by Susan McCarthy
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Everyday practice: Declutter a single item from your home every day. Some days you may find more items that you can donate or put in the trash; but, make it your goal to release at least one item each day.
When you declutter, it’s natural to focus on the stuff. You think about the clear countertops and coffee table, you imagine not wrestling with hangers as you try to pull clothing from your closet, and you envision the time you’d save not looking for the paperwork you thought you’d filed.
Instead, thoughts run through your mind convincing you that it would be a mistake to get rid of those items that you haven’t used for years (but, you might need someday). Or that your Aunt Sally might be bothered if you don’t keep the lamp that she cleared out of her home by giving to you.
Throw on a mix of emotions – guilt, annoyance, fear, embarrassment – and slogging through your clutter feels like moving through a muddy pond.
However, there are benefits to releasing clutter, and I don’t just mean organized cabinets and clear spaces.
You'll Find More Time for People and Activities Important to You
When you eliminate clutter, you’ll save time cleaning because you won’t have to shift things out of the way. You’ll also save time organizing your stuff; by which I mean, you’ll stop shuffling items from one place to another in a quest to make it all fit. And, when you shed stuff, if you do it with your goals for your life in mind, you won’t buy more stuff to replace what you’ve eliminated.
You’ll have more time for relationships with your spouse, partner, friends, kids, grandkids, and any other significant people. You won’t shop for fun because you know that’s what led to your cluttered situation. Instead, you’ll pursue hobbies and interests that are meaningful to you. Yes, those hobbies and interests will require stuff, but you’ll use the stuff. You won’t be laden down with things that you thought you’d use but don’t.
Maybe you’ll use your time to volunteer or to develop your spirituality or to travel and explore both locally and at a distance.
You'll Have More Money
Maybe you’ll sell some of your belongings. (Or, maybe you’ll realize you’d rather have the time and so you donate the items instead.) You’ll spend less time browsing in stores (because you’re busy with the people important to you and doing the things meaningful to you), which means fewer impulse purchases.
When you do purchase something, you do so purposefully, knowing how it fits in with your current interests and needs as well as the space in your home.
You'll Feel More Loving
When you aren't criticizing yourself for not doing more, you'll create space to be nicer to yourself. When you can be kind to yourself, you will feel more giving toward others.
Because you’ll have the time for others, your meaningful relationships will deepen. You may now have the time to meet others who share in your interests by taking classes or attending events.
You won’t feel stressed while spending time with someone because you’re busy thinking about the tasks you need to do at home.
You'll Feel Healthier
Too many things too close together makes it hard to clean, which creates a build-up of dust and perhaps mold. Also, you won’t feel anxious in your home because clutter is demanding your attention.
And, remember how you’ll have more time? Perhaps now you can start that walking routine (bonus – with a friend or family member) or you’ll have the time to go to the gym or to take a dance or yoga class.
Maybe your clear counters mean it’s easier to prepare meals instead of grabbing to-go meals because you won’t have to clear space and wash the dishes in the sink before you even start on the meal.
These benefits don't come from owning a certain number of items or decluttering "perfectly." Finding your own way to declutter and maintain the order in your home helps you feel in control of the process. My eBook Conquer the Mess Your Way, offers over 20 options so you can discover what works for you.
Now, obviously, clearing your clutter won’t eliminate every struggle in your life. However, the process of decluttering helps you clarify what is most important to you.
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).