How to clear your mind by decluttering

posted in: Holistic Wellness | 3

I have never been great at being organized. I'm sort of okay at organizing small areas and at making lists, but I've always found it hard to stick with any kind of system consistently. I've learned that this is actually a sort of perfectionism – I tell myself, “I can't to a perfect job right now, so I just won't do anything.” Getting over this thought process has made the biggest positive impact on how organized my home and time are!

One resource that has been incredibly helpful for me is – life changing, in fact! FlyLady teaches a few principles that are all based on getting over perfectionism, loving yourself, and taking control of your situation. I encourage you to check out her website, but I will outline a few of the basic principles that have been especially helpful to me, since I will probably reference them a lot this month as I write about getting organized:
  • You can't organize clutter.
  • You can do anything for 15 minutes.
  • Routines are a lifesaver!
I certainly don't follow the FlyLady system to a T – far from it. But I do use these and some of her other principles pretty much daily.

You Can't Organize Clutter

So, let's take a look at the first point I listed: You can't organize clutter. To be clear, clutter can be:
  • anything that's out of place.
  • anything that doesn't have a place.
  • anything that you should really get rid of.
Some people have defined clutter as anything in your home that isn't a) useful, b) beautiful, or c) joyful. I like that definition, but I also find it too inclusive. A dresser can be useful and beautiful, but you don't need 3. Toys bring my kids lots of joy, but we can't keep every toy that comes in forever! They would take over!

Limiting Beliefs – Declutter Your Brain!

It can be kind of hard to decide what to keep and what to get rid of until you get into the right mindset. I used to tie so much emotion to my things. I still do in some ways, but I've grown a lot in this area. It's easy to do, especially in Western culture. In order to get into the right mindset to declutter, we have to overcome some of these myths:
Think long and hard about these beliefs. They don't have to be a part of your life. Set yourself free from these thoughts and you will find that it's so much easier to be absolutely ruthless about getting rid of stuff you don't need.
Many organization experts recommend having a variety of bins on hand as you organize – sell, donate, garbage, donate, repurpose. I recommend donating everything you possibly can, unless it's in poor condition, in which case it can be thrown away.
I love selling stuff, but I think most of us kid ourselves in the first stage of decluttering, saying “I'll get around to putting it on Craigslist.” or “I'll take pics and put it on Ebay soon.” or “I'm going to have a garage sale this summer.” Those are all good things to do, but often we just don't get to them and the stuff ends up sitting around forever.
Repurposing stuff can be great too, but it's another tricky area. We can't hold on to everything that we want to “fix up some day” or it will just take over.
Decluttering takes a lot of honesty. Honesty with ourselves about how little possessions actually mean and honesty about our intentions.

Spend 15 Minutes Each Day Decluttering Your Home

It is truly amazing how much can actually be accomplished in 15 minutes. I don't believe any of us can honestly say we can't find 15 minutes. Don't think that it won't make a difference – I used to think this, and so I wouldn't even start or try. Well, I think differently on this now. Trust me on this one.

Every day, until your home is clutter-free (and then maybe once a week or something) follow these steps:

How to Declutter Your Home

  1. Pick a room a room or closet to go nuts on.
  2. Get 2 boxes/totes/bags or any other kind of container that can hold a good amount of stuff and also a trash bag.
  3. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  4. Go crazy! Use one tote for donating stuff and another for stuff that goes elsewhere in the house. Don't think too long about anything. Be ruthless. Get your hands on as much stuff as possible. Donate anything that you don't truly love or need and that is just taking up space. Throw away the trash and things that are in poor condition. Throw things that are out of place in the “put away” bin.

Knowing how to declutter is half the battle – because often it is just so overwhelming to think about that we don't even start. You don't have to get it all done at once! Just use these decluttering tips to get it done 15 minutes at a time.

Organizing is so much easier when you have less stuff! I have not once regretted getting rid of anything, even things I was really torn about. Having a cleaner home is totally worth it! For those items you are torn about, consider this list of questions, which is also from FlyLady:

  1. Do I love this item?
  2. Have I used in the past year?
  3. Is it really garbage?
  4. Do I have another one that's better?
  5. Should I really keep 2?
  6. Does it have sentimental value?
  7. Or… does it give me guilt and make me sad when I see this item?
And for those items that you do find “sentimental” – ask yourself if you're holding onto it because it's really something you love, or if it's because you're AFRAID of dishonoring someone somehow or losing some memory. Use your feelings to gauge what's going on when your thinking is clouded – if something is tied to fear, that is not a good reason to keep it around! If something is tied to guilt, that is not a good reason to keep it around! Joy? Love? That's the good stuff!

Let me know what you guys are thinking. Do you hold on to stuff for emotional reasons? What do you find challenging about decluttering?


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Kylie Wiser is an herbalist specializing in skincare and women's health. She shares recipes and resources on Everblossom to help others live a more holistic lifestyle. She lives in Fargo, ND with her huge family and lots of houseplants.

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3 Responses

  1. Micki Sellers

    Love this! especially the myths about decluttering. I have trouble getting rid of things that might be of use in another way that I haven’t thought of. It’s great when I DO think of a way to reuse something, but until then…into the closet it goes!

  2. Elizabeth Yarnell, ND, CLT

    Decluttering and organizing has been on my to-do list for the last few weeks. It can feel so overwhelming! I like the idea of taking it in small chunks and realize that this is what I have been doing in my kitchen, closet, and home office. Instead of focusing on all that is still left to do, I’m going to congratulate myself on all the pieces that I’ve already tackled! I’m excited to find your blog and look forward to reading more. 🙂

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