SLOW DECLUTTERING: THE BENEFITS OF DECLUTTERING SLOWLY
Today’s world seems to be about getting things done quick. We want the easiest hack to getting what we want in the fastest way possible but I’m not sure that this is always the best approach. In this article we look at slow decluttering and the benefits of decluttering slowly for a clutter-free home and life that’s more likely to stay like that!
THE BENEFITS OF DECLUTTERING
A decluttered home is easier to manage, feels more spacious and calm and is an inviting place for us to slow down, relax and spend time with friends and family. Home is the place we come back to at the end of the day and where we launch ourselves from at the start of the next.
There are so many benefits of owning less stuff and reasons to clear our clutter that it’s no wonder that decluttering has become so popular over the last few years. Maybe it’s a reaction to the modern day paradigm of do more, have more, achieve more and BE more. Perhaps it’s a way that we can take control of our environments and find ways to protect our physical and mental health in a world that feels topsy-turvy and stressful.
“Your home should be the antidote to stress, not the cause of it.”Peter Walsh
THE PROBLEMS OF DECLUTTERING
However, for anyone that’s tried decluttering, you’ll be familiar with some of the common problems. Too much stuff, not enough time, lack of motivation, physical limitations that come with chronic illness and older age, a partner who hoards, kids with too many toys, not knowing where to start. Let alone trying to declutter when you’re moving, struggling with mental health problems or just unsure what decluttering will actually give you more of by getting rid of what you don’t want.
The problems of decluttering aren’t just to do with the physical act of clearing clutter. They’re to do with the values and beliefs we hold about the stuff we carry through life with us, sentimental attachment, fear of letting go and what will happen when we do, regret, grief, remorse, guilt and difficulty getting into the decluttering mindset and building courage and confidence to tread a clutter-free path.
Phew, that’s just a few of the decluttering problems I know many people come up against and there are many more I haven’t listed!
With all these problems it’s no wonder that many people who declutter fall into one of two categories. They either get stuck before they’ve started (or try it for a bit and give up) or they grab everything up, give or throw it away and then feel guilt and regret and blame decluttering on ruining their home and life.
There are many benefits of decluttering fast. I even share some tips on how to declutter fast which you might enjoy reading at some point. Decluttering fast helps you see and feel results quickly, to spur you on and encourage you to continue. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, or just need to reset yourself and your home, a quick declutter can be really therapeutic and cleansing. A bit like how we feel when we’ve spring-cleaned our homes!
However, not everyone can declutter fast and there are many benefits of decluttering slowly. So, if you’re struggling and want to practice the art of slow decluttering, this article is for you! No guilt, no pressure, just gentle reminders to take your time.
And, if you’re in doubt, keep in mind the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady actually wins the race!
THE BENEFITS OF SLOW DECLUTTERING
Here are some benefits of decluttering slowly and taking your time to deal with your clutter.
1. Decluttering and mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of being present in the moment. Forgetting the stresses and worries of the past and the future but savouring what you’re doing, thinking and feeling right here and now. Mindfulness is a useful tool to help nurture better mental health. There is also a wonderful relationship between decluttering and mindfulness which encourages us to declutter with intention and purpose. What do you really need to make you happy? What clutters your home and life and removes you from living life to the full in this very moment? Stop thinking about ‘just in case’ and ‘what if’.
This is your life right now. Whilst there are some benefits to being aware of what ‘future you’ might need, or what ‘past you’ found useful and enjoyable, ‘present you’ will be thankful for a decluttered home and life. Slow decluttering helps you take stock of where you are right now, to align your stuff and your home with what you need today and enjoy the physical act of creating a space that works for you. No rush, no stress, no worry. Just slow, easier and more mindful decluttering.
2. Decluttering and saving energy
Fast decluttering requires oomph and energy. Decluttering can be hard work with all that reaching, stretching, lifting and moving. If your energy levels aren’t as high as they used to be or as high as you’d like them, then slow decluttering can help you make decluttering progress in a way that feels right to you. No need to dash around from room to room bagging up as many items as you can before your internal body clock timer runs out of steam, just do a little bit as often as you can.
The key to successful and easier decluttering is to work with the resources you have available and declutter regularly and consistently. This approach will help you become clutter-free far more effectively than a quick-off-the-blocks and quick-to-burn-out strategy. Slow decluttering will help you save energy for where it’s most needed.
3. Decluttering and physical limitations
Decluttering doesn’t just require energy, it can require strength, stamina and suppleness too! Decluttering is a bit like a workout and I like to think it burns a few calories! However, if you have physical limitations which make decluttering difficult, this is another good reason to declutter slowly. Give yourself time in between decluttering sessions to recover and rest. Do one shelf instead of the whole bookcase, one drawer instead of the whole kitchen. Any progress is still progress. Decluttering is meant to be liberating and empowering if you keep in mind what you’re hoping to achieve. The strategy you use to declutter will depend on your individual circumstances and there’s no right or wrong way to declutter. You just need to find what works for you, rinse and repeat.
4. Get clear on your why
Everybody’s talking about decluttering and, like with any trendy fad, we get caught up with it but sometimes without questioning the purpose or benefit. There are a zillion decluttering resources available with valuable information on what to declutter and how to do it. But, what’s most important is that you take the time to work out why YOU want to declutter. What will a less cluttered home and life give you? How and what would change in your life with less stuff to distract and detract? What does clutter hold you back from? What emotions does your clutter make you feel, and why?
Decluttering slowly gives you time and space to lean into these questions and fully think through your responses. You’re not decluttering as a quick reaction to something you’ve seen or read but instead you’re decluttering in response to how your clutter looks and makes you feel. The distinction may be subtle but it’s important. Slow decluttering will help you get clear on why you want to declutter, what it will help you change or achieve and make it clearer for you to know how to do it. Try these journal prompts for decluttering to help you understand your why.
5. Define what’s important and adds value
Decluttering slowly gives us time to work out what we really want to keep, is meaningful and supports us to live a better life. Identifying the things that add value takes time and thought. Sometimes we know instantly whether we use an item or not, but often this is something we learn over time. We might be used to having our stuff around us, it becomes a habit, and it’s not until we thoughtfully question when we last used an item that the reality kicks in. Maybe it hasn’t been used in the last week, month, season, even the last year or two. If something is important and adds value we’ll feel strongly about it or seek it out often. And, of course, the opposite is true. Over time we build a picture of what’s important and adds value, and what doesn’t.
6. Reduces decluttering guilt and anxiety
Using the process of slow decluttering to give you more time to identify the stuff you need and want vs the stuff you’ve kept out of habit (or fear or something else) is a good litmus test for whether you really do the need the item at all. Decluttering slowly gives you time to work out what’s important and adds value. Decluttering fast means you have to make quick decisions and sometimes you might make a decision you later regret.
Slow decluttering reduces guilt, anxiety and stress over decluttering because you have time and space to make less hasty decisions, find a good home for your unwanted items and really think through your decluttering process. This makes guilt and decluttering anxiety less heavy.
7. Understand how your home works for you
How your home works for you is an important part of making your home feel special and unique to you. The functions your home performs, whether it’s just for you, you and your family, for guests, and for your individual requirements can change over time. We can use different rooms for different purposes. For example, a guest bedroom might become a baby nursery, a playroom might become an office.
Giving yourself time to find the best layout for your home, the zones, décor, colour schemes and styles can help understand how your home works for you. Once you understand that, then you can work out what you need in that home to help it function even better. Think of storage solutions, organisation systems, furniture, décor accessories and so on. Use slow decluttering to get rid of the stuff that no longer helps your home work its best for you.
8. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water
Sometimes when we declutter fast we get swept along with the momentum of the process and we could accidentally throw out something we later regret. I mentioned earlier that decluttering slowly helps avoid hasty decisions so, particularly if you’re worried about decluttering the ‘wrong’ things, take it slow and steady.
9. Create good decluttering habits
Clutter keeps on coming back even after we’ve decluttered. The trick is to declutter but also to put in place some easy but robust decluttering habits to stay clutter-free. However, like most habits, decluttering habits don’t just happen overnight. They take repetition and time to become part of the natural rhythm of our day. Putting in place good habits starts with doing something one day and repeating it the next, rinse and repeat, day in and day out. There’s no quick fix for building good habits, they take time. Slow decluttering alongside the development of good decluttering habits can help you tackle clutter-creep, break the cycle of clutter coming into your home and keep you clutter-free for the long term.
10. When decluttering feels scary, overwhelming and daunting
Decluttering can feel tough because you have too much stuff. It can feel scary because you get overwhelmed by the prospect of following a decluttering checklist or because you don’t know how to get your unwanted stuff out of your house if you don’t drive and don’t have anyone to support you. There are loads of other reasons too why decluttering can be overwhelming.
Stop, take a breath, and reflect. Take it one book or utensil at a time, ten minutes at a time, one day at a time. Think it through, come up with a plan, do a little bit on a whim, call a friend and schedule their help one afternoon next week. Nothing big, nothing complicated, nothing rushed. Reward yourself for every little bit of progress, factor in time for other things and time when you don’t feel like decluttering. Keep calm, stay focused on the end goal and pick away at your clutter, little by little. When decluttering feels scary, overwhelming and daunting, try slow decluttering.
11. Get into the decluttering mindset
All the tips in this article I think are important, but this last tip is probably the most important of all! Mindset is key to everything we do in life and decluttering is no exception. Think back to the top of this article where I mentioned all the decluttering problems we can face when clearing our clutter? Well, a decluttering mindset can help you overcome many, if not all, of these. Face your concerns head on, get clear on why you want to declutter and commit to being open-minded about the challenges you’ll face and what solutions you’ll need to find to get clutter-free.
I’m not going to say it’s easy but from my own personal experience, I believe decluttering is something worth trying – for more ease, less stress and more living life to the full. However, switching into that decluttering mindset can be tough. You might have to deal with hoarding tendencies, an addiction to shopping, grief and fear of letting go, the removal of clutter which has acted as a security blanket to comfort you from the challenges of life. Slow decluttering helps you take time to work through your feelings and thoughts, to shift your thinking patterns and behaviours and find the courage to try something new.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
If you struggle with decluttering for whatever reason, I hope this article has given you some ideas. There are many benefits to decluttering slowly and deliberately taking your time to really look at your stuff and your approach to dealing with that stuff.
I’ve found that decluttering sentimental items slowly has been really helpful to me recently. I’ve had time to say my goodbyes to things I don’t want to keep whilst honouring the memories these items hold. I’ve really been able to work out what I want to keep and what I’m happy to let go of.
How would slow decluttering benefit you? Have you noticed a difference in your stress or anxiety levels when you declutter slowly and take your time? I’d love to hear from you if you have any thoughts to share so please leave a comment below!
MORE RESOURCES ON DECLUTTERING
Here are some more articles on decluttering which you might find helpful:
- Decluttering Questions: Questions to Help You Declutter More Effectively – In this article we look at some of the key questions you can ask about each item in your home to help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
- Which Clothes to Declutter? Simple Questions to Help You Decide – This article will help you sort through your clothes with more ease and confidence.
- Decluttering Mistakes and How to Overcome Them – Be prepared and forewarned with this article where I share some common decluttering mistakes so you can avoid making them too!
- The Cost of Clutter: What Is Your Clutter Costing You? – Clutter doesn’t just take up space, it steals other things from us too. In this article we explore what clutter is stealing from you.
- 10 Ways to Make Decluttering Easier – Struggling to declutter? Here are some simple, practical tips to make decluttering easier and less stressful.
SIMPLIFY YOUR HOME
If decluttering fast and decluttering slow still feels too difficult, then take heart as you’re not alone! Even just the thought of clearing our stuff can be daunting enough. I’ve heard from so many of you that decluttering your home is what you want to do, but time, energy, family and just knowing where and how to start, make it difficult to begin.
That’s why I created Simplify Your Home. A guide, workbook and checklists to help you declutter your home and keep that clutter away. Simple, practical steps and easy-to-follow advice will help you get to the root of why you have clutter and how to keep it away for the long-term.
Learn more about Simplify Your Home and see if it’s something that might help you.