Has your stuff has got WAY out of control?
Do you feel overwhelmed by your clutter, ashamed of your home, miserable about your mess, exhausted by the very thought of tackling the backlog?
Do you suffer from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Are you so embarrassed about the state of your home that you don’t invite people over? Is your social life constrained and your ability to form friendships and romantic relationships impaired?
If you live with a partner, do you row about the clutter or get grumpy with each other? One of you trips over a pile of papers or gets frustrated because you can’t find something, and you’re in a bad mood with each other all day.
Do you find that important jobs don’t get done because associated paperwork is lost in your clutter? The phone gets cut off because the bill was overlooked, you forget to follow up on opportunities that are offered to you because the relevant letter is buried under clutter.
As you approach your home, and put the key in the lock, does your energy sink? Do you suddenly feel so tired and low that all you want to do is push the stuff that’s on your bed onto the floor so you can crawl in and go to sleep?
What if I said it’s not the clutter that’s making you feel this way?
Try on the idea that what’s making you feel this way is not the clutter itself. It’s the opinions, judgements and thoughts you have about the clutter that sap your energy and make you feel hopeless, miserable and overwhelmed.
Opinions like “It’s bad to have clutter”.
Judgements like “I should be able to keep my home tidy”.
Thoughts like “I’m a failure”.
We’re all so quick to judge, aren’t we? To judge both ourselves and others. We’re great at noticing the things we’ve ‘got wrong’, the things we ‘could have done better’, the times we ‘fail’.
We’re not so hot at acknowledging our successes (or other people’s).
When I coach people who are unhappy with the level of clutter in their homes, I aim to help them notice their opinions and judgments about themselves and others, and choose to give them up moment by moment.
The opinions and judgements won’t disappear overnight. In fact they may never go away altogether.
The trick is to be ongoingly mindful. To notice our opinions and judgements, and practice stepping to one side of them so that they don’t drive us. So that we are able to manage our emotional responses to them.
I even suggest that my clients give up the opinion that their home is ‘cluttered’. Clutter is just a label, after all. And what one person calls clutter is different from what another person calls clutter.
Which underlines how it’s the opinions that cause the upset, not the stuff. Different people feel comfortable with different levels of ‘clutter’. And there’s no law about how tidy or otherwise our homes should be.
Most of us are comfortable with some clutter. I don’t know anyone who wants to live in a home that’s as tidy as an art gallery. I like my home to look lived in, with the stuff I use frequently close to hand.
The facts are that we each have a certain amount of stuff arranged in a certain way. And that we have the power to change that.
So you might now be wondering why, if I encourage people to give up their negative opinions about clutter, I’m a decluttering coach.
I come at it from a different angle.
I flip it round so we work towards something positive, rather than away from something negative.
My aim is to help people set their homes up so they work for them. So that, without them even noticing, their home supports them to live the life they want to live.
When your home works, your life works.
I see (at least) five benefits to having a decluttered and organised home.
1. You save money
As well as dealing with the stuff they’ve already got, my clients change their habits around bringing stuff in so that they don’t reclutter. This means they stop wasting money on stuff they don’t really want or need.
When your home is decluttered and organised, you know what you’ve got and where everything is. You no longer buy stuff to replace things you can’t find, and you no longer buy things because you’ve forgotten you’ve already got them.
Some people declutter so much that they no longer need that off-site storage that’s been costing them money every month.
If you’re about to move home, you may reduce the amount of stuff you have by so much that your removal costs are reduced too.
Plus you raise money by selling unwanted goods. My clients almost always come across items they can sell.
2. You save time
You no longer spend time hunting through your stuff. You know where everything is. There’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place so you can lay your hand on anything quickly and easily. And you don’t have to spend time shopping for things that are lost in your clutter.
3. You reduce your environmental impact
You get stuff you’ve been hoarding back into circulation. And, because you’re no longer buying things you don’t want/need, things to replace stuff you can’t find, or things to replace stuff you’ve forgotten you have, you reduce your consumption.
4. You simplify your life
The less stuff you own, the less you have to manage, and the less you have to do. Your life is simpler and easier.
5. You have peace of mind
You’re no longer frustrated by not being able to find things you want. Jobs get done promptly and efficiently. By clearing out physical clutter, you clear out mental clutter.
You let go of things that have been keeping you stuck in the past. Unfinished (or unstarted) projects that have been sitting around in piles reminding you that you ‘failed’. Clothes that have been reminding you that you’re no longer the same size or shape you were many years ago. Mementoes that remind you of unhappy, rather than happy, times.
You start to save money and time, reduce your environmental impact and simplify your life when you start to declutter. But you can have peace of mind instantly. As soon as you give up your negative opinions, thoughts and judgements about clutter.
And, ironically, once you give those opinions up, decluttering and organising becomes easier. While trying to solve a problem is soul-destroying, working towards a positive outcome is inspiring and fulfilling.
What are your thoughts on the above? Please do comment on this post to let me know.
Have a great week!