The busyness of life can prevent us from realising just how much clutter we have accumulated and how it has transformed our living space into a stressful and overwhelming environment. Fortunately, the emergence of a specialised industry focused on decluttering and organising has provided guidance on how we can find order and peace in our homes and lives.
In a world filled with disorder and uncertainty, home should be a place of solace and not a cluttered mess. Gretchen Rubin, an acclaimed writer and one of the most influential and thought-provoking observers of happiness and human nature, said that "Outer order contributes to inner calm". However, where do you start when the piles of 'stuff' seem daunting and intimidating?
To make this colossal task more manageable, it helps to break it down into smaller, achievable tasks. There are four steps that can help you successfully reset your home:
Make a Decluttering Plan
Before you start physically organising, it's essential to prepare mentally for the task at hand. To do so, it's helpful to consider your motivation, goals, vision for each room and how to explain the process to the entire family.
Anticipating potential challenges in advance and understanding how much time each project will take can help you stay on track and overcome any obstacles Maintaining a positive mindset, going at a sustainable pace and focusing on the progress you are making will help greatly along the way.
The next step is to sort the items into four different groups: Keep, Sell, Donate and Discard.
Keep: Consider whether each item you come across is something you truly love and use, whether you have unnecessary multiples, and if it supports the room’s purpose or your current lifestyle. If you haven't used or remembered an item within the past six to 12 months, it's unlikely that you will use it in the future, and you should consider donating or discarding.
Sell: Many people find selling items more frustrating than it's worth. However, you can make money if you are realistic and willing to put in the effort. Facebook Marketplace is a popular way to sell items in Cayman along with Ecaytrade and Cayman High End. If you decide to sell, set an end date and if you haven't sold the items by then, consider donating the items to a charity shop or those in need.
Donate: There are well-known charities across Grand Cayman that operate thrift shops, such as The Red Cross, The Humane Society and Good Deeds, all of which receive many donations every week. It is a good idea to call ahead of delivering items to see what type and volume of donations these charities can accept, otherwise you risk them dumping the excess. There is also a useful community group on Facebook called ‘FreeBee Cayman’ where giveaway items can be posted for collection by individuals.
Discard & Trash: Decluttering is not complete until you have properly disposed of the items you no longer need. There are several options available for handling the things you have decluttered. If it is old electronics, then E-Waste Cayman Islands Ltd. (Tel: (345) 916 6764) will collect your items for a small fee. If it is brass, copper, aluminium or auto scrap then Island Recycling (Tel: (345) 516 3333) will buy it off you. Alternatively, you can just take things to the dump. However, please remember that discarding rubbish in undesignated areas is illegal!
Next, group items according to their function and store them in the most suitable spaces. By doing this, you can establish an intuitive and logical routine that makes it easy to locate items and promptly return them to their designated spot. Once the items are contained and placed in their optimal location, you can focus on the aesthetics to make your newly organised space visually appealing.
A range of storage containers can then be utilised to keep the items organised and contained. They come in a variety of materials, including plastic (transparent and opaque), natural fibres like water hyacinth, hemp and burlap, a mix of woods like bamboo, cedar and pine, metals and cloth. You can use a combination of these containers to create a functional effect that is also pleasing to the eye. Essential storage solutions include bins, baskets, boxes, turntables, trays, risers, wall mounted and hanging solutions. Custom Closets offer a variety of these storage solutions which pair well with their organising systems for closets, hallways, garages, pantries and laundry rooms.
Expensive or fancy containers are not always necessary for every organisational need. You can repurpose existing boxes that you might otherwise discard. For example, shoe boxes work nicely in deeper drawers, while the lids of the same shoe boxes can be used to organise shallower drawers.
Once you’ve put in the effort to declutter and organise your home, how do you keep it that way? There are daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routines you can implement to prevent clutter from overtaking your space again, as well as some general guidelines to keep in mind.
Daily Refresh: In high-traffic areas like the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, keep a ‘catch-all’ basket. Throughout the day, quickly toss items that are out of place. Before winding down for the night, spend 10 minutes carrying the basket around to each room and reinstating priority items needed for the next day. You can leave any remaining items for the next day, as the idea is to perform a quick refresh rather than a full reset.
Weekly Reset: Perform a weekly reset alongside your regular cleaning day. While cleaning, look for out-of-place items to add to the 'catch-all' basket, items that need to be restocked or discarded, and so on.
Monthly/Quarterly Organising: Dedicate one day a month, preferably not on your cleaning day, to edit one room at a time. Every four months, scan your house for items you have duplicates of and/or have not used for six months or more and compile an ongoing list. Decide which items to donate, sell or discard. If you're uncertain about some items, keep them on your list and leave them for the next quarterly check-in. This will help gradually reduce the redundant or unnecessary items you have to store.
Yearly Purge: Annually, perform another major purge using the keep, donate, sell or discard filters. Make a comprehensive decluttering list of rooms and items to go through. It will be easier this time around if you have been habitually maintaining your home daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly.
Clutter Policing: The best way to prevent a build-up of clutter is to avoid bringing it inside in the first place! One way to achieve this is the ‘one-in-one-out’ method, where for every (non-perishable) item you bring into your house, you choose one thing to discard, donate or sell in its place. Your need for storage of new items should not increase if, for example, you get rid of an old pair of shoes before buying new ones.
By thinking of ways to reduce waste, you can simultaneously minimise untidiness. Simplifying your life in the above ways can not only benefit you financially but also provide peace of mind and comfort that far outweigh the stress of figuring out where to store excessive belongings.