New Year’s Day is seen as a “clean slate”, a chance for a fresh start. We erroneously believe that everything on January 1st is fresh and new. We forget that we bring our habits, our patterns, our beliefs, and our very same self into the New Year.
Why not try something new this year?
During the last few weeks of 2016, start working on creating a “new you” to bring in to the New Year. A great place to start is by organizing and clearing out your clutter.
What is clutter?
The dictionary defines clutter as “A collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.”
There are several reasons we have clutter:
• We have more items than space (i.e. a pile of books that doesn’t fit on the bookshelf)
• We have sentimental attachment to things (that item that you think is ugly, but you can’t throw it away because grandma gave it to you)
• “Someday I’ll” clutter – the ski’s you are holding on to “in case” you decide to take the sport up again, the craft supplies for projects you hope to get to one day, broken items you “plan” to fix or mend, clothes you hope to “fit back into” (will they even be in style then?).
• “Just in case” clutter. I’ve been guilty of this – for me it was the old coffeemaker carafe I kept just in case my new one breaks (worse yet – they were a different style carafes I doubt the old one would work in the new coffeemaker. I just kept it without checking!)
• Trash – Junk mail you have put into a pile instead of tossing out.
As you walk around your home, take a look at any clutter you may have, close your eyes and “feel” how the clutter impacts you.
Does it uplift you?
…Or weigh you down?
Chances are that, no matter how attached you are to the clutter, it makes you feel heavy and stuck. If it’s a big enough pile it may even feel “impossible” to tackle so it really weighs you down. (I know I have been a clutter bug for most of my life)
For some it’s as simple as just getting in there and clearing it out.
For others, like me, it’s harder to shift — every time I cleaned (or even paid someone to come in and clean for me) I would immediately create new piles of clutter. Yeah… strange isn’t it?
Yet the way we create our world is always the result of our thoughts and beliefs.
My clutter had a real purpose.
The truth is that I felt that I needed a “barrier” between myself and the world. It shielded me from pain both real and imagined. (Even as a child I recall having to have every stuffed animal I owned surrounding me in bed. There was nothing and no one to be afraid of while I was in bed – no abuse or neglect to protect myself from. For some reason, something in me just needed “things” around me to feel safe. Even from a non existent threat!)
I equate my clutter piles to the same emotional patterns shared by women who gain weight to keep themselves “safe” from unwanted male advances, or to justify why their spouse is no longer interested in them,.
My go to remedy for insecurity was to create piles around me. (Even now I will catch myself doing this, and if I’m not careful, I will have another mess to deal with!) For example – I’d put 10 books around my bed to read (even though I can only read one at a time!) I’d overbuy groceries – which overflows my pantry. There was a time when the piles were extreme.
So how do you deal with the clutter?
Pick a cluttered area – one that, when it’s organized, will make a huge impact on your life. It could be as simple as your nightstand, the pantry, your desk – or as large as a whole room! Just pick an area that, at this moment, feels the heaviest when you look at it.
Then set up 15 minutes of “declutter” time. ONLY 15 minutes – set a timer. You can always keep going for another 15 if you have a rhythm going and are enjoying the process – but knowing you only have to do something for 15 minutes makes it easier to get started.Choose a reward for when the 15 minutes is done. (A dear friend will play an online game as a reward)
Pick a corner and start there, in an organized manner move around the space and clear it. Keep at it, 15 minutes at a time, until the space is organized and clutter free.
As you pick up an item ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”, “Does it make me feel good when I look at it?”, “Am I keeping it for purely sentimental reasons even though I don’t like it?” and then make a decision:
• Keep it – if it belongs here in this space you are clearing put it in its rightful place
• Toss it – have a garbage can right there and throw it away NOW
• Relocate it – if it belongs in another room put it in a box and set up another (15 minute) time to put these items where they belong
• Give it away – put it in a “goodwill” box to donate or a box to give to friends/family
As you do this, notice your thoughts and feelings. Recognize the benefits, if any, that this clutter is giving you. For example: Tossing all your financial mail in a box can be a way to protect yourself from taking a good hard look at your finances. Does this financial vagueness really help though? Or is it more damaging to you emotionally than seeing the full picture – and having the ability to act on it.
Understanding your clutter “triggers” helps you to deal with them as they arise.
Don’t beat yourself up for it.
Clutter is simply a tactic that you have learned to help you to deal with the world. For a while these tactics worked for you. Chances are they will never fully go away, and that’s ok, being aware of them is the first step.
So take a moment, right now, and imagine how much better your life will be if you start 2017 with a clean and organized space, and an understanding of your clutter triggers – to help you stay organized.
It’s liberating. It’s powerful. It’s one of the best ways to Start 2017 Right.