Following minimalist tips for decluttering from a messy minimalist may seem like an oxymoron, but why not try them anyway.
Because who knows, it could be exactly what you needed for going from messy to minimalist in 2021.
10 Minimalist Tips for Decluttering
1. Acknowledge Decluttering Anxiety
This is one of the most important minimalist tips for decluttering. Let’s face it, you've been avoiding this for a while. Because as a messy minimalist, you have no idea how much you’ll have to dig through.
Could be 100’s of papers on your desk, clothes in your closet, and stuff crammed wherever they could fit. Not to mention all the dust and dirt you’ll have to clean and vacuum.
Ugh! This could take all day and you might be completely worn out when you’re done.
I’m not helping so far, am I? Sorry, but it’s important to identify the problem first, right? Let me start giving you some advice.
2. Minimalist Visualization
Decluttering doesn’t have to be the impossible task I just painted you a picture of. Whether you're a senior, a hoarder, or a marie kondo enthusiast, you have a lot of tools you can use to make following these tips an enjoyable process for you.
You'll get everything clutter free in no time.
Let’s play the visualizing game. I want you to close your eyes and imagine your room decluttered. What do you see? A clear desk maybe, an organized closet, a clear floor? See all of that in your mind.
Feel the burden off your shoulders. The smile on your face as you lie in your bed. Take it all in for a few moments and then open your eyes.
I bet you feel a little more motivated now. You see, you have to replace the feelings of dread with feelings of excitement. Make yourself look forward to decluttering your space.
Visualizing how things will be when you’re done is one way to do that. Let that vision motivate you to start working and to keep working.
3. Your Declutter Game Plan
So once you’ve got the motivation, I recommend you have a game plan. Some of you may be able to dive head first into it, and that’s fine.
But for me (and maybe you), I need a plan, because I’ll end up standing in my room clueless about what to do first. And that’s just going to make the task feel more daunting again. So let’s have your decision already made.
Where to start decluttering?
You may feel like you have no idea where to begin, but all you have to do is just begin somewhere. It could be the desk in your room, or the counter in your kitchen.
Make a choice of where you want to start so you don't feel really unsure and end up decreasing your motivation to declutter.
How are you going to separate things?
The way I would do it is by separating by value first. Find all the items you value the most and put them in a pile. Once you have that out of the way, you can see what it is you need to start removing from your space.
If they're some items you still find yourself debating, create a "maybe" pile for those things and get back to them. Once you’ve trashed your "clutter" pile, you have to make a decision on that "maybe" pile.
It's hard, it's tough, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
When are you going to start decluttering?
Sometimes if I leave it up to myself to decide when I'm going to start cleaning, I'll just keep pushing it off until late in the day. By then, I'll feel too tired to do it and decide to do it tomorrow.
So instead of doing that, I'd suggest scheduling a time to clean. Are you a morning person, or do you feel your best at night?
Whatever time of the day you think will be best for you, schedule your decluttering at that time. It'll make it easier for you to stay consistent with getting your place cleared and organized.
Why are you decluttering?
"He who has a why to live can bare almost anyhow" - Freiderich Nietzsche. I remember hearing this quote in a motivational speech by Les Brown.
It really does help that if you have a reason for why you're doing something, you'll push forward in doing it. So think about what your why is for decluttering.
Are you a senior about to go into retirement and want to start downsizing? Do you want to declutter to feel more relaxed and at peace in your home?
Are you doing it to be able to invite your friends and family over more often? Figure out what your why is for decluttering, and always make a point to remember it daily to help you persist in your goals.
The fear of missing out. That’s why those limited time offers keep taking your money. It’s the same thing with your stuff. You might be afraid that when you get rid of something you’re going to miss out on it.
When I have those feelings in different situations I do 4 things.
1. I remind myself, “I have more than enough”. You can say it in your mind and say it out loud. Repeat it to yourself over and over. As a result, you'll develop a mindset that helps you worry less about not having enough.
2. Look at the stuff you’re already keeping. Touch it. Think about all the joy and meaning you’re going to keep having from those things. You've got plenty of stuff to keep you enjoying life.
3. Remember this, if you do end up missing what you tossed out, you can always rent or borrow that item from someone else. You don't have to buy it again.
4. Lastly, people > things. As long as you have people in your life who you enjoy spending time with, that'll always make up for whatever you think you’ll miss out on.
5. Make Decluttering Enjoyable
So we’ve gotten our motivation, we’ve gotten our game plan, and we’re ready to deal with the fear of missing out syndrome.
How about some music? When I have a task I need to get done, I like music that relaxes me. It makes me feel more able to do things. You might prefer more energizing music, like Pop or Motown. That’s great!
Because if you’re making the process fun, then you’ll associate doing these decluttering tips with fun. That’ll make you dread it less in the future.
Don't stop there. Make decluttering fun for all your senses. Do you have a favorite scent you like? Get that smell in the room. For touch, wear some comfortable clothes.
Heck, wear nothing at all (please make sure your shades are closed).
Taste; enjoy one of your favorite meals before you start and get a good snack in between to pick your energy back up. Sight; let some sunshine in the room (that is, if you chose not to be naked).
But all of this to say, make decluttering a completely enjoyable experience, and it’ll feel way less like a chore, and possibly even your new favorite thing to do!
6. Have a Friend or Two Help
Don't think you have to start your messy to minimalist journey alone. You can always invite your friends or your family over for an extra hand. This can be a good chance to bond with them, and also discuss your new minimalism lifestyle.
You might be able to convince your parents to declutter and become minimalist too.
7. Pace Yourself
I'm sure you've heard the phrase Rome wasn't built in a day before, but have you ever really thought about that deeply? When we try to start any major task in our life, it usually takes a long time to accomplish it.
Don't feel like in order to successfully declutter you have to get everything organized in one day.
Re-frame your understanding of what success will be to a more reasonable expectation. Know that you can pace yourself. Even if you just get one spot of your room or house decluttered, you've done something great.
Because sometimes just getting started can be a major accomplishment.
And once you start, just take things one day at a time. One little space or spot at a time. Some days you might feel really motivated and get a whole room decluttered.
Other days you might feel lazy and just declutter one shelf. But as long as you're consistent in doing some form of organizing or cleaning daily, you'll go from messy to minimalist in no time.
8. Reward Yourself
To stay consistent and motivated to decluttering daily, it can be helpful to reward yourself after each time you clear your clutter. Think about something you'd really enjoy or you really like.
Maybe you can enjoy one of your favorite dishes after you do it. Perhaps you could watch a favorite TV show or movie.
Whatever reward you feel will satisfy you after clearing and organizing, reward yourself with that. It can be a psychological way of making yourself want to declutter more.
I'd say this might be the best of the decluttering tips to follow. Because a little encouragement from other people who are taking the same path can go a long way.
Take a picture of how far you've gotten and share it with a minimalist or decluttering group. There are a few you can find on social media platforms like Reddit and Facebook.
Most are happy to welcome new members and encourage them on the minimalist journey.
You'll feel good to receive positive feedback from others with the progress you're making. Additionally, the pictures can be encouragements to you of how far you've come in your messy minimalist makeover.
10. Have Someone Hold You Accountable
Of all the tips you may have read, this may be the one you see least often. It's helpful to not only have someone encourage you, but also have someone who can hold you accountable to your decluttering goals.
It can be an extra boost of good feelings to make someone else be proud of you accomplishing your goals. Find a friend, family member, or fellow messy minimalist to check if you've been sticking to your goals to help keep you consistent.
Following these decluttering tips will all be worth it
Getting started on your minimalist purge may be the hardest part for some of you. If it is, just think of the easiest task you can possibly do.
Do that one task, and then it might feel easier for you to do another one. Then another one. And before you know it, your room is decluttered, and you'll no longer be a messy minimalist.
Practicing these tips won't just be a one time thing, but just remember that you’re creating a space that relaxes and energizes you to go get the best out of life.
That makes it worth whatever hassle it takes to do it. Because you'll not just be decluttering your space, you'll be decluttering your life.
You Might Also Like
If you liked these decluttering tips, here are some of my other articles you might like.
Digital Minimalism: Cutting Down on News and Social Media: If you liked these decluttering tips for your physical space, you might also like my decluttering tips for your digital space. Technology can take over our lives sometimes, but this guide will help you to take back control again.
How To Be More Positive: 30 Unique Lifestyle Choices: Do you find yourself struggling to stay positive in life sometimes? Try some of these unique lifestyle choices to help you be more positive. They might help you be even more successful following these decluttering tips. (audio version inside)
Autogenic Training: A Helpful Guide On An Effective Relaxation Technique: Have you been stressed lately? Try this little known technique to help you be more relaxed in life. (audio version inside)