March 25th was Letting Go of Stuff Day. But if you have too much stuff, any date can be a good day to start practicing stuff deletion! Peter Walsh says, “…we come to realize that happiness and success might not be measured by more material things. That having more possessions may be more suffocating than liberating.” So do you feel like you are suffocating when you enter certain rooms? Let’s see what we can do to liberate the space and your feeling of overwhelm.
I like to compare stuff deletion to exercise. If you haven’t exercised in awhile, your muscles will be sore and you may be tired at the end of your workout. If you haven’t declutter in awhile, your organizing muscles will be sore from decision-making and your physical muscles may ache due to moving and lifting items.
Let go emotionally. Mental and emotional preparation is crucial in the stuff deletion process. There are three components to mental preparation:
- Gear up for the task: “I will set aside 30 minutes to go through the stuff in the dresser in the guest room. I know I don’t really want to and I know it may be hard, but I will feel better when I can shut the dresser drawers. My guests will be happy when they have one drawer to put clothes in when they visit. I can set a timer and work for 30 minutes.”
- Mental detachment from an item: “Uncle Bob gave me this book. I haven’t read it and I don’t even like the subject, but he will be upset if I get rid of it. Come to think of it, Uncle Bob is an understanding guy. He would want this book to be read by someone. It is okay if I pass it to someone who will enjoy it.” Or “I have 30 elephant figurines because I have collected elephants for years. I am not as fascinated with them anymore nor do I really have room for them. I know that people gave me most of the collection but I think they would understand if I passed them on to another ‘elephant fan’. I will choose my five favorites to keep as a representation of the whole collection.”
- Emotional separation from deletion location: “I really want to know that my stuff is being well used/recycled properly. This means that I have to have specific places to take my stuff. That sounds like it will take a lot of additional effort! Maybe while I am doing this big declutter I can give myself permission to take all donations to one location and not be as specific about recycling. Once I have a system for deleting stuff on a regular basis, I can be more particular about where stuff goes.”
Let go physically. The deletion process is much easier if you have the space set up to physically complete the work and if you have a plan for where the items will go and how they will get there.
- Prepare the space: This means having a large trash can, bags/boxes for donate, and a container for items that need to move from one room to another. Having the right equipment in advance increases the possibility that stuff will be deleted rather than simply moved from one place to another. If you would like specific information about getting prepared for a large declutter, please refer to The Big Stuff Buster Plan on our Stuff-flow website.
- Stuff removal: After all of your effort deciding which items will be donated or permanently deleted, please take them away! If you have only replaced piles with bags and boxes, you are probably still suffering from stuff-overwhelm. In addition, you are now discouraged because your hard work didn’t produce any results. If you are unable to physically remove your departing items, there are resources available. On our Stuff-flow website, there is a whole section entitled Relocate Your Stuff which lists donation locations, consignment shops, re-sell options, trash removal companies, and more.
Let go continuously. Most likely your stuff didn’t accumulate overnight. It probably took months, even years. You’ve now taken some time to decrease the amount of stuff in your space through your stuff deletion efforts. Congratulations! Don’t stop now! Organizing is a process that requires maintenance; it is not a one time event. The good news is that with just a few routines in place, you can keep the clutter down to a minimum. There is an article entitled The Ongoing Stuff Relief Plan on our Stuff-flow website which will get you started on those stuff-shrinking habits.
Bottom-line, if you are overwhelmed by stuff, you must practice stuff-deletion by “letting go” in more ways than one. The good news is that stuff-deletion can move you from overwhelm to “whelm”!
If you need more information on this topic, check out our Stop Letting Stuff Overwhelm You downloadable audio.
© 2010 Janice Russell, CPO-CD. North Carolina’s first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice Russell, and her firm, Minding Your Matters® Organizing, have built a reputation for helping business and residential clients organize their space, items, documents, and time using the flexible structure principle™. Janice’s workshops on topics such as tackling the “no time” trap, perishing paper piles, and stopping stuff from being overwhelming are dynamic, informative, and practical. Minding Your Matters® is dedicated to helping people achieve organization with lasting results™ in their personal and professional lives. Janice is highly regarded within her industry. She is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and past president of the North Carolina Chapter of NAPO. Janice is the author of the book Get Organized This Year! and two audios: Stop Letting Stuff Overwhelm You and Tackle the “No Time” Trap. For more information, please visit www.mindingyourmatters.com or call 919-467-7058.
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