Now motivated to make my apartment truly a new space and reflect more of who I am as person, my first job was to declutter the entire place. Before going home, I stopped at the gas station across the street to buy a box of the kitchen trash bags since I had a feeling I would need more than a few grocery and recycled Target bags for my project ahead of me. Decluttering a 750 square foot apartment may not seem like a big job, but after living somewhere for three years, it turns out even the neatest of people can become pack rats.
As embarrassing as it is, below are a few photos of my apartment before I dove into any of the project. As you can see it doesn’t look too cluttered compared to other homes or home-makeover TV shows, but for someone with limited space in an urban area, it was bad. Somehow I hid most of my junk in “organized piles” throughout my apartment so the typical house guest may not notice. That said, after taking these photos, I’m not sure how more people didn’t comment on the messiness of my home! Let’s take a look, shall we?
The mess doesn’t stop there, but instead somehow gets worse when I opened my closets. The piles of junk and stuff accumulated over time went to the ceiling and because my closets have doors, I hardly noticed because I would just shut out the clutter.
After surveying all of the work ahead of me, I decided to come up with a few principles for myself.
- Set manageable goals
- Think like a minimalist
- Organize all kept items
Set Manageable Goals
If you think of a project such as renewing your space by decluttering and redecorating, it can be overwhelming to think of the whole picture. For me, when I think of the whole project I tend to not accomplish anything because I can tend to get lost in where to start.
When you set manageable goals for yourself that you can accomplish, it’s easier to see how the full picture of the project can come together. For example, my first night of decluttering was a lofty goal, but I knew I was motivated enough to accomplish it. The goal was to go through the box by bed, both closets in my bedroom and declutter then reorganize the things I had decided to keep. My goal the following night was to declutter my linen closet and coat closet near my entry way. The third goal for my decluttering process was to organize my living room cabinets that housed incredibly old papers from college classes and other types of junk.
Think Like a Minimalist
A lot of people tend to collect things, whether you realize it or not. Before long, you’ve collected clothes, bags, shoes, mail, etc. The key to thinking like a minimalist is to realize that your things do not define who you are and that you can live just as happily on less. This mindset also allows for less “piles of stuff” hidden around your apartment. Let’s be honest here, that in urban living you need to maximize the amount of space you’re given and useless junk cannot be taking up precious square footage.
The minimalist mindset leads to being able to throw away several bags of garbage and donate gently used items to charity. During my three days of decluttering I threw away 10 bags of trash and donated 12 bags to Goodwill. Since the donate section was so large, I needed to take two trips to the local Goodwill. I also took a large box that once held my old Xcel Energy, Comcast, and utilities bills to Half Price Books filled with unwanted books and college textbooks.
Organize All Kept Items
As your pile of clutter lays in front of you on the floor, it can sometimes be difficult to decide what to throw, donate or keep. For me I decided that any paper products such as mail, notebooks or books should be either donated or thrown away if it was older or not used for more than 6 months. That allowed for my mini bookshelf to reduce to 1/3 the size. In terms of hand bags or shoes, or bedding I decided that if it was one of the items that I continue to carry around from place to place, but never use I was going to either throw or donate it this round of cleaning. I truly dug through every inch of my apartment to find any place where I could throw or donate something to truly say “out with the old and in with the new.”
Now that I got rid of the majority of junk within my apartment, I know exactly where everything is in my apartment and tried to put it all in a place that made sense for it to go, or at least in my own head. It’s easier to keep track of my things now because there is actual space around what is organized and therefore is easier to know where everything is placed within my apartment.
I didn’t realize that decluttering a 750 square apartment would be so much work and would actually tire you out physically. Each night I my head hit the pillow and my feet were raised my body screamed at me, but my mind was at ease with the accomplishments of truly taking ahold of my space and making it my own again. Yes, this was the beginning of my feng shui, renew my living space project and it felt amazing.
I would challenge anyone to use the three principles I followed to create their own safe haven within their existing space. Message me with your thoughts!