The movement toward minimalistic living is gaining momentum. Even those of us who have tended toward materialism may find that the sheer volume of things we own gets to be overwhelming. We don’t use much of what we have, and having too many possessions can lead to a kind of malaise.

If you want to declutter, the thought of doing it can be daunting. You might need some guidance – a few ideas to help you get started and work toward living a more minimalist life. Here are some suggestions that may help.

Stop Acquiring New Things

The first thing you need to do, especially if you are someone who loves shopping, is to stop acquiring new possessions. If you don’t bring it into your home in the first place, it can’t turn into clutter. One way to accomplish this is to keep a list of things you see when you’re out shopping, but don’t buy them. The act of making the list will prevent you from making impulse purchases. You can always go back and get items that you truly need, but the goal is not to buy things that are unnecessary.

Make a 2-for-1 Switch

If the notion of not shopping at all is too hard for you, then another option is to try a 2-for-1 exchange whenever you buy something new. Make a deal with yourself that for each new object you bring into your home, you will get rid of two old things.

At first, you may be tempted to cheat the system by getting rid of small, inconsequential things. However, if you stick to the 2-for-1 rule, it won’t take long until you start taking a hard look at bigger items and clearing them out.

Carve Out Time for Decluttering

The next tip is to make use of small pockets of time that already exist in your day, and use those moments to go through your belongings and start getting rid of things. For example, if you usually sit at the kitchen table while making your morning coffee, you can use the 5 or 10 minutes it takes to brew to sort through some things and make piles to donate, sell, or throw away.

The benefit of decluttering this way is that you only need to work for a few minutes. The notion of giving a big chunk of time to the process might not appeal to you, but anybody can spend five minutes doing a chore they dislike.

Sequester Items to Determine Their Importance

Are you the type of person who has a difficult time deciding to get rid of things even if you rarely or never use them? A trick that can help is to gather those items and place them in a box. Seal the box and date it, and put it away. Decide on a specific time period – say, six months to a year – and leave the box alone.

If at the end of the allotted time you have not opened the box or had any need for the items inside it, you should donate it without opening the box. If you do go back to the box for one item, leave the other items there and reseal it, leaving the same date in place.

Keep Only What You Love

The truth is that many of us have possessions for the sake of having them. They don’t bring us any particular satisfaction, and we may even hold onto things that we don’t like.

Perhaps the single best way to declutter is to keep the things that you love and get rid of everything else. This method was popularized in the book Kon-Mari, and it gets to the heart of the clutter problem that many of us experience. What is the point of having things if you don’t like them?

These five simple tips can help you take control of the clutter and reclaim your home. As you get rid of items, look for ways to organize things you are keeping. Building extra shelves, or using dividers in drawers, can help you keep items where they belong – and your home feeling clean and peaceful.

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