My husband and I have recently undergone a major decluttering effort. We have thrown out, given away, or sold a ton of stuff, and it has been amazingly satisfying. As an organizer, I am well-versed in the typical benefits of decluttering such as increased space and decreased stress, but on a personal level, decluttering has blessed my life in a number of unanticipated ways. These unexpected benefits of decluttering have been my favorite part of the process.
If decluttering is on your to do list, and you're looking for a little extra motivation to get the ball rolling, consider these added perks that come from decluttering.
NOTE: Our decluttering was associated with a move, but you don't have to be moving to enjoy the benefits identified here that can result from a concerted decluttering effort.
Open Up New Possibilities for Your Space
By freeing up space within your home, you open up new opportunities for utilizing your space. Have you always wanted a craft room? Getting rid of unnecessary clutter could free up the space you need to make your dream a reality. Do you need a home office or a space for your kids to do Zoom schooling? Downsizing items that no longer fit your lifestyle and interests can free up the space you need to realize your current needs.
These are biggish examples here, but new possibilities for your space can be realized on a smaller scale as well. For instance, by downsizing books we opened up space on our bookshelves for our scrapbooks. We have lovely scrapbooks that have been sitting on the top shelf of a closet for more than a decade neglected and unappreciated. I'm excited to have them readily available to flip through and share.
Become Reacquainted with Your Stuff
Something I didn't anticipate when I started decluttering was the increased access it would give me to things I either forgot I had or never used because they were shoved so far back in the cupboard it was difficult to get to them. This was especially true in the kitchen. Since getting rid of unused, unneeded items, I have lots more room in my cupboards, and I have enjoyed rediscovering some of my old favorite things.
Discover New Ways to Reuse Old Items
Sometimes you have things you really love, but they no longer work in the way you originally intended. If you really love an item, think about ways to repurpose it - I'm not talking about turning old colanders into planters (although that sort of thing can be fun as well). I'm talking more about finding a new home or a new purpose for an existing item. I've had a blast finding new uses for furniture items, baskets and bins, and even knickknacks.
I'll share an example. Many years ago we had a custom china cabinet built to house our collection of Palestinian pottery and dishware (along with a lot of other stuff). It is massive and very 1990's in it's design. I loved it when it was new and for many years after, but it no longer coordinates with any of our furniture and we have fallen out of love with it., so we decided to sell it.
Selling the china cabinet was a no-brainer, but it left us with a problem - what to do with our beloved collection of pottery and dishware. At first we thought we would buy a replacement piece, but we couldn't find one we liked. Then we discovered that our new bigger bedroom closet allowed us to downsize by one dresser. The dresser we opted not to use in our bedroom is a beautiful piece of furniture that I absolutely love. No way did I want to get rid of it, but it seemed as though it no longer served a purpose - until I decided to use it as a replacement for the china cabinet. It's both unique and functional. It blends well in the space (despite the fact that it's a dresser) and my china, table lines, and other odds and ends fit inside it beautifully.
Rethink Your Priorities, Interests, and Goals
Downsizing affords you the opportunity to reassess what matters to you here and now and let go of things that no longer have value in your life. For example...
As we were leaving the old house, I packed up all my craft supplies. As I was unpacking at the new house, I quickly realized that I was not going to have space for everything without purchasing some furniture pieces and storage solutions to contain it all. After a little thought, I decided that I wasn't willing to pay the price in money or space to store stuff I hadn't used in years. Instead, I opted to think through what I would actually use and get rid of the rest. I ended up getting rid of several boxes of things I had either bought and never used (and couldn't recall my original intent for them) or that were left over from long completed projects. What remains are items that appeal to my current interests and goals.
Develop a Healthier Relationship with Stuff
I'm always telling people that decluttering is liberating and rejuvenating, and I have been reminded on a personal level recently just how much truth there is in that claim. It's exhilarating and satisfying and uplifting to walk into a clutter free space knowing that you are surrounded only by things that have meaning and value in your life today. Some of those things may be mementos, others may be tools, and still others will be toys (or things that entertain you). Whatever their purpose in your life, the joy comes in the fact that they serve a meaningful purpose - even the boring but highly practical items.
Things take up space not only in the physical world, but also in our minds. Unwanted, unnecessary, and unused items weigh us down by taking up space in our homes and weighing on our consciences. Letting go of such things, allows you to enjoy your possessions rather than be burdened by them.
Give It a Try!
Decluttering is worth the effort. The benefits are legion. In addition to the unexpected benefits identified here, decluttering saves you time, money, and space. It reduces stress, increases productivity, improves peace of mind and nurtures a sense of empowerment. I encourage you to give it a try. Then please share how this process has blessed your life. I'm always looking to expand my list of the benefits of decluttering!
Brian L. Steed
1/9/2021 07:40:04 am
All true. I thought the repurposing of the dresser was genius.
1/9/2021 08:24:08 am
Thanks! It’s been a fun journey.
1/11/2021 04:47:33 am
A great article. I've been working at decluttering, and for me it is such a slow process. Partly because I got behind in paper work/filing while involved with being a primary caretaker, but also, my sentimental nature. I think I have almost every gift anyone ever gave me, and I also enjoy antiques and collectibles. I need to find a tougher approach, as I have way too much to move. I did try packing up some things a few years ago, with the goal that if I didn't miss them, I would get rid of them. When I opened the container, only a couple things were gotten rid of and the rest integrated back into the house. I'm hopeless! Your article has, never-the-less, inspired me to start anew tomorrow.
1/11/2021 07:15:48 am
You have identified some common roadblocks to decluttering. You are by no means unusual in your struggle. I'm glad you found the article inspiring, and I really appreciate your comment! Best of luck in your decluttering efforts. It is comfortable to be surrounded by things that spark memories and remind us we are loved, so letting go can be a challenge for sure. It's also comfortable to walk into a clutter-free space and feel free from the weight of things closing in on you, but there can sometimes be a wide divide between those two experiences, and the effort involved in bridging it can be intimidating. That said, as someone who has recently experienced a painful loss, it may help to remember that everything you leave behind has to be dealt with by someone you love. Take care!
1/11/2021 07:36:13 am
I love all of your personal stories here. Very relatable. It was helpful to read about your thoughts on your craft supplies. We often just float along with momentum, not realizing the weight of what we are carrying. When we finally pull things out and look at them in the light of day, especially considering the cost of keeping them (as with your craft supplies), we often at that moment make the freeing decision to let go. Focusing on current hobbies and activities is exactly the right thing to do, not only because it frees space, but also because it frees our minds from the guilt we may feel of "not having finished that" or "I really should keep that."
1/11/2021 10:27:47 am
Thanks, Seana. You are so right about the freeing aspect of letting things go. I didn't really think I had that much excess until we decided to move, and it has been wonderfully liberating to examine things "in the light of day" and downsize to only those things that have real meaning and value at this stage of our lives.
1/11/2021 09:31:19 am
Great advice! I loved reading about your experience. Thank you for sharing.
1/11/2021 10:30:01 am
Thanks, Sabrina! I appreciate your comments. Isn't it wonderful to "find space" by repurposing existing items in new ways? It's like a gift to yourself, and it keeps on giving because you are able to enjoy it over and over again as you utilize the newly created space.
1/11/2021 09:31:25 am
Excellent Blog! I recently moved and have repurposed so many things!!
1/11/2021 10:30:52 am
Isn't it fun to repurpose? I love it because it doesn't cost anything, but you feel like you have a wonderful new treasure in your life.
1/11/2021 12:04:48 pm
I can hear the lightness in your "voice," from your recent decluttering and moving projects. Letting go creates an energy, almost a buoyancy in us. We feel lighter, less encumbered, and more creative in how we're living. I'm excited for you and the process you went through.
1/11/2021 12:14:02 pm
You are so right about the “lightness” that comes from letting go of things that no longer serve a purpose in our lives. It makes it easier to appreciate the things you truly love, and you feel happier in your space.
1/11/2021 12:46:58 pm
I love these benefits - especially the idea of using old things in new ways. I have an antique desk with drawers that over the years has served as: a place for linens, a school supply cabinet, a family command center, and of course, a desk. I recently cleared it out and now thank you notes live in the top of it - still decided about the empty drawers. :) Great post!
1/11/2021 01:51:58 pm
I love that! It's so fun to give new life to old things, and each new purpose seems to add to the character of the piece. Thanks for sharing!
1/11/2021 03:09:41 pm
This was a fabulous first-person account of all that decluttering can bring beyond, well, less clutter. I love how you repurposed your dresser, got rid of the unused craft supplies, and getting "reacquainted" with your stuff. You painted a delightfully vivid picture!
1/11/2021 03:18:21 pm
1/11/2021 07:09:19 pm
"I decided that I wasn't willing to pay the price in money or space to store stuff I hadn't used in years." Isn't that the truth! Sometimes it takes a move to bring that to our attention. Wishing you many happy times in your new space!
1/11/2021 07:42:32 pm
1/11/2021 08:01:23 pm
Its funny you mentioned having an inventory. That’s next on my to do list...
4/24/2022 06:50:03 pm
Opening up space for new possibilities was the benefit that really caught my attention the most. This is the kind of thing that could help us rearrange our house to be able to host house parties like other families do. To be able to achieve that, I'll look for a storage unit I can rent so we can keep all of the random items there until we dispose them/
4/26/2022 10:21:16 am
That is one of my favorite benefits as well. It is really refreshing to discover new ways of using your space and your belongings. I would caution you about renting a storage unit for random items "until we get rid of them." This can become a real money pit. Better to get rid of the items, if that is the eventual intent, and save the money. ;)
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