Every week you spend hours organizing, you know if you could just stay organized the house would stay cleaner. But you’re starting to wonder if it’s possible. You have failed to find a strategy that works. This was me.
Here’s the thing, I learned the problem isn’t finding a strategy that works, the problem is too much stuff.
If you’re in doubt, look at any organizing websites before and after photos. In each and every after photo, you will see less stuff. Here is an example from BHG. A quick look and you can see how much stuff was removed in the after photos.
So to finally get organized it starts with removing the clutter. But that can be easier said than done. Let me tell you, I know this is absolutely the hardest part of getting organized.
But here’s the trick, learning to get rid of a lot of the clutter starts with examining why you feel the need to hold on to so much stuff.
We all hold on to our stuff for different reasons and it is rarely because we need it. The truth is that more often than not we are holding on to our clutter for emotional reasons. Once you determine the real reason preventing you from letting go, you can work through those emotional responses and finally let go of all that stuff weighing you down.
So let’s look at some of the most common reasons we have such a hard time letting go of excess clutter.
1. It Fills a Void
It can be hard to identify this as a reason for holding onto clutter. This type of emotional response is often automatic, we are not even aware of the thought, you just feel that void or anxiety. The worse part is that shopping then becomes a nice BREAK from that feeling, and you add to the clutter
Often that feeling of void comes from the need to find comfort when things are uncomfortable. The problem comes when we find that comfort in new clothes, house items or other purchases. There is always this longing for comfort, even right now as you are reading this, you may be feeling an underlying anxiety and distress.
To overcome this struggle, you need to find comfort within yourself. Realize that all of this extra stuff is not providing you the lasting comfort you desire. In fact, it is doing the opposite, it is robbing you of your time and energy. Know that you deserve so much more, more time to for things that you truly enjoy.
Take some time to really examine your life to determine whether your stuff, is filling a void. As you start decluttering, ask of every item:
- Do I love it?
- Is it something I need it?
- Do I use it?
- Does it fit with where I want my life to go?
You will be amazed at how the answer to these questions will help you eliminate a ton of your clutter.
There is a certain amount of security in our stuff. This was probably number one for me. I would rationalize that I might need it later, or what if I can’t afford to replace it. Of course, I would then store it away and forget I even owned it.
For me, this emotion came down to learning to trust the Lord to provide for my needs in the future. There is a point when you just have to take that leap of faith and trust. Whether you trust in the Lord, trust in yourself or trust in those you love to be there when you have a need, your needs have been provided for all along, there is no reason to think they won’t be in the future.
Also, remember this key truth, instead of providing you the comfort of security, these unnecessary items are more likely to provide you with extra stress as they take your precious time to maintain, clean and care for.
Do not hold onto stuff for the what if’s in life. Trust that if you really do need it in the future your needs will be provided for.
3. Don’t Want to Waste Money
This was another big one for me. I really do not like wasting money. I get VERY upset with myself when I do. Wasting money causes me stress. Often making the choice to get rid of stuff that is still usable and in good condition would make me feel like I was wasting money so I would shove the item in a corner somewhere.
But here is the thing, I already spent the money, holding onto the item was not going to bring the money back. The damage was done.
In fact, by holding onto the unneeded items they are causing me to waste even more; more time, more energy, more storage space and more money to care for and maintain the item.
At this point, you might as well just get rid of the item and use it as a learning experience to be more careful in future purchases. Plus, some items may be worth the effort to sell and perhaps recover some of that money.
4. Sentimental Value
When you are decluttering, sentimental items is always the hardest category of things to deal with. In fact, I always recommend leaving this category for last.
There is a great article on how to deal with sentimental clutter over at Be More With Less. I love how she makes the point that our sentimental clutter keeps us lingering in the past, instead of being present in the moment we are in.
But I think perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if you love the item, if it adds value to your life and if you have the space for it, maybe it’s not clutter.
However, the problem arises when we attach sentimentality to nearly every item. When we attach sentimentality to everything, then nothing is special. Sometimes we just keep so much that we have no place to store the items. That is something only you can determine. I just don’t want you to feel like you need to get rid of your sentimental items for the purpose of getting rid of them. When it comes to sentimental items take it slowly, honor your memories.
Whether an item is truly sentimental and worth holding on to is something only you can determine. I just don’t want you to feel like you need to get rid of your sentimental items for the purpose of getting rid of them. When it comes to sentimental items take it slowly, honor your memories.
5. It’s Overwhelming
When your clutter is extensive just the idea of dealing with it can be overwhelming. This feeling of overwhelm, creates stress and anxiety. Perhaps you open the garage door take one look and the task feels impossible. It is so much easier to just close the door, then to deal with those feelings.
Even if you are chipping away at the clutter, you can still get discouraged. Eliminating years of clutter takes time and it will take awhile before you see and feel that big difference decluttering will bring.
But you have to keep going, it is so worth it, I promise.
If your clutter is so overwhelming that you can’t even seem to get started, well then you just need to start. Start with the easiest area. Pick the smallest drawer or cabinet. Just start!
Don’t let overwhelm stop you from taking action. Make it an appointment on your calendar. Schedule regular times to declutter and you will get there.
Dealing with the emotional aspects of our clutter is tough. But the hardest part really and truly is starting. If you’ve started you’ve done the hardest part, now keep going. As the emotions come up in the decluttering process stop and examine what you are feeling. Determine whether the emotional attachments are valid reasons for hanging on to the items. If not, let them go.
You will feel so much better tackling your emotions and your clutter.
As always, live simply, live fully and make each day your Favorite day!