Nowadays, it feels like everyone’s searching for some life-changing hack that will make decluttering easier—and trust me, I understand!
I struggled with clutter for years, and it was so much harder than I imagined. Decluttering was physically and emotionally exhausting, and I spent more time than I’d like to admit beating myself up for letting it get so bad in the first place.
I just wanted it gone, so I did what you’re doing right now: I hopped online and read article after article of decluttering tips.
Some helped, and some didn’t, but now that I’ve come out the other side, I realise there’s one decluttering hack that no one talks about. Keep reading to find out more!
Before I share this hack with you, let’s take a moment to step back and think about your goals.
Decluttering is not about deprivation, and minimalism is not a competition to see who can live with the least stuff.
Instead, it’s about creating space for more of what matters.
And if you’re reading this, I know that you get it. You want long conversations, afternoons in the sunshine, good books and cosy corners where you can spend time with loved ones.
But here’s the problem—most people assume that it’s a linear process.
“First, I’ll clear my clutter, and then I’ll start enjoying my life!”
I know this because I used to think the exact same way. I wanted to live a slow and simple life with more time for myself, my passions and my family, but I felt I had to hustle to get there.
But it doesn’t have to be that way …
The secret decluttering hack no one talks about
If you want less clutter in your home and life, one of the best ways to begin is by doing more of what matters.
This is important for a few reasons. First, the obvious: you only have one life, so make sure you enjoy the journey!
After all, tomorrow is never promised (something I understand more than most).
But, on a more practical note, doing more of what makes you happy now is actually a secret decluttering tip.
Why? Because when you’re busy enjoying life, you feel different about your clutter.
It’s like when you hear an inspiring story, and suddenly, you realise that some of your problems aren’t really that important. The same thing happens with your stuff when you start having more fun. The value of owning things fades in compassion with the value of doing things.
Without changing anything else, you feel less attached, and it’s easier to let go.
I know it sounds too easy, but I promise it really works. Sometimes, we only need a new perspective to break us out of a decluttering rut.
“That sounds great, but … “
To be clear, I know your relationship with clutter is complicated and doing more of what matters won’t magically solve all your problems.
I also know you came here looking for more ” hands-on” decluttering hacks, so I will share a few in a moment.
But please don’t brush off the power of joy.
After decades of struggle, and now having worked with hundreds of women from around the world, I know the root cause of clutter can often be found in our emotions.
When we lose touch with our hopes and dreams, when we feel stuck by circumstance, when we feel lost in our relationships—it’s so easy to turn to “stuff” to fill that gap.
But intentionally filling that gap with something else is a game changer. (With the acknowledgement that there is a strong link between clutter and mental health, which makes everything more complicated.)
Ok, so on to three more quick decluttering hacks!
The Simply + Fiercely Show is a podcast for women who want to clear their clutter and create space for freedom and joy. If your life keeps getting bigger—but not better—then it’s time to declutter from the inside out. LISTEN NOW
Try the Snowball Method for decluttering
This hack is a great way to get on top of your clutter because it reduces the mental load associated with decluttering.
Here’s how it works:
- Choose one item you already know you want to declutter. Like a shirt, for example.
- Before you get rid of it, pause and look for concrete reasons why you don’t want that item anymore. Is it the colour, the fabric, the neckline, etc?
- Can you identify any other items that have the same characteristics?
- Look for more reasons why you don’t want the new item … and repeat the process.
It‘s called the Snowball Method because you start a bit at a time, but then it picks up speed! Soon, you find yourself clearing a lot of things with minimal effort.
Change the way you look at “just in case” items
Wanting to keep things “just in case” is a common decluttering challenge, and it’s made worse because humans have an innate negativity bias.
We naturally feel negative emotions more strongly than positive emotions, which means the fear of giving something up and then needing it someday (a negative event) outweighs any potential benefits of decluttering (positive events).
So what can we do?
Reduce the fear of giving something up by addressing it head-on. Next time you want to declutter something, but you’re afraid of giving it up, ask yourself this question:
“If I needed this item and didn’t have it, what are five things I could do instead?”
Depending on your circumstances, decluttering isn’t always the best solution. But by focusing on solutions instead of problems, you give your brain the information it needs to make an informed decision.
Name your tradeoffs
We all have limited time, money and energy, which is important to remember when it comes to stuff.
Whether you realise it, everything you own has a cost.
- We spend money when we buy things and often spend even more caring for or storing them.
- We spend time cleaning and looking for things (and, of course, we spend time working to buy things).
- We spend energy, too! If you’ve ever felt stressed or overwhelmed in your home, you know exactly what I mean.
And don’t forget the opportunity cost! All the time, money and energy you invest in your things is time, money and energy that can’t be invested in something else.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but knowing what you’re giving up is important. So here’s a practical clutter hack I love:
Next time you’re tempted to keep or buy something, think about the tradeoffs and say it out loud. (Or, at least, in your head!)
Often, this helps you see your item in a new light, and you might realise the cost of hanging on isn’t worth what you’re giving up.
More Decluttering Tips and Advice
If you enjoyed this post and these hacks, I invite you to download my free guide, Mindful Decluttering! This process helped me go from shopaholic to minimalist, and you can get your copy by filling out the form below.
In addition, you may want to check out one of these popular posts:
- How to Declutter Sentimental Items — For most people, one of the biggest challenges on their decluttering journey is sentimental items. Check out this article for practical yet compassionate decluttering tips if you can relate.
- 7 Secrets For A Decluttered Home (That Might Surprise You!) — With two young kids at home, I know that maintaining a clutter-free home can be a hard task (but not impossible!) Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of your decluttering efforts.
- How to Declutter When You Want to Keep Everything — It’s one thing to know you want less stuff … but deciding what to put in the donation box is another thing altogether! These are must-read tips for anyone who “loves stuff”.
Do you think joy and doing more of what matters plays a role in decluttering? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!