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Starting Small: Minimalist Approach to Decluttering

Decluttering and minimalism have become increasingly popular in recent years, as people recognize the benefits of simplifying their lives and living with less. Having fewer possessions can help you reduce stress, save time and money, and improve productivity, among several other benefits. 

But as appealing as these outcomes may be, it can be overwhelming to think about decluttering an entire home. This is where the minimalist approach makes all the difference. By starting with a small area, you can make the process more manageable and less intimidating.

Here are a few top minimalist strategies to get you started with decluttering your home:

Starting Small

waste management little miss organised brisbane

Choosing a Small Area to Begin With

Starting small by decluttering a small area is a great way to begin the decluttering process. Here are some reasons why starting small can be effective:

  1. It’s less overwhelming: Decluttering can be a daunting task, especially if you have a lot of clutter. Starting with a small area can make the task feel less overwhelming and more achievable.
  2. It builds momentum: Once you’ve decluttered a small area, you may feel motivated to continue the process in other areas of your home. This can build momentum and help you make progress towards your decluttering goals.
  3. It creates a sense of accomplishment: Decluttering can be a time-consuming process, and it can be easy to feel discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Decluttering a small area allows you to see tangible results quickly, which can create a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue.
  4. It helps you practise decluttering skills: The decluttering method is a skill that takes practice. Starting with a small area allows you to practise making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of, which can make it easier to tackle larger decluttering projects in the future.
  5. It sets you up for success: Starting with a small area can set you up for success by creating a sense of momentum and accomplishment. This can make it easier to tackle larger areas of your home and maintain a clutter-free environment in the long-term.

Decluttering Your Home

Sorting Items Into Categories

Sorting items into categories is a crucial step in decluttering your home. When you sort items into categories, you can see everything you own in one place and make more informed decisions about what to keep, donate, or discard. Here are some benefits of sorting items into categories:

  • It helps you see everything you own.
  • It simplifies the decision-making process.
  • It allows you to identify duplicates and excess items.
  • It makes it easier to organise your space.
  • It helps you maintain a clutter-free environment.

Creating a Minimalist Space

Creating a minimalist space involves intentionally designing and organising your home to eliminate excess and focus on what is essential. It is a lifestyle and mindset that promotes simplicity, clarity, and intentionality in your living environment. Here are some tips for creating a minimalist space:

Start With a Clean Slate

Before you can create a minimalist space, you need to declutter and get rid of excess items. Go through each room and sort items into categories of keep, donate, or discard. Once you’ve decluttered, you’ll have a better sense of what you need to keep and what you can let go of.

Focus On Function

In a minimalist approach, every item should have a purpose and be useful. When choosing furniture and decor, prioritise function over aesthetics. Look for pieces that serve multiple purposes and eliminate anything that doesn’t add value to your life.

Simplify Your Colour Palette

A minimalist space should have a simple and neutral colour palette. Stick to white, beige, grey, or black, and limit the number of colours you use in each room. This will create a sense of calm and simplicity in your home.

Create a Sense of Openness 

Minimalist spaces often have open floor plans and uncluttered surfaces. Keep furniture and decor to a minimum and avoid overfilling your space. This will create a sense of openness and make your home feel more spacious.

Use Natural Materials 

Incorporating natural materials like wood, stone, and linen can add warmth and texture to a minimalist space. Choose high-quality materials that will stand the test of time and avoid anything that feels cheap or disposable.

Maximise Storage 

In a minimalist space, everything should have a designated home. Maximise storage by using closet organisers, shelving, and baskets to keep everything in its place. This will help you maintain a clutter-free environment and create a sense of calm in your home.

Implementing Organisational Systems

decluttering your home little miss organised brisbane 2

Implementing organisation systems is a critical step in space saving and maintaining a clutter-free and organised space. Here are some tips for decluttering and implementing effective organisation systems:

  1. Assess your needs: Before implementing any organisation system, it’s important to assess your needs. Take stock of what you own and consider how you use each item. This will help you determine what type of storage solutions and organisation systems will work best for your space and space saving goals.
  2. Declutter first: Before implementing any organisation system, decluttering is key. Get rid of anything you no longer need or use to create more space and make it easier to organise what remains.
  3. Categorise your items: Once you’ve decluttered, categorise your items based on how you use them. This will help you determine what type of storage solutions and organisation systems will work best for each category of items.
  4. Choose appropriate storage solutions: Choose storage solutions that are appropriate for each category of items. For example, use drawers for clothing, baskets for toys, and shelves for books. Choose storage solutions that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  5. Label everything: Labelling your storage solutions is key to maintaining an organised space. Use clear labels that are easy to read and make it clear what is stored in each container or drawer.
  6. Regularly maintain your system: Regularly maintaining your organisation system and effective waste management is key to keeping your space clutter-free and organised. Take time each month to go through your items and make sure everything is in its proper place.

The Minimalist Benefits

Increased Productivity

A minimalist approach to decluttering can help increase productivity by reducing distractions and allowing you to focus on what is important.

More Time and Energy

By simplifying your life and focusing on what is essential, you can free up more time and energy for the things that matter most to you.

Financial Savings

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle can help you save money by reducing your spending on unnecessary items and focusing on what is truly important.

Reduced Stress 

Clutter and excess can be stressful and overwhelming. By decluttering and simplifying your living space, you can reduce stress and create a calming environment.

Greater Clarity and Focus

Simplifying your living space can help create a sense of clarity and focus, allowing you to better prioritise your goals and values.

Learn more about the minimalist approach to decluttering with Kelly and Bonnie on War on Waste Podcast:

Kelly:

Are you guilty of holding onto something you don’t want or use anymore? Maybe it’s an old cell phone, batteries, or a bookshelf, and you just don’t know where you can get rid of them. Well, how about the reverse of that then? Buyer’s guilt. How many times have you bought something, got it home and realized, I don’t actually need that. Well, there, the two topics my next guest is here to discuss the acquiring and discarding of items and how we can all help prevent waste. Bonnie Black is from Little Miss Organized. Hello.

Bonnie:

Hi, Kelly. How are you? 

Kelly:

Good. Bonnie, why do we keep things that we don’t want? What’s going on with this hoarding?

Responsibly Donating Unwanted Items

Bonnie:

Well, there’s that guilt factor that social responsibility of I don’t want to just contribute to landfill. And there’s a bit of scaremongering going around with a lot of the national media of what the big ops shops are doing and all these behind the scenes stories of all these things going into waste. And people see these and think, oh, the items that I’m giving are in perfectly good condition, yet they’re not going to someone who needs them, or they’re not raising money for charities that need them. They’re just going into landfill. So there’s that social responsibility of, who can I trust? What charity can I trust with my stuff? Where can it go that I know it will actually get to the people who truly need it?

Kelly:

So how can we get rid of items that we don’t want that are still in pretty good nick?

Bonnie:

There’s lots of different options for getting rid of things that we don’t need, and charities aren’t really the only place that we can give things to. One of the first things that you can do is pass it down to someone you know, so whether it’s family or friends, but making sure that you’re not passing it on to someone who doesn’t actually want it and they’re just taking it out of guilt themselves.

Options for Responsibly Discarding Unwanted Items

So making sure that they need it, they want it, they’re happy to have it. The second option, if no one you know wants it or needs it, is to try selling online if you think it’s worthwhile the time to do so. So either selling online, maybe a garage sale or a market stall. And just a note on that as well. A lot of people tend to overvalue their items when they’re doing garage sales and selling online and even market stalls. And you need to really turn around and say, what would you be happy with purchase price if you were the buyer. Because in clothes, for example, people really overvalue how much their clothes are worth and how much somebody’s going to pay for them.

So realistically, you should only be trying to charge between a dollar and five dollars an item for clothing and maybe a little bit more if it’s excellent design or quality. But people really overcharge for a lot of stuff at garage sales, and that’s probably why they end up at the end of the day with not a lot in their pocket. And most of it is still there. And they think, Oh that was such a waste of time. So really make it nice and cheap and make sure that you’re on a spot where people can really see you and you’ve got high traffic volume.

Kelly:

A lot of people go online now with the… Even community. I’m on one that’s actually suburb specific, which is interesting. And I noticed the one to five dollar things go really fast.

Pricing Items Realistically for Garage Sales

Bonnie:

Yeah, it’s amazing actually. And you think, Wow, who wants to spend the time that it takes to post the ad, to do the description for a dollar amount? But that can really add up if one buyer is buying 10 or 20 or 30 items. So those local groups are amazing because everybody’s local. You’re not driving an hour to go and pick something up. So it’s worthwhile just driving somewhere for a $5 item rather than taking a 45 minute trip.

Kelly:

I had a garage sale a couple of weeks ago. One woman took 62 books. 

Bonnie:

Wow.

Kelly:

Because they were all a dollar. And some of them were really good cookbooks and things, too. And I just thought, you know what? I’m not going to sit here and individually price everything. Just take it. I want it gone. But they’re still in good nick. And she said, I said, well, look, there are cookbooks over there. She said, Oh, I don’t cook much. And then 10 minutes later, she had every cookbook and off she went. But when you’re done, you know when you’re done, and if I haven’t looked at it for a couple of years, I’m not going back there. Let’s face it. 

Recycling Old Electronics and Batteries

Bonnie:

Well, that’s it. And with cookbooks in particular these days, there’s so much online. 

Kelly:

People get it online.

Bonnie:

 And we’re all such shareholders these days. If we have a good recipe, we want to share it online. We don’t want to just keep it to ourselves. So that’s really important, too.

Kelly:

Now, how about things, Bonnie, like old cell phones and batteries?

Bonnie:

So there’s lots of different programs that actually recycle your old cell phones and your old batteries. So some of the supermarkets actually have battery boxes now, and you can put your AA,/AAA, DD/DUC, all those batteries in there. Just ask at your local supermarket if you haven’t seen one there. And maybe it might be a community initiative that your local supermarket is just waiting for you to ask them to present a battery box for you to do your recycling.

But there’s lots of programs like Taronga Zoo have a For the Wild program where you can send your mobile phone and it helps raise money to keep guerrilla habitats going and that thing. So that’s one that we like to support. A few years ago, I actually was in Sydney and went to the zoo, and I think I took about 30 of these satchels. I’ve just been slowly using them as our clients have mobile s that they want to recycle. But there’s cancer programs and other charities that also have recycling packs as well.

Donating Professional Attire to Charities

Kelly:

Well, as part of War on Waste, a few of us are being asked to help with Dressed for Success, the charity Dressed for Success, where you give women the clothes, really good clothes that they can wear to interviews and things like that. The tricky part about that for me is that I haven’t been to an interview for now 20 years.

Bonnie:

So you don’t know what to wear? 

Kelly:

I have not. I’ve been wearing jeans to work.

Bonnie:

That’s the thing about radio, isn’t it? 

Kelly:

It doesn’t really matter so much. I’m actually in a suit.

Bonnie:

But it’s such a good… 

Kelly:

I’ll, of course, have something that I can donate and hopefully help somebody feel really good about themselves as they go back to work. But, it’s programs like that that are really important that… It is a great way of saying, here’s a jacket. I have something in mind. It’s a really lovely long black jacket. I’ve had for a while that’s got hot pink lining.

Bonnie:

Oh.

Kelly:

I just need to take it to the dry cleaner. But that’s probably the one that I will be donating. It’s still in perfect condition. And every time I wore it, I felt good in it. So I’m hoping that somebody else will wear it and once again feel great in it. I’m sure that women have these clothes in their wardrobe. Now, whether it doesn’t fit anymore for one reason or the other, it’s just not what you’d wear or whatever. There are charities that will take these items of clothing from you and really will put it to good use.

Researching Charities to Donate Specific Items

Bonnie:

I think that’s where the knowledge is power thing comes in because a lot of people who maybe are not so connected online don’t know about these charities that aren’t the Smith family or the local big shop chain. So they think, I’ve got this stuff and where can I send it? Where can it go? And we’ve got a really good list of resources on our website actually that we’re currently updating as well to include more because we have so many little charities that we like to give our stuff to.

So my house can be a bit of a bombsite at times in my office anyway, because things will come in and the girls will come and say, I’ve got this jacket or this suit set and it’s the dress for success. And I’ll go, Okay, let’s put it in that box. And we’ll wait till that box is a bit full and then do a donation drop off there. But it’s so important to us and it’s so important to our clients that we actually have things that go directly to where they need it, rather than setting in an up shop where they might not get used and they might just get dumped.

Kelly:

Yeah. So, what’s the first step people should take if they want to get organized and sort out the things they don’t need anymore from the things that they do?

Bonnie:

First step is definitely to start small and actually work through what you need and what your goals are. So if you’ve got a goal in mind, then you can actually work out what the journey is and where you’re going. So for example, a lot of people hold on to treadmills. 

Assessing Current Possessions When Decluttering

Kelly:

Yes. Because we’re all going to use them. We got rid of one of those, too. I had it for three years, Bonnie:

I still don’t know if it works. They just become towel rugs. That’s it. They just hang our clothes and towels and stuff on them. No, we need to know what our goal is and what we’re currently using because we’ve got so many things that we look at and think, that’s really useful and I could use it. And I did buy it with the intention of using it, but it’s been a couple of years and I haven’t.

So, why am I still holding on to it? So people really need to have a bit of a personal assessment of what’s my values, what’s my priorities right now? Because if you’ve got other priorities, and especially if you’ve moved house recently or you’ve had a new baby or a new job or death divorce, any of those big five things, you need to work out, Is this stuff really going to matter to me in six months’ time. Or can I just offload it and allow some room for some new, more positive things?

Kelly:

Yeah, exactly. What about acquiring items? Any tips to stop buying things we don’t need? 

Bonnie:

Definitely. When you’re shopping and you see something and you think, Oh, that’s really cool. I’d really like that. Or, it’s really pretty. There’s three really good questions to ask yourself. The first one is, do I have something like this already that’s in perfectly usable condition?

Avoiding Duplicate Purchases When Shopping

Kelly:

That is my big question when I go clothes shopping, because I have a certain look that I like, whether anyone else does, who knows? But I like it. And I find myself having to stop myself, once again, black jackets and say, Oh, I love this. I think I already have it, or something I like it. Or several like it. Or maybe five like it. Put it back on the rack, Kelly. And I’m sure other people do the same, where you have something, a certain cut or something that you like, and you find yourself buying five or six of the same.

Bonnie:

The temptation to buy can be really overwhelming. And I mean, I’m not a shopper. I really dislike going to the shop.

Kelly:

I don’t know what that sentence means. I’m not a shopper. What do you mean?

Bonnie:

But it’s probably because I have two young kids with me and they always crack. It’s just not that fun anymore. No, I actually went this morning to the shops. And I have to admit, even for myself, who’s a bit of a minimalist, I have to ask myself these questions as well when I’m out there, because I see something and I think that’s really cool. I could really use that. And, oh, it’s a great price. And you have to stop and say, do I have something just, like, away.

Questioning Whether You Really “Need” a Purchase

Kelly:

From the rack box?

Bonnie:

Yeah. So the second question to ask yourself, if you’re worried about buying and you need to avoid it, if you feel that you need it, how have you gotten along so far without it?

Kelly:

It’s been missing.

Bonnie:

It’s that little piece that’s been missing.

Kelly:

Are you still thinking about it three days later?

Bonnie:

Yeah, exactly. And that’s where the next question kind of comes into it. What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t acquire it and one day I wish I had?

Kelly:

Yes, that’s a really good question, because the answer would mostly be nothing.

Bonnie:

Exactly. We’re really quite clever. We can improvise. I mean, I was thinking about this last night for some reason, because we only have one set of sheets for our bed, and we’ve got a nice big queen bed. On washing day, I take off the sheets in the morning, wash and dry them outside in the sunshine, and put them back on the bed at night. Some people have asked me what I would do if someone gets sick or if one of the kids vomits on the bed and it’s cold and rainy outside. But honestly, I haven’t encountered such a situation yet. We have had a couple of times where something like that has happened and you just improvise. What’s wrong with sleeping on a couple of towels or the Dune cover for a night?

Recycling and Repurposing

Kelly:

Yeah.

Bonnie:

I mean, it’s not going to kill you. It’s improvising.

Kelly:

I’ve only got two sets. I gave away a whole lot of linen as well, and, like, sets of tuna covers at one stage because I’m a bit of a Manchester freak. You know how people have their things?

Bonnie:

Manchester or shoes?

Kelly:

For me, it’s a Manchester. It’s genetic. And Dune covers. And I gave away eight or nine sets of Dune covers.

Bonnie:

Wow.

Kelly:

That’s insanity. What was I thinking? But, I mean, that was over the years, but they were all still in really good condition.

Bonnie:

Well, because you had so many to choose from, so they never wore out.

Kelly:

I’m sure other people do, too, but when you think about it, there was one or two that stayed on there most of the time. And the same with sheets. You get your favorite set for whatever reason.

Bonnie:

It’s the 80/20 rule.

Kelly:

Yeah, it is 80%. You use something 20% everything else.

Bonnie:

Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Kelly:

What about buying secondhand? Is that a good thing to try and do?

Bonnie:

Yes, absolutely. We fully believe in recycling and repurposing. And in fact, me personally, when we need things in our house, I will try and look online and see if I can buy it secondhand somewhere before actually going to a store. Not necessarily clothes so much, because clothes tend to be fast and cheap and all that sort of thing anyway these days. But, yeah, if we need any sort of furniture or even baby gear, try and buy secondhand because you get it a lot cheaper. Someone else has paid the full price for it and it’s like a brand new car. As soon as you drive that car off the showroom floor, what, the price decreases or the value decreases by down to 80% or something like that. It’s the same thing with secondhand goods. Someone could have bought something, barely used it or gently used it.

Thrifty Shopping Tips: Secondhand Bargains

Kelly:

Yeah.

Bonnie:

And you’re picking it up at less than half the price.

Kelly:

We did that with McKenzie’s change table when she was above. We bought it secondhand and then it was fine and we sold it on, I think, more than we bought it for.

Bonnie:

Well, that’s always nice.

Kelly:

Yeah, because it was still in really good nick, so I think a lot of that stuff, you don’t realize how much your baby actually doesn’t need until you have one, and then you realize how much ridiculous amount of money you’ve spent.

Bonnie:

Yeah. It’s crazy. And everybody wants that euphoric feeling of buying a gift for your child, but you’re the one that’s left with all the stuff.

Kelly:

Exactly. The other thing that I might throw in. Look on social media, like Facebook, if there are particular brands, there’s a particular brand of clothing I like and they’ve got a site that sells it. Yeah, at a third, because people are just, I’m sick of it here. Do you want to smoke? Free home, pet, free home, blah, blah, blah. And you can buy a top for $20. 

Bonnie:

Yeah. These swap, because it’s like communal shopping.

Kelly:

So we’re all just throwing our stuff at each other, basically.

Bonnie:

Mother’s groups have these swap meets and mums come and they bring their old toys and oh, wow. Like, I haven’t had that before. Let’s have that and you can have all my old stuff. And what you no longer want, you no longer love, someone else thinks is the greatest thing ever.

Kelly:

That’s it. Some other kids could love it. Some great tips in there. Bonnie Black, Thank you. What’s your website name?

Bonnie:

littlemissorganised.com.au 

Conclusion

Creating a minimalist living space can have many benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. By focusing on what is essential, decluttering, and simplifying your living space, you can reduce stress, increase productivity, save money, and have a positive impact on the environment. 

Implementing effective organisation systems, waste management, categorising your items, and using appropriate storage solutions can help maintain a clutter-free and organised space. Ultimately, a minimalist lifestyle can help create a more intentional and fulfilling life, focused on what truly matters.

Do you want to take on the job of decluttering your home but aren’t sure whether you can? Here are 11 signs you need help from a professional organiser.

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