On decluttering: tips and tricks


I've been having a declutter moment over the past couple of weeks, to the point where I have two Mecca gift cards in my hot little hands from my birthday but I don't want to spend them. Hard to believe, I know ; )

I was wondering this morning why I've moved into declutter mode - not only with beauty products but also with other stuff - and I reckon I can date it back to finishing off seven items on my Project Pan list throughout June. For some reason, seeing the back of so many products at once has made me look at what else can be removed.

Honestly, the whole house has been subject to my 'weed removing' eye of late, from the pantry to the fridge and garden, from my daughter's toys and the old cutlery we're not using, to the piles of paper on my desk that need to be filed or thrown away.

Come to think of it, it's often tax time that does this to me as well: come June 30 when I belatedly start logging all my receipts and gathering documents, I start to realise just how many bits of paper I've been holding on to in case I need them, and how many can readily go into the recycling bin and never really needed to be kept at all.

Anyhoo. Since I've become better at the whole declutter thing over the years, I thought it might be useful to jot down a few notes on how I've managed to whittle down my beauty stores to manageable levels. Hopefully this post will help anyone thinking of decluttering their collection but not knowing where to start. 

While I'm writing this with beauty in mind, it applies to everything so you can adapt it for whatever it is that you want to remove.

Stop the influx

This is such an obvious thing to say but sometimes we need to hear the obvious to actually integrate it, so I wanted to mention it all the same.

Fact is, you're not going to declutter your life if you keep buying new things. Plain and simple. This means you'll need to make some tough decisions about what you do and don't let in the door - no matter what a good deal it might seem to be at the time.

A case in point: you know that Priceline skincare goodies bag that recently hit the shelves (where you spend $60 odd and get a bag containing $340 worth of products)? Great value, those. And I had the green light to buy it as part of my birthday present from my husband, but I opted not to. Not because it wasn't a good bag, but because I have enough skincare and, to be honest, I'd rather buy one special item with that money, rather than wind up with a backlog of stuff in my stores.

Did I miss out on a heap of useful stuff? I did. Am I going to die without it? Not today. 

Review what you have every season

One of the best ways to declutter is to make it a regular or even a continuous thing. Because if the pile of mess in the cupboard starts getting too big, you'll put the clean-out task into the too-hard basket and find something else to do.

So try not to let things get out of hand in the first place. You might group autumn/winter and summer/spring together and do two clean-outs each year - which I personally think is enough if you do each one well - or you might just make decluttering part of your life.

I do the constant declutter thing with both clothes and beauty products. When I put clothes away, I remove anything from the cupboard that I'm not using and don't plan to use. I've also been known to wear something old to death (eg old summer dresses can be good to sleep in), and that way I can use and toss things when they've fallen apart. A good way to get your money's worth!

Start small

This is a really important one, or it certainly is for me. If you want to get motivated and stay that way, the trick is to start with the easy stuff that's going to yield quick results, or you mightn't be able to stick to your guns.

You know the really big tasks that require you to put in the hard yards before your efforts start bearing fruit? Leave that stuff until you've already seen results or you mightn't keep at it.

A good place to start, for example, is with that pile of sachets that keeps growing. If you set aside a couple of weeks to use those, you'll feel like you're getting somewhere because those things are easy to finish. After that you can get your teeth stuck into the harder stuff.

Re-purpose, toss or pass on

This is something I do frequently with my beauty products, but you could do it with general household stuff too.

Whenever I bring something new into my collection, I have a good look at what I have and see whether there's anything I can remove to make room for it. For example, I opened a new bronzer last year and needed some space on my shelves, so I removed an old, shimmery bronzer that I wasn't using and included it on my Project Pan list (I'm getting through it by crushing it and adding it to my body cream, which gives me a nice bronzy glow).

Sometimes you mightn't be able to re-purpose something, in which case you should consider whether it's a product that might be tossed, donated or sent to a better home. The world needs less waste I reckon, so don't let something waste away in your collection when someone else might use it.

Re-consider your storage

This idea won't appeal to everyone, but bear with me. You'll see that a lot of the big bloggers and youtubers keep their collections in drawers (quite often those Ikea Alex Drawers), and while I can totally see how this makes sense for people who do beauty for a living, I'm not entirely sure that it makes sense for the rest of us.

If you want a big collection and need somewhere to store it, then fine. But if like me you don't want to be swimming in stuff, then forget the drawer solution and consider putting everything right in front of you. Eg, I have the vast majority of my collection laid out on a small, three-shelf bookcase in my bedroom, so I can see absolutely everything I own.

This means I can't do the 'out of sight, out of mind' thing because I know that I have seven eyeshadow palettes  - they're right there in my face - and that's more than enough to go on with. So why would I buy another one when I can use a different one each day of the week? Plus everything's more likely to get used because nothing's lying forgotten at the back of a drawer where I can't see it.

You know the other good thing about doing this? It makes you more discerning when it comes to packaging - so if something doesn't look good, chances are I won't buy it because I don't want it 'polluting' my pretty shelves. Is it dumb to be swayed by packaging? Of course it is. But is it dumb when your packaging preferences are saving you hundreds of dollars each year? I reckon not.

Stick to the 'one in, one out' rule

I've really had to enforce this when it comes to bases like tinted moisturisers and BB creams, since those are my weakness and I'm always on the hunt for the next big thing. It doesn't matter how happy I am with the ones I have, I'm constantly seeking more.

What this has meant in the past is that I've wound up with far too many similar products and have had little hope of getting through them all before they expire. Since any kind of waste fills me with dread (yes, I'm rather weird about waste ; ) ), I've had to find a way to halt the influx of new products and I've done this by only letting myself get something new if I've finished something else.

You can also do a 'one out, one open' arrangement, so if you can't pass up an opportunity to buy something on your wishlist because it's on special (and you'd be dumb to ignore the sale since you'd be buying it eventually anyway), go ahead and buy it - but you don't have to open it straight away. Most products have a shelf-life prior to opening in addition to the after-opening one, so things will generally expire later if you open them later.

You may also find that you end up buying less if you've always got something new to open on hand. I've certainly found that having something special and new in the cupboard helps stop those rainy day purchases, so it's worth prolonging the fun of opening new things for this reason too.

Keep things focused

I've been bad lately with this when it comes to skincare - cleansers in particular. For some reason I wound up with a ridiculous amount of cleansers, and while a lot of them are travel-sizes received from subscription boxes, a few are full-sized ones I've purchased too.

While I have kept some aside to open at a later date, I've also opened more at once than I should have - meaning I have a stack of half-empty cleansers lying around and I'm not finishing any of them because there's so many to choose from. This does not make for a streamlined collection!

So what I've had to do is go through them and work out which ones I'm using now. I've narrowed things down to the two I use in the morning, the two I use in the evening and the one that's representing my grainy exfoliant at the moment. 

As I finish those, I'll replace them with the other ones I have open before moving on to the unopened ones. If I wasn't doing this, I'd have little hope of decluttering the cleanser pile anytime soon because I'd only be using a fraction of each product as the weeks pass.

In sum

That's my list! I could go on about this topic for ages, but I'd say that's more than enough for one post ; ). I hope there's something in there that's useful for you.

While these ideas work for me, you may find some that work better for you once you start your own decluttering process - everyone's different and has different methods that suit them best.

Do let me know if you have any decluttering tips: I'm always up for hearing more!

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