Decluttering 101: Change Your Frame of Mind
Your home right now is likely a reflection of how your current life is functioning. If your home is a disorganized mess, chances are there are other areas of your life that feel out of control as well. Do you spend needless time looking for things? Are you putting off dealing with messes? Your external surroundings can also help (or hinder) your dreams and goals. In short, by changing your home – you can often change your life.
As with most things, it’s hard to accomplish a goal without a clear plan or vision. Decluttering your home is no different. Many of us set off to “declutter” or “purge” without knowing what that really means to us or our home. With your goals and dreams in mind, think about what you’d like your life to be like in the future. Is there some way you can change your home to facilitate it? By changing your surroundings even just slightly, you’re helping yourself to grow into your ideal life – and are taking another step to Forget the Joneses.
To get to the heart of this project, begin by asking yourself a few questions. Why are you decluttering? What do you hope to get out of this process? What are your goals in designing and organizing your home life? Do you hope to rid your home of things you no longer use or need? Or, are you getting rid of excess things in order to be able to manage your home more efficiently? Do you want to turn your clutter into extra cash by having a garage sale? Grab a notebook and write down what you hope to accomplish by decluttering and organizing. When you get in touch with your motivations for jumping on the decluttering bandwagon, you’ll energize the process.
Next, visualize the space you’d like to create. Go through each room in your house and imagine the perfect version of how you would like it to appear. As you visualize, also think about how you’d like the room to function. What will you be doing in it? What will you NOT be doing in it? How would you like to feel when you’re in it? What will you need to remove or add to the space to facilitate those activities and feelings? How would the furniture be arranged? What would the shelves, closets and drawers look like? Then, while the vision is still clear in your mind, write down a clear description of that vision.
Don’t rush this step. Take a long time sitting in each room and reflecting on how you’d like it to be. It’s helpful to get your spouse involved with this and talk about what you hope to accomplish together. Often spouses have completely different agendas when it comes to how rooms should function – he wants the TV front and center, you want a relaxing sanctuary in which to read, etc. If your ideas differ, try to figure out a plan so that you can each accomplish your goals.
Decluttering is more than just getting rid of what you don’t want in your life anymore. It’s about creating room for new things and experiences to enter. What will getting rid of things allow you to do and accomplish? Here are some examples:
• If you want to procure new clients at work, clear out old files and create blank ones for new clients
• If you want to try your hand at writing, try clearing away some old clutter and creating a special new space for you to write
• If you want to learn a new topic, clear away old books that you’re not reading anymore to make space on your shelf for new interests
• Try clearing off your kitchen counter tops to make more space for cooking if you want to hone your culinary skills
What goes around comes around. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you want something to enter your life, try giving it away. If you want friendship to enter, be a friend. If you want your spouse to be more compassionate, try showing him some compassion. The same principles work with material things. Ever notice how many women become pregnant again as soon as they give away all their baby gear? If you want to improve your wardrobe, donate old clothing to Goodwill. If you want to do more cooking from scratch, get rid of the old kitchen appliances you no longer use. With the empty space you create, the more room there will be for new things and experiences to enter. Try it and you’ll see.
Before you begin the actual work of decluttering, get in touch with your motivations for purging and visualize what you’d like the end result to be. Review your list of goals. How can you create space for these new experiences to enter your life? Write down your goals and clearly describe what you’d like each room to look like and how it should function. Take “before” photos of each room so that you will be able to see your progress later on.