Changing the Rules of Decluttering During the Pandemic

At this point, you’ve probably heard all the rules there are to decluttering. See what items spark joy, trash items you haven’t touched in a certain amount of time, and all that. You might have been cleaning and clearing out things a lot (or not, #nojudgement), but if you haven’t and want to start… we’re here to help. Actually, you may already know these things at the back of your mind, so let’s just try to bring them into a clearer picture. It might be a good time to declutter now as well, as some places move into phase 2.

1) Take Note of Timeline Changes

There’s the 90/90 rule, which is to trash items you haven’t used in the last 90 days, and will not use for the coming 90 days. Or maybe you have a 6-month rule, or something like that. However, since the onslaught of the pandemic, we’d have to make some allowance for these time periods. We’ve had a major lifestyle change, and there are bound to be certain things that we really have no use for while staying at home. Before you go ahead and trash these things, maybe set them aside in a box. Give yourself a time period for when you settle back into your pre-pandemic routine, and see if you use them. From there, you can decide which items to keep or trash.

2) Declutter/Clean Before You Have a Zoom Call

Hey, whatever gets the job done, right? You might not want a messy background looming over you, so that’s an incentive for you to clean up. It can be something as simple as clearing out your desk, or throwing out wilting flowers peeking in on a shelf somewhere. From there, you can easily form a habit to regularly get rid of things you know you don’t need, instead of procrastinating. Of course, if this doesn’t appeal to you, you can always use the ultimate life hack by slapping on a virtual background.

3) One-in-one-out

We get it: the appeal of online shopping is tremendous, and every single month it seems like there’s some special sale going on. But before you add everything you see to cart and checkout, take a look at what you have at home. Are there items with similar functions already? What can you do with them? Donate? Sell them on Carousell? As you bring in a new item, get rid of one existing item. That way, things won’t pile up; you’ll have the same amount of items at home always. This is a good one to remember, pandemic or not. Selling items can bring you some income, especially if you need it during these times.

4) Repurpose Items

In relation to the item above, maybe you don’t have to donate, sell, or throw things away. Maybe you could repurpose them instead, which could also be a money-saving hack, depending on how you repurpose items. For example, you could downgrade t-shirts to become your PJs, and when they get really ratty, you could use them as rags. Containers are handy to have around the house, as they can be your own storage compartments, or maybe even flowerpots, depending on what kind they are. If you’re unsure if certain items can be repurposed, Google can tell you. From there, you just have to spend some time and effort!

5) Narrow Down Areas of Focus

You spend more time in certain areas of the house than others, so your decluttering can start there. For example, maybe you’re cooking so much more right now. Check all your sauces, spices, or other ingredients. Are you keeping anything expired, or you never use? Throw them out. If there are some items in your kitchen such as canned food that are still edible and you think you won’t be consuming them anymore, why not donate them to food banks? Or maybe, you’re spending lots of time in your study/home office. Have a stack of papers waiting to be cleared, or maybe a ton of books? You could go through them and sort out what you don’t need anymore, and decide what to do with them.

6) Don’t Wait to Like It

No one knows why it happens, but sometimes you just buy things because you felt like it. Then you never ever use it. Every once in a while, you see it, or you take it out from its storage, and you go like, I spent money on this. Let me hold on to it some more. I’m going to like it soon. I’m going to use it. Newsflash: if you didn’t like it all the time you had it, you’re not suddenly going to like it. Use one of the options above. Repurpose, donate, or sell. (Since it’s new, we probably won’t recommend throwing it out yet, but it depends on what item it is.)

Decluttering regularly has also shown to have benefits, and some people have gone as far as to make it their self-care routine. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, maybe you could give this a go. Order on the outside could apparently lead to calm feelings on the inside. There’s no harm trying!