Who doesn’t love August? Schools are on break, offices slow down, and most of America is taking a long, deep, nourishing breath of fresh air. While you have a little time and energy, why not give your September self a little gift and prepare for the hectic days around the corner?

Most of us know we own too much stuff. What’s worse, we spend so much time cleaning, managing and organizing this stuff, and dreadfully little time actually using it. Our stuff is not really helping us live better lives, but weighing us down. For example,

  • Women spend more than eight years of their lives shopping
  • Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items
  • Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches than on higher education

I know the idea of trying to sort through all your stuff and decide what to let go of sounds daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Below are three ways that you can actually delight in the decluttering process. Plus, the perks at the end of all three are probably in line with some of your top personal goals: more time with yourself, a more clear mind, and more control over your life.

1. Ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?

We buy, keep, and accumulate things for many reasons. But Maria Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant and author of NY Times best seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, recommends a very simple filter for whether or not we should really have an item: does it “sparks joy?” So when you pick up your stuff, notice how you feel about them. If joy isn’t the foremost emotion, then let it go. If you have trouble doing it this way, then just look at your pile of stuff and choose the three items that bring you the most joy, discarding the rest.

2. Host a Community Swap

Let’s face it, you’ve got needs. Occasionally, you really do need to get a great new outfit, office supplies, or some decorations for a party. The problem is that when we acquire new things, we rarely take the time to discard old ones.

So here’s a way you can give and take at the same time: organize a community swap. Invite your friends, neighbors or colleagues together to exchange their things. You can swap things like jewelry, books, clothes, and electronics as well as skills, like babysitting, gardening or accounting.

If you’re in NY, check out these great swaps happening all across the 5 boroughs!

3. Give up one item per day

If the idea of spending a few hours on decluttering is still overwhelming to you, there’s still another delightful way to do it. Take the 365-day resolution to get rid of one item every day for the next year. This global movement was started by a woman named Colleen six year ago, when she knew she wouldn’t be able to stick to her New Years Resolution of doing it all at once. In her first year fulfilling the pact, she threw away or recycled 67 items, donated or gave away 237, sold 58 on eBay for a total of $1533.65, and completely used up 3 things. Small steps can take you a long way.


Image credit: Odyssey
Stat sources here.