[ By Terry Saw ]
Did you know? On average, Malaysian families spend RM4,534 a month on household expenditures in 2019 (a significant increase from RM4,033 in 2016)*. From this figure, approximately 30% was spent on recreation, entertainment, retail and miscellaneous goods and services each month, contributing to high chances of material accumulation in our homes over the years! And let’s be honest – did we really need that extra pair of shoes or a second TV, or perhaps bulk-buying non-perishables because it was simply on sale? You are not alone.
While the occasional retail splurges or recreational treats are important for a well-rounded and balanced family life, this weekend, we invite you to do a quick check-in – when was the last time you did a proper spring clean of your home (or your budget)?
With just a few weeks to go before we bid goodbye to a rather challenging year, there is no better time than now to make meaningful lifestyle adjustments – starting from your home – to set the tone for more intentional living come 2021. And here’s our mini guide to get you started in three easy steps:
STEP 1 : Understand The Relationship Between Clutter And Your Mental
Life is challenging (read: exciting!) enough as it is, without having the material ‘stuff’ get in our way. In a podcast hosted by popular simple-living gurus, The Minimalists speak to doctors from Nourish Balance Thrive on the link between excess material possessions and our mental health – here, we highlight the key takeaways as the first self-discovery step to your decluttering journey:
Are you (intentionally) holding on to excess?
If you haven’t used something in the past 3-6 months, chances are, you can let it go. The habit of holding on to items that are collecting dust in your store room or taking up precious space in storage ‘just in case’ can be a tell-tale sign of insecurity or instability in other aspects of our lives that are worth investigating.
RC Asks : Is there a health, career, creative or financial block in your life that is causing some discomfort or dissatisfaction? This imbalance could be the lead cause behind your need to overcompensate by keeping or acquiring more material things in your life.
Are you a victim of the ‘invisible competition’?
If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media or obsessing over highly curated parts of your friends’ lives on Facebook only to be left feeling lesser than, chances are, you’re allowing yourself to fall prey to the competitive nature of materialism and it’s time for a serious reality check!
RC Asks: Find yourself using retail therapy as a form of escape or a temporary self-soothing tool? Or perhaps you feel the pressure to ‘keep up’ and find yourself chasing unrealistic, misrepresented ideals when it comes to your material world? Remember what you see online may not necessarily be the real story of people’s lives – be protective of your own energy and notice how the content you are consuming is affecting you. Make an empowered choice to focus on improving your own life instead.
Getting to the root causes of your cluttering habits not only helps you understand yourself and the key issues in your life a little better, but also helps you realign your purpose and identify what is really worth your time. By extension, this can help improve your state of mind over time – the lesser the clutter, the better it can be for your mental health.
Listen: Health Problems by The Minimalists: Listen to the full podcast here.
Read: Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze
STEP 2 : Start Decluttering Now To Experience Life-changing Benefits In 3…2…1…
So, you’re excited for a new change but don’t know where to start? Fret not – we recommend the following tried-and-tested suggestions, with a method each to suit different personalities.
If you are more relaxed or prefer to take things slower…
The 30-Day Minimalism Game is perfect for you. Highly effective without overwhelming you at the beginning, this method turns spring cleaning into a fun game by introducing incremental decluttering. For example on the 1st of December, you let go of one item you no longer need and on the 2nd of December, you let go of two items and on it goes as the days progress. By the end of the month, you’ll be surprised to see how much you are able to part with – oh, hello, newfound space!
RC Says: This method eases you into the practice by breaking it into smaller, more achievable milestones and is perfect to get your children involved as well – make a family day or activity out of it.
If you are a fast-paced high-achiever who is constantly on the go…
Try out the KonMari method. A proven favourite by legions of fans, Marie Kondo employs the ‘one shot’ decluttering method with her highly popularized KonMari fold, preferring to spring clean messy wardrobes or overwhelming clutter in home spaces in one big swoop instead of the intermittent tidying up.
Highly organized, she breaks the process down in order of categories, what you want to keep or say goodbye to (with gratitude) before proceeding to guide you on the importance of finding a dedicated space for everything in your home so they ‘belong’.
RC Says: This method is great if you want visible results on the very same day, but we suggest setting aside a full day if the KonMari way resonates with you so you have ample time to complete the exercise without the task feeling like a chore if you are strapped for time.
Watch: Master the Mess Series on Closet Organization by Hello Sunshine
Some of the key benefits you can expect from decluttering your home, and your life from the get-go:
- Reduced levels of anxiety: Simply by letting go of things which no longer serves you or your family means you more space to breathe and think. You’ll find that your mind and thoughts will be less triggered or overwhelmed by the visual cues in and around you. Plus, you’ll be able to think clearly and make better day-to-day decisions. More moments of calm, peace and mental clarity? This way please.
- Improved harmony in your home: Imagine not having to argue as much with your spouse about misplaced items amidst the usual chaos or yell at your children about tidying up their toys and belongings because now everything has an allocated space post-spring cleaning? Sounds good doesn’t it? We think so too.
- Finding new wisdom (and gems): More often than not, a proper spring clean will help us uncover many surprising gems (items we bought but may have forgotten about along the way). These discoveries can serve as important reminders when we get the impulse to go shopping the next time: Is this necessary in my life right now? Do I need – or simply want it?
- Higher savings and perception of value: By starting to be mindful of what you decide to keep, you’re ensuring that only things of high value earns a place in your home. Over time, you’ll also start making thoughtful purchases, and soon, without realizing, you’ll end up with more savings at the end of the month that could go towards meaningful experiences or things that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
STEP 3 : Make The Practice A Part Of Your New Lifestyle
Congratulations! So, now you have a neater, cleaner and more spacious home – what’s next? As with any healthy habit that is worth forming (and keeping), it is crucial that you practice consistency. Practice makes perfect after all – even when it comes to decluttering. Here are a couple of suggestions we have to make sure this new habit sticks with you for a long time to come for all the best reasons:
- The One-In-One-Out rule: For every new item you bring into your home post-spring cleaning, try removing, recycling or giving away one item to keep a healthy balance.
- Rinse and repeat: Schedule a repeating time or day in your calendar for frequent check-ins to see if you need a quick tidy up or a bigger spring cleaning exercise. This does not only help you create a lasting habit, but also helps keep the task more manageable as you go.
Remember, a long-term decluttering practice is a marathon, not a sprint, so be kind to yourself, keep your goals realistic, attainable and continuously motivating for yourself and the family. Here’s to cleaner homes, healthier minds and more harmonious lives as we gear up for 2021 because sometimes living with less is the true realization of how you already have more than enough in ways you didn’t realize – until now.
For more information on ways to dispose (or giveaway) your items responsibly:
*Reference based on the latest information from the Department of Statistics Malaysia.