It’s Time to Clear the Clutter!
Let’s learn how to clear the clutter so that we can feel better in our everyday lives. Study after study show that external clutter creates internal overwhelm and clutter in our heads! What’s going on around us affects what’s going on inside of us. Quite simply, the less we own, the less we need to clean, organize, and think about.
Furthermore, the fewer clothes, table cloths, or kitchen gadgets we have, the less we have to think about which to use. Obviously, the reverse is also true: the more you have, the more decisions you need to make.
Less Decision Fatigue
It is important to note that there is something called decision fatigue. Essentially, we wake up with a limited amount of mental energy and a certain number of decisions that our brain is able to make. If we use our decision making power on which bowl to use for our cereal, it is not available for bigger decisions during the day. Minimize the decisions you need to make on routine things by minimizing the things you have.
How to Clear Clutter
Now let’s look at the HOW. First print up my free declutter challenge sheet to commit to clear the clutter. Studies show when we track our progress we have more progress. Imagine that. Get the sheet to track your progress. Better yet, if you’re reading live time and are a woman over 40, join the midlife warrior membership as we will be clearing clutter all month together. Tracking your progress and doing it with others? Sure fire path of growth! You can get at smbwell.com/declutter and links to join the membership are at smbwell.com/memership.
Moving along, let’s go! Here are 4 areas to investigate and prioritize as we clear the clutter. I suggest doing one area a week.
1. Bedroom Closet and Dresser:
It’s time to look at the clothes and items in your closet and dresser. Pay attention to the thoughts you’re thinking when you’re looking at your items as that will help you clear the clutter.
First, if you hear yourself say: “maybe one day” or “what if…”, that means you’re saving it for the future and, in my rule book, that means that goes in the bag for goodwill. If you’re saving it for when you lose those 10 lbs, get rid of it. When you lost those 10lbs, you’ll want to wear something else and looking at it routinely reminds you of a goal you haven’t achieved.
Secondly, if you hear yourself holding on to items and saying: “maybe one day”, it’s time to pass it along. Maybe one day you will get invited to that special garden formal event where that dress would be perfect. Guess what? You’ll want to wear something different.
Finally, pay attention to any thoughts that make you feel guilt. So many of us save things because someone gave it to us or it cost a lot. If you’re saving a sweater that your Aunt Molly gave you and (gasp) what would she think if you got rid of it, ask yourself when is the last time Aunt Molly has looked in your closet?! It’s taking up mental space in your world. If you’re saving something because you paid a lot for it and have only worn it once (or not at all), get rid of it. Get rid of it. Looking at it reminds you of a poor decision you made (it’s not necessary to continue to beat yourself up) and someone else will love it.
Without a doubt, the kitchen is an area where decluttering can take place. How many can openers do you need? Serving spoons? Getting a divorce was one of the best things that could’ve happened for my clutter. I left my house with very little and so, when purchasing new for my rental, I didn’t buy 12 serving spoons to replace the 12 I left with my ex. Instead, I bought one. One serving spoon. One spatula. One cookie tray. One set of tongs. When I needed more, I would either buy more or figure out how to make do with just one.
Look around your kitchen. How many cook books do you really need? When I want to make something new, I usually open pinterest not a cookbook. How often do you really use that mini bundt loaf pan? What’s on your countertop? What do you use weekly? Put away or get rid of the rest. Clutter on your countertops clutters your brain.
When in doubt? Throw it out!
3. Living Spaces:
It’s time to look around your living spaces: your family room, dining room, home office, living room. What do you have on your tables, on your book shelves, or in your cabinets? What brings joy and what is just something else to accumulate dust?
Remember how we cleared out our bedroom closet by being on the look out for the two phrases: “What if….” or “maybe some day….”? Where are you saying those things in your living spaces? Are you holding on to serving trays for that special future event or that once a year big dinner? How about you choose to use it more (like now) or get rid of it. External clutter creates internal clutter. Do you have that pitcher or vase sitting on your shelf because your mother in law gave it to you? There’s no need to be a people pleaser with the things you have out or the things you keep. Choose to have your surroundings reflect you and your family. When in doubt, throw it out.
4. Closets & Storage Areas
Open up those doors. It’s time to look in those dark places like the attic and basement. What are you saving “just in case” or that “maybe one day”? These areas tend to hold a lot of sentimental things that we don’t like enough to put out but that we’re too indecisive to get rid of. I suggest starting small in these areas. If you have a bin with art projects from kids that’s more than 5 years old, play my 10 in 10 game. Set a timer for 10 minutes and commit to throwing out ten things in there. Leave a comment and tell me how it goes. Often we get started and throw out more than 10 things. Sometimes we throw out nine. Either way is better than none.
It’s awfully helpful to recognize what you’re holding on to to cause you pain. What do you have stored somewhere because you spent too much on it and aren’t making the decision to get rid of it now. Yet instead you feel guilt and regret every time you see it. Like that picture you bought impulsively on that beach trip but now don’t want to get rid of because of how much you spent on it….? Pass it along. Next week we will dive into tools to help us limit our impulse shopping but for today a reminder: life is short. If looking at something leads you to feel regret or guilt, get rid of it.
Clutter is indecision
Are you saving a table cloth or that set of hideous placemats because they used to be Great Grandma Stellas? For goodness sake, it’s possible your Great Grandma Stella didn’t like the table cloth herself! She decided to pass in on and it ended up in your cabinet. PLEASE don’t pass along the clutter to future generations. Stop the cycle today. Donate. Your trash will be someone else’s treasure. Choose your favorite and pass the rest along. All of the extra things we hold on to creates physical clutter which creates mental clutter.
The less we have to wash, clean, organize the less we have to wash, clean, and organize!
Where can you start today? Start small. Set a timer for 10 minutes each day this week. Get your sheet. Join us and our decluttering conversation in the membership. What’s hard to give away? What excuses do you come up with to hold onto something you don’t use? The less items we have, the less we need: the less we need to spend, the less we need to buy, the less we need to clean, the less we need to feel guilty about not wearing or not using. When in doubt, throw it out.
Let’s go warriors!