Another annoying guide telling you (how) to get rid of your shit

Decluttering is the hippest word out there at the moment, yet many find its message hard to follow: only keep the core essentials, get rid of all the rest. Decluttering can apply to pretty much any part of your life. The following post is a guide to decluttering your things. I especially recommend following this if you are planing to move in the near future. It makes things go much smoother.

Kitchen — Various mugs, glasses and cutlery? Find one style you like and give away the rest. We tend to get attached to gifts or souvenirs and mugs are popular among those. Still holding on to the Sicily mug from 8 years ago but never using it anyway? Take a deep breath and get rid of it. You own 3 pans and 6 pots of about the same size? Only keep the high quality ones. You have 5 different tools that serve basically the same function? Keep one. You own a toaster and a microwave? Unless you don’t eat toast and processed foods everyday, both functions can be taken over by your oven.

Textiles — Before my last move I was hoarding dozens of towels of all sizes and colours. High quality towels can be expensive to buy and you never know when you will need 7 at once or suddenly have 15 guests in your 40 square apartment, right? Seriously — I end up using about 4 different towels, all others just stay in the closet and take up a lot of space. Keep 2 big and 2 small towels per person and maybe one pair for guests. That’s enough. The same thing applies to bed sheets. You don’t need more than 2 per bed, as you can only use one at a time and wash the other. Pick your 2 favourites and say bye to their mates.

Beauty — Gurus, magazines and celebrities constantly feed our urge to buy beauty-enhancing products. From shower gel to mascara, we constantly feel like we can do better and keep buying additional versions of basically the same product. That doesn’t only take up space in our shelves, but also in our heads (“Which lipstick should I use today?”). Of course you can try things out, but if you end up not using them, give them away. If you find a product you like, keep it and toss its fellow products. Of course you can have some colour variations in e.g. lipsticks and nail polishes, but you really don’t need 5 blushes, 4 mascaras and 11 different foundations. Trust me, you will love the new emptiness of your beauty shelve as it will make you get-ready time much shorter.

Technology — Guys, this one is for you. Yes, you never know when you might need that specific cable or when your old phone from 2002 might suddenly be worth a million because of its rarity, but stuffing boxes full of old technology parts, cables, and out-dated devices is not worth the struggle. It’s unlikely that old technology will ever be worth more. Go through all your tech-stuff and only keep things you have used in the last 3 months. Throw away broken things and — for god’s sake — throw away things you don’t know the purpose to.

Files — 20 letters every week, some important, some more or less important, some totally unnecessary. You pile them in a corner on your desk or in your kitchen and usually never look at them again. This is a tough one. I recommend to get one specific drawer for papers and follow these steps: Open all letters as soon as you can and throw away unimportant ones (ads, surveys etc.). Everything else you can put into the drawer and go through it once at the end of every week (or at least every 2 weeks). Sort the ones you want to keep into a folder and get rid of the rest. If you are unsure about keeping one, take a picture and save it on your computer, but throw the actual copy away.

Packaging — Bags at the end of every shopping spree, cartons around almost everything you buy. You end up collecting them for future purposes as garbage bags or shipping parcels. But how many of those bags and packages actually end up serving that purpose? Only a few. Try to be smarter about it. Bring canvas bags shopping if you can (good for the environment too!) and only keep especially big or sturdy plastic bags. The same applies to cartons, which I generally also recommend storing in the basement.

Clothes — As clothing is probably the biggest problem for most people when it comes to decluttering, I will write an extra post about them. But even without that, you can easily declutter your closet. Choose one type of hangers (I recommend thin metal ones, not the thick wooden ones) to save space and get a cleaner view on everything. Hang as many clothes as you can so you can actually see them. Clothes I store in drawers, I easily forget about and end up never wearing them. Try to only use drawers and boxes for underwear or basics. Speaking of, do you really need those 5-year-old slips and socks? Decluttering is (literally) about the small things, so even though it may sound unnecessary to sort out your underwear, it will have its effect.

Decoration — I am a strong believer in not getting attached to materialistic things. It starts with my unwillingness to buy souvenirs on trips and ends at finding a way to store flowers, as I don’t like buying decorative things like vases. Yet, without decoration, your home may seem a little empty. Choose some of your favourite pieces (I recommend not more than 5 per rooms) that compliment your style and the style of the interior and give away everything else. Also, try to use practical appliances and tools as decoration. This can be as simple as displaying a pretty pair of vintage scissors or using a retro figurine from the flea-market as a doorstop.

Embrace the void, folks!

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