Setting the stage

When you’re ready to pull the trigger on decluttering, start with establishing a few ground rules. All new habits take time and intention. It’s invaluable to think through what you want to envision how you want things to be. And when it comes to decluttering, the last thing you want is to step on anyone’s toes in your household..including your own! So today, I’m sharing 5 key considerations which foster thoughtful space clearing for both you and those living under the same roof!

Rule #1

Identify your decluttering “why”

Call out your objectives

What do you hope to accomplish by decluttering? Bear with me here! I know it seems obvious that a clear space and less stuff are the ultimate goals for anyone decluttering. But think about what it will mean to you personally when you achieve that outcome. For example, it may mean room to bring in things that support a new hobby. It could be preparation for moving into a smaller space. Or perhaps it will create space for someone new in your life. In other words, think about what your personal motivation is and write it down. This will be something you can refer to when the process begins to bog down…and it does. But you can keep on going when you have your vision defined front and center!

Loop back to this post for the details on crafting your Decluttering Manifesto!

Rule #2 

Purge only your own things

Handle only your own clutter

If you don’t live alone, it’s critical to respect other people’s belongings, whether you like it or not! We can only make decisions about our own stuff. If you want someone to get on board with your decluttering mission, start with setting an example. Have a convo about what you want to accomplish and why. Even if they are not ready to join your mission, at least mutually agree on having some clutter-free zones in the home. After all, living together always calls for a certain amount of compromise, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, if you have oodles of stuff in your home that belongs to someone not living there, formulate a plan on how to deal with that. This is a common occurrence when our children grow up and move out of the house! Would you prefer to reclaim that room? Is there a plan for when they will take their stuff? Are you storing things for them because their present space is too small? Again, this is a good time to discuss your decluttering goals and how their things are impacting your vision.

The other night, I watched a Netflix episode of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. A recently widowed midlife woman had bedrooms frozen in time like a shrine to her now adult children. Stuffed animals, sports trophies, posters and knickknacks…you get the picture. I found it interesting that even though her children were very loving, it still fell on her shoulders alone to clear out their rooms! Wouldn’t it make more sense to have them take responsibility for their things? Just imagine the life lessons for them as they sort through and determine what they themselves no longer need, use or love.

Rule #3 

The only timeline is your own

It’s not a race

Patience is the key when it comes to decluttering! It would be incredible if we could get it done in one fell swoop. But alas, we didn’t amass our things overnight. It follows that it’s unrealistic to expect we will clear space in a blink, either. Our attachment to our things will be unique. Understand that our timelines will likewise vary.

So don’t get discouraged when this feels like a daunting, never-ending process! This is exactly why I advocate breaking it down into small steps. Start with the area or room that you spend the most time in or which bothers you the most. As you clear out the clutter, you will feel the lift and satisfaction of reclaiming that space. When it feels heavy, slow down and pause when needed. At the end of the day, only you should be in charge of of the pace for your decluttering efforts.

Refer to this post when you start slowing down:

Rule #4 

Be gentle with yourself

Honor your own emotions

Decluttering has a way of uncovering more than just assorted, miscellaneous stuff! You are also triggering emotional reactions to people and events in your past. Often we have unresolved feelings which now rise to the surface. This is exactly why my rules call for taking your time and respecting your emotions. Once you can face those past memories and release any negativity or fear, only then can you part ways with the things that you no longer need or possible never really cared about. Now you can make peace with moving on.

Many times, we hesitate to release things that represented how we were or who we were in our past. Nothing wrong with that! But it’s worth reexamining everything. If you were to describe yourself to someone new today, what would you tell them? What accomplishments or roles define you best now? At one point, it may have been integral to your personal brand that you were a PTA volunteer. But now, perhaps it’s your docent role at the local art museum that’s really integral to your values. In other words, these are the clues of what to retain as you sort through your stuff.

Rule #5 

Celebrate your wins

Acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small

Recognize that each item you release takes you one step closer to your decluttered goal! Don’t wait until you’re completely done…because actually, that never happens! Oh, don’t let that stop you from starting! My point is that life is fluid. We change constantly as we evolve. If we don’t, then we get stuck. So when you start the decluttering process, you’re merely removing the top layers. Eventually, you get to a point of where you’ve got things fairly tight. But even then, new things continue to come in and so old things must make their way out.

However, each time you knock out a small area, whether a drawer, a cabinet or a shelf, acknowledge your small accomplishment! Every time you take a box or bag out to the trash or to the local charity, congratulate yourself! You choose how to thank yourself but be sure to give yourself a high five. Revel in the clarity you start to feel both internally and externally as you declutter, one day at a time. At some point, you’re going to wonder what took you so long to get started!

The Wrap

Following my five basic rules will ensure you stay on track with your decluttering goals. Any time you embark on a new routine, it’s essential that you establish some ground rules. These rules keep you on track, motivated and mindful of others in your household. Above all, the rules encourage you to edit at the pace that works for you!

For one more resource, pause and listen to how Liz edited her home of 1000 things…what did she learn?

Your turn!

Let’s chat!

Have you started decluttering recently? How’s that going for you?

  • What’s been difficult?
  • How do you keep motivated?
  • What have you learned about yourself during the process?

Please share your thoughts with us below…and thanks for stopping by!