"I Only Have To Do This Once" the perfect decluttering mantra for when the going gets messy

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Things get messy before they get organized

In organizing and decluttering (as in life) the going usually gets worse before it gets better. 

It may not be a very motivating statement - but in organizing and decluttering, it's a very true statement.

Especially if you're doing truly doing life changing decluttering, which is the kind of decluttering that I focus on.

In my work, I focus not just on changing my client's spaces, but also their lives. Don't get me wrong, we organize, we declutter, we toss, but we don't put things in neat little boxes - because things put in neat little boxes don't stay in neat little boxes. So together we look at how they use, and interact with, and live in their space. That way, we can come up with an organizational system that actually works.

Organizational systems that work don't come prepackaged

Organizational systems that work come about when you put in the work to find out what you need. How do you use your space? What do you need from your space? What possessions bring you joy? Which objects do you own that you don't love?

They're not quick, or simple, or easy to set up, but ultimately they have the potential to change your whole life.

And even better than that, once you have an organizational system that works for you, it's a snap to maintain. You don't have to worry about putting something back in the wrong place. Or finding somewhere to put something. It just works for you.

So, while it might take longer to find your system, and discard or replace non-joyous possessions, ultimately it takes less time away from your life because you only have to do it once.

You only have to do it once.

"I only have to do this once."
"I only have to do this once."
"I only have to do this once."

That thought makes the whole process far more palatable.

Ways you could use this mantra

You could...

  • tape it to the fridge.
  • put it on a post-it note stuck in your planner or on your computer.
  • set it as a reminder on your phone.
  • write it on the bathroom mirror.
  • hang it to the door of your closet.
  • have your organizational cheerleader remind you of it.

Remember...

The mess may get messy, and the task of organizing may seem impossible, and the cookie cutter solutions might seem awfully appealing.

But if you do it right. If you don't stop halfway through. If you lean into the (temporary) mess.

You only have to do this once. 

What's so difficult about organizing anyway?

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It feels like it should be easy.

From the outside, the process seems pretty easy.

Find find a home for each thing. And put things in their home.

But the tricky thing about organizing is, a process that seems like it should be easy, is actually incredibly difficult. This creates a disconnect that leads us to believe we're doing it wrong, which leads to frustration, overwhelm, avoidance, and eventually to giving up.

So first, lets get one thing straight: organizing and decluttering is hard. Full stop. No ifs, ands, or buts.

If it feels like it should be easy, why is it hard?

There are a couple reasons why organizing and decluttering are easy, but the main reason I see in my work is:

Our possessions are more than just objects.

Sometimes a possession is just an object - unless you inherited your silverware from a beloved family member, you probably weren't too attached to the spoon you ate breakfast with.

On the other hand, sometimes a possession is so much more than an object.

Objects can hold memories, or experiences, or reminders. They can act as a physical connection between us-as-we-are-now and another person, or an event, or another time, or who we were.

Objects can hold hope. They can connect us to who we want to be, who we could be, who we think we should be, or the be versions of ourselves (or our loved ones).

Objects can hold fears. They can be things we hold on to just in case, or because we have nothing to replace it with, or because we've always had it, or because it was a present we're afraid the giver will ask about.

Decluttering is hard because our possessions are so much more to us than mere objects.

How to Get the Support You Need While You Declutter (and why you need it in the first place)

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Why is it so important to have support while you're organizing anyway?

At it's worst, decluttering and organizing can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience.

It can be so overwhelming that we avoid it - in favor of just about anything else. Or we organize everything perfectly with the best of intentions to keep it organized - only to get disheartened when everything slides back into chaos. Or we start decluttering marathon - only to loose steam one room in.

But what if organizing your home didn't have to be overwhelming or paralyzing?

What if it could be, sort of, fun? Not like vacation fun - but, at least, enjoyable?

There are three elements to making organizing and decluttering not suck. They are:
1. cheerleading.
2. accountability.
3. clear headedness.

We need cheerleading because at some point in the process, you're going to feel it's all for nothing. Having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going can make all the difference between finishing your organizing project or not. Sometimes all we need to keep going is the knowledge that someone is in our corner cheering us on.

We need accountability because at some point in the process, you're going to get distracted, or not want to finish what you started. Sometimes cheerleading isn't enough, and we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles of stuff under the bed, or in the closet.

And we clear headedness because at some point in the process, you're going to get so wrapped up in your own head that you can't think straight. Decluttering and organizing can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. This is the clutter busting, organizational trifecta of support, and we all need all 3, at some point in our successful organizing process. They are the forms of organizing support that I provide for my clients, and are the keys to getting the supportive support you need while you declutter & organize your home.

So that's WHY we need support, but HOW to get the support you need?

There are many places you can get the support you need, and who you turn to for support is best determined by you.

Your decluttering & organizing support system could come from:
1. your friends or family.
2. an online community.
3. a book.
4. a method.
5. a movement.
6. even a professional organizer (like me!)

Exactly where you get your support from doesn't matter - no place of support is objectively "better" or "worse" than any other. So get the form (or forms) of support that will work best for you.

As long as you get cheerleading, accountability, and clear headedness, you're good to go!

(If you think a professional organizer might be the right form of support for you, I talk more about the process and how the whole thing works here.)

How to Keep Your Home from Sliding Back into Chaos

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So now that you've decluttered, cleaned, and organized once and for all, we want to make sure your home doesn't slide back into the chaotic state we first began with. There are a couple of tips you can use to keep this from happening. Most of them are those obvious things that we all know we should do, but don't often stick to.

Tips for Keeping Your Home From Sliding Into Chaos:

1. Finish.
Once you start the WHOLE process. It's only when we see our space COMPLETELY organized & decluttered, that we feel the all encompassing joy that will motivate us to keep up with the process.

2. Get rid of what needs to be gotten rid of. 
Take out the trash to be thrown out. Drop off the bags & boxes for donation. Recycle the recycling. Schedule the hazmat pick up. Get the things you want to get rid of out of your space. This is technically part of finishing, but really deserves it's own attention. When we leave things in piles by the door waiting to be thrown out, or dropped off, or picked up, they sometimes have a tendency to get "stuck" on their way out the door. Until it's out of your space, it's still part of your life.

3. Create a home for everything.
When every object we own has it's own home, a place where it belongs, in a location that makes sense to us and our routines, we're far, far more likely to put things back when we're done with them. A home doesn't have to be a pretty little box, but it should be somewhere that make sense for the object it houses.

4. Create a habit of putting things back home.
When we completely transform our spaces, we can completely transform our lives, and so it's a fantastic time to develop a habit of putting things back into their homes when we're finished with them. Having a home that makes sense will help you do what we all know we "should" do when we're finished using something - put it back where it belongs.

5. Let your organizational system evolve with your life.
Your home and organizational system should support your life & schedule, not impose itself. For example, if you find yourself continually not putting something back in it's home, try giving it a new home, maybe that just wasn't the right spot for it. If some part of your space isn't working for you - try something else.

6. A stitch in time saves nine.
And maybe the most important part of making sure our homes don't slide back into chaos is - tackling small organization hiccups before they spiral. Life happens - things get busy at work, it's the holidays, and everyone is sick at once - it's all you can do to keep life happening let alone your home organized. When this happens, it's important to take the five minutes now (rather than the hour next week) to clean off the kitchen counter, or your dresser top, or wherever it is things manage to accumulate. Taking the (small amount of) time now, will save you copious amounts of time in a couple days (or weeks, or months) - and it comes with the added bonus of making the rest of life feel more manageable.

And that's how it's done.

How to keep your home from sliding back into chaos is nothing groundbreaking. Which is sad if you were looking for a miracle cure, and quite comforting if you were looking for something you could actually accomplish. 

Ready to get started? 

What are the benefits of living in an organized & decluttered home?

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There are some obvious benefits of living in an organized home, which include:

  • being able to find the car keys.
  • being able to find everything else too.
  • not having to look at that overflowing stack of junk mail.
  • not tripping over stuff on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • no need to buy duplicates because you can't find that thing you know you bought that one time.
  • it's easier to get dressed in the morning.

But while the benefits themselves may be obvious, their effects on your life can be astonishing:

  • "This has lead to new habits of clearing off my surfaces, putting my clothes away at night, laying out my clothes, and getting enough rest - things I just never cared about because my space (physical and psychic) was so cluttered."
  • "...sort my priorities, focus on how to get the most done in the least amount of time..."
  • "...making the space more efficient..."
  • "...moved me into a lighter and brighter way of living."
  • "I know where things are, and my home feels more livable and less like a prison."

We have a tendency to push off decluttering & organizing our homes until we have time - because life feel too chaotic, we're too busy, we don't have the time right now.

But the thing about organizing your home is that it doesn't just effect what physically happens in you home, it ripples throughout your whole life. Making everything in your life better.

When you're not scrambling to find your car keys, it changes your whole day.

And having an organized home is about more than just knowing where the keys are, it changes how you feel, and how you approach life. 

When is it time to call in a professional organizer?

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Even though I'm a professional organizer, and love working with clients to make their homes joyful places to live & come home to, I don't believe that absolutely everyone NEEDS a professional organizer to help them. There's plenty of information about how to organized and declutter and clean that's just a search away. Plus many organizational things are basically common sense, and yet, sometimes we all need a little more support and it can be time to call in professional reinforcements.

So, how do you know when it's time to call for reinforcements in your organizational endeavors?

+ if you freeze just thinking about starting.

+ if you've been saying "we'll get started next weekend" for years.

+ if you're so overwhelmed, you can't figure out where to start.

+ if you habitually don't finish.

+ if you've stalled.

+ if you need cheerleading.

+ if you need accountability.

+ if you need clear headedness.

+ if you're at your wits end.

+ if you don't want to go it alone.

If any (or multiple) of those sound like your situation it might be time to call in a professional organizer to help you cut through the mess and the chaos. You want to find someone who's style meshes with yours - someone who's patient and won't judge or make you feel embarrassed. Having someone who can ask the right questions and help you swiftly get to the heart of the chaos certainly helps too.

If it's time to call for reinforcements, schedule a "relief and hope call" so we can start cutting through your chaos right away. 

Field notes from my second work through the KonMari Method

Perils-of-the-Pile

Thought 1: A pile of stuff never looks good.

I dropped a few items of clothing at Goodwill yesterday, and also poked around. The pile of stuff in the photo above is only a fraction of the mounds of stuff in this Goodwill. 

Am I the only one who thinks prices at thrift stores are on the high side? Is it because the amount of labor dealing with the stuff mountains is so great. Not sure what percentage of unsalvagable stuff goes into landfills, but I bet it's a large percent. 

Unbelievable.

Thought 2: I'm ready to go even more minimal

2nd time through entire process--1st time was two years ago--the biggest life changing result was that my home did not spark joy-- yikes!

I do think certain life milestones call for a complete KonMari Tidying Festival: births, deaths, downsizing or urge to overhaul one’s life. 

I am at the end of a seven year cycle and ready to go even more minimal. My goal for 2017 is to do my part to #organizetheworld and help others go through the KonMari method and watch the miracles be uncovered.

I did not want to wait for entire process to be complete (we know how THAT GOES). I've completed all the categories, and I am going to be fine tuning the resting places and prettifying. I've been waiting to use my polka dot oilcloth in kitchen for months.

My space is shared with partner so I do not have complete control. I would never for example have a TV in the living room if it was up to me. 

What a coincidence to see Marie Kondo pair up with Cladwell to present capsule wardrobes -- something I have done for years - I have one box of clothes I can rotate back into the wardrobe later. I also have a few drawers for small things (underwear, etc.)

Thought 3: Clothes & Books

I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to clothes AND love the capsule wardrobe concept. 

I also have a couple of drawers with odds + ends -- underwear, pants, shirts, accessories.

Also have one box of clothes to rotate in for capsule. Personally, I do not like to have all my clothes out to be seen if not using. Love The 333 Project.

 My row of books--I might have 20 books left. As I live with my partner, cannot have full control of house :-( -- The collection of comic books NOT MINE.

I completely emptied out and am painting everything white -- but front door is being painted RED -- fung shui kind of treatment.

Want to figure out another place for toaster oven -- the use sparks joy, but not looking at it.

Thought 4: Before

6:19:17 KonMari Method™ Vernacular.PNG

Do "before" photos look better in soft focus? 😀

This is my "sanctuary" per the KonMari vernacular.

It was constructed a year ago and has taken a year to discover how it can Spark Joy for me. In my experience, going through the Five Categories: Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono, Sentimental is the easy part. And Category Six: the Spark Joy Refinement -- What colors? What plants? What Art? is what's difficult.

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What sparks joy for you?

How to Stay at Home While Living Like a Nomad

 Photo by  Arno Smit  on  Unsplash

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

What would it feel like to live as a Nomad, with all of our affairs in order, knowing we are free? Maybe we are happy at home and have no interest in travel, but who doesn’t harbor a fantasy of walking away from it all on a one-way ticket around the world? How many times do we look around at our Stuff and get the sinking feeling we are not free to do as we please because it would mean dealing with the Stuff first–and that is too daunting and we run to pick up a distraction. What opportunities have we already passed up because we did not feel organized in all of our affairs? What if it took a good 30 days of focused (and I mean focused) work to deal with the Stuff and clear the path for options?  Sure, you may not get to touch in on everything, but you will be amazed at how much more clear your path will become to  you when you can actually see it! How would we feel about our lives if we could face head-on the thought of making a change, no matter how major or minor it may seem to us - move across the country, travel, have a tea party, or know where that pesky piece of paper is when we need it?

It would be a world of new possibilities and choices.

When you take back your space, you take back your life.

 Photo by  Florian Klauer  on  Unsplash

Is there anything more thrilling than staring at a blank canvas? Is there anything more terrifying?

What about when that blank canvas is your home?

After you've sorted, and questioned, and culled. And tossed, and recycled, and donated. After bags and bags of stuff have left your life. After everything has been put in it's place, and labeled. Everything has it's space. Everything has it's place. Everything is set up. Everything is waiting for you to make the next move.

After you've taken your space back. Then it's your turn.

Organizing your home isn't the ending, it's the beginning.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo

When you take back your space, you take back your life, and after you take your life back, it's time to start living it. How do you want to live your life? What will you print on your blank canvas?

Ideas for Displaying Trinkets

So you've gone through all your stuff, sorted everything, held each piece, kept the things that spark joy, and tossed/recycled/donated/sold the rest.

What do you do with the trinkets that spark joy?

Display them of course! Displaying trinkets that spark you for you, lets you decorate your home without cluttering it. Win-Win!

You could… - use tins & things as storage on your desk or in your kitchen. - combine small light trinkets, photos & paper into hanging collages. - gather similar things together on a shelf, mantle or bookcase. - spread them in little joyful groupings throughout the house. - get some shadowbox frames and hang more than just your pictures. - get an antique letterpress tray, hang it, and put smaller trinkets in each compartment.

For more ideas, check out…

Creative tips for displaying collections from decoist.com.

This IKEA hack to make a cool shadow box.

Freepeople has some great ideas for displaying sunglasses, which can be translated to other things.

And then for even more ideas, there's always Pinterest.

The KonMari Method deals with the parts of tidying that are actually difficult.

 Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing is a brilliantly & concisely written - no extra words, no fluff, no filler - she gets straight to the point. This makes for some great quotes, and I do love a good quote, so I've gathered together some of the best and most poignant ones.

These are all from Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing."

  • “Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”
  • “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
  • “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important."
  • “The true purpose of a present is to be received.”
  • “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”
  • “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
  • “Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?”
  • “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
  • “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
  • “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Interestingly enough, some of the best parts of her book aren't about tidying itself. Instead the best bits have to do with addressing the psychological hurdles we need to overcome in order to tidy. As Bourree Lam wrote in this article in The Atlantic, "...I think the reason Kondo-mania continues is because she has actually hit upon some good solutions to deal with these pervasive mental fallacies."

We all know that tidying isn't inherently difficult, it's a pretty simple process - get rid of things, and then put what's left away. But in reality it's much harder, because of these "pervasive mental fallacies" and the reason the KonMari Method works is that it deals with the bits of decluttering that are hard - the internal bits.

7 articles about the KonMari Method that you might not have read yet

 Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

I love the KonMari Method of organizing because it actually works. Go through all of your possessions in one go, keep only what sparks joy in you, and discard the rest, then everything gets a spot, and your home is tidy once and for all.

But I'm not the only one who loves Marie Kondo's methods. Months ago I wrote a round up of 10 articles about Marie Kondo (perfect reading for us organization geeks) - so if you love organizing and reading about organizing, here are 7 more articles about the KonMari Method for you to enjoy.

1. "Japan’s ‘queen of clean’ promotes benefits of a tidy home" in The Globe and Mail

2. "12 Rules for Getting Your Clutter Totally Under Control" on Cosmopolitan

3. "How KonMari’s phenomenal book can help put your house in order" in Japan Times

4. "No more unwanted baggage; the golden rules of tidying up to de-clutter your home, mind and life" on Stylist.co.uk

5. "The Psychological Benefits Of 'Kondoing' Your House" from the Huffington Post

6. "KonMari Trendy New Organizing Method" on Martha Stewart's website

7. "A Therapeutic Approach to Closet Cleaning That Actually Works" from WhoWhatWear

Happy reading!!

Donating vs. Selling - getting rid of the things that don't spark joy.

 Photo by  Jazmin Quaynor  on  Unsplash

When we're decluttering & organizing, getting rid of the things that don't spark joy isn't exactly easy, because what do you do with it?

Do you put things out with the trash? Recycle them? Pass things to friends & relatives? Donate? Sell? Just thinking about what to do is overwhelming! But you haven't actually decluttered until the unwanted objects are out of your life. (Shoving things in a closet doesn't count.)

Some things are obvious - the broken things, you recycle or toss; the things your friends love and want, you pass along to them.

But what about the rest? Donate or sell?

The case for selling: it makes back some of the money you spent buying all the things, and who doesn't appreciate an extra money in their pocket?

The case against selling: it takes a lot of time, and energy - you have to deal with listing, shipping, and lots of trips to the post office.

The case for donating: it gets everything out of the house in a couple trips, if feels good, and there might be a tax write off.

The case against donating: finding organizations to donate to can sometimes be tricky, especially for less common items.

So, which should you choose? Instead of trying to logical it out, try asking "which sparks joy?"

Would you get joy from selling your things and seeing them go to people who very much want what they're getting, acknowledging and being ok with the fact that it might take a little longer to get everything out of the house?

Or would you get more joy in donating the things you no longer want, passing them along to a charity and trusting the things find their way to people who want/need them?

Marie Kondo answered this question in an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit, she says, "I am sure there are several different ways to get rid of books, by selling them or donating them. You should figure out which way sparks joy, makes you happy. If it sparks joy to sell them one-by-one, go for it. But it takes so much time and energy, if it does not spark joy, maybe you can donate them to a library or sell to one organization."

I think it's amazing that the question "does it spark joy?" is so telling, and can be applied to so much more than just deciding what possessions to get rid of and what to keep - it can also clarify how to declutter in a way that works and feels good to you.

How do you want to live your life?

 Photo by  Roman Mager  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

How do you want to live your life? It's a big question, but when you're organizing, it's an important one.

We all want to live in clean & organized homes - living with mess and clutter isn't pleasant, no matter where or how you live. But what "an organized home" looks like for you is probably going to be different than what an "organized home" looks like to your neighbor.

A big part of decluttering is getting rid of things that no longer 'spark joy.' And the things that no longer spark joy are different for everyone.

While strict minimalism isn't necessary by any means, the fewer things you own that don't spark joy, the easier it is to organize what's left. Most of us hang on to tons of stuff that doesn't spark joy, that we don't like, that we don't need, that we don't want - and all that stuff weights us down.

So, how do you want to live your life?

In your idea world, what would you have around you? What wouldn't you?

How to clean your messy desk, and keep it clean.

 Photo by  Jeff Sheldon  on  Unsplash

A messy desk is the enemy of productivity - I'm an artist, I know what it's like to need lots of things on your desk while you're working on your projects, but I'm also a professional organizer, and so I also know the power of a clean desk.

Messy desks are often considered a sign of a creative mind - and it's true - having lots of inspiring things around you while you work is bound to spark all sorts of new ideas! At the same time, all those new ideas can distract you from the very idea you sat down to work on.

A messy desk can be inspiring - it can also be cramped, crowded, and distracting.

With a messy desk we're always thinking about "what's the next project," "what else should we be working on."

So lets try a fast & enlightening experiment: working at a completely clear desk.

In 15 minutes, and five steps, let's completely clean your messy desk.

Step 1: Get a box - a sturdy bankers box with a lid is excellent, but any box, or bag, or container will do.

Step 2: Set your timer for 12 minutes. No time for dilly-dallying we want this done!

Step 3: Clear all of the items off the surface of your desk. For now, just put everything in your box. Get the stuff contained and out-of-sight!

Step 4: Put some elbow grease into it and clean the surface of your desk. Make it shine.

Step 5: Only allow your essentials back onto your beautifully clear desk. Can you limit yourself to 3 essentials?

Ok, I just cleared my desk.

Here's what’s left: 1 laptop, 1 clipboard, 1 pen.

Those are the only essentials I need for working on my current project (writing this blog post).

Now that you've cleaned off your messy desk, how does it feel? Spacious? Empty? Do you like it? Or hate it? Do you feel focused? Does it spark joy?

Once you're done with work for the day, take that box of stuff and pick out only what sparks joy. For every item that sparks joy, find a permanent home for it. Now toss or recycle the rest.

Important: From now on, if you want to keep the messy desk at bay - when you finish a project, or when you finish using a tool - put it away! everything should have a home where it lives when it's not in use. 

That will help keep your desk nice an clear - perfect for focusing on the projects you want to be focusing on.

The Intensity of Cleaning Up & Clearing Out

 Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

We spend huge amounts of our lives surrounded by "stuff." Piles of possessions. Mountains of things: things we bought, things we were given, things we don't even remember how we came to be in possession of.

And we spend so much time with these things of ours, that at some point we stop seeing them. We stop seeing the piles of clutter as piles of clutter - they just become part of a daily landscape.

We know the piles are there, and that they are clutter, and that we should probably do something about them, but that never quite happens.

And at some point, the clutter becomes comfortable - familiar. We get attached to our piles of possessions, so that when we do decide to tackle our piles - thoroughly and completely, once and for all - it's a very intense experience.

It turns out that many of us, don't have lots of experience detaching ourselves from our possessions - that's why it's so important to have support when you do a major clean out. Where that support specifically comes from doesn't matter quite as much as making sure you have it.

Support can come from friends or family members, an online community, a book, or even a professional organizer - we just need someone to help us get all the way to the end.

Cleaning up, clearing out, and taking an honest look at everything we own is an extremely intense process - it's why we work so hard to avoid it.

But the feeling of being free, unencumbered by our possessions is completely worth the struggles we go through to get there.

The Importance of Having Support While You Declutter

 Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

At it's worst, decluttering can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience. But what if it didn't HAVE to be that way?

What if decluttering didn't HAVE to be painful & awful & annoying & boring?

But how could decluttering be anything else? With plenty of support and cheerleading.

Support can come from many places, but the important things that all decluttering support includes are:

1. cheerleading - all of us need cheerleading at some point when we're decluttering, so having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going.

2. accountability - sometimes we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles under the bed, or in the closet, so having someone to help us keep ourselves accountable in a way that works for us, helps keep us from quitting halfway.

3. clear headedness - decluttering can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. The decluttering support system trifecta.

Where exactly your support comes from, is best determined by you. You could call on your friends, your family, an online community, a book, a method, or even a professional organizer (like me!) - but so long as your support system provides cheerleading, accountably, and clear headedness, you should be good to go.

What do you want your home to feel like?

 Photo by  Jim DiGritz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

"Life, is for most of us one long postponement." -Henry Miller

If you close your eyes, and imagine coming home, walking up to your front door, unlocking the lock, opening the door, and stepping inside, what does your entrance-way look like? How does it feel? What do you wish the entrance to your home looked like?

If you were to actually walk into your house right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like?

One final question, what do you wish it felt like when you walked in the door? Imagine it felt peaceful, or inviting, or comfortable. Imagine walking in the door and not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff, the mess, the clutter, the filled to the brim-ness of it.

"…what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when they come home. But more often than not, we do, and it sucks.

Clutter and overwhelm, unfortunately go hand in hand. When we're overwhelmed, we're less likely to organize, which leads to clutter, which feeds the overwhelm, which leads to more clutter piling up. And pretty soon, there's so much clutter that you have no idea where to start.

Clutter isn't usually the root cause of overwhelm, but certainly doesn't help things, and eventually it becomes a source of overwhelm in and of itself.

Having said that, what if we eliminate clutter, so that it can no longer be a source of overwhelm? And if you could walk into your home and not feel overwhelmed by clutter, what lengths would you go to, to keep it that way?

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing everything first?

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing out all of our stuff first, and then brought back into our lives the things we loved the most?

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we get rid of?" we're starting by assuming that we'll be keep most of our stuff.

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we keep?" or put another way "what sparks joy?" we're starting off by assuming that we'll be getting rid of most of our stuff.

"Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." -Marie Kondo The Life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

The more "stuff" we have, the harder it is to organize. The more "stuff" we eliminate, the easier it is to organize. And the higher the ratio of "stuff that sparks joy" to "stuff that doesn't spark joy," the easier it is to stay organized.

Organizing your home is one thing. Staying organized once and for all, is another thing entirely.