I can’t tell you how many people I’ve recently heard complain about the amount of storage units they own. For some reason they all have to go clean them, and move stuff around and let it sit some more in the dark collecting dust.
Our society is one that encourages us to buy, buy, buy. And then keep.
It’s a problem I had, and one that I work on daily. School binders from tenth grade? I had them. Boxes full of trinkets and souvenirs that meant almost nothing to me? Yep. Clothes I hadn’t touched in years? You betcha. And one day I felt disgusted by it all.
But some of us aren’t disgusted by our stuff, and may be wondering why we would want to de-clutter.
Clutter is tremendously limiting. It keeps us stuck and holding on, literally and figuratively, to baggage. Clutter prevents good energy from flowing through our surroundings. Plus, holding onto things “just in case” sends the message to the universe that we will need things to fall back on in the future. It’s called poverty consciousness.
Because of all these things, experts often say that people dealing with issues including obesity, anxiety, and financial issues almost always have some sort of clutter in their lives that needs clearing. It won’t “cure” everything, but it will certainly alleviate many difficulties.
Below are nine steps we can take to de-clutter our physical lives and live more freely:
1. Slim down the wardrobe.
The average woman wears the same 11 pieces of clothing the majority of the time. Many of us could probably look through our closets and find a few things with the tags on, and others of us likely can find at least 10 items (that’s conservative) that we never wear.
If we consistently have trouble determining what to wear, we have too much. When we limit ourselves only to things we like, it becomes easy and even fun to put together outfits every day.
We have to be honest here. If we haven’t worn an item in six months, we don’t need it. Throw those clothes into a trash bag and take them to a donation center or consignment shop.
2. The bathroom.
Stop buying new shampoo, conditioner, etc. Many of us have some half- or quarter-full toiletries laying around that are waiting to be used. Either use them or toss them. Same with old medicine bottles; I had about four bottles of Aleve, so I combined them into one.
3. De-clutter in small increments.
Trying to tackle everything all at once or in a short time is intimidating, and a great way to get defeated. I found success in breaking my cleaning up in time chunks, spending no more (but often less) than two hours cleaning each day.
Find what works for you; maybe you want to fill one large trash bag per day; maybe you want to clean one section of the room per day. Or maybe you want to make a short playlist and stop cleaning when it’s over.
4. Use your free time.
Do you have five minutes to wait for something to microwave? Clean a part of your kitchen. Every time you have a few minutes, tackle a tiny portion of a room. It adds up.
5. Don’t open it.
If you have boxes or bags that have sat untouched for over a year, don’t go through them. Just donate them. Or toss them. For me, going through old boxes = keeping things I don’t need.
6. The sentimentals.
Part of a true deep clean is eliminating items that may have some sort of sentimental value, but are collecting dust. I had trouble with this, yet I began realizing that stowing away meaningful items and allowing them to collect dust, rather than giving them to someone who may use and care for them was not a way to honor my memories. I held on to the deeply sentimental items I still used. I let go of my attachment to the rest.
To make the process easier, I gifted some of these items to people I care about; clothes I didn’t wear went to an old roommate, teddy bears went to my little cousin.
7. One in, one out.
When you receive an item, get rid of a similar item.
8. Remember that value doesn’t lie in things.
Our memories and love are not diminished when we let go of things we have collected from special people or during special times.
It is unfair to ourselves to base our memories and measure our value on material items. Once this is internalized, it is much easier to freely eliminate clutter.
9. Set an intention or vision.
This is fun for very visual people, or those who love to decorate. Imagine, or even draw out, the way you want to decorate your new space once you remove its clutter. Seeing or envisioning the beautiful change can give us the boost we need to keep going!
I hope these tips get you moving in the right direction toward clutter-free surroundings!