How to Declutter Life One Closet at a Time
Two percent to 5% of Americans may meet the criteria for being hoarders, says psychologist David Tolin, PhD, a hoarding specialist and author of Buried in Treasures. My guess is that this number is in fact much higher and that the over accumulation of stuff is a very common problem today. Just turn on the TV to TLC and watch a few minutes of “Hoaders: Buried Alive”. Unfortunately the word ‘hoarder’ itself comes with a negative connotation of being lazy and dirty. I bet if you were to ask all of your close friends, you would find that half of them struggle with having too much stuff.
What is a healthy food blogger doing writing about cleaning closets? In other words, what does having less stuff have to do with health? Being healthy involves our bodies and our minds. Stuff weighs us down mentally. Having too much stuff fills up our mind space making it difficult to relax, think, and be creative. More and more I see how simple living leads to a clear head and an appreciation and ability to enjoy life in the present. Friends in the OvenHug community have shared that like me, keeping clutter and ‘stuff’ under control is a constant battle. I’ve come up with a few strategies for How to Declutter Life One Closet at a Time that I’d like to share with you. I started my journey in decluttering when the kids went back to school this fall and I had a bit of extra time on my hands.
To shop or not to shop, that is the question –
We live in an affluent time and place – everything revolves consumerism. Straight off Back to School we are flooded with Halloween decorations and costumes. Enter fall and we walk into commercialization for the holidays. Each of these occasions we’re pressured by the culture to shop for more stuff.
Tip – before you make your next purchase stop and think and ask yourself these questions:
do you really need it?
will it add value to your life or to others?
and on a more practical note, …do you have the room to store more stuff??
In California real estate costs are high and just about everyone is limited on space. In our home we are limited in the amount of storage we have – just an attic and the edges of the the garage – no deep dark basement like we had growing up in the midwest. At the same time we are living in a time and place of affluenza . Every time I turn around there is a shopping bag or a delivery at the door…yes we have teenaged daughters which makes it doubly hard to manage it all. It has become more and more important to learn How to Declutter Life One Closet at a Time.
What has worked for me in the past to is Declutter Life One Closet at a Time along with the change of seasons. When kids were younger we were forced to sort seasonally – they the weather would change and last year’s winter clothes would be too small. These days our clean-outs fall at Back to School time, near the Holidays, and again in the Springtime. When do you sort, donate and purge?
I follow a blog that I find so helpful with eye opening ideas and refreshing philosophies, Be More With Less (it’s where I downloaded all the great images for this post from). Courtney Carver sheds light on how much we can nurture our souls by pairing down. By choosing our favorite things and putting the rest away we shift the focus and energy on taking care of ourselves.
It’s so easy to let things pile up when we don’t have time and energy to organize. Attachment can be an issue for some folks. Sometimes our only motivation is to clear off counters and get rid of piles when we simply for the space.
- Need for Space
Time is an easy one to address. Carve out and prioritize for cleaning out. Schedule it on a Saturday and give yourself at least a few hours. Make it fun by playing your favorite tunes or listening to interesting podcasts. Be sure to stay hydrated, I’m serious! It’s hard work! Take snack breaks. This should not be torturous friends. For me personally I need more than one Saturday to get it done. I need a few…and full disclosure, sometimes weeks and months. Once I get started I get inspired to keep going. I tackle one little spot just to notice 3 more spots that equally need to be addressed. In the end I find it hugely satisfying to have cleared things out, paired down, and organized. It plain ole’ feels good to use everything we have and not to have extras.
Attachment – this one is the trickiest. People get attached to their things. Emotions are involved. For some folks it’s the fact that money was spent on it and so there can be guilty feelings around letting things go that were not used much. For others there might be sentimental value attached. I used to take some of our things to consignment shops, something I learned from my fashionista mom. Recently, however, I discovered an online company that acts like a consignment store and sends you cute bags to fill up. It’s called ThredUP.
Meet Thred UP. ThredUp is basically a consignment store that you don’t have to drive over to. They send you a cute bag with teal polka dots on it. I’ve been using ThredUp for several months now and I now look forward to that bag cute bag arriving in the mail. It inspires me to clean out. I don’t cash out big – most of my things are not designer or in like new condition since I tend to wear my favorite things over and over. I love the concept. Whatever ThredUp can’t sell for you they will donate on your behalf if you choose that option. You have the option to cash out what ThredUp sells or use the credit towards purchasing other used items they have listed. So far I have let my account build up and that also has a satisfaction of it’s own.
Need for Space – often we let our little piles accumulate until we plain old need the space for everyday functioning again. We try to have friends and family over often. Entertaining also forces us to cut down on the clutter – we need the counter space for food! We may need the space because more shopping has been done, particularly after the holidays – all those gifts to find space for…it can feel like a vicious cycle. Invite people over to your house, it’s a good external motivator 😉
Finally, after you’ve accomplished a task, reward self. Think of any activity or a way of treating yourself that does not involve bringing anything into the house. Schedule a beautiful nature walk with an upbeat friend. Have a massage or a deluxe pedicure. Do something for yourself after each closet or area.
I’ll leave you with this final thought and happy sorting and cleaning friends!!