Tell me if this sounds familiar
As you put your key in the lock of your front door, you feel your heart sink into your boots.
You’re embarrassed to invite people into your home.
Your friends and family are always telling you that you should tidy up, and saying that they can’t understand how you can live the way you do.
You feel like you’re failing.
When you contemplate clearing your clutter, you feel overwhelmed and, besides, you wouldn’t know where to start.
When you’ve tried to clear your clutter before, you’ve hardly made any progress. Or you’ve made some progress but then the clutter has crept back.
You waste time and money buying things to replace stuff you can’t find, have forgotten you’ve got or which have got broken or damaged.
You never seem to have the time to declutter.
You are not alone
I bet you would be amazed if you knew how many of your friends, family and acquaintances were also struggling with this issue.
The more work I do in this area, the more I realise how common it is.
Because I talk about clutter constructively and non-judgementally, people open up to me and it’s not uncommon for someone at a party during the ‘What do you do for a living?’ conversation to share with me that clutter is blighting their life.
You can transform your home
And when you do, you’ll transform your life
Because when your home works, your life works.
Here are five steps to living a clutter-free life.
1. Let yourself off the hook
Try on that there is nothing wrong with having clutter.
Try on that you’re not a failure.
Try on that you’re not even cluttered!
Here’s the point. Labelling yourself as ‘cluttered’ or ‘a failure’, telling yourself that there’s something ‘wrong’ with you or your home isn’t going to enable you to change anything.
Quite the opposite.
It’s going to make you feel hopeless and miserable and you’ll give up before you even start.
If you’re a failure, you’ll never be able to change anything, will you?
On the other hand, if the facts are simply that you have a certain amount of stuff arranged in a certain way and that there’s nothing wrong with that, you’re free to make a choice.
You can change the amount of stuff you have, and how it’s arranged.
If you want to.
2.Work out what you want
Don’t declutter for the sake of it.
I bet there are a million bazillion things you’d rather do than spend time decluttering your home.
I bet there are also quite a few things you’d like to do that you don’t do because the state of your home gets in the way.
Would you love to have friends and family visit but you’re too embarrassed to have them in your home?
Do you enjoy cooking but you can’t because your worksurfaces are so cluttered?
Are you a creative person who can’t create because you’ve got no space to work in?
Get clear about the life you want to live. And have this be your motivation for decluttering.
3. Take it one step at a time
The ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, said “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”.
Don’t try to tackle your clutter mountain in one go. Break it down into manageable chunks.
This may mean accepting that it will take longer than you’d like to clear your backlog. So be it. Take that first step and you’ll be amazed how your sense of overwhelm starts to shrink.
Set aside a regular time for decluttering. (I usually recommend two weekly slots of no more than two hours each).
4. It’s not just about sorting
As you work through your piles of clutter, you will come across items that require action. Things that need mending, things to return to other people, things you’re ready to give to a charity shop or recycle, paperwork that needs attention.
Taking these actions is as important a part of clutter-clearing as sorting through your stuff.
If you don’t take the actions, you can’t get rid of the clutter.
Include ‘action’ sessions in your scheduled decluttering sessions and use them to get stuff done, so you can get rid of the associated stuff.
5. Get support
Do you avoid asking for help because you feel you’re imposing?
Or because you’re afraid that you won’t keep up your initial momentum and then you’ll have let down the person who’s agreed to help you?
Perhaps you’ve accepted help from friends and family before, only to feel judged and looked down on.
Perhaps friends and family have put pressure on you to let go of things you’d rather have kept.
Request support from someone who won’t judge you, someone who understands the process of becoming cluttered as well as the process of decluttering, someone you can rely on to caringly hold you to account.
Isn’t it time to start living the life you really want?