When you realize you have way too much stuff and its making you feel overwhelmed you might decide it is for sure time to declutter and get rid of some things.
Inevitably, you will go in all gung-ho and before you know it you are feeling all kinds of emotions over your things…Loss, guilt, attachment, the list goes on.
These emotions can make it super hard to get rid of anything and more than likely you will find the process of trying to decrease your overwhelm too overwhelming and give up.
There is a better way though!
There are all kinds of emotional and psychological responses we go through when it comes to giving up items in our homes. This is totally natural and the first step is just to accept that no matter how you do it you will experience this. I find that everything always works better when you take it on in baby steps, so what I do for myself and my clients is declutter in phases.
This is the beginning phase when you are super excited to get started but you can quickly burn out emotionally and otherwise, if you go at it with all your gusto and expect to have it done in a week.
Instead, we treat Phase 1 as the very beginning, sort of dipping your toes in so-to-speak. You always start small in this phase with things it’s super easy to get rid of; junk that you don’t feel a strong attachment too. This could be like old beauty products, old pots and pans you kept even though you already bought new ones, or toys your kids never play with and won’t miss. Anything you feel an emotional response to no matter what it is you keep at this stage, you honor the feeling and put it back on the shelf. Anything you feel nothing towards you toss or put aside for donation.
During this phase be patient with yourself, you could do this process in a week or it may take a month, who knows – how long it takes is up to you and this is the most important phase to move slowly through without pushing yourself.
This serves the purpose of honoring your emotions, keeping you from burning out too quickly and during the process you start to see how therapeutic decluttering actually is which makes it easier to move to Phase 2.
This next phase is where you start to address the things you put back in Phase 1 that you felt emotional attachment too. Try to start this phase as quickly as possible after Phase 1 so there isn’t a long lag in between.
In this phase it will be easier to address those items again and let go of some of them.
This is the phase where you start asking yourself 2 very important questions:
Do I use it?
Do I Love it?
If you can’t answer yes to at least one of these, the best thing to do is put it aside for donation or throw it away.(Or even sell it and make some cash!) However, if it’s something that brings out a very strong emotional response to letting go of it such as a family heirloom you feel really guilty about letting go or old photos that have strong memories attached to them, etc. than you might want to put it aside until Phase 3.
During this phase you want to push yourself a little bit harder than you did in Phase 1 to let go.
At this point you should feel clearer and more mentally and emotionally prepared to let go. Again, try to start this phase directly after finishing up Phase 2.
By now you have witnessed the benefits of clearing the clutter, such as making money off things you no longer use, the feel-good emotion of donating your things to good causes, the clarity that comes from a less cluttered home and the therapeutic benefits of the actual process of decluttering. All of these things are huge benefits that need to be experienced prior to moving to Phase 3.
In Phase 3, you are going to get serious about what you are going to keep and what you are going to get rid of. At this point you shouldn’t have anything left to throw away, you should only have things that you can sell or donate that you have a stronger emotional attachment to than the things you got rid of in Phases 1 & 2.
Go through these items one at a time and ask yourself if you used them at all since you started your decluttering journey. If you haven’t think about someone who might use it or love it; ask yourself if its worth it to keep it or if you could make some money off it by giving it or selling it to someone who really wants it.
If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to say goodbye to it then you make peace with that and keep it!
You will be amazed at how much easier it is to declutter when you take it in 3 phases like this and at how much you actually get rid of during the process. It’s a gentle and simple way to go through your things while honoring yourself during the process.
If you would like some help decluttering shoot me an email and schedule a free in-person or virtual consultation with me! I would be happy to walk you through the process.