How to Declutter
You’ve probably clicked on this blog post with the intention of learning the absolute secret of how to declutter. I’m going to be straight with you from the outset, this article may not go as expected, but I hope that it’s different from what you anticipated in the best possible way!
To risk cliché, I see our mastering of decluttering as very much as a journey, because, even if we get to a stage where we feel that all the physical decluttering that we needed to do has been completed, we invariably discover otherwise. For example, our initial focus with learning how to declutter is typically – and very understandably – around having a tidy, functional living area with more physical space. But this can and should change, especially if we are being empowered to declutter in the right way.
Of course, there isn’t any final point to our decluttering in that, in the routine of the everyday, shopping will always be part of our lives, so we’ll need to part with what’s no longer serving us. But, more importantly, there’s no final point to how our connection to the decluttering process can strengthen. Let me explain. Regardless of what age we reach, we don’t ever really reach the end of our potential, in any respect of our being. Everything is layered, and everything needs to continually develop and grow. I recognise that in my own life every day, even when I would have happily convinced myself that my new experiences or learning in an area were “done”. This change is often confusing and frustrating, it’s sometimes surprising, but it’s always healthy and natural.
As we come to understand the true potential in “letting go” in our decluttering, our expectations of how decluttering can impact our physical environment, personal style, wellbeing and indeed every single aspect of our lives are rightfully raised, and boy, how we can reap the rewards!
How to declutter and make it really count
The information and skills that one person needs to declutter will be very different from another’s, so it’s really difficult to give general information that works for everyone. Also, consider all the vast areas relevant to decluttering like our ever-evolving style requirements (body shape, colouring, signature style, tastes, lifestyle, age, etc.) for wardrobe decluttering as well as our transitioning lifestyle, décor and design, organisation, storage and individual style requirements for our homes. It’s almost impossible to condense all this down into a few meaningful statements – without even nodding to the only area that actually guarantees decluttering success, which is mindset.
Even though I get asked to do this a lot by the media and other partners, I almost feel like I’m doing the audience a disservice when I file down information on how to declutter into a few steps or bullet points. I’ve seen how clients and students have benefitted over the years from the whole-life, holistic decluttering approach I’ve developed, and a few bullet points could unfortunately never honour this incredible process.
So, I’m not going to give you all the tips and checklists I could (and probably would have done with the best of intentions in the less-informed earlier days of my career), and you can find out more about why I believe decluttering tips or a declutter checklist don’t always work. But I will share what I’ve see as some of our biggest decluttering mistakes. 😊
6 Ways How to Declutter and Be Disappointed
- Confusing decluttering with organising. Decluttering and organising are two very different skills, and I know many brilliant organisers who have found it difficult to declutter. Where organisation is about putting systems in place, I would define decluttering as the ability to “let go” of unwanted or unloved items. It’s impossible to every make any progress if we don’t understand this distinction.
- Wanting everything perfect. Very high standards often hinder or sabotage our decluttering efforts as we find it hard to imagine things being “exactly” right, especially if we’ve a lot to get through. Perfectionism tends to result in procrastination and overwhelm, and this stuck state can result in us feeling further guilt and hopelessness.
- Worrying about what others think. Sometimes family and friends may not be on board with our plans to declutter, and this lack of support can take many forms. While I never recommend decluttering someone’s possessions behind their back, it’s important that we don’t wait for anyone else’s permission to clear out our own personal items.
- Not having a plan. Clutter builds over years, even decades or generations, so it can take time to conquer. I’ve seen how rushing into the process without a strategy or set of realistic, well-defined steps can cause us to waste time and energy and quickly lose interest.
- Focusing on the process instead of the outcome. It can be difficult to motivate ourselves to declutter if we can’t picture the end result. We also likely won’t feel spurred on if we are dwelling on the minor details or the parts of the task that make us feel uncomfortable instead of the many whole-life benefits we enjoy when we declutter in the right way.
- Being over-logical about our emotions. Going into decluttering with emotions like overwhelm, guilt, shame or sadness continually results in failure. Although we may have some awareness around which emotions are blocking our progress, this logical understanding doesn’t get us very far. Unless we actually learn how to let go of or “release” on these feelings, we can never truly master decluttering and move forward in our wardrobes, homes and lives.
Hope that helps you in your quest of how to declutter! Learn more about how The Declutter Academy, my special professional organizer certification training programme, can help you.