Five Things to Declutter During a Pandemic
When you’re spending a lot of time at home in isolation, decluttering might seem like a great idea. You may have more time on your hands than usual, and you’re definitely in the right place.
But are you in the right headspace to declutter?
Sure, it’s tempting to get your house in order while normal life is suspended. But the uncertainty that lies in the months ahead could mean many of us don’t feel confident making big decisions about what items we want to keep, and what we want to let go of.
Despite this, there are some things that you can declutter that likely won’t require big decisions, and won’t see you chucking out your grandmother’s antique dinner set in a sudden fit of enthusiasm. The key is to focus on items you’ve been meaning to tackle, that you know you don’t need.
1. Cosmetics and Skincare
If there’s one thing a lot of us are doing in lockdown, it’s self-care. But before you place that next skincare order, spend some time reviewing what you already have.
Gather all of your cosmetics together and declutter them by category. Throw out anything that’s expired, that you don’t enjoy using, or that isn’t right for your skin. You’ll probably be surprised by how much obvious clutter you’ve collected – think hotel soaps, blunt razors, and mouldy toiletry bags you haven’t used for years.
TIP: If you haven’t used much of a product but find it doesn’t suit your skin or you’re not really a bath salts person, think about putting it aside to pass along to a friend who might have a different skin type. Otherwise, visit Terracycle to see if you can recycle your empties.
Self care doesn’t mean abundance
If you’re spending more time on your devices at the moment, you’re not alone. So why not put all that screen time to good use by doing a digital declutter? For a start, we all have way too many photos on our phone. Start by deleting the ones you know you don’t need – the out-of-focus, the unflattering, unhappy memories, and all those old screenshots you’ve been hoarding.
Next, declutter your inbox. Delete anything you don’t need to keep, and unsubscribe from mail-outs you don’t read. Organise your folders, deleting any that are redundant, and start filing all of your other emails into the relevant folders. The only emails that should remain in your inbox are those waiting to be actioned – your inbox should function like an in-tray or ‘pending’ folder.
Rediscover joy in cooking
3. The pantry
Unsurprisingly, the pantry may have been a site of some anxiety for many of us in the past month or two. If you stocked up on items prior to lockdown you may have lost track of what you have, so an inventory is in order.
Most importantly, rediscover joy in cooking. It’s a great way to relax, to nourish yourself and your family, and keep your immunity levels high. It also lends structure to the day which is helpful when you may not be leaving the house much, and when the lines between work, home, and school might be blurred. Cooking is also a great way to keep kids occupied, and you’ll be teaching them a vital skill.
4. Your “To Do” List
In this blog post, I recommended decluttering excess tasks to free up your time and mental capacity. Conveniently, perhaps lockdown has made you realise that there are some things in your normal life that you don’t actually miss all that much.
Some might be obvious, like commuting, but others might be more surprising.
This is a unique (and likely once in a lifetime) opportunity to go back to basics and clarify for yourself what you value, what your ‘true north’ is. Go for a long, contemplative walk, write lists of what you’re missing and not missing, and maybe even do some journaling.
However you do it, try to capture your reflections in writing, so that in the future when things are back to normal and you find yourself going off course and doing things you don’t really like or need to, you can return to your personal values.
Capture your reflections in writing
5. Sentimental items
These items are often the hardest to declutter. If you’re feeling up to it, use the time you have and go for it. As with anything else, if you don’t wish to use or look at these items normally, you may never want to and it might be best to let them go.
But if you’re not entirely sure, try using Courtney Carver’s ‘defer’ option. Rather than discarding more emotionally-charged items straight away, try boxing them up and tucking them away. Set a reminder on your phone to revisit these items in six months, and if you haven’t missed them then you know you are ready to discard. After all, with op shops closed you may have difficulty disposing of them at the moment.
All in all, now is a great time to declutter manageable categories that you’ve been putting off. Remember, as with any decluttering, the focus shouldn’t be on just throwing things away, but should be on recognising what you love and value, and keeping it in your life.