Preparing yourself for the clutter free lifestyle
Purging and de-cluttering your environment should be a fun, energizing and empowering exercise.
I talk to many people who have the desire and the inclination but when it comes right down to having the rubber meet the road, or should I say the hefty bag meet the dumpster, sometimes people have a tendency to get a little less enthusiastic.
Simplifying your living space sounds like a great idea—and it is—but the project’s implementation can be a little daunting when you get right down to it.
Depending on the size of your home or apartment and the amount of clutter and complexity you have allowed to accumulate, your major purge project could take as little as a weekend or it may be a marathon of simplification that lasts several months.
You’ve got to fully commit and you need to have given it quite a bit of thought and consideration before you start throwing stuff in boxes.
Also, make sure that your spouse, kids, significant other and/or roommates are on board with what for all intents and purposes will be a new lifestyle. It can get extremely frustrating on both sides if you are focused on simplifying and de-cluttering the space while the spouse, roommates and or kids are happily dedicated to creating as much clutter and complexity as they possibly can.
If you are considering this type of project I invite you to look at it as not just a weekend “spring cleaning” where you do a little dusting, rearrange your furniture and throw out last year’s magazines.
Rather it should be the beginning of an ongoing, ever evolving paradigm shift. It should be a move to the aforementioned new lifestyle that will mature into a life of simple, joyous fulfillment.
As such it makes sense to communicate your goals clearly and specifically, and if others are not fully onboard you’ll need to negotiate an agreement about how you want to move forward.
If kids are not fully accepting of the project, especially older teenagers, they may need to have their own space organized how they want it but agree to abide by the new ‘Clutter Free” rules in the rest of the house. A closed door to a teenager’s cluttered disaster of a bed room is sometimes the only solution.
The key to de-cluttering your home is to understand that unless you live in a studio apartment or have just moved into a new space, you have most likely accumulated “stuff” over a period of many years. Consequently, you should not assume that you can completely simplify your environment in the space of a few days.
Plan your project and work your plan.
One of the keys to a major purge project is speed. When I say that I don’t mean that you need to grab furniture and run out of the house at full trot………
What I mean is that you need to complete the project in as quick a time frame as you reasonably can. It’s all about the big “MO”
You know, momentum……
The more you can complete the project in one fell swoop the better…….
This will enable you to get a much better feel for the scope of the “Stuff” you’re dealing with as well as help with the inevitable urge to put off the completion of the project until after Aunt Millie’s wedding, and of course the kids are going back to school in a month and then there’s my colonoscopy and on and on it goes.
It’s only human nature to let life get in the way of these type of things……….
You must be able to identify these bumps in the road and steer around them. Completing the project swiftly and as best you can in one big “fell swoop” (Whatever a fell swoop is?) will help with this issue.
Start by removing everything from the space. What we are after here is a triage project of sorts that utilizes the 3 pillars of purging:
The keep items are pretty self-explanatory. These are the things that you just can’t be without. Whether they are useful, enhance the beauty or serenity of the space, have monetary value or are of some immense sentimental value, there is no question; these things are keepers!
Try and be as disciplined and clear headed as you can about what things are important or useful to you and what things need to go. The goal is to end up with a space that is filled only with those things that you love, cherish and find useful, are of monetary value or that bring you joy and peace. Everything else goes!
(Note: There is a lot more to this subject than a few paragraphs in a blog post. I go into a great deal more detail in the “Joy of less” book series if you don’t have your copy yet CLICK HERE to download)
Also consider my new “Joy of less” video course, Click the link below for a special discount coupon………….
The “Remove” category has four subcategories:
You’ve done a great job and have a number of items that you no longer need or want. It makes sense to try and either recycle, donate or sell these items rather than just throw them in the dump. If you have enough items, a garage sale is a great way to get rid of these things and possibly make some money in the process.
My wife works at a consignment furniture store. Take a look online and see if there is somewhere you could consign for sale any of the nicer pieces of furniture that you don’t want. Also, Craig’s List is a great place to list your decent used furniture and other use-able items for sale.
Donate anything of value that you feel you can’t or don’t want to take the time and effort to sell. And lastly, you’ll probably end up with a small pile of used, broken, worthless “stuff”. There is usually nothing else to do with these items than put them in that aforementioned old cardboard box and make a dump run.
Careful, storage items should only be those things that are of high importance or value but that you don’t have room or a “place” for in your living area. As mentioned earlier, “on the fence” items should be kept to a bare minimum. For instance, if camping is one of your passions and you need several items of camping gear to pursue that passion, then you’ll want to find a good place to store that equipment.
Be very careful to only store those items that are very useful and in good condition. You do not want to take up valuable storage space with a bunch of old, outdated, non-functional spare equipment. If you have two of one thing pick the one that is in better condition and get rid of the other. If they are both busted and worthless, trash them both! Chances are you didn’t use the thing very much anyway. If it’s an essential piece of equipment, get a new one that works. It’ll make life so much easier. Obviously, not everybody uses camping equipment, but you get the idea.
When I started into my first purge project It was way harder than I thought it was going to be. This is to be expected. I want you to go into this project with that in mind. There are things that will tug at you emotionally that you don’t expect.
Where the line gets a little fuzzy sometimes Is that item with just enough sentimentalvalue to keep around but not enough real world value to justify keeping it. In most cases with this type of item you should just grit your teeth and put it in the “remove” pile?
I want to make sure you know that there really is no way of screwing this up. If you go through the de-cluttering process and end up with a space that isn’t as de-cluttered as you expected it would be, or you just couldn’t bear to part with certain items that you know you probably should have gotten rid of.
That’s okay, live with it for a few months and then have round two and see what happens. It’s very much an ongoing, evolving process and the only one who can judge the effectiveness of the project is you.
I know I said to be ruthless about what to throw out, but just do the best you can as you move forward and be gentle with yourself as you go. It’s about fulfillment, clarity and what’s important to you in this moment. It’s not about beating yourself up about keeping Uncle Edgar’s old baseball glove.
It’s about defining what’s most important for you and creating an inviting, stress free sanctuary of joy and fulfillment………..
And good purging