New Year, New Clutter: Neat Obsessions Shares 5 Tips To Declutter And Organize Your Home
Organizing is more than just the physical task of tidying up; it’s also a mindset and a journey
The start of the year signals new beginnings. It’s a time to move on from the failures and struggles of the previous year and welcome new things that will help you achieve your goals and dreams.
The New Year, most usually, also comes with new things. Maybe it’s a new hobby, a new appliance, or a brand new habit that you want to start—and there is a huge chance you need to make space in your home for these new things in your life.
In the last Neat Obsessions article, we talked about the importance of embarking on a cleaning festival to start your year right. And if you’ve managed to successfully clean your home, you’ll find that there are items that you don’t need anymore and opportunities to improve in the way you organize each room or part of your home.
If you’re at this stage, then you’re in the right place. We consult again with Issa Reyes of Neat Obsessions—a brand and community that advocates finding beauty, practicality, and happiness in an organized home—to get expert tips on how you can declutter and organize your home to prepare yourself for the new things, intentions, and opportunities you want to welcome to your home this year.
This series is a 3-part series on cleaning and organizing your home to start 2021 on a positive and productive note. This is part 2 of the series. Read the first part that tackles spring cleaning below.
Applying The Homeward Technique
The Homeward Technique is a technique developed by Issa throughout her years of experiencing working with Filipino homes. It’s Neat Obsessions’ ultimate guide to every organizing project, where everything begins and ends in your home. In Issa’s words: “Imagine a boomerang that you throw from your heart, going back to your heart. This is the Homeward Technique.”
This technique was introduced in her first published book, “Neat Obsessions: Starting Your Journey to Organizing, Productivity, and Happiness,” which aims to inspire everyone to get into a homemaker’s mindset and take care of their home. And according to this technique, there’s only three easy steps that you can follow to organizing your home: Sort, Detach, and Rehome.
Step one: Sort
Sorting is what exactly it means. This step is where you sort all the things that you have to give you a perspective of what you own and whether you need all of these in your life.
This step is a bit physically taxing, since you have to go through all the things that you own, so you may need to go through your things one area of the home at a time. Remember: you don’t have to finish everything in one go.
Step two: Detach
Detaching is the more emotionally draining part. In Issa’s words: “Detaching is a journey of establishing a strong connection between who you are and the items that you own. To get to this connection, go back to your definition of your happiness and stick to it as you go through this step.”
In this step, you will have to determine which things in your home don’t belong in your life anymore. This is where you set your priorities, establish boundaries, and reevaluate your own personal values. It’s all about knowing what makes you and your family happy, and keeping only the things that contribute to this happiness. When you’ve learned to detach from the things that you don’t need, then you’ll have a clearer perspective into what are the things you want to keep in your home.
Step three: Rehome
Rehoming is the part where you ask yourself: “Do I need more storage or am I satisfied with what I have?” When we embark on an organizing journey, we usually have this idea that we have to buy so many organizing bins and items first before we actually start organizing. But in Issa’s method, she emphasizes that you need to decide on these things last because you want to know first what are the things and clutter you’re dealing with before introducing things in your home that might end up just being part of the things you don’t need. You rehome your items after you identify the things that you actually want to keep.
This stage is where you come into terms with what you have and what you need in your life. We usually just think of our homes as a storage space for things we buy. But the mindset that Issa wants us to embody is that our home is a mirror of our values and priorities. It is a space that defines who we are as a person. So this is the step where you “Accept what is left. Accept the space you have. Accept who you are.”
We think about organizing our homes as a physical task; but Issa’s Homeward Technique emphasizes that it’s actually a very mental and emotional exercise. Sorting is not just sorting your things; it’s also about finding gratefulness when you see all the things that you’ve accumulated in your life. Detaching is not just about decluttering and throwing away things; it’s also about establishing your priorities and realigning yourself with your goals. And Rehoming is not just about putting things into beautiful containers; it’s also about connecting to your sense of happiness and feeling a sense of fulfillment about your decisions and accomplishments in life.
5 tips to declutter and organize your home easily and practically
Organizing the home may sound like a daunting task, but Issa has some expert tips to make things easier.
1. Tackle your house by area.
Organizing your home in one day can get really overwhelming. If you tried organizing your entire house before and you ended up shoving your things where they once were, you were overcome by fatigue. This is because organizing is a process that involves your physical, mental, and emotional faculties.
Start with one area, such as your bedroom. If you still find it overwhelming, start with your closet or with one drawer. If this is still too much, start with your accessories or cosmetics. The point is, a small area would not overwhelm you as much as a big one. Once you’re done, you’ll feel good and accomplished. This feeling may help you begin another small area. Without you knowing it, you’ve already tackled an entire room and in time, your entire house!
2. Create categories to help you when sorting
When you start sorting, you should put everything you own into general categories first. For clothing, you may start with categorizing them into tops, bottoms, undergarments, etc. For cabinets, you may categorize depending on what you need to put inside like arts and crafts, bags, electronics.
The key here is for you to categorize your things according to what you own and according to how you use them. My cabinet will be different from your cabinet; and that’s okay! If you want to keep your books inside a cabinet instead of displaying them on a shelf because you don’t want them getting dusty, then that’s your choice. Categorize depending on what you own and what you need. Do not force other people’s categories in your home, because doing it will make it harder for you to maintain it.
3. Declutter only after sorting.
The reason why sorting comes first before decluttering is this: the process of elimination is easier when things are categorized. When all shirts are together and you see that you have more than enough white shirts to use, then why keep them all? You may already let go of the others so your space can either breathe, or accommodate other things that you need more.
Decluttering after sorting also prevents you from throwing things that you might actually need. We sometimes have spare knickknacks like batteries and hair clips lying around, and our instinct is to either stash it in a place you will forget or throw it in the bin. By having categories and knowing which cabinet or area holds which things, you’ll know where to store these smaller knickknacks that you will have use for in the future. This saves you from having to keep buying batteries, for example, when you actually still have some—you just didn’t know where to find it.
4. Decide whether to sell, throw, or donate.
Decluttering does not just mean throwing away things which have no use. It also means detaching from items, which others can still use and find happiness with.
If you’re going to sell some items, think about which platform you’re going to use to sell it in. Are you going to hold a garage sale? Are you putting it up on your social media account?
If you’re going to donate, research on the charities that can benefit from your items. Here are some charities that accept in-kind donations:
Caritas Manila – Caritas Manila has a special donations-in-kind program called Segunda Mana, which sells and recycles old clothes, furniture, home accessories, and books to fund scholarships and aid for the underprivileged youth. Check them out on Facebook or call (02) 8562-0020.
Goodwill Industries of the Philippines – This non-government organization is dedicated to helping persons with disabilities (PWDs) and will sell your donated items to create jobs and fund employment training for PWDs. Visit their website or check them out on Facebook.
Little Free Library Philippines – Under the global Little Free Library movement, this group aims to share the culture of reading through small, free libraries throughout the country. If you have books to donate, visit them on Facebook or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Live within your space and within your means.
Look around your home and assess if the areas still function the way you originally intended them to. Does your bedroom still serve its function or it has become a storage area of things you don’t use? Your home is a place to create good memories with the people you live with. If you are on your own, your home should be your sanctuary, your place of rest. Every blank space in your home is your reminder to also breathe. You do not need to fill in every space in your home.
Organizing your space is the best time for you to evaluate your spending habits, too. Does your money go to items that end up cluttering your home? Do you love mall sales just for the thrill of spending for items for a fraction of their price? Assess how things enter your home, so you won’t fall into the trap of having a cluttered space again.
Organizing your home is a commitment and a journey. To get into the mindset of homemaking, for a full and comprehensive guide to the Homeward Technique, or if you want to embark on your journey to a happier and healthier home, you can grab a copy of the Neat Obsessions book from Neat Obsessions on Instagram @neatbosessions, or through ABS-CBN Books on Lazada and Shopee.