Getting rid of clutter and never accumulating it again might be easier than you think! I was talking with someone this morning about getting rid of the clutter that had built up over time. It brought me back to about 15 years ago when I had complained about clutter to a friend. I had declined going out for some fun on a Sunday because I had to spend the day trying to dig out of the clutter mountain I had created in my office. This friend was no ordinary friend. He has proven to be one of my favorite mentors. He has shared little tips and snippets of wisdom over the years that have not only helped my skills, but have motivated me as well! So I first want to thank my friend Ray Justice for his generosity. Ray is the perfect example of the “pay it forward” generosity that keeps us all giving! OK back to that clutter! It hit me that I have not had a clutter pile since that lesson Ray taught me so many years ago. I guess it worked! ;) Here’s the trick... Don’t tackle it all in one day. (And no, that wasn’t an excuse to get out of cleaning my office that day!) When we tackle it all in one day, it doesn’t create a habit for us. What do we do? We quickly build that clutter right back up again. Now of course there could be some psychological reasons for your clutter. So you might want to first consider your thoughts about the stuff you are piling up. Why are you keeping it? If it’s something you must keep, why do you need it in piles rather than organizing it? Check out a great article and book for more on this topic. But don’t let that stop you from this exercise. Because for most of us, once we get started, we build momentum and habits and soon, we start to believe in not having clutter. Taking the action, building the habit, and feeling the benefit shifts our way of thinking! Here’s what you do.
Assess your clutter and your time. Take 15 minutes at most to do this. For example, I had most of my clutter in one room. It was primarily paper clutter.
Commit to removing a minimum number of items from your clutter everyday. Equally important, commit to not adding anything to the clutter. I decided I would remove a minimum of 3 things every day, without adding anything to my clutter mountain. Some days I’d remove up to 10 things (and would have to actually step away so I wouldn’t remove it all).
Decide on a time of day that you can do this. Yes, you have to make it a priority or it is in danger of slipping off your daily tasks. If you travel like I do, of course your commitment to this is while you are home (or at the office if that’s where your clutter is).
Get organized. You can do this after you get started removing clutter. I began removing things that were easy to toss out. I used the do it, dump it, delegate it, defer it technique to not add to the pile. The defer it part was what I had to be careful with. At first I deferred too much. But that decreased as I progressed with this.
Be patient and persevere. My biggest problem was I wanted all the clutter gone instantly. I wanted to crash through it and make it disappear! I learned that going through it patiently helped me build a lasting habit.
I found this created a real desire to be clutter free. And it began to pour into other areas. I remember the first time I hoed out my closet, it was scary. But it felt wonderful! The daily struggle of trying to find something to wear disappeared. Not buying anything unless I absolutely loved it helped not add to the clothing clutter! Five years ago I moved out of a large five bedroom house. I had accumulated a little too much stuff (but not nearly as much since I had learned that clutter trick from Ray). It was so much easier to move, and since I embraced the philosophy of letting go, I sold or gave away 80% of things I really didn’t need! It felt so liberating. There’s not just physical clutter we’re dealing with. We have a lot of mental clutter as well. Think of how much better you’d feel without all those useless thoughts crowding your mind! Think of all the great ideas that will have the space to emerge! This technique can help you build a habit, and it will be so much easier when you decide you need to remove clutter from any area of your life. What clutter do you need to get rid of? Why not try Ray’s lesson out for yourself? Please share your progress (pay it forward!) or comment below with any questions you have about getting rid of clutter for good.