Written by Debra Wyatt (last updated May 11, 2021)
Look around your house. Do you see a cluttered mess? If so, you need to know that clutter can "happen" to our lives for two general reasons. First, it could be that you don't have the organizational skills you need to adequate address all the items you need to handle on a day-to-day basis. If this is the case, an easy fix is to use the search tool at the top of any page on this website. Just search for terms like "de-clutter" or "organizing" and you'll find a wealth of helpful information.
The second possible reason for clutter is that you may have some sort of emotional need that you are seeking to fill with the clutter. Perhaps a death in the family, losing a job, or a divorce has introduced a void into your life and you are afraid to "let go" of things. Sooner or later you end up with a disorganized, cluttered mess that you need to face.
If the clutter has come about because of emotional reasons, then you need to figure out where the need is coming from; this will help to eliminate the clutter. Then you need to prepare yourself to get rid of those things cluttering up your home. Once you understand where the need is coming from to have all that clutter around, you have made a major step into eliminating the clutter chaos.
There are also times that clutter may keep you from having to deal with other, underlying issues in your life. If this is the case you need to take time to figure out the problem (the "root cause") so that you can move on.
De-cluttering may take longer than expected if you have to deal with tossing out things when you are not ready to let go. When you are dealing with the sentimental items and you really haven't come to terms with losing whatever is the root of the sentiment, it can be a very traumatic experience in letting things go.
Before actually getting rid of the clutter, make up a priority list of what activities are important in your life. Examine each activity and determine if it adds to the quality of your life, if it is something that dilutes your time, or if it is something in which you are no longer interested. Pare down the list to only those activities that really add quality to your life. This list will help you keep focused on what you need to keep and what you can really get rid of.
If you haven't come to terms with the emotional circumstances that led to your clutter and disorganization, then it is best to de-clutter in steps. First, start by putting everything into boxes and then setting aside the boxes. If the emotional circumstances involve a lost loved one (such as from death or divorce), allow yourself some time to grieve. It is best to place the boxes out of your everyday living space (if possible) as you complete the grieving. If getting them out of your living space is not possible then stack the boxes neatly in a corner. This helps you avoid having everything "in the way" and creating more chaos in the house.
When everything has been boxed, write on your calendar a date when you expect to go through the first box. Thinking of this date helps you set a goal and gives you time to prepare for going through the things that need to be eliminated.
You should undertake the second step only when you are feeling emotionally stronger. Start going through the boxes one at a time. If the job becomes emotionally taxing, then set it aside again. Go back to the calendar and write down another date for going through the boxes.
If the second try doesn't work then you might want to get the help of family members who can go through the process with you, or you might get a professional organizer who can help you deal with the process.
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