When my son moved back home it was wonderful and challenging all at the same time. He came back with all his ‘stuff’. We needed more ‘stuff’ like a hole in the head, and that would have been more comfortable given what we went through over Christmas.
His well-intention gift to me was to paint my office walls and his room! ‘Mum, I’m going to paint your office, and brighten it up!’ “Okay, that’s great son, when did you plan on getting that done?” His reply ‘Oh, just before Christmas mum, so it’s ready for you for Christmas day.’
Sounded all fine and dandy, but for our son to paint my office and his room, everything would have to be moved out first, and this is where the decluttering opportunity arrived.
I approached it the task with vigor and determination for the first 6 hours, then it all just got too much. I kept at it, but the hay fever flared up with the indoor dust and the outdoor pollens, and the exhaustion of sneezing that goes with that made the rest of the experience uncomfortable and tiring, to say the least. Fortunately, I had a few tricks up my sleeve.
With some beautiful essential oils, like Easy Air, On Guard, and diffusing Lemon, Lime, rubbing Digestzen on the stomach and continually applying Balance essential oil blend, I was able to get through those next few days of upheaval. My husband, Darryl was called in for help and assistance when it was announced by ‘said son’, that he really wasn’t that good at painting and could do with a hand. Somehow I got involved painting doors, back, and front, my skill set to be developed when it came to painting! Anyway, we got through it, we also got rid of 3 boxes of paperwork, some burned, some shredded, and apart from feeling a bit tired, I got through the process and the upside, a new looking office with different images on the wall, new shelving, amazing! I loved it, just beautiful.
The task of moving items back into the office was quite interesting, this is where I got to be selective and ruthless at the same time. Decluttering is quite challenging, you have to make choices.
To be effective in decluttering, you need to do a few things, and a few things right. You can sort out what goes into storage, what get’s discarded, what you keep and where you will put it. You must ask yourself, ‘does this item really need to stay in my life?’ Your process will vary depending on the emotional attachment.
Ideally, I should have done the cleanup months ago, but probably like you reading this, life got too busy, and the day to day activities took priority.
So to be effective with your ‘de-cluttering’, let’s start with a few great hints and advice on how to make a dynamic difference to your life, by decluttering.
- Make a list and schedule for De-Cluttering. Create a list of areas in your home to de-clutter, beginning with the easiest. Don’t forget to include digital space as well, de-cluttering your computer is just as important as your kitchen or bedroom. Add each space to your calendar and schedule in a fun relaxing event or reward right afterward for motivation. This part is very important, we had Christmas day as an end goal to reach, and time out with our friends was a priority for me to get my office sorted, I wanted to proudly show my friends my now de-cluttered and tidy office. It worked for me to have that motivation that end goal!
- Know what To Store: In the process of sorting, you will come across items that you can’t bring yourself to throw away so putting them in storage will help clear the space without causing you the psychological pain of getting rid of something before you are ready to give it up. In my case, it was information, documents that I had put aside for future writings and presentations. I couldn’t get rid of them, so I could at least move them up to the roof where all those things go for a later ‘sort out’. I know they must be kept until I make the time to go over them. In 6 months - time, I will revisit these paper piles and work out what to do next. Having them out of sight, for now, is a good thing, it reduces the mental anguish that is attached to the work involved with sorting and reading through the information. Go through your storage at least once every 6 months, using the list you’ve been making to find the items you miss and discarding those you have not missed.
- Try the Hanger Experiment: To help identify wardrobe pieces that are not being worn, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home using separate containers to distinguish what you use and don’t use (products, cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies, and craft items etc).
- Try the Five-Box Method: Assign tasks to five boxes:
Box 1 – Everyday things that need to be put back in their place.
Box 2 – Things to be given away or recycled.
Box 3 – Items that you don’t need every day, but need to store.
Box 4 – Anything that can be categorized as “absolute rubbish”.
Box 5 - Items you simply can’t decide what to do with.
Each item in every room is to be placed into one of the five categories. No item should be passed over and each item is considered individually. Use this method when clearing each room on your list. Do not do the whole house at once, it will be too big a job and maybe counterproductive. If you tackle one room at a time, you will achieve order much more consistently and develop better systems than if you take on too much at once. Take it from me, over Christmas we ended up doing 3 rooms, which really took its toll on me combined with the hay-fever, and yet, I am glad it’s finished.
- Consume Less by Enjoying What You Have: Some people really like to shop, I’m not one of them! Retail therapy can be fun for some, but when it turns into space clutter it is counterproductive. Instead of buying new things and adding to your ‘clutter’, enjoy what you have or repurpose things you already own to fit your needs. Find non-consumerist outlets and activities like hobbies, social groups, and sports that give you a good mood boost without the clutter. Use positive affirmations, lists, and other mind mapping methods to maintain a tidy and positive mind that will flow through to tidy and positive physical spaces.
Address the Mental Physical or Digital Clutter: Clutter, whether mental, physical or digital, is something you’ll always have to deal with, but it can be controlled. There are many helpful methods to direct the traffic of consumption in your favor. De-cluttering will help you feel like you have more space and energy for the good things in life. It may open your space and life up for more creativity, people, and positive changes, and may give you a sense of freedom.
Anne Clark runs interactive workshops around de-cluttering, food preparation, essential oil integration and de-stressing the body and mind. Check out EVENTS to see what’s coming up next.