I’ve encountered plenty of clutter both personally and in the homes and work spaces of my clients while working as an Interior Designer, Professional Stager and Feng Shui Consultant. It wasn’t until studying Feng Shui, and ancient 4,000 year old Chinese practice of balancing ones physical and energetic space, that I truly understood the value of living without clutter.
Clearing your ‘stuff’ is a way of balancing your energies. Have you ever walked into a beautiful, uncluttered home? It’s inspiring and uplifting. Of course, it might be a bit intimidating if you are unsure how to achieve this flowing, uncluttered look. It’s not such a great feeling encountering a messy, disorganized space-especially when it’s your stuff! Clutter diminishes your energy and can make you feel overwhelmed.
By going beyond the physical aspect of clutter and examining what it means to us emotionally, we can better understand how to eliminate it from our day to day lives.
Do you have clutter because you are unorganized or are you unorganized because of your clutter? In Feng Shui, both statements are true. If you are not organized in your thoughts, your life becomes cluttered and if you are in a space that isn’t organized, you won’t function clearly. Karen Kingston, the author of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui wrote, “Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates and likewise, energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. Clutter begins as a symptom of what is happening with your life and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have the more stagnant energies it attracts.”
Universally people admit to frustration, embarrassment, or simply being overwhelmed when asked about their clutter. Regardless of the reasons, all clutter represents stuck energy. The more you have, the more stuck you will feel. The first step to personal freedom from disorganization and to making positive life changes is to address your clutter and how you feel about it.
While giving a Feng Shui class on organization and clutter I asked everyone what excuses they had for being disorganized. Some shared that they inherited items they didn’t necessarily like or need, but wouldn’t get rid of because it would feel disrespectful. Couples merging their homes often had duplicate items and neither wanted to get rid of ‘their’ things, resulting in more stuff than their living space could accommodate. One person, from the depression era, expressed a need to accumulate things because of her certainty that at a later time she would have use for them and was unwilling to let things go. Others felt frustration because they were organized but their kids or spouse’s were constantly undermining their attempts at neatness. Most agreed that they didn’t always have the time or energy to keep ahead of the clutter battle.
When asked what they felt about their clutter, most admitted to frustration, embarrassment, and feelings of overwhelm. Regardless of your reasons, all clutter is stuck energy. The more you have the more stuck you will feel. Addressing your clutter and how you feel about it is a first step to personal freedom and positive life changes.
3 Steps To Clearing Out The Clutter
Step 1. Be Mindful: Make a list of all your reasons for acquiring clutter. Try not to leave anything out. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Once you’ve made the list ask yourself how this is benefiting you. Next make a separate list of how your clutter makes you feel. Admitting to the negatives is a step towards positive improvements.
Step 2: Stop the Blame Game: Regardless to who’s mess it is don’t blame or shame. Keep it positive. I quickly discovered when my kids were younger that no amount of nagging or threatening resulted in their personal space remaining clean. When they were younger I would make a game of cleaning up by setting a timer and offering something fun to do afterwards if they finished before it went off. Other times, I would offer a snack, some fun music, and a helping hand. They did the work, I helped with organization, together the job didn’t feel as daunting. You would be surprised how willing children are to pass on their outgrown items to someone who could really use them. Involve them in the process of how donating unwanted items will be appreciated. It’s easier to let go to stuff you know will be valued by someone less fortunate.
Step 3: Assess Your Mess: Lets face it, we all have some clutter. Take baby steps if your blood pressure increases at the thought of tackling the project. Regardless of the size of your job, allow yourself reasonable time to complete the task
Small Projects: Commit to cleaning out one drawer or cabinet a day. This requires the least amount of effort with the greatest accomplishment. There’s an added bonus-finding a ton of stuff you’ve been looking for and no longer need to replace!
Medium Projects: Begin with the least cluttered room, agree to a reasonable time frame to completing the task. Sort items into the following piles:
Keep, Donate/Giveaway, Trash, Sell.
Keep only what you want, need or use. Give every item a home. If a kept item doesn’t have a designated place, assign one. Reserve a temporary space like your basement or garage for items being sold with the understanding that they are only there for short term.
Make use of clear plastic containers that can go on shelves, under beds and allow for easy access. Statistics prove that the more available you make items not used daily, the more likely you will continue using them and maintain organization. Once you’ve tackled your first room keep the momentum going.
Large Projects: For over-the-top cluttered rooms I recommend clearing out the entire space first and only returning those items you want, need and use. Again, everything needs a designated home and you have to be willing to let go of things that no longer serve you. For projects that require help, ask a friend or family members to assist you with the heavy lifting. A dumpster may be required if you haven’t purged in many years. Toss items that you are unable to sell, donate or no longer need.
Disposing of Unwanted Items: Think ‘Yard Sale.’ As much as I don’t enjoy giving one, where else can you get someone to pay you to take away items you no longer have use for? Last fall I involved my neighbors to join in. They brought their things to sell, offered support and I supplied the margaritas. It turned out to be a fun day.
Donate: If you live in the Morris County area Habitat for Humanity will pick up furniture items free of charge that they can use in their ReStore. Call this number 973 366 3357 to arrange a pick up and a tax deductible receipt. It’s all non- profit and the proceeds go to building homes for the needy. Their web site is: www.morrisrestore.org
*Call your local municipal building for information on free drop off sites to dispose of TV’S, computers, and outdated electronics.