Have you ever thought about how your clutter might be holding you back? We all have “stuff” but clutter keeps you from moving forward in your life, leaves you feeling guilty, and makes you feel overwhelmed.
- Boxes of things you packed away because you don’t want to deal with them,
- Items you only keep because they were a gift, inherited, or because you feel you “have to”,
- Clothes in your closet that still have the tags, don’t fit, or that you never wear,
- Items stored out of fear you may one day need them again, although you haven’t used them in more than a year,
- Electronic clutter such as an overflowing inbox, and
- Multiples of the same item.
The list could go on and on but what it comes down to is that clutter includes any item that doesn’t bring you joy or enhance your life in some way. Clutter takes up space in our lives and our homes creating unnecessary stress and chaos, and makes it more difficult for us to take care of ourselves and the people we care about.
The Frustration of Clutter
How many times have you felt shame or disappointment because you bought a dress and it’s still hanging in your closet with the tags on six months later? You don’t want to get rid of it because it was expensive but you also won’t ever wear it.
Or maybe you don’t want to have friends or family over because you have too much stuff? Clutter also causes frustration when you aren’t able to find the things you need because there’s too much stuff.
“Things will never make you happy. Nothing, even the most beautiful piece of art, is sacred, except you. When you take care of yourself, you are happy. When you are happy, you don’t need anything. You are content. Your life is satisfying. You’re not compelled to acquire things to make you happy. You are already enough as you are.” ~Brooks Palmer, Author of Clutter Busting
Holding on to clutter comes from a scarcity mindset, a fear that you don’t have enough. When you are in a scarcity mindset, it becomes harder to reach your goals.
My husband and I have been working to remove clutter from our home for the past year. We merged households last August so we had two of almost everything, along with boxes of stuff from before we were married. It’s been a long process and it’s not perfect, but today, our home is more peaceful and less cluttered. This feeling is what I want for you too.
Start Eliminating Clutter From Your Life
1. Make a Life-Long Commitment: I became committed to simplifying my life and decluttering more than ten years ago and I still hold this commitment today. Eliminating clutter from your life is possible but it’s not a one-time event, it’s an ongoing process and one that requires an ongoing commitment. As your life changes, your needs change too and sometimes, you may find you have to start the process over. This is what happened when I merged households with my husband. The same thing happens as your children move through stages, outgrow clothes and toys, when they go off to college, or when you downsize your home.
2. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: Simplifying your life and realizing you don’t need as much stuff is a huge relief. When you think about it, you really don’t need five different shampoos and five different conditioners, maybe one or two is enough. The same goes for kitchen accessories, books, movies, and CD’s. Take a hard look at each item you own and ask, “is this something I use on a regular basis, or, does it bring me joy?” If the answer is no, consider releasing the item by giving it away, donating it, or throwing it away.
In fact, a great mantra to use when you’re struggling is, “I have more than enough.” The understanding that you have more than enough helps keep you from buying things you don’t need and makes the process of releasing unnecessary items easier. When you have less things to worry about, life becomes simpler and the things you are left with have more meaning.
3. Release Things and Bless Others: Releasing things you no longer need, provides a sense of empowerment. By donating items to local charities, you are not only blessing others who may need those items, but giving is also very rewarding. An added benefit is you can take a deduction on your taxes.
I make donating items easy by keeping a small box for items by the back door. As I come across items I no longer need, I just put them in the box. When the box starts to get full, I drop it off at a donation center when I’m out running errands. The whole thing only takes a few minutes each time and has become part of my regular routine.
While I make a regular habit of taking extra items to the local thrift shops (Goodwill and Salvation Army in Portland), there are other places that also accept donations such as homeless shelters, and my new favorite, the local animal shelter. Last week, I took a box of old but clean towels and bedding to the local animal shelter. They were thrilled to get them and items that would have gone into the landfill can now be used to help homeless animals. And yes, I also got a receipt for my taxes!
4. Stop Trying to Organize Clutter: It’s easy to think you just need to get more organized, if only there were enough shelves, enough tubs, enough space. Stop. When you stop trying to organize your clutter and focus on simplifying and decluttering instead, you become organized. Marla Cilley has a saying that I love and have found to be true, “You can’t organize clutter.”
How do you eliminate clutter from your life? Share your suggestions below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!