At day’s end, the only person who can make a decision as to which objects, tasks and routines are meaningful to you, and which are just clutter is YOU. The following tips might just inspire you toward a more productive and fluid mindset – and provide a lesson on decluttering.
The One-Touch Rule
According to Dr. Gerald Nestadt, director of the Johns Hopkins OCD clinic, making decisions immediately before clutter can root itself is important. “If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.” Try tossing junk mail as soon as you pick up your mail instead of taking everything to the kitchen table or your desk. Same goes for your inbox – clear it once a day. (btw, this really helped me. My old gmail account housed some 45,000 emails!! Thankfully, those days are gone.)
Be Proactive About Decluttering
If you don’t let clutter in, it won’t happen. Before you bring anything new into your space ask yourself: “Where will I store this?”; “How long will I have it?”; “How will I dispose of it?” and “Do I really need this?”
If you’re an impulsive buyer or shopaholic, try taking a month-long vacation from shopping. Instead of heading for the latest sale, take a walk or meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Turn your attention to what you already have and use great experiences as a reward rather than new things. If your inbox is cluttered, unsubscribe from emails that tempt you to buy more or what you don’t need.
Don’t Put It In A Box
The “out of sight, out of mind” saying doesn’t really aid in decluttering. Hiding clutter in containers isn’t the same as getting down and dirty with it. Actually, if you pull everything off the shelves or out of the closet, you get to see what you really have.
Chances are, you probably haven’t missed the things that have been packed away in boxes. If it hasn’t been used in the past year, be suspect and know you’ll probably survive quite well without it. Pass it on to someone who might really benefit and you get to have more space for something else.
Interrogate Your Clutter
That’s right. Talk to yourself. Rather than just asking if you like that object, ask instead why it needs to be in your space. Often we have a hard time saying goodbye to objects associated with old accomplishments, goals, identities, or relationships. The good news is that you can still have and cherish the memories without the things they’re attached to.
This has been a valuable tool for me. I have given myself permission to recognize when an object no longer adds value to my life. Things that I kept because they were gifts or I spent a good deal of money on came under the spotlight of interrogation and I found I had to be a little ruthless. However, the end result was an incredible feeling of freedom and recognition that letting go of the clutter is a real form of self-care. I’ve made space to grow, change, and welcome new experiences into my life.
I invite you to do the same.