We all like to declutter. Putting away the laundry, sorting through the mail pile, reorganizing that Beanie Baby collection that’s definitely going to be worth millions some day… There are few things more satisfying. In fact, there used to be a whole time of year dedicated to it: “spring cleaning,” they called it. (Wait, that’s still a thing? Well, not around here, it’s not.)
Still, it can seem like an endless chore, so some people have taken a new approach. Extreme decluttering has hit peak popularity recently with shows like “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” and their book precursors. But what is it? Why do people do it? And could it be right for you? Let’s explore and see if we can spark some joy of our own.
Extreme decluttering essentially consists of two elements. Part one is taking inventory of all your stuff. For real, all of it. Keep everything you need, a few things you want, and trash all the rest. (Don’t literally trash it. Please donate anything non-gross.) The process gets tweaked with each method; Marie Kondo says to keep only the things that “spark joy,” while Swedish Death Cleaning says to imagine what your loved ones will inherit when you die, and get rid of anything they won’t want. Either way, the core principle persists.
Part two is more difficult than the already arduous part one, because it requires a change of habit. Quit bringing in stuff that you kind of like, and focus only on what you love. Is that garden gnome sooo cute that it just has to be the 127th in your collection? Is that bedazzled blazer such a good price that you can’t afford not to buy it? Nuh uh, stop right there. Your extreme decluttering alarm should be blaring. Awoogah! The fewer garden gnomes you have, the more special each one is. So stop hoarding them like Pokémon. You do not, in fact, gotta catch ‘em all. Same goes for clothes, furniture, books, photos… anything that takes up space.
We can all agree that rampant consumerism is a problem, yes? We’re convinced that we need more stuff from our earliest cognisant moments. Commercials advertise the newest toys, gadgets, and apps at every turn. (Check out the freemium game model if you’re curious about why your kids endlessly harangue you for Robux.) It’s no wonder, then, that we’ve been wired to accrue stuff!
Extreme decluttering is the pendulum swinging the other way. “Costco thinks I should have a 72-pound wheel of parmesan cheese? Ridiculous! Instead, I’m gonna get rid of the 100 cans of expired green beans I’ve had in the pantry for fifteen years! (I mean, still gimme that cheese, though…)” In the face of blind, wasteful, downright dangerous consumerism, sometimes a good, old-fashioned rebellion is just what the soul needs. In other words, extreme decluttering:
Pretty good, right?
If you’ve read this far, and all of these benefits have you yearning for a life of less, go for it! But if you’re finding the choice a bit more difficult, let’s talk about why some people don’t adopt an extreme decluttering lifestyle. Here are some considerations to keep in mind before you rent that dumpster:
Applying these decluttering principles would do most of us a lot of good. But only you can know if extreme decluttering is the way to go. If you’ve considered the above bajillion words (give or take), the choice is, hopefully, a little clearer.
So whether you’re donating enough stuff to fill a swimming pool, or you’re just throwing away that pack of cookies you just emptied (no judgment, we’ve been there), good luck, and happy decluttering!