Does it spark joy? That’s the question Marie Kondo – the queen of tidying up whose book and Netflix show have spawned a wave of furious cleaning not seen since Hoarders first aired – asks the people she helps declutter their space. It’s a fair question. Over the years, stuff can really accumulate. Where did I buy three coffee makers? When did I get these seventeen decorative vases anyway? Why did I think I would use a Bowflex? How did I ever think these corduroy bell bottoms looked good? What was I thinking? And yet, there’s something so final about throwing things away that makes us reticent to do so. But I might use it! is the most common refrain, but if you haven’t used something in more than a year, there’s a safe bet to be made that next week isn’t the time you sit down and finally start scrap booking.
Here are some of our tips to reduce the clutter in your life and simplify your home.
Turn Hangers Around
When you wear an item, put it back on the rack with the hanger the other way around. Forgetting seasonal items like jackets and sweaters, if after a year, an item is still on the hanger the right way, consider donating it. A younger relative may cherish the item (everything old is new again to them) or there are any number of charities that need clothing year-round.
Give Yourself Permission to Throw Things Out
It’s tempting to save every drawing and report card your kids have ever come home with, even when they’re well into their adulthood, but are you ever going to look at Junior’s finger painting again with the same beam in your eyes? If so, consider framing that piece (or even do a whole gallery wall!) and tossing some others. It might even be fun to have the kids help select which pieces to keep and which to toss, especially if they’re old enough to drink wine. Have them over sometime and make a night of it.
Get Over It
“But this stuff was expensive!” It’s hard to bring yourself to get over getting rid of something that was expensive. But sad as it is, that beautiful bedroom set you splurged on at the Art Shoppe in 1999 just doesn’t have the same resale value today, no matter how much it cost back then. Yeah, furniture might be less solidly built now, but people want what they want. And sadly, at least right now, it’s not that dark brown mahogany sleigh bed. The same goes for clothes that, while expensive at the time, are now woefully out of date. Holding on to them in the hopes their sale price might one day go back up is great if you have several storage units, but otherwise, it’s time to bite the bullet and part with those items.
If you are one of the lucky ones whose furniture is all mid-century modern and in good condition, but you still are looking to simplify your space, consignment can be a good option. You’ll have to do some research but recouping some costs (and allowing someone else to get use out of your cherished furniture) is a great way to motivate you to declutter.
It’s 2019. Pretty much anything can be digitized. Do you have fifteen (or fifty) photo albums lying around in some cupboard collecting dust? When was the last time you pulled them out to look at them? Try digitizing them. There are services that will do it for you and there are digital picture frames that can scan through a library of images, so your walk down memory lane happens in a flash. Other paper items you can digitize: receipts, tax returns, childhood artwork (see above), newspaper clippings.
Start When You Walk in The Door
Many people’s largest pile of clutter is their unsorted mail and other assorted detritus from that short trip from the car to the mailbox to the front door. Cut it off at the pass by implementing one of these solutions. Either get two trays, one inbox for things like letters, bills and magazines and one for junk like junk mail and flyers or coupons you won’t use, or put a small garbage bin right at the door to get rid of that stuff the second it comes inside.
No More Wire Hangers
Take an inventory of the electronics drawer. You will probably find several chargers for bygone devices (remember when you had to have a BlackBerry? Or even earlier Nokia bricks?). Look closely at the charging tip for each wire and make sure they are still for something in use. Even the BlackBerry style chargers are still used for some things like wireless headphones or portable speakers, but do you really need 6 of them?
Speaking of electronics, do you still have aforementioned BlackBerry and Nokia devices sitting in a drawer somewhere? It’s good to keep a backup phone, just in case, but one that’s ten plus years old will just make you want to run out to buy the newest device (what do you mean, I can’t search Instagram while looking up recipes while the GPS navigates?). Some newer devices can even be traded in for money. Don’t just throw them in the garbage though, the batteries and other inner workings can leak and leech into the soil, so be sure to take them to an approved electronics recycle centre. There are plenty throughout Toronto.
Don’t Go Overboard
The feeling of lightness one gets from removing a big bag of junk from their home can become intoxicating. Don’t go overboard. Just because you don’t need that Royal Doulton figurine collection doesn’t mean it doesn’t have sentimental value. Like Marie Kondo asks: does it spark joy? Something big and even ugly, that totally dominates a room, can have a lot of special significance to you (remember Martin Crane’s prized lounger in Frasier?). Don’t feel obligated to get rid of it (or even a bunch of smaller things, like say a cherished spoon collection) just in a bid to remove everything from your home.