By Susan Caplan McCarthy
Maybe you’ve been ignoring your clutter thinking that someday you’ll have the time to sort through all your stuff but, right now, you have too much to do. But, all that stuff is starting to become a problem. You feel uptight and overwhelmed in your own home. You waste time looking for things that you know you have but can’t find. When you go through your stuff, you not only find what you’re looking for, but you discover that you have three!
Even finding something to wear that fits and that you want to put on seems to drain your energy. Over coffee the other day, (at a coffee shop, certainly not at your house) a friend was telling you about the experiences of emptying her parents’ home and how she wishes her parents had been more selective in the things they kept. You imagine your family trying to make sense of all the things you have in your house.
You determine to get organized and you purchase a book on organizing. In the author’s opening pages, they encourage you to consider why you want to declutter. You don’t even pause to think. Of course, you want to declutter so that you’ll be more organized and feel calmer when you’re at home.
You’re excited with the idea of having an organized home. You block off a weekend to declutter, announcing your plans to several people so you stay accountable. You start your Weekend of Decluttering by emptying your closet and dressers. Quickly, you bag some tee shirts with fraying binding around the neck. What about the tee shirts you’ve bought while on vacation? Hmm, you could wear them to the gym or while gardening.
You fold them and pack them into a drawer. You try on a few blouses that you completely forgot that you owned. Several of them ‘fit’ if you ignore the way the fabric gaps between the buttons. When you’re done with all this decluttering, you’ll start on a diet Monday; so, you may as well keep these blouses for when you lose a few pounds. You slide these tops onto hangers and put them in your closet.
You find more clothes that still have price tags attached. Well, you should wear this stuff; it’s brand new. You return the items to the closet. You fill three bags with the clothing you’re giving up. You remember that you have jackets and coats hanging in the hall closet, but, well, you never know what the weather is going to be, so chances are you’ll wear them some day or another.
It is late afternoon of day one of decluttering. You thought you’d have more done by this time. You go into the kitchen and open each cabinet door. You scan the shelves, pull out a few things here and there and box them for donation. You gather papers (that seem to be everywhere) and pile them around your desk – you’ll do them tomorrow.
You try to clear your kitchen counters, but there really isn’t enough space to put all this stuff into cabinets. It’s getting late and you push yourself to keep moving around your house, tucking some things into boxes that you’ll sort through some other day. You start to bring a stack of magazines to the recycling bin, but you know you haven’t read all of them. You decide that you should sit down and scan the pages and pull out any articles that look interesting; this will be a quiet activity to work on before bed.
You wake the next morning feeling dehydrated and achy. You have a text message from a friend asking if you want to get together for a late breakfast that morning. A little break would be nice. You’ll be home in a couple of hours. You go to your closet to get dressed. You kept more clothing than you thought you did. You pull out a top, still bearing its tag and think that you could wear it, but, no, it’s a bit dressy for breakfast at the local diner so you return it to your closet.
When you return home after breakfast, you walk from room to room with a growing sense of dissatisfaction. You got rid of stuff, but it hasn’t made much of a difference. You see the piles of paper around your desk and you realize that there’s a day’s worth of work right here (if you’re lucky you’ll get it done today).
Maybe if you pick up some storage bins on your way home from work tomorrow, you can organize your stuff, so it will look neater and you’ll know where it is….
Is this your experience with decluttering? The word I hear almost every time someone talks about the stuff in their home is “overwhelming.” Clutter makes you feel overwhelmed. However, if before you started decluttering you took some time to imagine your life after you’ve decluttered and to identify some of the things you’d do with your days if you were already decluttered, you’d know your motivation.
Stop thinking that your reason for decluttering is to get organized. Decluttering helps clear the path to all the things you want to do with your life. Clear Your Clutter and Create Space for Your Life is a self-directed program that helps you focus on what you want from your life and your home and helps you plan your time, so you can work on your decluttering goals and your life goals.
I've been creating this program over the past several months after talking to many DIYers who want to declutter their home but don't want to hire a professional organizer. I realized that many people were jumping into decluttering without considering why they wanted to declutter and what they hoped to accomplish. I wanted to help people see that getting organized is a byproduct of decluttering instead of their goal. There's so much more to life than gathering stuff. Clearing away what you don't need, shows you the possibilities available to your life.
If you’re frustrated with decluttering the same space in your home time and again …
If you’re overwhelmed by deciding where to start decluttering …
If you think you can’t even start decluttering until you can clear a huge chunk of time …
If you’re tired of putting plans and personal goals on hold until you get organized …
If you wish you knew whether you’d need these things again …
If you want to Clear Your Clutter and Create Space for Your Life, learn how, here.
by Susan Caplan McCarthy
If you woke tomorrow morning and discovered that your home was decluttered and organized in the ideal way for your and your family’s needs, what would your home look like?
If you’ve notice that in your ideal home you don’t have something that you’ve felt you couldn’t let go of in the physical world, do you notice a sense of panic or loss? Or, is envisioning your home as the type of place you want to live in soothing away the rougher feeling of loss or the nervous need to something just in case?
In your vision, you are walking through your ‘what if’ home and you see everything you need and want.
Hold onto this image in your mind. Every day for a month, while you are brushing your teeth or making the coffee, envision walking through this image of your ideal home space.
Now, during your day, when you walk by something in your home that doesn’t fit with your vision, pick it up and remove it. Put it in the trash or a donation box.
Think of Michelangelo’s statement, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Consider that under the clutter is your ideal space. It is your task to discover it by removing what doesn’t work.
Find other visualization exercises in these articles:
If you haven't yet joined my free program, A Year of Decluttering, now is the time to join and get a head start on next year's resolution to get organized. If you doing the program, please consider forwarding one of the daily emails to a friend or family member whom you know is getting ready to declutter.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm a professional organizer-coach with 26 years' experience as a teacher. I believe that an organized home isn't your destination but a step on the path toward the life you want to create. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; and speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.