This Guest Post, written by Paul Foreman, presents us with very simple, yet extremely effective solutions on how to de-clutter our environment and mind in ways that will bring about a greater sense of balance, freedom and fulfillment into our lives. You can free a tremendous weight off your shoulders and mind, not to mention your floorboards, simply by having a big clear out of unwanted stuff. Once you start de-cluttering it is very contagious. The benefits begin to drive you on and are felt immediately.
How to Unclutter Your Life and Mind
You can free a tremendous weight off your shoulders and mind, not to mention your floorboards, simply by having a big clear out of unwanted stuff. Once you start de-cluttering it is very contagious. The benefits begin to drive you on and are felt immediately.
It can take courage and honesty to truly see what you really need and what you have simply been holding on to without much thought. Broken items, out of date items, spare (“I might need it one day’s”) Do you really need them? Probably not. If you question your needs vs. wants you will soon start releasing on items that are simply cluttering your environment unnecessarily. You can free up space quickly by shifting unwanted items.
You may well encounter inner resistance and become defensive about hanging onto your attachments. You may be asking; “Why de-clutter?” Let’s look at some of the reasons and suggestions for how it will improve your life.
A clear mind is a problem free mind. Free space – free mind. Often a cluttered environment makes for a cluttered mind. Relaxation is much easier in a clean, neat, tidy, uncluttered space. Contemplate where you feel most relaxed – most at ease and consider why. Often it is a clear, open and airy environment with minimal distractions; somewhere you can really unwind.
Relaxation and a calm mind allow for fresh, vibrant and new thoughts and ideas.
Initially, motivation to start de-cluttering can be a problem, yet it is easy to combat – you just start! One small step is all it takes to start the ball rolling – even if you only remove one item!
It is very tempting to collect things – on a small scale that is ok – yet do you really need to collect all 500 issues of a certain magazine or book? Nothing wrong with having interests and hobbies; unless they are taking over and becoming an obsession! Do you overspend or buy on impulse? Do you find you can’t resist a sale? Remember that 40% discount on something you were not going to buy is hardly a saving!
So, de-cluttering actually saves you money too.
There are many ways you can start de-cluttering. You can donate to charity or give unwanted stuff to other worthwhile causes; you can sell it or auction it, give it as presents (ask first!) it’s not really fair to off-load things to people who don’t really want them or perhaps are de-cluttering too! Start small and work up – you will see how freeing it is to clear clutter for yourself, once you break the barrier of not wanting to let go or the can’t be bothered bug. It also feels good to know that you are helping others.
Have an honest look around your home or work space. How many shelves are bowing? How many cupboards jammed full? How many bags and boxes and tins and “stash places” have you got? Is the garage crammed? The attic stuffed? The shed bulging? Under the bed space full? Garden full of bits and bobs – mostly sundry and rusting?
It’s a common habit and not something to feel ashamed of. You can choose to take action however.
Be careful not to burn yourself out by taking on too much in one go. Start with one area and see what a difference it makes to tidy it into a pleasant, clean, clutter free, dust free space; even if it is just one corner of a room, or one cupboard.
Freeing space helps maintain a cleaner living environment; healthy, tidy and easier to maintain, De-cluttering can have an instant impact on your health; less dust and more space to breath. When your house is tidy you can find things again and know where they are when you need them. Being organized lessens unnecessary stress and allows you to feel calm rather than rushing around or getting flustered trying to locate something you have mislaid.
Hoarding is a common problem and it exists everywhere, not just in the home.
A wonderful question to ask yourself is “What am I keeping this for?” Investigate why and ask yourself “Can I live without it?” Do you really need six hammers and three lamps, fifteen scarves and twelve pairs of shoes; answered truthfully – of course you don’t.
Having identified “stuff” you can let go of, the next question is what to do with it! You may be able to re-use some of your items, although be careful not to start making convenient excuses to keep things; ultimately clearing out is the better option. You could swap, auction or sell, or donate, or leave them to a family member or friend. If you are undecided or struggling to let go of a particular item, leave it for now and move on to other things; you can always look again once you have cleared out other stuff that you know you can let go of. It is important to do this or the ball could stop rolling.
Starting small and working up, you will make a difference. When you can say to yourself “Be ruthless!” you are really getting there. If you haven’t used something in the last year – do you really need it? Reduce it to six months if you can. Recycle items that others could use and remember worthy causes and charities could be crying out to use something you haven’t used in years or are unlikely to ever use again.
Most of what we hoard is useless or worthless pieces of “stuff” that clog our cupboards or drawers. You know the ones; shoes you haven’t worn in years, clothing, little bags of paperclips and elastic bands and other silly things collecting dust or taking up space. Trophies for “Runner-up at such-and-such” ten years ago – you may enjoy reminiscing, yet is it really necessary to keep them? Videos you have watched many times or won’t watch again, and records and tapes you can’t play anymore because you only have a CD player now! Pots, pans, cups and plates – boxes with stuff in them, boxes without stuff in them, boxes with boxes in them – the list is endless!
As you move up a gear in de-cluttering you may hit some tough questions and need to battle some gremlins. Are you hanging on to the past? Do you need to move on? Whether you spend 20 years, 2 years, 2 months or 2 minutes the end result is the same – you have to let go. Deep down you know this – holding on, is simply delaying the inevitable and potentially spoiling your present moments. Delaying is simply keeping the pain alive and is a form of self-inflicted suffering. If you need to let go – do it now. Can’t do it now? Chunk down and let go a bit at a time and work up.
Are you seeking happiness through an object or something that has happened or will happen? Are you seeking that something that will make you happy? Happiness is an inside job irrespective of outer circumstances. “Things” can’t do that. Are you placing a greater value on an object, or being over sentimental about it? De-cluttering really hits some demons head on! You need to know this before starting. You may need to be strong at times to realise the past has gone and allow yourself to let go, in order to move on and not let things from the past spoil your “now”.
Letting go is a huge and vital part of de-cluttering and one that could have you digging deep for courage and strength. Fortunately it is a snowball effect; as you start small and work up, de-cluttering becomes natural. If you are willing to confront questions that may scare you, and there will be some tough ones, you are half way there already. Try these –
Who is going to sort this lot out when I’m gone?
Would I really want to leave this mess behind me?
Will it fit into my coffin?
Laugh at it and you’ll see how silly it is that we hoard “stuff”. Start releasing on things in a small way and the ball starts rolling. A great way to de-clutter is to fill carrier-bags a bit at a time and place them in your car boot or garage. When you have several bags pay a trip to the charity shops; it lifts pressure off your shoulders every time! Remember there may be some items you should have valued and most auction houses have free valuation days – just in case you are letting go of a small fortune! It also lets your mind rest easy that you haven’t let go of something you might later think to be valuable and start worrying about it!
Remember the probing questions:
Have I used it in the last year?
Do I really need it?
Can I live without it?
You are far less likely to buy more unwanted items when you are clutter-free.
Gain More Knowledge…
Here are a number of highly recommended free articles and online resources that will further help expand your understanding about this topic:
- De-clutter, De-clutter, De-clutter @ Positivity Blog
- Cleaning Out Your Life One Closet at a Time @ Think Simple Now
- How to Prevent Clutter as Much as You Can @ Life Optimizer
- 18 Five Minute De-Cluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess @ Zen Habits
- Living Simply: The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Your Clutter @ Zen Habits
- How to De-Clutter Your Workspace @ Lifehack
- Living Simply: The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Your Clutter @ Zen Habits
- How to Organize Mental Clutter @ Think Simple Now
- 8 Ways to Kill Clutter in 5 Minutes @ Life Hack
- 5 Simple Steps to Tidying Up Painlessly @ Dumb Little Man