by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice; Take time to understand why you are doing something before you start. When you have trouble making a decision, remind yourself of your 'why.'
Decluttering can be difficult because every time you pick up something in your home, you’re trying to decide whether to keep it or let it go.
It’s clearer what you want to do with some items over others. You ask yourself questions like, “Do I use this?” “Do I want this?” “Do I like this?”
But those questions can allow you to decide not to decide.
“Do I use this?” … “I could.” “I might.” “I want to.”
“Do I want this?” … “I’m not sure.” “I should keep it just in case.”
“Do I like this?” … “Well, my mother gave it to me.” “It cost a lot of money, so I should keep it.”
These types of decisions are really indecision that wastes your time because nothing gets done.
Avoid Keeping Clutter
When you avoid deciding and say, “I could use this,” you keep the item. But this isn’t a “clean” decision. You’re keeping the item for fuzzy reasons. This means that it becomes more challenging to keep the item organized.
Organizing involves giving items a home (and returning them there) so you know where to look for them when you want them.
If you don’t know when or if you’ll use something, how do you know where to keep it? If you keep it in a prominent place (perhaps as encouragement to use it), then something you do use more often is losing prime real estate.
You’ll end up shuffling items around and squeezing the things you use all the time in with items you don’t use at all.
The result? The clutter will return.
Make Clearer Decisions
When you hold onto something ‘just in case’ or because you feel guilty letting it go, you’re deciding the item is worth keeping. But it’s not an enthusiastic decision.
You might be thinking that you’ll get rid of it someday in the future. Or, you might think that you’ll use it someday in the future. You end up with tug-of-war tension.
Although I think black-or-white, this-or-that, dichotomous thinking is a rigid extreme when considering the options that we have in life, with our possessions we have two options, we can keep them, or we can let them go.
Keeping them could involve giving them a space in our living room … or boxing them into the attic. Letting items go could involve selling, donating, trashing, giving to a friend.
Skip the Questions
Decluttering is deciding, “Yes, I’ll keep this,” or, “No, I’ll let it go.” Lately, I’ve been thinking of this decision making as the Don’t, Won’t, Can’t Factor.
“I do use this.” “I don’t use this.” “I do like this.” “I don’t like this.”
“I will use this.” “I won’t use this.”
“I can use this.” “I can’t use this.”
When it comes to decorative items, are you using the item for the purpose you got it? Or, is it shoved in a box? Or, tucked in a room with a bunch of other stuff so it’s more of a dust-catcher than an eye-catcher?
Instead of asking a question, you’re making a statement about your possessions so you’re clearer about what you’re keeping and what you can let go of. This clarity can make your decluttering process faster and more effective.
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Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, loves learning and sharing information about organizing, productivity, and habits. She also likes reading young adult novels, crocheting, and spending time with her cat and husband in their riverside home in Massachusetts.