alternatively, you can do as we’ve done and go big for clearing large batches of clutter all in a few hours. Whatever works for you is perfectly fine.

Here are a few inspiring quotes from the experts to keep you going should you choose to join my decluttering challenge at any time:

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird

“The best way to get rid of things you don’t need, is to get rid of things you don’t need.” – Brian Gardner of No Sidebar

“You might get 85 years on this planet—don’t spend 65 paying off a lifestyle you can’t afford.”  – Cait Flanders

“If you don’t have time to do what matters, stop doing things that don’t.” – Courtney Carver of Be More with Less

“Here is the secret to subtraction. It doesn’t matter what you remove. What matters is that you stop adding it back.”  – Erin Loechner of Design For Mankind

“The best things in life aren’t things”. – Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist

“Stop waiting for the right person to come into your life. Be the right person to come to someone’s life.”  – Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

“If your stuff isn’t serving you, it won’t be serving you any better packed away in a box somewhere.” – Melissa Camara Wilkins

“If you have to buy stuff to store stuff, maybe you have too much stuff.” – Courtney Carver

“The things you own end up owning you.” – Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists

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