The Process of Decluttering and Organizing

As the name points out, minimalism is about having less in your life, materially. The outcome, in theory, is an easier, relaxed, happy living. Reducing the amount of things you own to only the necessities is what’s meant to be achieved. Lots of traditional minimalist come up with their own versions of what they’d consider as necessities based on what they need in their lives. These necessities answer to the main factors of their life such as job, health, social life, etc. 

Once the necessities have been defined, decluttering and organizing, in that order, can begin. There’s different ways to go about doing these steps. The Konmari method, by Marie Kondo, recommends decluttering the home in four phases: Clothes, Miscellaneous (everything else), paper and sentiments — if I remember that correctly. Another method is cleaning each room at a time. As long as there’s a system: Categories of things are to be cleaned out until only the essentials are left, or the items that “spark joy,” as the Konmari method would refer to it, are left. 

I recommend beginning with obvious trash. Go around with a trash bag and collect all the trash in the space. Next, begin placing foreign objects (items that belong in another room such as dishes) back to the room they belong in. Afterwards, the real decluttering of useless and/or sentimental-less items begins. 

Decluttering

Different items have different values placed on them. I’ve tried narrowing down the top two reasons people keep things: they’re useful or they have sentimental value. Questions have to be answered to fully decide if a practical or sentimental item has to/can be kept. Before I continue, sentiment doesn’t just mean it makes you sad or nostalgic, it could also means it brings you joy, like a pin trading collection. 

  • Is it useful immediately? How often is it used?

  • Does it spark some kind of joy or excitement? Does it bring back memories or make you feel nostalgic?

  • Does it hold the value of someone’s memory (late grandparent)?

  • Can it be scanned and saved digitally?

  • Can it benefit someone else in the household? In the world? 

  • Was it useful at one point and is it still useful today (self-help, tutorial or guide books)?

Most of these questions answer questions towards sentimental items compared to practical ones because it’s more difficult to make the decision of keeping or tossing sentimental items compared to useful ones. It’s quick to know if something is useful or if it’s just collecting dust. Sentimental items take harder thinking. 

The point of this step isn’t just to get rid of stuff to have bare rooms, specially if clean walls aren’t your thing or empty bookshelves. It’s about keeping things that you value more. Decluttering is about turning your spaces into clean and well-functioning environments. 

Organizing

After the decluttering has happened and the minimums for comfortable living are left, the next step would be to organize things — every item needs to have a place where it’ll always be. This process needs to be tackled with efficiency in mind. When organizing keep in mind a few things: where will it be used majority of the time so if someone were looking for it they’d know where to look, how many times will this item be used to determine its accessibility, are the surrounding objects in the same/similar category, etc. 

There’s great enjoyment in organizing your items. If possible, rearrange furniture so that its layout make sense in terms of what they hold, how big they are, should some stuff be closer to the door, etc. Take advantage of the higher wall spaces by installing shelves that attach to the wall. High shelves could be used for knick knacks that were kept.

These two processes together are the first steps I took in an attempting to become more minimalist in my lifestyle. I’m not finished with decluttering completely because as an artist I have a lot of art supplies. But I’m beginning to wonder how many of those supplies I really need. 

Anyway, here’s my bit on decluttering and organizing.