How to declutter your room in 5 easy steps

papers beside shears and paper cutter

We all know the feeling. You have just finished tidying up your room, and it looks incredible. Everything is put away neatly, and you can finally breathe easy again. Too bad it looks like a war zone a day later.

Many “decluttering” tips on the internet do not tackle the problem of clutter. On the contrary, these sites advise browsers how to move the mess around in new ways. The primary purpose of decluttering is getting rid of things, not containing the disorder. If you remove an item or two and then move the rest around, you can give yourself the impression of having done a lot when in fact not much has changed. The problem is not solved!

Before we can address the subject of organisation, it is vital to declutter. Don’t think of putting belongings away while you are still going through your junk. You will just get distracted by organising, and you won’t end up doing much else.

Three questions and three piles are all you need to give your room a complete facelift.

These steps are straightforward, but that doesn’t mean that letting go is easy. Don’t think that you will suddenly be able to let go of things you’ve held onto for years. Expect some mental resistance. Know how to be gentle with yourself and know when it is time to be firm. Give yourself the time to do each step correctly, and you’ll be sure to have lasting results.

  1. Mindful reasons to declutter

man wearing black crew-neck sweatshirt with hand running through hair

A mind in a cluttered space is an anxious mind in fact clutter can be identified as a source of stress, often leaving us feeling overwhelmed and helpless.

There are a few reasons that clutter causes so much stress. Firstly our senses are overwhelmed by too much visual and tactile stimulation. Consequently, the excess stimulation causes our brains to overwork as it tries to process stimuli that are unnecessary or unimportant. Further, it creates the impression that no matter how much we do, our work is never done, making us extremely anxious.

The presence of clutter in our room distracts us from the things we should be focusing on in fact it can create feelings that you have more work to do. Untidiness also provides the perfect environment for losing objects. Put those crucial documents down for a second and ‘poof’. Gone! Late for an event? You might find yourself arriving even later with all the time you spend looking for your car keys.

An essential component to declutter successfully is the essence of motivation. Motivation will provide you with energy to reach your goal. To achieve motivation look for inspiration wherever you can find it. Browse Pinterest, glance through magazines, whatever gets you excited. Watching videos about minimalism can also help, and listening to other people’s stories is sure to inspire you. Fall in love with the look and feel of clear space and your desire to emulate it will help you overcome the harder parts of letting go.

Letting clutter sit allows it to take over your life as you slowly lose control. Whatever your reason, find it, stick to it, and most of all stay excited! The guilty feelings associated with clutter will not go away until you act.

  1. Strip the room

Take it back to the most basic of the basics and start there.

Strip the entire room of its content. Be ruthless and don’t leave even the smallest items behind. Physically removing each object will give you the idea of how much you have. When everything is finally out in the open, you can genuinely appreciate the multitude of things hidden from sight. Seeing the space left behind will also provide an instant contrast between the mess it just held and the calming effect the openness has on the mind. Once your bedroom is clear of all clutter the process sorting out the junk can start.

  1. Ask yourself three questions

“Does it serve a purpose?”

Evaluate each item by asking yourself: “Is there an apparent reason for keeping it?” If not, get rid of the item. Another question to ask is: “Does it help you in your daily life in some way?” For example, your bed. You might be sleeping on an old mattress, which does not promote sound sleep. In this case, it is time to visit a reputable online store. Upgrading your bed or mattress can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. It might seem obvious, but it’s important to question every single item in your space. No matter how small, each object influences the area around it in some way. Question things even as simple as a rug. It truly puts one’s mind at ease to know that everything in the room serves a purpose and is there for a reason.

“Does it enrich my life?”

If it doesn’t serve a distinct purpose like a lamp or bed, ask yourself if it adds something valuable to your life. It’s easy to pass over something by saying “Oh, it’s cute. I’ll keep it.” Take a moment to think about what comes to mind when you look at a certain object. Does it stir up happy feelings, or are keeping it “just because”?

Things that could fall into this category are books, photographs, and the like. When it comes to books, for example, it is essential to ask yourself if you will reread it. Is it a book that you have had for years and read over and over again, or is it a book that you’ve had for years but only ever read once? Apply this to other types of objects as well.

It can be helpful to take a step back an look at things in perspective. Ask yourself “Am I holding onto something that could better serve others?” “Am I being selfish?” We may instinctively jump to defend ourselves but offending ourselves now and then is healthy and helps us grow. When we let go of the feeling of being judged, we open ourselves up to letting go of much more.

“Does it follow the six-month rule?”

This rule is incredibly straightforward. If an item hasn’t been used in the last six months and won’t be of use in the next six months, get rid of it.  It is that simple. No hassle, no fuss. Just a straightforward guideline that immediately makes it clear if you need something or not.

If you are feeling brave, you can even take it a step further and go by the three-month rule! Haven’t used something in the past three months and won’t use it in the next three months? Let it go!

  1. Make three piles

As you sort through your gear be sure to answer the above questions. Sort your things into one of three heaps:

The ‘keep’ pile

These objects fall into one or more categories – the useful, enriching and follow the six-month rule. If the answer to all these questions is yes, you will be sure you want to keep them.

The ‘maybe’ pile

Objects in the “maybe pile” do not fall into any of the above categories. However, you still feel the urge to keep them. Place these object in the “maybe-pile” and come back to them later.

The ‘discard/donate’ pile

In this pile, you will place items that don’t fall into any of the above categories, or you don’t want them any more. Either way, you are sure you want to let them go. As they say; it is better to give than to receive. Giving items to a worthy cause is always rewarding!

  1. How to deal with the ‘maybe’ pile

Do your best to go through this pile again and let go of anything that you can. If you find yourself left with items that you are still unsure about, put them in a box and leave them up in a cupboard for a month or two. After the month is over, take the container down and without opening it, write down the contents of the container. Anything that you forget is not important enough to keep. As for the rest, you should have had enough time to decide if you want it or not. Base your decision on whether you noticed the object was gone or if you missed it, and you should be good to go.

Most people find that this exercise creates a heightened sense of creativity.  Another benefit of this decluttering exercise is that it promotes clear thoughts. Once the clutter has been effectively sorted you one realises that disorder is invasive. A further adverse effect of a cluttered room is that it blocks the flow of creative juices and productivity. A disarrayed room makes it just that much harder for anyone to relax, physically and mentally.

You are sure to notice an immediate difference in your mood and how you think about yourself once your space is clear. A minimalistic room has many benefits, it will be easier to clean, and your apartment will be visually appealing. We live in a world filled with stress and demands and being able to relax in a restful, clean environment will be very satisfactory. Our bedrooms should be a place of peace and relaxation.

Breathe in, breathe out, and let it go, the process of decluttering is a gratifying exercise, it might be time consuming and emotional, but in the end you will reap the benefits!

Happy de-cluttering!