I often joke that decluttering is a little like dieting. If it was easy, we'd all do it and be successful with it! And like dieting, it's a series of small steps and decisions that eventually lead to success.
How Clutter Happens
As the lyrics in "Freewill" by the band, Rush state, "If you choose not to decide, you've still made a choice."
Picture this, you've just come home from a busy day of work and there's a fresh stack of mail glaring at you from the kitchen counter. "I'll deal with that later," you think as you kick off your shoes and go about relaxing into your evening.
The next day, the same thing happens, same with the day after that, and... before you know it, your mail has gone from a few envelopes to a BIG stack of mail you know how to deal with.
This is how it works with clutter too.
There are a lot of reasons we postpone decisions around dealing with clutter.
Sometimes, we look at the clutter around us when we're already in deep with it. It can get to a point where we've delayed decisions for so long that now we don't even know where to start.
Maybe the things we're holding onto are sentimental and we aren't ready to let them go, or we don't want to upset the person who gave them to us. So, we stave off making the decision and opt to hang onto the item instead.
I see this a lot when it comes to beauty products and medicine cabinets. I have clients who say they haven't used the things in their medicine cabinet in years, but they feel guilty throwing it away. There it sits, collecting dust, taking up space, and contributing to the clutter.
Some things we just don't know what to do with, or they require extra steps like going to the consignment shop, recycling center, or shipping it off to someone who would be better served with it.
When it comes to items that we want to sell, we have to take time to figure out where to sell them, list them, and then find a buyer. It’s a whole process and thinking about it can cause decision delays that lead to hanging onto the clutter.
Other reasons for postponing decisions are shame, embarrassment, and guilt. You might feel guilty letting something sentimental go, you might feel shame in how much money you spent on this tool you never use, and you might be embarrassed that the pants you've had since college don't fit.
Allow yourself to let go of the shame and let the item go.
How to Act Now
Here are five questions you can ask yourself next time you encounter something that could contribute to future clutter:
- Does this require action? If yes, take it now if you can, or put a system or reminder in place for the future action required.
- Do I own this already? This is helpful for decluttering digital files, emptying junk drawers, and cleaning out closets.
- Is it relevant or useful? Do I love it? Do I need it?
- Can I name a specific instance in which I'll use it?
- Are there any negative implications in getting rid of it?
If you want even more questions to guide you along the way, click HERE to read my blog on what clutter is and how you know when to let go.
If you're still struggling to decide, focus on the easy stuff first. Let go of trash, recycling, junk mail, and all the obvious perpetrators of clutter.
Then, work your way to the stuff that requires more thought and might be harder to let go of.
Just like diet and exercise, the decision to declutter is a muscle that you can build up and get stronger. When you do, you'll find more productivity, peace, and prosperity waiting for you on the other side.
Ready to make a decision to get organized NOW?
I invite you to book your FREE call with me where we’ll have a non-sales chat where you can share your challenges and I’ll offer strategies to jumpstart YOUR organizing journey.