Too much stuff causes stress. Looking at a cluttered space can be frustrating. Planning to get rid of personal clutter can cause anxiety.
Although we know things need to be sorted and tidied, the task may seem like too much to handle. There are many “experts” out there that claim to have a magic solution to organizing and decluttering.
I’ve looked into many of these systems and know that there is no such magic. Some “experts” recommend containerizing everything. By following this system, we end up with cubbies and containers everywhere, and it’s difficult to keep things sorted put away on a regular basis.
Other “experts” recommend throwing almost everything you own away. The initial excitement of having a cleared space soon dissolves, regret and the urge to shop and fill the space up again may become overwhelming. Although both of these systems work for some, they don’t work for all of us. Eliminating clutter is a cycle that needs to be broken in a healthy way.
The desire for more “stuff” to fill our spaces is understandable. However, Jesus warned against this in Luke 12:15 (NKJV) And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in abundance of the things he possesses.”
The key to combatting clutter is to clear the mind first. I have discovered that unless I relieve my mind of negative self-talk and anxiety, I am not able to clear my space. I easily become overwhelmed and do nothing. On the other hand, if I am frustrated with the mess, I may hastily discarding things to create a temporary change, which is soon reversed.
Going to the store to buy a trove of containers to put individually sorted items is initially rewarding. It's also time consuming and the thrill is temporary. After all, buying unnecessary stuff is what got us cluttered in the first place! I end up not using most of these items after a week or so, and the containers become part of my mess. Can you relate?
There really is no quick fix! God didn’t design us to need so much stuff. Perhaps that is why we feel so stressed around clutter. Clutter causes confusion. Here are a couple verses to help sort this out.
1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV) Let all things be done decently and in order.
I have developed a healthy way to declutter that does not leave me feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It may not work for everyone. The biggest takeaway is to relax and tackle one space at a time. I hope this helps you. Because I am transparent, this image is NOT my closet! I wish it was. I am a work in progress. :)
CLEAR THE CLUTTER
Let’s take a deep breath and dive in. Literally.
Relaxing and relieving stress with a timed (I suggest 15 minutes) mindful activity such as crafting, word games, puzzles, or reading a positive blog, prior to taking on clutter can help make positive changes permanent. When this is followed by a small decluttering win, endorphins are released that help encourage you to keep moving forward.
Pick ONE small space to clean out. Take a before photo for your own use. A drawer, a closet, a cabinet, or under the sink works. Stick to this one project until it is cleared of clutter. After this space is completely done, move on to the next. Give yourself time to reset if you feel drained, returning to Step 1 between spaces if needed.
Remove everything from this ONE space and place it in a spot on the floor or in a box. As you are removing things, throw away obvious garbage. This includes scraps of paper, empty boxes, and containers. When the space is emptied, clean it as appropriate. I like to use a damp rag to clean dust or spills and spritz a little of my favorite essential oil blend around to freshen things up.
If you have duplicates of items or too many of one similar item, put extra ones aside and start to place items you regularly use back into the space.
Let’s talk about personal products. If duplicate items (like lotions or haircare products) can be combined, do that now and recycle these newly emptied containers.
When it comes to clothes, pick out seven to ten items in each category that you use regularly (t-shirts/tank tops/sweaters/dress clothes/jeans/pants/shorts/pajamas/exercise clothes/undies/socks/etc.) Put clothing items you don’t wear because they are uncomfortable or don’t fit in a bag to donate to charity. Torn or damaged clothing can be recycled (this is really a thing!) or thrown away. Organize, fold and hang your seven to ten group and put them away neatly. Look at all the extra space you have now! Clothing items that are left after sorting and picking your seven to ten can go into a box that should be appropriately labeled for future personal shopping sprees. This will save you from unnecessary spending and it will be fun to browse your own “store” when you need to replenish items that are used up or worn out. I am often amazed at the new clothes and products I find when I look in my box. This will save stress and money. Plus, there is no regret over throwing things out that you will eventually use. That’s a win-win-win, if you ask me. The boxes of extra things can go in a newly opened space in your closet, or maybe you can fit it under your bed. Don’t put them too far out of sight though, or you may forget about them.
Immediately after decluttering a space, take an after picture and compare it to how things looked before you started. Take out the trash and bring your donate items to the nearest charity. Treat yourself to a relaxing break to celebrate your accomplishment. You did it!
This same strategy can be applied to desks, office supply cabinets, kitchen cabinets and "junk" drawers. Tackle one space at a time, and you will be amazed at your progress. Looking back on your before and after photos will provide additional motivation. If you are feeling brave, send them to me! I'd love to see your progress.
I recently found a new handy option for keeping shirts and other clothes wrinkle free. These stackable trays are amazing and easy to use. I love them.
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You can also skip this purchase, save money, and fold or “file” your clothes now that you have less to put in your closet and drawers. If you need examples of how to file clothes, let me know. I’d be happy to share how I’ve done this.
Some find “capsule” wardrobes fun and helpful. There are many videos and articles on the internet that will help you organize clothes you already have.