OK — you’ve taken the steps to stop the uninvited clutter coming into your home and the soon-to-be clutter that you buy yourself. Great job. But your greatest challenge is before you and it’s not for the faint of heart: It’s time to reduce the clutter you already have.
The reason reducing your existing clutter is the last instead of the first step is because once you break the habit of creating clutter, you’ll ensure that all the time and energy you expend on this step will pay off for the long term. And for some of us we’ll need quite a lot of time and energy to go through all this STUFF that’s been accumulating around us.
Pick a room, any room
To start, pick the room that will have the most impact on your life if it were free of clutter. This way you’ll be motivated to keep going to the next and the next rooms. Would a clutter-free bedroom improve your sleep? A clutter-free office make your work life happier? A clutter-free living room mean you could actually invite friends over? Whichever room it is, give yourself an afternoon of uninterrupted declutter time and dig in.
Ditch the “what if’s”
Create space for piles of things you want to get rid of and those you’ll keep. We know this can be difficult. How do you decide? I mean what if you do get invited to an ’80s party? Or what if you want to re-read some article in Surfer’s Journal? Shouldn’t you hang onto them all just in case?
No. Ditch the “what if’s” and just keep asking yourself if the object really helps you achieve the life you want to live. I know it sounds New-Agey or maybe Oprah-esque, but it works. If you imagine your life with clean space and fresh air all around you, a stack of old magazines, clothes from when your 12-year-old was a baby and the three computers you had before this one just don’t serve.
If it’s your closet you’re cleaning, try this technique:
- Turn all your clothes around so the open part of the hanger hook is facing you
- Every time you wear an item, put it back so the open hook is facing the back wall
- After three months, any clothes on hangers that are still backwards are fair game for the give-away pile
The green part
When you’ve figured out what to ditch, don’t just send it to the landfill unless an object is in obvious disrepair. Set aside everything that’s in good condition for donating or selling.
The trick here is to take this task to the end – don’t let the piles sit there for weeks but actually make the donations, recycle whatever is possible, throw what you must, and put away what you don’t use regularly.
Reducing clutter doesn’t have to be overwhelming — even when there’s a lot of it. If you’d like support and guidance for this, check out Fly Lady. She’ll have you clean and decluttered in just 10 minutes a day. Otherwise, just keep at it and you’ll be clutter-free before you know it.