Above: ???? iStockPhoto
By Production Manager Catherine Charlebois
1. Put it all out there
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the best thing to do when decluttering is to take out everything (and I mean truly everything) and lay it all out in front of you. Half the time you will find you have no idea what was in that forgotten drawer or wardrobe. Visualizing the sheer amount of stuff you own will help you come to terms with what you have.
Once you’ve seen what you have, separate them into categories—see what goes together. If you’re sorting through clothes, put your t-shirts with t-shirts, pants with pants etc.
Here comes the fun part. Trust me, you’ll feel so much relief afterwards. Now that it’s all nice and sorted in front of you, start with one pile at a time. Remember, the price you paid for whatever you choose to declutter doesn’t matter. Whether it was expensive or cheap: the money has already been spent, so don’t keep something you don’t use just because it was expensive.
For clothes, do not try things on (you’ll try to convince yourself that the nice shirt you’ve been keeping for years will one day make it out the door with you), and have a maybe pile. If an item has any stains or holes, really think about whether you like it enough to take the time to fix it or clean it properly. Grab each item and think about how you feel when you wear it: does it make you feel good? Do you like the way it fits? Do you have something similar you like better? If any item has been sitting in your closet for more than six months, unless it’s weather dependent clothing (i.e. shorts in the summer or winter jackets) or that ugly Christmas sweater you wear to parties every year, you can let it go.
Do a preliminary round and throw out anything past its due date—it’ll help you get started. Once that is done, go through and pick out what you know you could pass on (I can guarantee you have something that you didn’t like right off the bat when you tried it and has been sitting there a while). Then, go through what’s left: do you like that shade of lipstick? Do you like the formula or consistency? Does it sit weird on your skin? Did it break you out?
If you really want to downsize to stuff you truly love, go for round four and do swatches (and not a moment before!) to see which shade of red your heart truly desires, etc.
When it comes to stationary and computer gear, eliminate what needs to be recycled (i.e. old receipts, and irrelevant papers like last semester’s mediocre essay you didn’t have time for). If you have organizers or a file cabinet, store appropriately for easier access. Computer gear is the same: who needs 4 USB cords?
4. Sort and clean
Now that you’ve got your piles separated and decluttered, go through one final sweep and see what can be donated, sold, passed on to friends or family, or has to be recycled/thrown away. If surfaces are dirty (i.e. makeup drawers), give it a wipe before heading to step number five.
If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back for all of your hard work—you’ve earned it. Putting what you’ve chosen to keep in an easily accessible spot will stop you from scrounging around for that damn thing you swore was in there last time.
Proper storing will not only save you time, it might save you money too, by preventing you from buying duplicates or triplicates of things. If you can, try and make the decluttered space nice: buy all new matching hangers to showcase your clothes, buy a nice drawer organizer. Not only will showcasing your items look nice, it will make you gravitate towards them more.
In a heavily consumer-centered society, it can be hard to stop yourself from accumulating more stuff. Finding ways to appreciate and utilize the things you have can not only save you money, but prevent a lot of stress in the long run.
Though it might hurt when you’re doing it, I assure you, no one needs 25 multi colored t-shirts or 47 lipsticks. As the old saying goes, quality over quantity.
A sassy French Canadian with a penchant for puns and coffee, Catherine is The Nav’s Production Manager. Living out of her planner, she is always looking for ways to streamline the paper’s production. You can find her writing in The Nav and also at frozenconstellations.wordpress.com