Why are so many of us buried in clutter? And why is it so darn hard to get out from under it? Having dealt with this dilemma for decades, I am finally living in a personal paradise—and in exactly the same house I’ve been in for over 30 years. For many years, this space provided a roof over my head, but was far more cluttered and messy than I wanted it to be.
So how did I create my personal paradise? I learned how to organize like a Goddess. Here are seven decluttering tips to help you do the same thing.
Step 1: If You Don’t Love it, Re-Gift it to Someone Else
This includes everything from clothing to furniture, especially inherited furniture. Terah Kathryn Collins, author of The Western Guide to Feng Shui teaches that our “stuff” is always talking to us energetically. Imagine the bed that you inherited from an aunt talking to you every night. Do you love what it’s saying? If not, time for it to go. Anything we’re keeping out of guilt or obligation is a health risk—I’m serious. Let it go. And if you need help, get a friend to come over and assist you.
Step 2: Give Up Perfectionism
Marla Cilley, the FlyLady, is a world-renowned expert on decluttering. She says that the biggest impediment to having a clean, organized house is perfectionism!
That’s right. We think the house has to be perfect and every drawer needs to be organized at all times. This is not realistic. It leads to exhausting ourselves trying to get rid of 15 years of clutter in a weekend. We end up simply exhausted and depressed.
Instead, set a timer and declutter for 15 minutes per day. Then rest. Do not do more than that. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in 15 minutes. Stop yourself from doing more.
Step 3: Start with Your Sink
About five years ago, I watched Marla’s video on how to shine your sink. And I followed her directions precisely. And shining that sink each and every night became a habit. Now I can’t go to sleep without a shiny sink. And when I get up in the morning, that sink is such a restful sight. A new day—a nice clean space to work. And miraculously, when one area of the house is organized, that organized feeling tends to become contagious. Over time that organization spreads.
Step 4: Get Help
Some decluttering projects are just too big and too daunting to tackle by yourself. I hired a personal organizer after I did a major bathroom renovation. I didn’t want to just pile all the old stuff into a new space. That organizer was one of the best investments I ever made. We worked in two hour blocks. More than that is far too taxing. It’s very difficult to let things go. But with the right help, it gets easier and easier. The basement was what I called “The belly of the beast.” Cleaning it out became exciting. With every load that went out the door I felt freer and lighter.
Step 5: Decluttering is a Way of Life, Not a One Time Thing
Let your spirit move you. There are times when I’m really into decluttering and cleaning out. And when one of those times hits, I go with it. Right now I’m looking at about 12 file drawers full of medical articles collected over my career. And guess what? Most of them are going right into the paper recycling bin. With most stuff now available on the Internet, I really don’t want to keep yards of paper that my kids will one day have to get rid of!
Step 6: Make Decluttering an Offering to the Goddess Herself
Or to whatever Divine being you prefer. In her wonderful book Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead, author Tosha Silver has a chapter called, When in Doubt, Clean. Make the act of cleaning an “offering to the Divine.” Let the very act of organizing and cleaning be a reverent ritual akin to reclaiming your own inner order and Divinity. There is nothing more fulfilling and uplifting than making a mundane household chore into a sacrament!
Step 7: Trust your Innate Priorities
When you have little kids, go easy on yourself. When my kids were little, and I was working way more than 40 hours a week, I just didn’t have the will to organize my house. It was much more rewarding to take a walk with my kids or go to the beach. And so—I never really got organized until the kids were out of the house. Trust me on this—life is long. And there will always be time to organize your house. Don’t make a career out of it.
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