Decluttering can be daunting (but it doesn’t have to be)

There are so many reasons that decluttering can feel really daunting, but the good news is that by understanding why it can feel that way, we can find ways to make the process much easier, fun even and really satisfying.

A lot of people feel like they should be able to declutter and thinking about not having done so sends them into a spiral of guilt and negative self talk which can become paralysing.
– there are no shoulds or oughts and spending time criticising oneself is a waste of precious energy. You can choose to prove that voice wrong by picking a tiny (I do mean tiny) area to declutter and then stop. When you next see that place you keep your keys/fruit bowl/window sill/whatever you chose, you can focus on what you achieved, on how good it feels now and use it as the inspiration for the next mini declutter.

If we feel overwhelmed by clutter it can start to feel like sorting it out would take ages, that we don’t have ages to spare and so can’t do it.
– if you’re feeling this way, try decluttering with a timer. You can set yourself a mini task, another of those tiny areas, set a timer and see how long it actually takes. Just choose the small area, pick up each item that is there. If it lives somewhere else, move it to that place. If it needs to be recycled/donated/thrown away take it to the relevant bin (it’s helpful to have a box near things like recycling boxes specifically for things that you’re going to take to the charity shop). Give the place you’re working on a quick dust along with anything that’s staying there, put things as you want them. Then stop the timer, admire your work and ask yourself did it take more time than you expected or less?

The idea of spending time decluttering can feel boring and be put off because there are more fun things to do. It can be hard to stay on task when we feel like this and so we get distracted and then disheartened by our lack of progress.
The good news is there are lots of hacks that we can use to get around this feeling and get to the bit where we feel great for having got the job done.
choosing to do something that you’ve been trying to find time to do whilst sorting things is a favourite of mine. If there’s a book that you’ve been meaning to read, find the audio version, settle down to listen to it and whilst you listen keep your hands busy with decluttering. The added bonus of this one is that when you revisit that newly decluttered area of your home, you associate it not only with a feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment of the space, but also with memories of whatever you were listening to.
– the timer can be helpful with this one also. Even when there’s fun to be had and outside is calling, there can be a bit of time to work on things which will save time and energy later. Choose how long you have, set the timer and only do that much. 5 minutes really makes an impact it you do it often and maybe you can spare half an hour.
scheduling decluttering helps. I hear from clients all the time that having our appointed time to work together keeps them to task and stops them getting diverted to other tasks. Putting it in your diary whether you’re working on your own or with someone else gives the job the priority that it deserves and makes it a lot more likely that it will happen.
accountability buddies are so helpful. Letting a friend or family member know that you’re going to do some decluttering is really helpful. You can ask them to check in with you about your progress. Maybe they have a similar plan and you can support one another and share your wins and challenges.

It can be hard to start decluttering if organising feels like a world of rules that you don’t understand.
Like sourdough baking and beekeeping, you will find many approaches to home organisation and whoever uses a particular method tends love that one the best. It doesn’t mean that their method needs to be yours. Those of us with perfectionist tendencies can get caught in wanting to do things right and if there are too many options, get frozen and stop in case we do it wrong.
– there really are no rules, there are just ways of working that make some of us feel better than others.
you can decide the rules and trust that what you want to do is right. You may want rainbow book shelves or you may prefer to organise by category. You may have a library or you may have books only on digital devises. You don’t have to have books at all. You get the point.
– if the item belongs to you and is in your home, what priority it gets and what you do with it is your choice. You don’t have to love it because someone you loved love it, and also, you can love it because they did. You can’t go wrong by feeling how you feel and responding to that.

Decluttering can feel stressful, emotional and it can bring up memories both happy and sad. If you find it hard to do for these reasons, having someone work with you on it is a really good idea.
– being in the company of someone who finds a situation less stressful that you find it can make what feels impossible absolutely doable.

The role we humans play in helping one another regulate is gladly getting increasing recognition. Lock downs and being separated from others has been extremely detrimental to mental health and wellbeing and has highlighted that, especially in times of stress, we need contact with each other to be able to regulate ourselves. One way in which this works can be seen is in the observations around the body double which is something which I have done in many aspects of life, including as a parent and doula, and which I now find extremely valuable in my professional organising work.

There are many reasons that decluttering and organising can be hard to start, but there is a solution to every challenge and there are so many benefits to getting started that there isn’t space to list them here. More on those next time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *