By Kathryn Weber
Today, many of us share one common problem: too much stuff in our homes. And, if you’re willing to invest just a couple of weeks – or weekends — you can get a grip on clutter and start feeling more in control over all the stuff in your house. Better still, you won’t have to live in a disorganized, cluttered home that frustrates and annoys you.
Having an uncluttered, organized home will repay you in time and money — and will return your peace of mind — and in just a few short weeks. Besides being a serious re-charge to your life and vitality, decluttering is good feng shui.
Everything you are surrounded by exerts an influence on your life.
If you’re surrounded by clutter and disorganization, it’s a serious energetic drain on your mind, your emotions and your physical body. Too much stuff quickly turns a home “yin” and that makes energy turn negative. Once that happens, the circumstances of life start changing, too. You could say that clutter becomes the sticks and mortar that dam your life and stop the opportunities that flow to you.
Let’s get started with the basics.
What is clutter?
Clutter is anything that you don’t regularly use, things that you don’t like or enjoy or that are broken, or items kept out of guilt and obligation. Clutter includes items like old clothing, unused toys, mismatched dishes, or stacks of magazines. One of the worst sources of clutter is paper. Newspapers, mail, magazines, old greeting cards, and various paper items all clutter up our coffee tables, desks, and refrigerator.
What clutter isn’t
Clutter isn’t anything you truly love or use regularly. Clutter also isn’t a valuable collectible. Some things shouldn’t go in a landfill or in a garage sale. Your grandmother’s Fostoria crystal isn’t junk and shouldn’t be treated that way.
Ebay, local antiques or consignment stores are resources to help sell your collectible items. One woman made $15,000 off her clutter. Every week, she sat at her computer with five to 10 items she wanted to sell and in six months, she had made an extra $15,000 by selling her clutter on Ebay. Too much trouble to sell? Give special items away as gifts to someone who’ll appreciate them.
There are a number of reasons for our over-accumulation. One is that we’ve moved from a disposable society to everything’s-a-collectible society and if everything is valuable, then you can’t throw anything away then, can you? We’ve also moved from a buy-it-as-you-need-it outlook to a buy-it-in-bulk mindset – and if we buy in bulk, we have to live in bulk.
Lastly, recreational shopping creates an overload of unused, unwanted household items. Hitting the mall every weekend just packs your house and empties your wallet.
Staying present. The difficulty with clutter is both past and future.
Too often people are tied to items because of the past (it was a wedding gift, it was Uncle Frank’s) and the future (what if I need a shoe buttoner again?). Yet clutter causes you problems in the present because you can’t find what you’re looking for or you have things you don’t really need or want. Other problems from the past include items we’ve inherited.
Many people feel like they have to keep everything passed down from their loved ones. It’s a tremendous burden of guilt. Remember that things are not people and it’s okay to let things go. To feel like you have to hold on to the possessions of your loved ones who are no longer around is to have to build your own life and hang on to their lives, too. It makes for a crowded house. Keep just a few items that you especially love or that you’ll use on a regular basis. My favorite item from my grandmother? Her cast iron skillet that stays on my stove to this day and gets almost daily use.
Go ahead, be wasteful
Have you ever heard the Depression era stories about being so poor that coffee grounds were dried in the sun and re-used? Well, it’s not the Depression anymore. It’s okay to throw things away. You have my permission and encouragement to get rid of stuff. There will be enough and you can always get more if you need it.
People hang on to so many things because they don’t want to be wasteful; like holding on to a shirt with a stain that won’t come out. The stain won’t come out the longer it hangs there, so why reach for it and then put it back on the rack? Throw it away once and for all.
Your role: The first step to getting control over clutter is recognizing your role in creating it.
Do you overshop? Do you keep things out of guilt (it’s Aunt Mary’s!)? Do you have to buy in bulk? Are you afraid to throw things away? Taking a hard look at how and why your house has gotten cluttered helps you get it under control and from becoming cluttered in the future. So recycle when you can, and throw away, donate, or sell the rest — and at every opportunity.
The physical symptoms of clutter
Clutter stops the flow of energy. When energy stops flowing, there is a negative impact to our bodies, spirits, and energetic life flow in the form of money, opportunities, love, and enjoyment. Clutter manifests as excess weight, constipation, inability to think, feeling stuck in life, low vitality, and poor personal growth and movement.
Once you begin decluttering, you may find yourself unburdened by heavy emotions and will begin to feel lighter, more at ease and have a greater sense of happiness and personal well-being. Clutter holds us back, like a giant weight, and creates blockages in our lives and spirits. Feel yourself feel unencumbered by lifting the burden of clutter and watch the increased flow of your life to start again.
Your Decluttering Starting Points:
What’s at hand. This week, try to make a change to your habits like going shopping during lunch or letting junk mail stack up instead of throwing it out. Try to change one habit each week. Make a decision about whatever you touch to find a home for it or to relieve yourself from it. Looking at the mail? Put bills in a special location, throw out junk mail and place magazines in a holder to read later.
The bedroom. Clear out from underneath the bed, clear out nightstand drawers and try to remove any items off the floor and clear off dressers.
The closet. Next, make your way into your closet to get rid of all stained or damaged clothes, followed by those you have never worn, followed by the ones you can’t wear, don’t like, etc. Have a giant drawer full of socks or some other clothing items? Get rid of all but the newest. Most of the time we have much more than we really need.
The kitchen. Clean out the refrigerator and pantry first, throwing away old food or small packages and doubles. Wipe down the shelves and organize items. The kitchen represents wealth and health and keeping the food organized, clean and purged frequently will help your health. Next, tackle dishes, throwing away those that are cracked or damaged. Get rid of excess plastic ware and any doubles you no longer need. Try to keep only those things you use frequently.
The office. Clean out papers, discard old files, clear out drawers. Create organization systems for your files. Get rid of old electronics you never use and consider getting a receipt scanner, like Neat Receipts, to help you keep your receipts digitally.
Copyright Kathryn Weber. All rights reserved.