Decluttering, Tips and tricks

The Do's and Don’ts of Decluttering

woman folding towels and putting them into a cabinet
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There are many do's and don'ts when it comes to decluttering. But thinking about the task can be overwhelming. Over the years, old belongings build up on shelves, in wardrobes, and even fill entire attics. You may feel like you are living in an antique store rather than a house, never quite knowing what’s in the boxes under the bed, or whether you should be holding onto or selling the paintings in the loft. Getting rid of old items is a good way to declutter your mind, and ultimately feel better about your surroundings. But where do you begin? Here are our do’s and don’ts for getting started. 

Do: Set a Deadline

date circled on calendar

When we set a deadline, we instinctively schedule our tasks so that we fill the time we have set for ourselves. For example, if you set yourself two days, say, to clear out the shed, this is how long you will spend doing it. However, if you set yourself a week to do the exact same task, you will find a way of expanding the task to fill the whole week, when in actual fact it could have been completed in a much shorter time frame. This phenomenon is known as ‘Parkinson’s Law,’ and was first observed in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in his essay in the Economist: “It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” 

Use a timer if needed, or write a schedule on a notepad for you to follow and stick to. Another great tip is to set yourself sub-tasks. Sticking with the shed example, start by setting yourself 2 hours to clear the shelves. Once those two hours are up, move on to another section of the shed. This way, the task will feel less intimidating and you'll see progress much more quickly. 

Don’t: Create A Giant Pile

Room in house full of boxes and clutter

Some people may think it’s a good idea to throw all the clutter into the middle of the room and work through it. however, this can lead to stress, lost items, mess, and disorganisation. Instead, we recommend treating each section of a room separately and creating piles in each section - 1) Keep,  2) Discard and 3) Donate and allow yourself 10 items in each pile. Before moving on to the next section, ensure that there is nothing left on the floor from the previous section and that your clutter has either found a new home or been discarded before moving on.

Do: Start Small

Toy car collection

If you want to declutter your life, you are wise to start small and compartmentalise the tasks. The life-changing magic of tidying up is a daunting prospect if you try to tackle everything at once. First, segment your home into sections and choose a place to begin, whether it be the attic, a wardrobe, or under the stairs. Focus only on that section for now, carefully picking through every item, assessing whether or not you need to keep it, and then either placing it in a rightful location or discarding it. Once that section is complete, move to the next. Set a realistic deadline for each section. 

Don’t: Hold On To Clutter

Woman packing box with antiques

Research has shown that, as we get older and collect more life experiences, we become more sentimentally attached to objects. Be it a vintage watch that your father owned, a blanket you used when the children were young, some picture frames you bought at a market on a memorable holiday, or a mug your colleagues bought for you when you retired. 

When you really think about it, many items in your home will have a form of sentimental value to you. But holding sentiment in all possessions leads to clutter, and it is this sentiment that makes it hard to keep a tidy, decluttered home. 

To make this process easier, take inventory of what you have and separate each item into one of two categories - 1) cannot possibly discard, 2) could live without. 

Be strict with yourself. Some memories will remain in your mind regardless of whether you keep that old jumper you haven’t worn or looked at in 20 years. Make sure you hold on to the things you will truly make use of, look at and cherish. As a rule of thumb, if you had forgotten you own it, you probably didn’t need it. 

Do: Find A Good Home For Your Clutter

Table with cameras, cup of tea and vintage cash cow leaflet

Decluttering your home is a way to declutter your life. You will experience better mental health awareness, and a sense of serenity once your home is rid of items you no longer need. But where do the items go? 

One way of finding a good home for your clutter is to sell your old items. There are many ways to do this. You can take to a selling site yourself, which can be a hassle if you don’t know what you are doing. You can also offer to give your unwanted items to friends or family. Or, alternatively, you can sell your old items to decluttering services, that will know their true value and give them good homes - such as Vintage Cash Cow

At Vintage Cash Cow, we care about your items and want to make sure you get the best possible value for them. We start by sending you free postage labels to stick to your box of unwanted items. You then take it to the post office, and once we have received it, you’ll receive an offer within 3 days. Happy with the offer? You simply accept it there and then, and receive the money in your bank account. If the offer isn’t for you, we send your items back to you free of charge. It’s that simple. 

Interested in trying it out? Get your free postage pack today. 

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