The Secret to Successful Decluttering

Minimalist kitchen You have decided to start your minimalism journey in your kitchen and you have your utensil drawer open and you are staring at the cluttered mess. You extract the potato masher but you use it often so you put it back into the chaos again. You take out the ladle and replace it. Then you spot the avocado de-stoner underneath everything – you really could live without that. But then again maybe you will start using it now you have found it again. So, back in it goes.

This is a soul-destroying way to tackle the problem because nothing is ending up in the eliminate pile, and confusion reigns. The only way to overcome this issue of indecision is to put a solid method in place. In my time decluttering my home, drawer by drawer and cupboard by cupboard, I have created a method that avoids overwhelm and gets the job done without any feelings of dread.

This is my step-by-step method:

  1. Remove every last thing from the drawer and place it all on the kitchen bench. Yes, even those twirly bits of wire for closing plastic bags.
  2. Next wipe out the drawer with a damp cloth.
  3. Now and only now, start picking up each item one by one and you ask yourself when you last used it. If it was within the last week, then place it neatly back in the drawer. If you haven’t used it in a while, place it in a second pile, which we will attack soon. No other decision is being made at this point. Just – yes, I use it all the time or not. Don’t panic though. You will soon have a second chance to possibly save a few more things. All duplicates go into the ‘no’ pile.
  4. As you go through every item, you will find things that shouldn’t be in there at all like hairclips or batteries or paper clips. Place all those in a separate area on the bench to be dealt with later.
  5. Once you have gone through everything, your drawer will look so clean and tidy with everything lined up like little soldiers that you will be reluctant to add anything, but let’s be sensible. Now you are going to go through the ’no, I haven’t used it in the last week’ pile and split it into two. The first pile is things you think you may need even if not immediately. The second pile is for things that you are pretty sure you will never use or which are duplicates. These can be put into a bag or carton and labelled for the local charity shop. The maybes will get placed in a box and stored in a cupboard in the house. If you find you need something from the box while cooking, then you take it out of the box and return it to the drawer. Everything that is still in the box after three months can go to that charity shop. This second chance for items removes the feeling of panic when you eliminate things all in one hit.
  6. The last thing you need to do is sort through that third pile of intruders and either toss them or return them to their correct places.

There you go, one drawer done and you can move onto the next. That one perfectly ordered drawer will give you a thrill every time you open it and you may find that you can actually reduce it even further but there is time for that later when you do your second pass through the house. For now, pat yourself on the back and tackle the next drawer.

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