If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to collect stuff over time. You stick all of the takeout menus in a kitchen drawer, along with every random paperclip, rubber band and pen you find. Your closet has a selection of white t-shirts in every neckline and sleeve length ever sold. And your guest bedroom has more “extra” pillows than the Westin.
I get it. I tend to collect things over time too. I just cleaned out my closet and found FOUR faux fur vests. I mean how much faux fur can one person possibly need?!
What happens is that you come across something new that you like, and you also keep the older thing you like too. Over time you build up a collection of things – some that you love (every cut and length combo of dark wash denim), some that you may need some day (batteries, votive candles, extra keys), and some that you just can’t seem to part with (every photo and book you’ve ever owned).
And it starts to feel easier to just “close the door” on your collection zones than to go through all that stuff!
When I was relatively new to business, I hired a business coach who included a decluttering activity as part of our work together. While, I’ve been a long time lover of a clutter free and organized space (well, in my post high school days at least), I’ve not had decluttering as part of a really consistent thing that I do.
What I learned from my experience with my coach was that clutter – especially the smaller clutter that you regularly “close the door on” – can be a daily distraction and energy drain. You know how those little fruit flies randomly show up one day and are basically impossible to get rid of.
Every single time you walk into your kitchen – there they are. That feeling – is what small pockets of clutter in your car, makeup drawer, pantry and linen closet is triggering. Since it might not be as big of a deal as those pesky fruit flies, you close the door on it. BUT it’s still had an affect. And the more of these little distractions you have in your space, the more of a cumulative effect it has on you overall energy.
This is why, any time you notice it, rip that bandaid off and deal with it!
Most of these smaller clutter zones can be dealt with in 10-15 minutes. Even the larger projects like your basement, garage, kitchen and closet can be broken down into 10-15 minute chunks. You can also decide to commit a few hours to go all in on a Saturday (which I do a few times a year).
No matter what the details are of the clutter zone (what, where or how much), there are 3 simple steps to follow. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can declutter any space and how much better you feel once you do!
Here are the 3 steps:
- Empty the space. Clear every single thing out and put it on the floor or counter. This makes it easier for you to survey all that stuff and decide what to do with each item. If you’re decluttering your fridge, take everything out and put it on the counter or kitchen table.
- Clean the space. Wipe it down, vacuum – whatever you’ve got to do to get that space feeling fresh and clean – do it. For example with your fridge, pull out and wash the drawers, wipe down the shelves, wipe down the outside of the door too.
- Organize and put away. Go through everything you took out and decide what to put back. Don’t put anything back that’s old (expiration dates on food, old makeup, etc.) and anything that you don’t like, want or use. If you tried chia seeds and weren’t a fan but don’t want to waste the Costco size bag – you’ve got to let that go. You can ask a friend if they want it or toss it. While it may feel wasteful in the moment, it’ll actually help you be more thoughtful about what you buy in the future.
The more you practice these 3 steps, the more fluid the process will feel. And you’ll be amazed at what a great way this is to give you a little energy boost too! You’ll start to open up all those doors you were so quick to close before.
Give these steps a try and let me know in the comments below how it goes!
P.S. If cleaning, decluttering and organizing feels more like a spring activity, I get it – it’s the natural time we think to do those things. But the fall is a great time too – especially now just before the holiday season. While you’re bringing out all those warm jackets, cozy sweaters and comy blankets take 10-15 minutes to declutter the space as you move things around. You’ll be glad when you do!