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Would you like to know how to declutter in the simplest way possible?
Are you afraid to get overwhelmed when deciding what to keep and what to let go of when decluttering?
Are you looking for a simple, easy and stress-free solution to deal with clutter?
You are reading the right article!
I can’t wait to share with you my favorite way to declutter in the simplest way possible.
How to declutter in the simplest way possible
- Know how to declutter without feeling overwhelmed deciding what to keep and what to let go
- Have a simple cheatsheet to declutter
- Have an easy way to deal with clutter and things you want to keep
If you’re starting a decluttering project, these posts might interest you too (and will keep the clutter away for good!):
The decluttering project
But before I go to my favorite decluttering method, I want to share with you my decluttering and minimizing backround.
A few years ago, I minimized my house in a hard core way.
I did some decluttering projects before, but I didn’t take the time to really be emotionally involved. And even though I got rid of a lot of things, the feelings and emotions towards things stayed. It was kind of mindless minimalism and after some time I had to do the decluttering project all over again.
I also felt so overwhelmed when I had to make the decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. The emotions towards the things where just too much. I knew I needed better methods, tips and tools.
The latest (and the last) big decluttering project I did I decided to do differently.
I wanted to really understand how the things I owned affected me and I wanted to learn from all the things I had, kept and got rid of.
And I did. I learnt a lot.
I’m sharing my favorite decluttering methods and tips that worked the best and have kept the clutter away for good.
If you’re interested to check out other posts about mindful minimlism and simple lifestyle or method shopping (a skillset I’ve created for shopping to keep the new clutter away), you’ll find the links from here and here.
In this article How to Declutter in the Simplest Way Possible I’m sharing my most favorite way to know what to keep and what to get rid of without feeling overwhelmed.
I call this decluttering method the yes-maybe-no method.
The yes-maybe-no method
When it comes to decluttering, my biggest problem was always time. You might face that same issue. The decluttering “on paper” is a simple thing to do: just go through your things and either keep them or let go of them.
But it’s much more complex than that. If it wouldn’t be, we would have never had the issue of clutter in the first place.
It took me so much time to make the decisions about what to keep and what to toss. The minimizing and decluttering was way too time-consuming and I knew there had to be a faster and more mindful way to do it.
I also didn’t like the feeling of overwhelm when making the decisions. Some point it was just easier to keep everything and make excuses towards the items so I could keep them. And I was lying to myself – the feelings were just too much to handle.
So instead of deciding do I want to keep something or get rid of it, I added another category to the mix: the “MAYBE” category.
And all of the sudden making decisions was so much easier!
Don’t skip steps – follow the method faithfully
So my answer to the question “How to declutter in the simplest way possible” is the “yes-maybe-no” method. It’s not a YES-NO method. The ‘maybe’ plays an important part when we look at our relationship with the things we own.
The “Yes-Maybe-No” method is quite simple, and at first you might like to skip some steps.
I don’t recommend that.
We’ve built the relationship with our things in such a long period of time and we are attached to them, so we do need to take some time when letting go of them. So don’t skip steps – follow the method method faithfully.
And now you are ready to go through the YES-MAYBE-NO method step-by-step so that you can finally discover how to declutter in the simplest way possible.
Be smart with decluttering, choose mindful minimalism and keep the clutter away for good. Check out these posts:
The short version to use the yes-maybe-no method
If you want to know how to declutter in the simplest way possible and use the short version of the “Yes-Maybe-No” method then you can follow the steps on this picture (remember to pin it for later!):
And if you want to have more detailed and the longer step-by-step version of the method (and to really learn how to declutter in the simplest way possible), please proceed.
The step-by-step instructions to use the yes-maybe-no method
Here are the step-by-step instructions to use the “Yes-Maybe-No” method so that you can truly learn how to declutter in the simplest way possible.
It might seem complex first, but once you digest it a bit and internalize it, it’s going to come naturally. The overwhelm is going to disappear once you understand that you can take time to make the decision and get in touch with your feelings towards the things you own.
So here we go!
Ask: “Do I want to keep it?”
If you answer YES
1. If you absolutely love it, you use it often and you cherish it (and you are being totally honest to yourself) you can answer YES, I want to keep it.
- Don’t say YES without really thinking it, because you also have the choice of “MAYBE”. It’s not just YES vs. NO.
- Try to analyse your body language – are you holding the item close to you? Does it make you want to say: I love it, it’s my favorite? Would you want to wear it or use it immediately? Does it have a function that you can’t live without, even though you don’t love it (like a vacuum cleaner does)?
2. If you answer YES I want to keep it, you need to FIND A PLACE to it.
- If you use it a lot – keep it somewhere close, somewhere easy to reach,
- If you use it only sometimes – keep it somewhere where it’s available, but not in the best and most use areas or closets/cabinets.
- If you use it rarely (like once a year) – store it. But before storing it take pictures and document on a planner or a calendar what you have stored and where.
3. Next step is MAINTAINING what you have
- Remember to take good care of these items. These are your best and most loved and used clothes and things.
4. When you use, see, notice or go through these items, think again every now and then is it still a YES. Or should it go to a “MAYBE” category or even to NO category.
- F.ex. when something breaks, even though it’s your favorite thing, if you can’t or won’t fix it, it shouldn’t anymore be one of your “prime” things. Think again: do I want to keep it and answer YES, MAYBE or NO.
If you answer NO
1. If you don’t like it, you don’t use it, you won’t miss it and you fell like it’s time to let go of it you can answer NO, I don’t want to keep it.
- Don’t say NO without really thinking it, because you also have the choice of “MAYBE”. It’s not just YES vs. NO.
2. If you answer NO, I don’t want to keep it, you need to choose what to do with it.
There are three ways to get rid of things: SELL, DONATE and TRASH.
3. If you decide to SELL it, then you need to be aware of the fact that you’ve decided to give yourself a lot of new and very time consuming tasks to do.
Selling takes a lot of time. And I mean A LOT.
(When I did my hard core decluttering project I sold over 400 things and it took me a few months, a lot of patience and an insane amount of time answering questions.)
I don’t recommend selling when doing a decluttering project.
And here’s why:
- If you decide to SELL it, then you need to be aware of the fact that you’ve decided to give yourself a lot of new and very time consuming tasks to do.
- Selling takes a lot of time. Insane amount of valuable time. If you decide to sell, you better enjoy it. If you don’t, then don’t do it.
- You need to keep focus on what you’re doing. Are you getting rid of things and simplifying your life? Or are you trying to make a buck so that you can justify letting go of your things?
- When selling online, you need to take pictures, price the product, post them on some site, describe the product, answer a lot of questions, make appointments with potential buyers (where some of them show up, some don’t) and/or you need to ship the products etc.etc. It doesn’t sound much, but the tasks are endless and your time is also valuable.
- When having a yard sale, you need to let people know you’re having it, keep the things in your home until the day of the yard sale, have an idea of a price for the items and to make sure you won’t start regretting you are letting go of something.
- And note! All the time you are selling your things, those things are in your house. So you actually haven’t decluttered them. They’re still there.
- If you still decide to go with the SELLING (instead of donating) I would recommend to start a new project plan.
4. If you don’t want to SELL but decide to DONATE – great (this is the way to go)
- When donating you are still giving yourself some tasks to do.
- You need to clean the products, and check their condition.
- Note: Donate only things that are clean and in good condition. Make sure they’re suitable for donations aka they’re not broken or too outdated that no-one will want them or can’t use them.
- You need to find a place or people to donate the things to.
- You need to gather the things and store them somewhere in your home until you take the donations to the chosen place.
- After you’ve donated some of your things, you can feel good about yourself. You decluttered and the things might benefit someone else.
5. If you can’t SELL of DONATE, then TRASH it.
- If you decide to TRASH something, then make sure you do it very fast. Take the things as soon as possible to the garbage bins. Try to recycle if possible.
- Don’t let things that you’ve already decided to get rid of stay in your home too long so that you might have second thoughts.
The article continues after the picture.
If you answer MAYBE
1. If you can’t decide between YES, I love it! and NO, I’m ready to let go, then you can choose MAYBE.
Don’t worry if you have a lot of items that go to this category (In the beginning half of my items went to this category). It’s ok. That’s why this category is here.
2. KEEP the MAYBE items IN SIGHT for a while.
(I like to keep my maybe pile in the living room. I keep them in a place where they annoy me the most).
Don’t skip this step. This is important. You need to look at these items. If you don’t know whether you like them or don’t or whether you use them or don’t, or whether you want to cherish them or trash them, then it’s about time to take a closer look at these.
Because the answer was maybe, there’s no use to start going through these immediately. The answer won’t change in a second.
The reason I like to keep the items in sight is because I have to accept that I’ve bought (or brought into my life) so many things that I don’t have a clear relationship with. It might be tough to look at these items, but little by little you start making some decisions about them.
Maybe something goes to a NO pile or you find a different way to use an item somewhere else. It takes a little time for ideas to marinade.
3. After you’ve kept the things in the middle of some area or room, then it’s time to put them in BOXES.
4. When the items are in the BOXES (preferably by categories) then you store them for 3-6 months.
5. Decide how long you want to STORE these and when is time to come back to these.
6. Mark on your calendar the date when you’ll check the items again.
7. When the time comes, take the box and go through it again with the YES-MAYBE-NO method.
Most likely you won’t even remember what’s there and when the time comes, you’ve already done the sub-conscious work letting go of the things and after they’ve been stored you don’t want them anymore and you are ready to put them in a “NO” category.
And maybe you’ve missed some item and you want to put it on a “YES” category and you want to use it, cherish it and maintain it.
And if it’s still a MAYBE then store it for the next 3 months and do the same thing again until every item from the MAYBE pile is in either a “YES” category or a “NO” category.
NOTE: if some point you made a mistake with the category and you want to have some item from some stored box before hand, you can go and take it. But be careful not to get too caught up with the other things in the box too early, because you might not be ready to make the decisions quiet yet.
Be smart with decluttering, choose mindful minimalism and keep the clutter away for good. Check out these posts:
I would love to share with you all my tips, tools and printables to organize, simplify and prettify your life. One gift at a time!
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And let me know in the comments what do you think about this article “How to declutter in the simplest way possible”? What do you think about the “Yes-Maybe-No” method? Do you like it? Would you try it? Would keeping things in a pile in the middle of your livingroom be out of the questions? I’d love to know!