Dealing with the overwhelm of decluttering the stuff you no longer need can be difficult and frustrating, especially if you have never experienced "the other side" - an organised home that boosts your confidence and relaxes your mind.
A 2013 Wall Street Journal article titled "A Closet Filled With Regrets" suggested that only 20 percent of the clothes in the average person's closet are worn on a regular basis. Makes us wonder, do we REALLY need all those things we have been hoarding over the years?
When your space is organised, you reduce stress and overwhelm and gain a sense of calm from your surroundings. You save tons of time and energy otherwise spent sorting through things and maintaining what you own. You also clear your headspace of clutter, which allows you to focus on the things that are important.
Because many of us want to be more organised but do not know where to begin, we have put together this easy-to-follow guide to turning your home into a stress-free haven.
Start by getting rid of excess things
To declutter your belongings by category, grab every single item you own of a particular type and pile them in one place; for instance, pull out all the books you have stashed in different places around the house. This method is thorough and allows you compare all items of a similar type.
If that sounds overwhelming, declutter by location instead: tackle one room, closet or drawer at a time. This is less taxing although less effective.
Get rid of anything you do not need or use regularly (especially if you have not used it in a year), items you have duplicates of, anything of poor quality or that no longer suits your taste and lifestyle. Dump the items you no longer need in boxes to share with family and friends, donate or sell later.
If you are emotionally attached to certain possessions and find the process difficult, try taking photos to preserve the memories associated before getting rid of them.
Organise your belongings by category and usage
Once you are rid of the excess, designate a place for the remaining items and organise everything in its place.
Assign each category a home, for example, a particular shelf or box for all your medication or electronic gadgets. That way, when you need a spare charger, you will not have to turn the entire place upside down looking for one.
Keep your everyday items in plain sight or at least at eye level. Regular items like your work attire should be accessible and easy to put back after use.
Things you use rarely, seasonally or only on special occasions, can be tucked away in the harder to reach spaces like the top shelves you need a ladder to access, or in storage.
Turn unused space into storage heaven
Space is a precious commodity in our ever-accumulating homes so make use of every nook and cranny to carve out that extra storage.
Suitcases take up lots of space and are perfect to store seasonal or special occasion clothing. Buy a bed frame with drawers or store lesser-used items in clear containers under the bed.
Put small purses inside large handbags to make your collection look neater. And if you are looking to buy extra seating, go for a bench or ottoman that doubles up as a clever storage unit.
The space behind your doors is perfect to put up hook racks or hang closet organisers, which can be used for multiple purposes like storing beauty products, toys and even food items in your kitchen pantry.
Floating shelves installed above your bed or along the perimeter of any walls take up little to no space, but can display everything from books and lamps to favourite framed photos.
That dead space under your sink? Stash all your cleaning supplies or go the extra mile to equip the space with shelves or baskets to maximise storage.
Get organising tools to make it fun and easy to maintain
Label stickers are an organiser's best friend. Even if you think you will remember, mark items and boxes with easy-to-read descriptions so there is no second-guessing later on.
This is especially helpful if you have a gazillion keys like I do, most of which I only need once or twice a year and can never remember the purpose of. Labelling also helps your family find what they are looking for and put them back where they belong.
If you have a ton of things stashed away in storage, it is useful to make a list or take pictures of these items in their labelled containers. Basically, create a home inventory to remember what is where, so you are not constantly buying duplicates.
Use clear (see-through) containers - pouches, zip-locks bags and boxes - to store your belongings, which make it easy to identify contents at a glance. If you would like to add a pop of colour to your organisation, Gulshan Market and Miniso have nice storage and organisation products that are not only functional but aesthetically pleasing too.
An organisation app I personally love is Stylebook, which allows users to photograph every item of clothing and accessory they own, and take control of their wardrobe. You can use it to put together outfits while stuck in traffic, or track similar items to avoid directionless shopping. After documenting my belongings, I faced the hard truth: half of my wardrobe is yellow and I really needed to stop buying jeans.
Donate, sell or share with loved ones
Pass on your pre-loved belongings to family and friends, sell on Bikroy, or donate to an appropriate charity, for example, Pashe Achi by CSR Window that collects clothes directly from your door and distributes to the underprivileged.
Make sure you only donate items that are new, unused, or 'gently used', which means items that are in good condition, clean, and presentable. Avoid donating items in disrepair that do not work properly, are missing parts or are ripped, torn or stained. If you cannot use the item in its current state, neither can someone else.
Establish habits to maintain a clutter-free home
Staying organised is an ongoing process as our needs, preferences and seasons of life constantly change. Not to mention, storage is finite; continuing to collect eventually leads us back to clutter and chaos.
Keep a donation bag or box handy at all times. Every time I try on a piece of clothing and find it no longer fits, is unflattering or out of style, I put it in the bag. Once the bag is full, I donate the clothes.
Set limits for everything. Assign things like sentimental items and craft supplies to a single shelf or box, then let the designated area's size dictate how much you keep. Allow yourself no more than, say, five pairs of jeans or fifteen pairs of shoes.
Establish routines to keep your home clutter-free. Get in the habit of tidying up your everyday "zones" on a nightly basis, organising your regularly used items and incoming paperwork each month, and doing a full declutter once a year to make sure things do not pile up again.
As you go along, keeping your home tidy will take less effort, giving you more time to live and enjoy your life, and not just clean up after it.