How to Declutter and Let Go of Stuff

Decluttering can be such an emotionally difficult thing to do. You have to go through your stuff and make decisions on items that may either have memories attached to them or they were given to you as a gift by a loved one. 

So, how can you declutter more easily? How can you stop your emotions from derailing the process?

Of course, there are items that are more emotional than others, i.e., photos, baby clothes, and personal items are more difficult to make decisions about than cd's/dvd's, towels and cooking tools. But ultimately, when you’re looking at your things in such a focused way, you’re bound to have a few emotional stumbling blocks along the way.

So, how can you declutter more easily when it’s so emotional? Here are a few tips to make decluttering easier.

1. Start with the least emotional stuff
Instead of just going into any random room in your home,  have a plan in mind. And, start with items that you find it easier to make decisions about.

Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll find it all the more easy to keep going, and hopefully the momentum of what you’re doing will help you a little more through the more difficult decisions.

2. Focus on the positives
Instead of focusing all your energy on what you want or need to get rid of, focus instead on what you’re getting to keep. You’ll be able to enjoy the things that you truly love that little bit easier when you can see them!

3. Practice may not make it perfect, but it definitely makes it easier.
As with most things in life, you can learn the skill of decluttering by practicing it a much as possible. Try to get into the habit of making decisions about things on a regular basis and you’ll find that you’re more naturally able to make the more difficult decisions when you start a harder decluttering job.

Start by keeping your kitchen counters tidy on a daily basis. They tend to be a space that collects stuff over the day, most of which isn’t even kitchen related at all. If you can make it a habit of decluttering that smaller space each day, then you’ll make it easier to continue that new habit when it comes to things like your photos or more personal items.

4. Start in a room where you can close the door.
Decluttering creates messiness before it gets better. This can create an emotional response just as much as getting rid of things.

If you can start decluttering in a room that’s less visible, then you can just close the door on that mess and open the door the next day or when you’re able to carry on.

If you have to continually look at more mess, it can then lead to a more negative emotion, and you may want to stop decluttering—“after all, it isn’t working”. This is exactly what you don’t want to happen.

Just with dieting and exercise—you may put on weight at first when you start exercising as you’re putting on muscle—but by sticking with it, you’ll find that you’ll steadily lose that weight over time.

If you can get through the first room that you declutter, then you’ll know a little more of what to expect. And in the rooms that you can’t shut away, it will be a bit easier for you to focus on the end goal—which will make this process less emotional for you.

5. Trust Yourself
When you’re making decisions, get into the habit of listening to your gut—it’s usually right.

A lot of decisions about whether to keep items aren’t based on whether you actually need or want the item, but rather guilt that you feel because it was a gift or that you may need it someday.

Fundamentally, you usually know when you want to get rid of things, but the struggle against your inner self can create all these negative emotions that make it so difficult.

If you learn to trust your instincts, you will find things a lot easier.

6. Don’t force yourself.
Only you can decide when you’re ready to declutter any area of your home. You have to be ready for it, otherwise you’ll feel all manner of emotions, most of which will be negative, because you’ll be fighting an internal struggle to get something done when you don’t want to.

7. Allow yourself to have memories.
If you’re finding it too painful to part with some items because there are special memories attached, can you actually keep them and also  get rid of them?

What I mean by this is that you may not be able to keep the actual item because you don’t have the space, etc., but maybe you could take a photo of that item and frame it, or create a memory box that you can treasure.

You don’t necessarily need to keep the whole of an item for it to still be with you and for you to still feel those emotions in a positive way.

8. Make yourself comfortable when decluttering
Try to make things as easy on yourself as possible when decluttering so it will immediately become a less stressful experience. Put your favorite music on, have a cup of coffee or tea, wear comfy clothes, etc.

9. Make sure to take breaks.
Focusing on anything for any length of time can be exhausting, yet we expect ourselves to be able to tackle a large decluttering project in one go and still be able to make emotional decisions easily.

That isn’t going to work!

Take a break every half hour—a walk around the block to get some fresh air is perfect—then you’ll come back feeling rejuvenated and you’ll be able to make decisions more easily than if you were tired and struggled on through.

10. Your clutter already has emotions attached.
When you look at cutter in your home, I’m sure you don’t feel great about it. You have a negative energy that weighs you down because you know that it’s there and you need to sort it out.

Sometimes we’re worried about sorting our things because of the emotions attached to them, whereas there may be a lot less emotion attached to dealing with our things rather than leaving them as they are.

And yes, of course it will be hard and time consuming to declutter—but you may feel so much better once it’s done. Don’t let your clutter get the better of you.

11. Get Stuff Out ASAP
The last step of decluttering is clearing everything up and putting things back. This means that you’ll be left with bags of items to sell, donate or throw away.

This can be a dangerous part because you’ve made great progress with your decluttering, and made the decision to get rid of all those items in those bags. But if they’re left in your home for any length of time, you may be temped to take a few things back out.

You have to trust your decisions and take those  items out of your house as soon as you possibly can. The longer they stay in your home, the more doubt may creep into your mind, and the more emotion you’ll feel about the whole process.

Once they’re out of your house, you will feel lighter and more positive again.

The meaning of clutter for me is any item that doesn’t belong in the space that it’s in, whether it’s because it belongs somewhere else in your home or it doesn’t belong in your home any longer.

As such, I can declutter more easily because I no longer say or believe that clutter is just what I need to completely get rid of.

And all it took was a very small change in perception, and it really does help with decision making. If you can’t find a place for it in your home, then it immediately makes it a little easier to be ready to part with it.

The key thing to take away from this post is to acknowledge that of course, decluttering is emotional, but there are ways that you can lessen the negative emotions if you listen to yourself and trust yourself more.

Do you have any tips on how to make decluttering easier? Please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.

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