by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Ask yourself, "why am I doing this?" to clarify your intentions.
When you motivate yourself to start decluttering, you may prod yourself into action with thoughts like, “I’m tired of feeling overwhelmed by all of this stuff,” “I want to spend less time cleaning,” or “I don’t want to be so disorganized that I’m always scrambling to find whatever it is that I need.”
However, what would happen if you visualized your future a few months or a year from now, when you’ve cleared a lot of the clutter from your home? Don’t focus on the clear kitchen counters or the neat closet, think about the time you’ve freed from tasks like cleaning, organizing, shopping, or looking for misplaced items.
What Would You Do with More Time?
Even if you are just starting the process of decluttering, thinking about why you are decluttering can not only motivate you to the task of sorting through your stuff, but remind you that you are doing this work to improve your life, to create time and space for the things you want to do with your days.
Do you want to clean your kitchen and dining room, so you can entertain more? Do you want to move the kids’ toys and DVD player out of your bedroom so that you and your partner can share more relaxed private time? Do you want to organize your crafting supplies, so you can spend your evenings making things instead of pawing through materials, looking for what you want to use?
Maybe, you’d use your “found” time to volunteer or start exercising or do things with friends and family instead of explaining, again, that you are too busy.
Clarify Your Intentions
So, why do you want to think about this now? Because you may have components of your future in your home, right now. If you have dinnerware for eight that you never use, but entertaining is one of the reasons you want to declutter your home, then that dinnerware that seems like clutter right now is really the supplies you need for your future.
If you want to have time to knit hats and blankets so to donate these items to charity, tossing your yarn stash would be counterproductive. If you want to teach scrapbooking classes, then those extra supplies may be perfect for your students’ use.
One of the standard questions of decluttering is, “Have you used this in the past year or six months?” If you answer “no,” but decluttering will give you the time and space to engage in this activity, then hold onto the items. Don’t hide these items but store them where you’ll want to find them when you are using them.
This isn’t an excuse to hold onto things, “just in case” you get back into photography or skiing. That’s why questioning why you are decluttering and visualizing your life as if you’ve completed the task are important steps to take. Instead of thinking, “maybe,” you move toward, “yes.”
And, what if, despite your decluttering efforts and your good intentions, you don't host dinner parties or start teaching scrapbooking classes? Then, you release these items, knowing that you’ve moved onto other dreams and goals.
So, if you weren't contending with clutter, what would you do with your time?
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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.