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The Five Stages of Decluttering !

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So you’ve made the decision: it’s decluttering time. You’re going to dive deep into every room of your home and figure out what stays and what needs to go.

There’s no doubt that decluttering has taken on a mind of its own in recent years. Thanks to the success of Marie Kondo’s book, many of us have taken the advice to heart. Our homes have a habit of accumulating many items, either through unnecessary purchases or discarded items we just can’t bear to part with.

So making the decision to declutter is not only timely, but it could be good for your mental health. You’ve got nothing to lose, right? Well, except for all of those items you didn’t feel like you wanted anyway.

As with any home improvement project, decluttering puts you through a process. If you’re doing it for the first time, it might be best to forewarn yourself of the five stages of decluttering - knowing what to expect is half the battle!

Stage One: Idealistic Excitement

You’ve made the decision! You’re going to do it! It’s going to feel amazing; going through your home and ridding it (and thus, your life) of all the things that have been bogging it down. You’ve got your ideas and you’re ready to crack on.

Before you have even opened a drawer, you’re already thinking of how much better your life is going to be when you have done this. You imagine a perfectly organised house. You will know where everything is; the days of searching in vain for what you need to complete a particular task are gone.

Try and harness this excitement; there’s nothing wrong with feeling like you’re embarking on a life-changing decision. Channel the enthusiasm into good, solid preparation that is going to make your task easier.

Things you need to think about:

  • You’re going to be turning up many items that you wish to recycle or just outright dispose of. So make sure you’ve got an idea of how you’re going to get rid of them all. It’s probably going to be too much to manage yourself, so you need to have some idea of companies like rubbish removal services that are going to be able to help you out. Sourcing this kind of help before you begin is imperative, as you’ll be too surrounded by chaos when you get going to want to think about these things!
  • Protective clothing, especially if you’re going to be tackling an attic or basement where dust might have accumulated.
  • Management systems. Unless you want to have to do the exact same thing in a few years time, you need to spend some time thinking about how you’re going to manage everything from now on. This could be anything from drawer organisers to reconsidering whether you really need every future purchase.

Stage Two: Regret

You can’t do it.

You dive into trying the project, still bristling with the excitement, and then the magnitude of what you have undertaken begins to take over. It seems that you’re never going to be able to do it, that’s there’s just… too much.

Don’t panic when this feeling sets in. You’re undertaking a big project; that’s why you needed to prepare for it. You’re likely to be overturning months if not years of debris, so yes, it’s going to take some time - but think of how much better things that going to be when you’re done.

Don’t worry.

You’ve got this.

Stage Three: Getting On With It

The third stage is easily the most productive. While your initial enthusiasm has dimmed, you have still got the will to get the job done. The blessing here is that you now know the magnitude of the task ahead of you. You know it’s going to take time, you know it’s not going to be simple… but you’re going to do it anyway.

Pressing on with the organisation and declutter at this point may begin to feel like a chore, but it’s one you have resigned yourself to. There’s a certain power in that. Even if enthusiasm has dimmed, you’re now able to move forward and get through the bulk of the work.

Stage Four: After The Declutter

Once you have battled through to stage four, you will likely have made all the important decisions. You’ll have an idea of what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. You’ll have accumulated a huge pile of items to donate, recycle or dispose of. It feels like the job should be done, but in fact, it’s the beginning of the second phase: organisation.

Getting rid of all the unwanted items should be your first step - but luckily, back in stage one, you planned how you were going to do that. You can now action those plans and, eventually, everything that you no longer want will be making its way out of your home.

That leaves the organisation behind. For some people, this can be soothing; there’s a whole genre of interest dedicated to organisation. So you can either linger over this part, or rush through it - just try and remember to take your time either way. It can be tempting to want to return to normality as quickly as possible, but you’ve come this far, so don’t ruin it now.

Stage Five: Completion

When everything is done, you’ll suddenly have the return of the excitement you haven’t felt since stage one. Your home looks better, you feel better, and the memories of how difficult and testing the process was are already beginning to fade.

Of course, this is just the beginning in some senses. You have made the steps and done the work, but now you have to maintain it. That means sticking to rules, ensuring everything has its place, and never being tempted to just jam things into the nearest available space. If you don’t stick by this rule, all you are doing is ensuring there’s another decluttering job on the horizon - and any lingering memories of stage two will convince you that’s a bad idea!