So you hear about this awesome idea called minimalism, and you want in. You read up on some of the main points, set aside some time to get started, and walk into your house with fresh eyes. Those eyes see all the things – cluttered surfaces, drawers full of randoms dating back to God-only-knows-when, toys exploding out to every room, crackers smashed into the carpet… oh boy. The overwhelm creeps in and gains its choke-hold position.
I can’t do this.
This is way too much.
I’m too overwhelmed.
I’ll never be able to get this whole house done.
I need a nap.
This happens all the time. It happened to me when I first set out to simplify my life, and I see it happening in my group on a regular basis. It’s totally normal, but what you do with this feeling will define the rest of your life – if you really do this, or if you let the overwhelm win.
Hold up, mama. BREATHE.
I’m gonna give you some minimalism basics today to help you break down the decluttering process. It only feels overwhelming because you’re already overwhelmed. It feels like you’re taking on something extra and it’s all too much. But taking this on will free you up in ways you can’t possibly expect, and it’s gonna be GOOD. So hold on, and let’s break down the process of how to declutter so it becomes simpler.
Stop looking at all there is to do and just start.
Choose a non-emotional room to start in, like the bathroom. Nothing with sentimental items to go through. Get the kids busy or ask for help from someone, create some breathing room for this important journey to take place, and walk in there and start.
Sometimes it even helps my extremely overwhelmed clients to close their eyes, walk into the room they’re going to tackle, and pick something up with their eyes still closed. Then I have them open their eyes and make a decision about the item they’re holding.
Keep, donate, or trash? Make the decision, place the item in the pile location, and pick up the next thing.
There, you started. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now you have a little momentum to keep going, and the more you work through things, the more your motivation and momentum builds. Before you know it, you’re on fire and making it happen!
How to make decisions about your items
You will make one of three decisions about every item you pick up – keep it, throw it away, or donate it. There is no “maybe” pile because you’re not here to waste time and create piles of stuff to go through later… you’re going through it NOW and you’re finishing this room today. You’re not going to waste your own time because you live intentionally now.
So how do you decide which of the three piles to put your items in? By asking a few key questions about each thing you feel stumped on:
Do I need this? Would life be able to go on tomorrow without this?
Do I love this? Does it bring me joy?
Does this item line up with my purpose? Does it help me live intentionally?
If the answer to two or more of these is no, why are you allowing this item to take up your space and time? Rethink.
When you know an item needs to be removed from your home, you have another choice to make: trash or donate? If it’s at all damaged, stained, ripped, or in poor condition, just throw it away. The needy don’t want your trash, and Salvation Army will either not accept it or throw it away for you later. Save them the work; throw it away if it’s trash.
If an item is in decent condition, by all means put it in the donation pile. When you throw everything away, you’re contributing to waste and build-up that harms our planet. Donate what you can, and keep the trash pile for real trash.
>> A note on selling your items. I’m not against selling your things when you’re decluttering, but I do see a lot of the time that holding onto things because you might have a garage sale or make money off of them on Facebook sell groups often leads to lack of progress. I’ve seen women make $600 off selling a room-full of stuff. I’ve also seen way more women spend two weeks decluttering only to make zero progress because they held onto everything in hopes of selling and never did. Be careful. Weigh it out. Is it worth it for you to try?
Where to donate your things
You have lots of options when it comes to donating your items, but don’t let those options become overwhelming and keep you from making decisions. Let’s break it down so you can pick what appeals to you most.
Churches – you can donate pretty much anything to your church or a church near you. I like to donate toys and books in particular so they can use them in the nursery and kids club.
Salvation Army – the perk here is that they will pick up your donations for you. The con is they are VERY picky with what they’ll accept. If there is anything at all wrong with a piece of furniture or a blouse, they won’t take it and you’re still stuck with some of your stuff.
Goodwill – the perk here is that Goodwill accepts donations of all kinds and sorts through them on their own. You can walk in with your bags and leave them, knowing they have hired help who will do the sorting and deciding if they’ll sell it, and you’re still helping the less-fortunate by donating instead of selling.
Best Buy – you can drop off or ship your electronic waste to a Best Buy near you and they will recycle it for you. There’s no need to hold onto things with lithium batteries because you don’t know what to do with them. Ship it off and let it go.
There are plenty of good causes ready to accept your donations beyond the popular thrift stores. You can find a nearby shelter or food bank and do some good in your community! The point is not to get held up by the details of where, when, or how you’ll remove the clutter from your home and just do it.