Recently I mentioned 7 benefits of decluttering your home on a guest post I wrote over at Mom’s Small Victories on 3 Easy Steps to Declutter Your Home. It was a list of benefits that I’ve been experiencing but haven’t written about…until now!
The Benefits of Decluttering Your Home
When we declutter our homes the benefits are huge:
- less time spent picking up
- it’s easier to clean when there isn’t clutter in the way
- more time for things and people that are important to us
- freedom from a scarcity mindset
- freedom from holding on to the past and “someday”
- living more in the present
- decluttering our homes often leads to decluttering other areas of our life: our minds and our schedules.
Less Time Spent Picking Up
Back in 2015 when I really started decluttering with focus, my main goal was to spend less time picking up and doing laundry. I felt like I was constantly picking up after my sons and putting toys away. It was exhausting and never ending.
I did figure out three things that helped me reduce the laundry in our household. I also started getting rid of the children’s toys by the car load.
Easier to Clean with Less Clutter
This probably sounds obvious to some people, but the less stuff on the floor or the counter, the quicker it is to clean! I’m still working on a consistent cleaning schedule, but when I do have the urge to clean, it’s so much easier when I don’t have to pick 100 items off the floor!
One of the first things I did when I decluttered the toys, was get rid of toys with a million little parts (okay a million is an exaggeration, but you know what I mean – the toys that feel like they have a million parts because they’re all. over. the. place!). Out went games with cards that never made it back in boxes, marbles that ended up scattered all over the house, and puzzles.
The more that you have, the more time you have to spend caring for those items. The less that you have, the more time you have for things and people that are truly important to you.
I’m still figuring out what is important to me, really important to me. I chose a word this year for the first time – “spark joy” and it’s helping me to focus in on what people, activities, and items truly give me joy. I want to spend my extra time doing those things.
Freedom from a Scarcity Mindset
When I first started decluttering, all kinds of rationalizations ran through my head about why I should keep an item.
- “Oh, I forgot about those shoes! Those will be cute for the Spring” (even though every Spring for the past several years I didn’t wear them once – despite how cute they were)
- “I’ll hold onto these for when my youngest will fit into them. I don’t want to have to buy those again in a few years” (there is 6 years between my middle son and my youngest son)
- “I’ll keep this just in case” (usually related to fancier clothes)
I realized that most of my rationalizations came out of a scarcity mindset – believing that I had to hold onto things to save money. I had to learn how to declutter from the place of enough.
It’s not easy, even to this day. When my middle son grows out of his clothes, I want to tuck them away for 6 years for my youngest son. I have to remind myself that someone could use those clothes right now.
I also have to remind myself that each of my sons have different tastes in clothing and my youngest most likely won’t like the clothes 6 years later. So when the question of 6 years in storage or 6 years of being used by someone else’s child – I take a deep breath and let it go.
Freedom from Holding on to the Past
This is a big one. More and more I’m realizing that a lot of the stuff we have is stuff we have kept from past seasons of our life. You might be thinking – um, isn’t that obvious Angela? It is in one sense, but it isn’t in another.
I was an English major in college so I had a lot of books from college. I never read them again. I just held on to them because I never considered donating them. It was only when I started using the Konmari Method that I let myself consider whether I should continue to hold onto them – 25 years later. I’m now down to one shelf of books.
I know that photos are hard to declutter for most people. I had several albums of photos and 6 years of yearbooks. As I let myself look through them and honestly listened to my feelings, I realized that a lot of those photos did not spark joy for me. They sparked insecurity and jealousy more than joy.
I realized that I kept the yearbooks out of obligation – they were expensive for my mom and dad to buy back when I was in high school. Aren’t you supposed to keep them and “walk down memory lane”? Aren’t you supposed to hold onto them for your kids to look at “someday?” No, not necessarily. Sometimes it’s nice to remember the past. Sometimes the past needs to stay in the past. You get to decide.
Living in the Present
This benefit goes hand in hand with the previous benefit of letting go of the past. The more that we let go of those unfinished projects or long forgotten sports that we meant to get better at (and all the stuff that goes with them), the more that we can check in with ourselves and truly figure out what is important to us in the present.
What do you enjoy now? What do you want to explore now? How do you want to spend the precious free time that you have today?
All of the items and projects that remind us of the things we used to do in the past weigh on us. There is a heavy load of “shoulds” that comes down on us when we look at those skis or scrapbooking materials that we thought we would love from ten years ago.
“Oh, I really should plan a vacation where I can use those skis.”
“Oh, I really should make a scrapbook for my children.”
“Oh, I really should do something with all those fabric scraps.”
It’s okay to let it go. If you truly do want to take up an old hobby or project, schedule time this week to do a little bit. If you find it doesn’t spark joy like you thought it would or like it once did, donate the materials. There’s someone out there who it will spark joy for.
You know that saying, “when one door closes, another door opens?” When you let go of one outdated hobby or sport, there is space that opens up for you to discover a hobby or project that you will truly enjoy today. Or not. You may just enjoy sitting on your porch. You get to decide.
Decluttering our Schedules
The act of decluttering our physical spaces is the first step in decluttering our lives. The practice of looking and touching each physical item and evaluating whether it stays or goes, is sharpening your understanding of what is important to you and how you live your life.
- Do I love this?
- Do I use this?
- Do I use this in the present?
- Do I have more than one of these?
- Where is it’s home?
These are the types of questions that I teach people to ask themselves in my free decluttering email course. You can sign up here.
Every time you ask yourself these questions, you’re being intentional about your things. You’re taking action. You’re making progress.
You’ll find that the same intentionality can spill over into how you spend your time. When you look at your schedule, you’ll ask yourself:
- Do I love doing this?
- Do I love doing this today, in the present?
- Do I need to do this? Can someone else do it?
- What are my priorities in this season? Does this activity fit in with my priorities?
Decluttering our Minds
I’ve personally found that as I declutter my home and my schedule, I’m able to focus on decluttering my mind. What in the world does that look like, Angela?
For me, that looks like scheduling in time to sit in silence in the morning. It also means conversing with God and allowing space for dialogue through prayer and reading the Word. It also means trying to single task, focusing on one thing at a time. It also means practicing meditation.
That’s what it looks like for me, at this time. It could look very different (or similar) for you.
The beauty of it is that we are all uniquely formed and gifted to make a difference in our spheres and the world. As we declutter our spaces, our schedules, and our lives, not only will we benefit, but the impact can ripple out to the world. You get to decide.