by Susan Caplan McCarthy
Your goal in decluttering is not just owning less stuff. Decluttering is about finding the important stuff – what you use, need, and like – that may be hidden by the forgotten, unwanted, unnecessary, and trivial items that are the clutter in your home.
When you identify what’s important to you, thinking things like, “I should keep this just in case,” or “Someday …” are no longer valid reasons for holding onto something. Imagine that you were packing for a vacation by the beach. Chances are that you wouldn’t pack your winter coat and boots just in case it snowed. You know where you are going. You know what you need.
Instead of focusing on the object and thinking, “Should I hold onto this?” instead consider the action involved with an item – are you planning on cross-country skiing, knitting, woodworking, decorating cakes, painting, etc. sometime soon?
So, how do you know if you’ll use something again? Create a vision for your life. This doesn’t have to be a formalized process. Close your eyes and imagine, write in your journal, or talk out loud and envision what a great day, week, month, or year would look like. What are you doing and who are you doing these things with?
Now, when you pick up an item while decluttering, consider, “Is this item important for the activities I imagined engaging in?” No? Then it becomes a bit clearer what possessions are important, and which aren’t.
What if you envision yourself doing something that isn’t a part of your current life? If you have the materials, hold onto them. More important – make a point of using them. Spend some time on the activity as a reward for your decluttering efforts.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to start. Two minutes organizing a bin of yarn can get you excited about getting back into your crochet hobby. If you can’t even motivate yourself to sort through the supplies associated with an activity, then maybe it’s time to consider if you are forcing yourself to make important things that, in your heart, you know aren’t.
If something is important to you then you use it (or anticipate using it at a specific time) or appreciate its presence in your home when you gaze upon it. Holding onto unnecessary items clutters the message you are sending yourself about what is important to you.
What activity have you been waiting to get back to doing, but you feel you need to declutter first? Share your intention to start now in the comments below.
I've been busy working on a one-on-one program for DIYers called a Learn How to Declutter Lesson. I meet with you (and your guest) either in your home (if you live near me) or by video chat (if you don’t) and I take you through the process of decluttering – from identifying your vision for your life and home to showing you how to create an action plan to an actual demonstration of decluttering using your stuff in your space.
I don’t look at your stuff and tell you what to do. I teach you how to declutter by considering your personality, space, interests, and life. You tell me what’s worked for you in the past – and what hasn’t. My goal is to help you find the time to spend with the people important to you, doing activities important to you; to help you save money on books, organizing gadgets, and maybe even hiring people who will organize for you; and to help you feel calmer in your own home. I’ll be releasing this program in mid-June.
Interested? Send me an email and I'll contact you when the program is available.
I help people focus on what's important to them by guiding them through clearing clutter and distractions from their lives. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; courses; speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.