It is easy to point to the benefits of de-cluttering your home; more space, more time, more money, just to name the big ones. But if you know these reasons intellectually but still can’t seem to take steps to address your clutter, then its time to ask yourself:
"What does keeping clutter do for me?"
make you feel safe and give you a sense of certainty?
make you feel prepared for what-ever the future will bring?
mean that you’re a good provider?
keep you distracted from other things you don’t want to think about or deal with?
feed into a story you have about who you are?
keep you locked into in-action because that feels safe, comfortable and familiar?
mean you don’t have to deal with change?
mean that you didn’t waste your money by making poor purchase decisions?
mean that you can continue your ‘hobby’ of collecting things because it makes you feel good; if only temporarily?
... or Is there another payoff for you to have the clutter? What-ever benefits you find to keeping clutter, it's time to ask “How is that working for you?"
When you can identify your truth about clutter, and realise that it only services unnecessary or even negative purposes, you can release yourself from their hold.
Thoughts to help you take action
Catch yourself in the procrastination. You're creating reasons to not take action unconsciously; now it's time to create reasons to take action consciously.
Respect and observe your anxiety. If you're anxious of the idea of all your de-cluttered items leaving all at once, give yourself time to live without them first. Move them out of the way; perhaps store them in the car boot, in the shed or anywhere that you won't come across them frequently. Prove to yourself that you can live without them before making the final decision to remove them. Put a reminder in your diary to check and dispose of the items in 1, 2 or 3 months time.
Life is experimentation. There is no shame in getting things wrong. You experimented in purchasing things which you thought would add value to your life. If you got that wrong, and it didn’t work out as expected, that’s ok! Take the learning from it, and start a new experiment of living without them; and see if you value the space and calm more!
Goals and Values
Take some time to think about what your personal values are, and what you want to achieve this year, in the next 5 years and the next 10 years. How does clutter contribute to that? I bet it doesn't.
If you’re an environmentalist, you may tell yourself that you’re saving things from landfill. Well is certainly true if you’re using all the things. If you’re not, then you’re contributing to the problem! But nesting things but not using them, you are preventing other people from having and them and using them. This will create consumer demand for more of them to be created, which is completely at odds with the aims of environmentalism!
If you want to spend more time with friends and family, but people can barely get in the door, or you’re too embarrassed to have guests over, then your home is not in alignment with your goals.
If you need more money to live comfortably, then you are tying up your wealth in unnecessary things. If you sell those things and liquidate their value, you can actively contribute to and improve your financial position.
These are just a few examples of how de-cluttering can align with and support your goals and values, and knowing them is key.
Sit down with yourself and have an honest conversation. Work out what is driving you to have the clutter but also what motivated you to read this blog post. You know that you're unhappy with your clutter situation. Find your truth, and let that be your inspiration to take action. 1 step at a time, doing the easy things first.