out of control clutter

Stop out-of-control clutter without the anxiety, guilt and frustration that may have blocked you in the past. Commit time to plan for change and use Feng Shui principles to speed the process.

You can conquer out-of-control clutter

Has anxiety, guilt and frustration stopped you from conquering serious clutter problems? Has clutter taken over a room, an attic, a garage or other spaces in your home? Are you renting a storage unit until you can deal with stuff you don’t use, don’t need or have totally forgotten about while more clutter builds at home?

Clutter doesn’t go away on its own. It multiplies.

From a Feng Shui perspective, clutter represents unconscious obstacles or barriers to your happiness. No doubt you’ve heard clearing clutter can change your life. But if that’s true, how does it work?

Cluttered Storage Locker
Courtesy of Sparefoot.com

Clutter consists of items that have outworn their usefulness in your life. Therefore, even though you may have shoved clutter out of sight, you know its there. You feel its presence. Out-of-control clutter lives emotionally and energetically in your psyche and brings up anxiety, guilt, fear and frustration. Here’s why.

Your clutter isn’t just stuff. Your clutter is stuff attached to memories, experiences and the life you have lived.

Releasing emotional attachments to clutter can be life-changing. The key is to start with a plan. You can wait to roll up your sleeves and fill the trash bags later.

Plan to succeed

The emotional work of decluttering challenges even the strongest people. Plan on how you’ll get past the many obstacles you might encounter to make things easier. Good preparation helps put fears and anxieties to rest. As a result, you’ll become more confident about tossing out or giving things away. The thoughts, “I might need it someday” or “Someone might want it someday” lose their emotional grip on you.

Below are a few ways I help clients prepare to move clutter from their lives. It’s not a complete plan list, of course, because decluttering is complex. But it should take you a long way toward clearing serious clutter from your home AND your psyche.

Plan in advance what will happen to your clutter

Create a list of concrete options. Commit them to paper.

Decision-making while you sort through the clutter is exhausting and leads to burnout. Instead, simplify the process by deciding in advance how you’ll handle everything. Wait to set up bags, boxes, bins, etc., until AFTER you’ve made these decisions. And also wait to buy organizers or you’ll end up with organized clutter.

Here are some planning guidelines to get you started.

Yard-sale planning

If you envision selling your treasures in a yard sale, be aware you’re committing to a significant amount of work. Perhaps you’re a pro at yard sales know what to expect. But assuming it’s your first time, a plan can make the entire process easier.

  1. Check out local codes or homeowner’s rules governing yard sales (write down the website URL or phone number)
  2. Read articles like this one from Dave Ramsey so you know what’s involved before you start decluttering.
  3. Write down the name and number of a company or person who hauls away leftovers. Get estimates for removal services even if you think you won’t need them.
  4. Buy removable price stickers before you declutter. Attach them to future sale items as you set each aside. If you use color codes to indicate prices, you’ll save a step down the road. You can always change stickers later if you change your mind about pricing.
  5. SET AN EXPIRATION DATE – if you haven’t held your yard sale by X-date, go to Step 3 and call for a pick-up or toss items in the trash bin. Put them on the curb with a FREE sign or do a combination of the three.
    Yard sales that never happen foster guilt that niggles your psyche. Bite the bullet and let go. When those odds and ends are gone, you’ll feel like a million even if you haven’t made a dime.

Donation planning

Even if you’re a regular donor, you need a plan before decluttering. Deciding informally you’ll give everything to X-Charity or Y-Charity isn’t enough. 

  1. Write down the names and phone numbers of one to three charities to give your donations (maximum of three)
  2. Find out exactly what they accept or don’t accept if you’re not sure.
  3. Decide if you’ll personally take your donations to a drop-off point (write down the addresses) or expect a pick-up (write down the phone numbers).
  4. SET AN EXPIRATION DATE – if your donations haven’t been dropped off or picked-up by X-date, you agree everything goes in the trash. Your goal is to get rid of clutter, not store it for someone else in the trunk of your car or in your garage. Holding onto donations benefits no one and brings up guilt every time you see it.

Recycle planning

So many items can be recycled these days that knowing where to take junk in advance is liberating. In addition to paper, plastic and alumium, motors, computer cables, lithium batteries and household chemicals can be recycled. 

  1. Prepare a list of recycling centers and stores, their addresses and phone numbers
  2. Verify what types of recycles they accept before assuming they’ll take what you’ve got (things change!)
  3. SET AN EXPIRATION DATE – take recycles to the appropriate center no later than X-date or forfeit the ‘right’ to be environmentally friendly.If that sounds harsh, consider this. There’s no difference between recycles sitting in your garage or sitting in a landfill except the address. Eventually, long after you’re gone, everything you now own will end up in a landfill somewhere. Your goal today is to get rid of clutter, not be a recycle center. Honor your expiration date and act.

Gift planning

Gifting includes those treasured items you’re saving for someone who is unaware of your intentions. For example, bridal gowns, your children’s childhood toys, great-grandma’s china, a bentwood rocking chair, photo albums, family heirlooms or anything you hope someone will want someday. 

  1. Make a list of names with phone numbers of everyone you think might want the item(s) you’re saving for them
  2. Create Plan B in case someone declines. Your options are to offer the item to someone else, donate, sell, recycle or toss.
    Creating Plan B is a tough but critical step for effective decluttering. If you need help letting go of items that have special meaning yet have become clutter in your life, consider booking a session or two with me for guidance. Holding on only brings anxiety, never happiness.
  3. Call giftees to VERIFY they want the item you have for them. If they accept, arrange a pick-up or delivery time. If they decline, go to Plan B.
  4. SET AN EXPIRATION DATE – deliver gifts yourself or arrange for pick-up on or before X-date. Put Plan B into effect if the expiration date passes.
    Your offer is not subject to an indefinite layaway plan. Your goal is to declutter your home and your life, not warehouse gifts (or belongings) for others.

Create a happiness-ranking scale from 1-10

Let happiness define your priorities. Items ranking below 8 are clutter, not keepers

A system ranking happiness is a great way to determine the difference between clutter and keepers. When everything you own transmits joy (or is of daily or critical importance), you’ll be freed of clutter’s grip and feel fully energized.

Letting go of low-ranking items (some of which may have high-dollar value but bring no joy) becomes emotionally easier. Afterward, you can more confidently identify clutter that needs to go, from objects that enhance your environment, your thoughts and your well-being.

Physically touch every item to determine its ranking

How you feel about an item can be measured through physical touch

Chi (the energy defined in Feng Shui that magnetizes us to our belongings) can be felt emotionally when we physically hold or touch an object.

So plan to HOLD or TOUCH everything of value to uncover its emotional attachment to your life. Here are some tips.

  1. Notice if the item lifts your spirits, makes you smile in spite of yourself, or brings significant feelings of joy to the surface. If it ranks 8-10 on the happiness scale, it’s a keeper.
  2. If an item attaches to feelings of melancholy, obligation, guilt, anxiety or loyalty, omit ranking for now and label it a Sacred Item. Then set it aside to de-sanctify later (check out page 15 in my free ebook for a solution).
  3. If an item ranks below 8 on your happiness scale, it’s definitely clutter and can be sold, donated, recycled gifted or tossed following a pre-determined plan. Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering guru whom I greatly admire, says to thank the objects like these for their service and then let them go. Give it a try!

Planning and preparation pay off

Decluttering involves not only removing physical objects from your environment but releasing outworn thoughts and ideas that tie you to those objects. Letting go is the biggest challenge. Planning for success allows you to resolve mental and emotional attachments long before you roll up your sleeves and tackle the mess.

Once a plan is in place, you’ll be able to move past road bumps that might have stopped you in the past, or even forced you to give up and quit.

Julie Britt

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