Our environment can affect our behavior, thoughts, moods, and energy. When we live in an environment that is cluttered the mind, body, and spirit become cluttered as well and we start to feel a sense of the un-done. Try it out, sit in a room full of clutter. How do you feel? Do you feel relaxed? I bet not. Our thinking can become cloudy and when we make an effort to clean up the clutter we become so overwhelmed that we just give up. There’s just too much stuff! When I first moved into my house all of the things that I didn’t want to deal with were put into the garage “for later”. That later never came. Soon, my garage became a place that just stored things that I no longer needed nor wanted but didn’t want to give away; because you know, I may need it for that mythical “someday”. It also became a place where I didn’t want to be. My laundry machine & dryer were housed there and I found that I would wait as long as possible before doing my laundry just so I didn’t have to spend time there and that usually meant doing laundry until 11 or 12 at night. It got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore, there was a mental shift and I began sifting through each box one by one. As I cleared out each box, I began to realize that I had boxes of old college papers, bills for phones I didn’t even have anymore, electric bills for places I didn’t even live anymore and receipts for groceries that I had already consumed. In one box, the paper was so old it started to disintegrate in my hands.
Why did I keep these items? For later? Just in case? Who knows but once I sat down and really thought about what I had and if it was necessary for me to hold on to these items, I soon followed this plan with cleaning out my office. By the end of this purge, I had discarded 13, yes 13 full bags of shredded paper that were no longer needed. What did this do for me mentally? It cleared my mind so that I could concentrate on what I needed to do and not get distracted. I also now enjoy going into my garage and the extra bonus is that I can now fit my car in it!
So what are some best practices to get from overwhelmed to productive?
- Start with one thing. One small thing can catapult you into a happy frenzy of decluttering. With my garage, I just started with one box. I stayed focused and was determined. Once I started getting into a groove of opening a box, surveying the box, taking out each item and placing it in one of three piles: keep, throw away ad donate my garage and office were clutter free within weeks.
- Set rules for yourself. I’ve quickly adopted a rule, if I have not used, seen or searched for an item within the last year, I don’t need it. If for some reason down the road I find that I do want or need it, I can always get another one but since I hadn't used it in a year the odds of that happening are pretty slim.
- Giving things away not only cleanses your area but the soul. I try to donate my items or give them away to friends. That way, I know they are going to a good place where someone will use it and not, like me, just put it in a room or garage never to be thought of or used again.
So if you have one of those rooms or spaces that need some TLC I encourage you to spend some time evaluating your needs for that space. You might find that your mind, body, and spirit are cleansed as well as space.