This is an exercise from the Prosperous Heart on decluttering. I actually agree with the philosophy that clutter blocks money from coming in, and so making efforts to get the excess out is a good thing. That said, it’s a process. I’ve got some tricks for decluttering but I have a long way to go to making sure it just doesn’t start coalescing in general. I do have a lot of craft hobbies, so persistently revising and revisiting my rules for what I keep and what I toss is necessary.
Here’s what I do that works, along with a few things I may try:
- Declutter by station. Choose one table, one drawer, one bureau, one shelf of one closet. Then stop. Decision fatigue is real, and can derail a lot of life-improving projects because of inappropriate use of the “all or nothing” mentality. That mindset does not belong in decluttering.
- Make rules about how long I can keep stuff. Instead of buying more shipping boxes, I was alleviating my guilt and carbon footprint by decoupaging old product boxes and using those to mail orders in when I ran an Etsy shop. Unfortunately, it was time consuming, and often boxes would accumulate faster than I could decoupage them. Also, very few of my customers appeared to have any appreciation for the reduced carbon imprint or the visual change to the packaging. So Mike and I made a three month rule for that.
- Have a plan for the cleared space. Clearing excess clutter is often like having excess money in the bank account when you’re used to debt for a long time. There’s a panicked feeling of “great, what do I do with it?” that leads you to spend it/dump stuff on it all over again. One thing I do is think about how I use/live in a space and what I can do to make it more functional. This is especially important at my desk, where I write. I revise its layout once a year to make sure all the tools I need are in reach, that the books I refer to most are right there – and I’m trying to set up a reasonable altar space on it somewhere, too.
- Set up a more aesthetically pleasing “get rid of it” area. I often collect things to take to Goodwill, Half Price books, or put on Freecycle in one spot. It’s messy. I need something that looks nice, that sorts out where I want what to go, and that at a certain point visually signals that it’s ready for release.
- Establish a “release of clutter” schedule. A once monthly appointment for dealing with my excess stuff would be good – say the second Saturday of the month, I cart stuff off and so on.
- Put a “what have you been procrastinating on?” monthly message in my Google Calendar. You can program calendar reminders to text your phone and email you, so I can set it up on auto-nag.
- Forgive myself. I have no need to be perfect, I just need to be able to work.
- Read some declutter, productivity, small-space living, and lifehack blogs. I’ve gotten a little bored with my usual suspects and I also significantly reduced the number of blogs I was reading earlier this year. So a little time to carefully assemble some well-written, well-crafted declutter and small space living blogs in my RSS feeds would be good. It keeps it on my mind, gives me a few new ideas, and helps me to find new ways to look at my space while seeking ways to live efficiently.
- Make appointments to spend some time crafting. A lot of my clutter is just languishing material for intended projects. I might only squeeze in once a month or so, but at least then I’m making an effort.
- Just do one small thing every day when I’m overwhelmed. Maybe I should just recycle that pill bottle. Or I can put that one item in a garbage bag. It might not seem significant, but the action will accumulate until I’m less stressed out.