If you recently discovered decluttering, you probably also discovered the joy and freedom it can bring. After reading books, watching YouTube clips, and signing up to online courses, you did a phenomenal job of simplifying your belongings.
Perhaps it took months or even years to get to where you are now. Or maybe you just finished The Mins game. Whatever your level of decluttering and the length it took, the hype of finishing it is over, and you might be left feeling a bit lost.
This is a common experience after taking on such a big and often life-changing task. Your journey was likely difficult, emotional and rewarding, all at once.
The aftermath of a big declutter in 2016 left me feeling raw. Happy, but raw. I felt elated and exhausted all at once. But most of all, I wondered what the heck I should be doing next? Fairly new to the concepts of minimalism and mindful living, I had to make a conscious choice to keep the momentum going.
Life After Decluttering
Decluttering can be rewarding but also leave as exhausted and asking, what next? Here are some steps to help you maintain a simpler, more intentional life:
1. Celebrate your victory.
A step worth taking but often missed. Go ahead and do something to celebrate your achievement. Acknowledge the hard work you did both physically and emotionally to pare down to what you have now. Throw a party in your newfound minimal digs or simply take yourself on a coffee date and spend a few mindful moments patting yourself on the back.
2. Give yourself a break.
Ensure that you’ve given yourself a breather. Downtime to recover from such a big task. I guarantee you have a big dose of decision fatigue by now so put things on automate as much as possible and put your feet up. Give your brain a the rest it deserves.
3. Remember that decluttering is never done for good.
This is particularly true for those of us with families. It’s simply impossible to control every item each family member brings into the home. But you can start to put some boundaries and rules in place. Perhaps you could employ the ‘touch it once’ rule. Remember that free items might not be as ‘free’ as initially thought! That casserole dish you accepted from your great grandmother may cost you mental space and time in the future. Or perhaps you need a sign for your letterbox so you don’t have junk mail piling up on your kitchen bench.
4. Understand the truth about physical decluttering.
Decluttering your belongings is often the starting point for many people who have chosen to seek a slower, simpler life. Perhaps you need a digital declutter too.
5. Develop an ongoing strategy.
Spend some time considering what you need to enforce so that you don’t let history repeat itself. Maybe you need to consider a shopping ban? I strongly recommend asking yourself why you decided to declutter in the first place. Your purpose or why may have got lost lost on the way. Find your why again and let it lead your strategy. Perhaps your why was so you could spend more time with loved ones. Every time you consider purchasing something ask yourself if the thing your are buying (or the time you need to work to pay for it) will take you away from time spent with loved ones.
6. Write about your journey.
This may help you work through some of the raw emotions that came up, particularly if you were dealing with sentimental items. Writing about your decluttering will likely serve as a cathartic and enlightening process and give you some closure to this part of your journey so you can move on to the next step.
7. Embark on a creative mission.
Note I haven’t said ‘get a hobby’ here. Sometimes getting a new hobby sounds overwhelming, but choosing to do something creative every day is far more achievable. We are all creative beings with something to offer the world. After a big decluttering journey you likely have some spare time due to the lack of organizing and cleaning you now need to do. So why not dedicate this newfound freedom to creating something.
8. Use your freedom to explore the world.
Perhaps you have decluttered enough that you can use that extra time or money traveling? But even if you didn’t quite get to tiny home status then simply explore your local environment. Walk outside barefoot and use your free time to notice things you’ve never seen before.
9. Help and encourage others.
Your friends and family have likely watched your journey with a mixture of amazement and envy. Perhaps their homes are bursting at the seams and they have no idea where to begin. Well, you do. So go forth and teach them. You don’t have to be the resident psychologist on Hoarders to show them the joy in decluttering. Lead by example and be available for questions.
And above all, relish in that deep joy and freedom that can come when we let go of the things that don’t matter to make way for what does.