Never underestimate the power of decluttering
Spring cleaning marks a grand opportunity to begin again—this time, more intelligently—and this is where decluttering comes in. Figurative baggage will have its day. For now, simplifying your life by getting rid of junk (AKA the physical baggage) is an excellent place to start. Don’t just do it for a neater looking space; do it for your mental health and general well-being. It has been proven that clutter can negatively impact a person’s mental (yes, mess causes stress) and physical state. According to The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, clutter makes it difficult to relax and contributes to fatigue. A person’s ability to process information has a lot to do with the clutter surrounding them, too. The unnecessary and overwhelming stimuli from cluttered surroundings often distracts people from the real task at hand. This ultimately causes a decrease in productivity (Sorry, believers in creative clutter). An Indiana University study further confirmed that people with cleaner homes are healthier, more physically fit compared to those living in messy houses. Chalk it up to the physical labor of cleaning house.
To get your spring cleaning going, you must first resist all urges to save items from your past. The intention is to let go of things that are through serving their purpose, not to scope out what can be salvaged like this whole thing is some treasure hunt. Do not begin your purge only to end up hoarding again. And as you sift through your belongings, remind yourself that at this point, nostalgia is not your friend. Another thing to keep in mind: declutter first and buy second. Before even thinking about storage plans and cool, aesthetically pleasing ways to tuck away your belongings, focus on getting rid of junk first.
Now that you’re set, it’s time to get decluttering! Here, a roundup of the things you should toss out if you’re serious about starting fresh.
Extra Pens and Pencils
If rooms need to breathe, so do drawers. Pen and pencil hoarding is a perfect example of the “just in case” syndrome coming into play. You don’t need that many emergency pens and that ginormous stash of pencils. You can only write with one item at a time anyway.
In this case, don’t just toss pens, pencils and other drawing materials that can still be used. Donate them to a local public school in need of supplies.
We often file away scratch paper because “we know we’re going to need them someday,” but the day that requires a stack of scratch paper never really comes, does it? Now is the time to get rid of receipts, old greeting cards, the drafts of your thesis from college, old test papers, press kits and documents that have already served their purpose.
The only paper materials worth saving? Legal forms, housing documents, contracts, identification and government papers. You can send the rest to a local junk shop for recycling.
Perhaps 2018 can be the year you spring for a 1-TB hard drive. Let go of old DVDs and VCDs most especially if they’re lousy pirated copies anyway. Store the classics and originals. These deserve a place on a shelf.
Quality makeup doesn’t come cheap, so it’s understandable that beauty girls find it difficult to let go of cosmetics (especially if they’ve barely been used). We keep tabs on expiry dates when it comes to our food, so why aren’t we as vigilant when it comes to the stuff we put on our faces? Old cosmetics are susceptible to reformulation and bacteria buildup, which can cause skin redness, nasty breakouts and blisters. Not a pretty sight.
Here’s a practical way to keep tabs on expiration dates: Use sticker labels to tag your new products with the date you first opened them. Moisturizer, concealer, foundation and most liquid or gel-based cosmetics typically last up to a year from your first use. Powder-based and wax-based items like brow pencils and lipstick can last up to two years. The one item
Expired Food Products
This one goes without saying.
If eating healthy is (or was) one of your New Year’s resolutions, this is your chance at a clean slate. Declutter your fridge and pantry before plotting your new meal plans and rebooting your grocery shopping habits. See what you have, what you still need and what you swear never to repurchase in the interest of getting healthy.
Clothes That Are Too Tight
In an ideal world, we will lose the weight and fit into those jeans again. As mentioned though, if an item has already served its purpose, let it go. There’s no doubt your 19-year- old self did love those denim trousers, but if you’re the type whose efforts to lose weight wane from time to time anyway, the chances of you fitting back into them are slim (no pun intended). Perhaps it’s time to invest in a new pair—and that’s only if you truly need to.
Donate old, but usable clothes to a local charity or send them to a home for the aged like Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly.
Wardrobe Items That Need Repairs
Not unless you were crafty to begin with or promised yourself that in 2018 you’ll be making a conscious decision to DIY things, it’s best to let go of clothes that require repairs. This goes for blouses that are missing a button or two, tops with broken straps, clothes with bleach stains, too-loose pants and shoes that need sole restoration.
Clothes You Haven’t Used in a Year
Did you wear it in the last eight months? If the answer is no, it’s time to toss. It may seem like a daunting, broad question, but a lot of us are guilty of hanging on to clothes we don’t wear. Some even end up forgotten (it’s been that long since they were last worn).
Edit your wardrobe ruthlessly and try this trick: imagine your closet was a store in the mall and you were shopping around in it. If you wouldn’t buy that item right then and there, it’s time to throw it out.
Work Books, Activity Books and Textbooks from Your Younger Years
We understand that books are one of the best investments, so worry not: your favorite books and the classics will go untouched. Make room in your library by letting go of school books from your grade school, high school and college years. Make arrangements with a school accepting donations.
Quality sheets can last anywhere between 6 and 10 years while pillows have shorter lifespans. Conduct this test by Real Simple to determine whether your pillows need to be replaced: “Fold your pillow in half, squeezing out the air. If it doesn’t spring back to shape, you’re overdue for a new one. Otherwise, so long as they don’t smell [like mildew], you only need to replace your pillows every three to five years—any longer, and they begin to lose support.”
Throw away bedsheets with overstretched garters and pillows with pulverized cotton stuffing. In 2018, why not treat yourself to new sheets and new pillows? Quality beddings make quality sleep!
Socks with No Partners
This also goes for socks that no longer stay up and socks that have accumulated an overwhelming amount of lint. Recycle these by using them as rags for cleaning or as shoe covers in your closet. You could also use old socks for an at-home skin-softening foot mask. Simply massage Vaseline on your feet and secure them overnight by wearing these old socks. You’ll have softer feet in the morning.
Even the underwear drawer deserves a dedicated decluttering day. Toss out bras with rusting clamps, exposed underwire and bras that no longer fit. Same goes for underwear with stretched out garters, holes and unraveling fabric. When undergarments begin to feel uncomfortable or lose their shape and elasticity, it’s likely time to toss.
Faded, Snagging, Rough Towels
Do you have a linen closet with about 30 towels for a household of just five? Do you find that you personally only use six to eight of these towels? That right there is a sign you have to get rid of some linens. Here’s a quick checklist you can use during your process of elimination: Toss if your towels have lost their softness, now have loose fibers, holes or stains, emit an odor or have lost their thickness. Recycle old towels by using them as cleaning rags or makeshift floor mats for your kitchen.
While decluttering should ideally be done in a single day according to organizing expert and author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo, let’s be realistic: not unless you have complete control over your home, it will be difficult to keep tabs on the belongings of others that take up your shared spaces. Invite members of your household to declutter with you and make it a pre-New Year’s Day family activity. Perhaps together, you can also vow to buy only what you need in the next year.
When you find that all you want are things you actually need, you are better off, lighter and happier. Now you’re set to start the year right.
Art Alexandra Lara