Tip 1: Put everything online
Remember that much of what we accumulate comes to us via snail-mail. Take preventive action to declutter: Write to all your banks and insurance and opt for paperless account updates. While you’re at it, cancel your daily newspaper service, and start getting the news online. Not only will you be doing something for the environment, you’ll minimise the clutter that comes to your home on a weekly and monthly basis.
Tip 2: Do a book drop
If you’re the type of person who accumulates books, you’re likely also the kind of person who has run out of bookshelf space, and against the walls, in piles, right there on the floor. Has that stopped you from purchasing more books? Not bloody likely. The truth is you can and should go through your personal library twice a year, and even a cursory look will lead you to a number of tomes you will eagerly drop. Box the books and donate them to school libraries, if not here in Singapore, to neighbouring countries like the Philippines, whose school libraries are often ravaged by typhoons and floods. Or, you can do a $2-a-book sale and raise money for a favourite charity.
Tip 3: Clothes go to charity
Adopt the closet decluttering trick — turn all the hangers in your closet the wrong way and each time you wear something in the span of two weeks, turn that hanger in the right way. By the end of the period, you will know which items you never wear! Go through your closet as well as you shoe cabinet and bag the garments and the shoes you have not worn in six month, regardless of the reason. Are they too small? Too tight? Too old and worn-out? The reason does not matter. If you haven’t touched them, bag them. Or give them away to people who will use them. If you haven’t used them and they still look great — give them away! Create space in your wardrobe and in your life.
Tip 4: Ditch the pointless items
We’re talking about mementos that have no real decorative value — if you’re the type who keeps that kind of stuff. The corporate paperweight from you first job, the vase of artificial flowers that your colleague gave you or the medal from your first 10km run. If you love these things, then create a space for them… But don’t keep them if they’re just a mess in a box or on your desk. Pointless items should not occupy space in your life, and you would do well to rid yourself of them. They are weighing you down. Get rid of them, and stop accumulating such items once for all.
Tip 5: Hand things down
The truth is, as life goes on, you do start outgrowing things. Your idea to keep all the Christmas cards people send you used to be a fun notion. Well, five years on, not so much. You change and no longer feel the same way about things — whether it’s a piece of furniture, an outfit, fitness equipment or leather bag. But they are pretty things, perhaps even useful things. Give them away to someone who would use and value them. As the saying goes, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.
Tip 6: Tried, tired technology
Comb through your home for outdated equipment that’s still taking up residence space. The broken bicycle. The old cables for appliances long ago. Faulty earphones, a spoilt electric toothbrush or a broken lamp, or random speakers that no longer function. Bid these things goodbye. You do not need them.
The story '6 Sneaky Ways to Declutter' first appeared in ELLE Singapore