A couple of months back, sitting in my messy office, wearing the same black sweater I wear on most Zoom calls, I looked around at my disorganized desk and knew I had to make some changes. The mess had gotten out of control and it was beyond time to simplify my home. So I embarked on a quest to do just that.
I’m not a minimalist or a professional organizer, but I am someone who has recently found some peace in a home formerly filled with way too much stuff. If you want to learn how to simplify your home, read on for the ten things I used to organize mine. If I can do it, anyone can!
But before I dive into how to simplify your home by using my tips, let me tell you what made me decide to tidy up my space.
Why I decided to simplify my home
Like most people, I’ve never spent as much time in my home as I have over the last couple of years. That trend looks to continue as remote work appears here to stay for many people.
Since I’ll continue to spend so much time there, I decided it was finally time to simplify my home for a two key reasons:
To have a home that reflects who I am today
I owned things I hadn’t used in two years and couldn’t imagine using going forward. Can you relate? For example, these past few years have made it abundantly clear that I no longer need a closet full of suits.
I’d rather have a smaller wardrobe that reflects who I am today than a giant one that I have no use for.
A desire for more peace
No matter how much time you spend at home, your home should be your sanctuary. A place where you can go to relax, de-stress and find peace. Mine wasn’t giving off those vibes, so it was time for a change.
Instead of buying more to make my home a peaceful place, I decided to simplify it. Before adding to your life, it’s often a good idea to take things away first to see if that’s the solution.
Even if your life hasn’t changed much recently, there are so many reasons why you might want to simplify your home.
10 Things I did to simplify my home
Ready to get started? Simplifying your home doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You can try out just one of these ten things that I did to simplify my home.
Wait and see how much of a difference even one change can make!
1. Developed a selling and donation strategy right off the bat
When you start a simplification or decluttering process, it’s good to have a strategy. What will you do with all of the stuff you’re getting rid of? It was important for me to know exactly how I would get rid of things.
This way they didn’t sit around in piles or boxes, adding to my clutter.
Everyone’s selling, donation, and trash strategy will be different. You have to know yourself. I knew I wasn’t going to spend time listing items on Craigslist or eBay, or having a garage sale.
These are great ways to declutter and make some extra cash, but not something I had the time for. Instead, I decided I would donate my clothes, give away larger things like furniture or kitchen gadgets to friends, and be honest about things that were truly trash and put them there.
Having this strategy from the get-go was the best way to simplify my home without thinking about every item as I decluttered.
2. Tried not to obsess over “wasted” money
When I first began to declutter and simplify my home, I was energized and excited about all of the stuff I was getting rid of. Soon, disappointment set in. I realized how many things I’d spent money on that were useless to me now. What a waste!
Not to mention the environmental impact of the trash I was disposing of. I quickly realized that beating myself up was doing absolutely no good. I’d spent the money and wasn’t getting any of it back, and there was nothing I could do about that.
The only thing I could do about the waste I’d created was to vow to do better in the future by living more sustainably and being more intentional with my purchases.
3. Simplified the closet by starting small
Simplifying your home will likely involve decluttering your closet. That can be a daunting task! At least, it was for me. When it was time to tackle my clothes, I decided the only way I was going to make any progress was to start small.
That meant starting with just my sock and underwear drawers. I got rid of things with holes in them, that I hadn’t worn in years, and socks with no matching pair.
And while I didn’t get around to purging all of my clothes, I was able to get the ball rolling on my simplification process by starting with a tiny project.
Remember, taking the time to clear out small areas of your closet or home can add up over time, so it’s never a waste to start small!
4. Recognized the areas that were difficult and enlisted help
Hands-down, the most difficult things to declutter for me are sentimental items. I’m somewhat of a collector and place so much value in things and the memories I attach to them. Sentimental items tend to be the area I always skip over when simplifying my home.
But there comes a point when you have so many sentimental items that they become clutter, too. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to declutter them on my own, so I enlisted the help of my husband.
It was helpful to go through the items together and talk through my memories. It made me realize that I was hanging on to some things that didn’t have positive memories attached to them or that were multiples!
He also helped me let go of my guilt over getting rid of these things. In the end, when simplifying your home, you’ll have your own areas of difficulty. Having someone to help you keep an open mind can be very helpful.
5. Implemented the “two-minute” rule to simplify my home
You’d be amazed at home much you can clean or simplify in two minutes or less. I certainly was when I started to implement the two-minute rule for cleaning.
It’s simple – if you have two minutes while waiting for something or switching tasks, you use it to clean up whatever is around you. Now, basically any time I have a minute or two to spare, I’m always putting something away.
The result? A much simpler and less-cluttered home.
6. Did a major makeup overhaul
Another by-product of the pandemic? People are wearing less makeup than ever, even once we’ve returned to our somewhat normal lives and jobs outside the house.
I certainly fell into this category, as I’ve transitioned to a much more minimal makeup look. And yet, I was still hanging on to a pretty large makeup collection.
I decided to go through it and toss anything old or crusty and even some nicer things that I just don’t use anymore. This took almost no time and was very satisfying.
Instead of fishing through tubes and tubes of lipstick, I now have a streamlined collection of just what I want and actually use.
7. Didn’t forget about the pantry!
In any past quests to simplify my home, I’ve always ignored the kitchen. It turns out, though, that clutter can hide in your kitchen cabinets, too. This time, I went through my pantry and did two things:
First, I took everything out, put it on the counter, and made a couple of piles. Anything past its expiration date went in the trash, and anything that nobody in the house ate (like cans of tuna) was donated.
Then, I took an inventory of what was left. Usually, I would have stopped there, but in the spirit of really simplifying, I took note of what we had and planned meals around those items.
Not only did this help to simplify the pantry, but my grocery bill for the next few weeks was significantly less than usual.
8. Created a decluttering bin for all of the things that didn’t yet have a home
As I simplified and decluttered, I got rid of tons of things. But there were also some things I wanted to keep but didn’t know where to put them.
Normally, I would have shoved these things into the back of a closet or left them wherever they were. Not this time!
I created a dedicated decluttering bin where I put all of the things that didn’t yet have a designated place. That way, I could deal with them later. In the meantime, they had a temporary home.
Later on, I figured out where it worked best to store them, and, if needed, I bought the appropriate storage containers (more on that below!) to house them.
9. Went through all of my bookshelves
As someone who loves to learn, I had a lot of books. They’ve served me so well, but I was hanging on to so many that I either never read or ones that I will never read again. I even had some old textbooks collecting dust!
The solution was simple – I simplified my shelves by donating those I’ll never read again. It was easier than ever to do this because I know I have access to all of those books, and so many more, for free on my kindle through my library.
10. Bought organizing tools at the end of the process
Lastly, I did everything I’ve written about above before buying even one storage bin or another organizational tool. Why? Simple – because those bins and boxes just add to the clutter and chaos until you have a real purpose for them.
Only once you’ve simplified do you truly know what you need to organize. Until then, I found it more helpful to focus on clearing the clutter and creating a peaceful space for myself and my family.
Simplifying your home is an ongoing process
Learning how to simplify your home isn’t done in a day – it’s a process. Some things to keep in mind as you go about simplifying your home:
It’s important to get in the habit of regularly editing your stuff
If you want to simplify your home and keep it that way, you need to make decluttering a part of your daily life. Make the commitment to regularly prune your things and you’ll be thankful for your simplified home year-round.
Buy only what you need
So that you don’t fall back into having a messy or disorganized home, commit to buying only what you need. By reducing the amount of clutter you bring into your home, simplifying your home will remain a breeze.
Remember – it’s not about perfection
Finally, simplifying your home is not about perfection or becoming a minimalist. It’s about simplifying your space for you, whether that’s creating a maximalist space, a minimalist one, or something in between.
Try these tips I used to simplify my home to make organizing yours easier!
Hopefully, with these tips on how to simplify your home, you’re a little closer to living in a space that reflects who you are, brings you peace, and is filled with things that bring you joy!