When I decided I need to get rid of stuff, I had no idea that the effects of decluttering would change my point of view and my decisions so deeply.
When I started, I knew I should get rid of stuff, but just felt overwhelmed by it. And since I was so emotionally attached to my stuff, it was seriously tiring to have to make decisions!
After going through a decluttering course from Lauren at Simply Well Balanced, I felt empowered to just start. If you attack decluttering the right way, it just gets easier as you see the difference it really makes.
In my case, we decided to move across the country a few months after I had been working through decluttering our living areas. Moving definitely took my decluttering to an entirely new level.
Now that I have gotten rid of 3/4 of the stuff I had stressing me out, I have noticed that some of the effects of decluttering are surprising.
I Stopped Buying Clutter
What’s your favorite store? What do you feel when you first walk in the doors?
For me, that’s Hobby Lobby, the lumber aisles of Home Depot, and Target, because my weaknesses are building things, home decor, and coffee mugs.
And, anything that’s a dollar. Because I mean, IT’S ONLY ONE DOLLAR, RIGHT?!
Well we’re about to get technical. Shopping excites you because somewhere inside you, you believe that the things you buy are going to add value to your life.
What is your core desire when you find something you want to buy? New clothes or makeup? So you can be more attractive than ever. New toys for your kids? Those will make you a better mom! (Or maybe so they’ll leave you alone for 8 seconds.) New organization stuff? So you can finally get all your crap together!
After I faced literally every single item I owned, I realized how much of it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
Some things in the store will add value to your life. Like food. You will always need to keep buying food.
But once I realized that I threw away more than half of my stuff and my life actually improved, something changed. I started being able to evaluate products in the store more clearly. And sadly, I realized that most things that catch my eye when I’m shopping will just end up being clutter.
Shopping After Decluttering
Buying less was definitely an effect of decluttering and did not happen on purpose. A lot of things in stores weren’t as appealing because I knew I would just get tired of the extra clutter sooner or later. But of course, when I stopped buying extra things, I noticed that:
- I spent less money
- I had less to continually declutter
- What we kept in our house actually added value instead of adding stress
I Let Go of Guilt
For me, the most sentimental difficult category to clutter was papers.
I used to save every scrap of paper that had any meaning to me… and since I’m a writer and have a particular obsession with words… that reeeeeally added up.
When I was faced with the amount of actual space these sentimental items were taking up, I knew I had to be a lot more selective.
If you find an old paper that makes you laugh out loud or cry, keep it. That’s real value.
Unfortunately, my reason for being so attached to many of my sentimental items was not because they brought me joy or a beautiful memory. It was obligation.
I mean, this card my great aunt sent for my 1st birthday was saved for 27 years, how could I DARE throw it away?
Well, because it only said, “Happy birthday.” It wasn’t a profession of her love for me–that would be precious. But just because it is from a certain time or a certain person doesn’t mean you have to be attached to it.
So when I stopped keeping things just because I thought I should, things got much easier. If I had decided to keep that card, it would have gotten shoved into a (slightly smaller) bin to gather dust for another few years. There is no purpose in that!
Letting go of less sentimental items will actually make the things you keep even more valuable.
If you struggle with sentimental papers and items as much as I do, there are plenty of ways to store your memories without taking up physical space. I’ll be writing on some of the best ways to do that this week.
I Become More Organized
Okay, this effect of decluttering is just common sense.
Just look at this beautifully organized drawer, popular on Pinterest.
Ah, so easy and clean.
But what if they had double or triple the amount of utensils? You probably already have that many. It wouldn’t look so beautifully organized then, would it?
I have always been obsessed with organization, but I was still messy. Finding storage solutions and functional organization systems is really important… but the more stuff you have, the harder it is to organize well.
Messes Didn’t Overwhelm Me
I’d like you to notice that I didn’t say “We stopped making messes!”
Because that is ridiculous. Maybe one of those hardcore minimalists who only own like 32 things would say that.
But I still own lots of things, and two of the most important ones are children under four. I’m going to keep them.
In fact, it takes less than an hour for my house to get messy–I’ve counted. It’s usually by my children, but it can also happen if I make a meal that requires multiple pots (but let’s be honest, that basically never happens. Cooking and I aren’t friends.)
But the effect of decluttering took away the intimidation and dread from messes. When everything has a place, it takes almost no mental or physical effort to put them away. And when “everything” is only 1/4 of the size it used to be, it only takes a few minutes.
I Appreciated Quality Over Quantity
This one happened more as I sold stuff on Facebook marketplace.
I thought that I appreciated what I had before I started going through it all. But how can you really value something that’s been sitting in the back of your cabinet for the last year?
Pretty much everyone agrees that “quality over quantity” is best, and I did too. But decluttering made me realize that I had actually been living out the exact opposite. I had too much crappy stuff, and instead of replacing it with quality, I just kept buying crap without thinking about it!
An example would be our cups. The first week my husband and I were married, we realized we only had 2 cups. We went to Walmart and got 8 plastic cups for $2.50. Great.
Well, we just celebrated our fifth anniversary. Last week I realized that we still have 6 of those cups and we both avoid using them… because they are old and gross.
SO WHY DID WE STILL OWN THEM?! As soon as I realized it, I got rid of them. This is how decluttering will change you–you’ll start noticing things like that all over your home.
I Became a Better Designer
A year ago, when I posted the tutorial to make this rope shelf, I could NOT figure out how make it pretty. I loved the shelf and how it added dimension to my dining room, but I think I took 6 pictures of different setups, trying to make it look good for the blog. It just didn’t.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. We have now moved across the country and downsized to an apartment, and the things I kept are only my absolute favorite things. I painted and stained the shelf to make it pop against the ugly beige walls in our apartment. Then I hung it and shoved a few things on it.
AND IT LOOKED AWESOME.
I mean, a large part of that was because it displays my love for Michael Scott. But I digress.
Why did it take no effort this time to design it perfectly? Because I loved every item.
Now, that’s not all there is to design. But before, I was trying to choose random items from the ridiculous stockpile of average decor I had built up, and I just couldn’t make it work. This time, I had only a few of my favorite items to choose from, and it happened immediately.
If you struggle with designing things, maybe you are like me. Maybe you just have too many “eh” things and not enough real value.