It was several years ago, and I was miserable. Struggling with depression and anxiety compounded (or caused?) but hormone issues since my daughter was born, I couldn’t seem to keep up with my house AND my active toddler and preschooler. Something had to change because this momma had HAD IT! I thought, “I’ll just get organized! That’ll help!” Not being able to afford a professional organizer, I determined to learn about becoming my own.
Y’all, I bought the containers. I stuffed them into my overfull craft room. I put baskets all over my house. And know what? I was STILL overwhelmed. Because one thing I learned early on– but not soon enough– is that you can’t organize clutter and keep it organized. Can you relate? Are you wondering like I was how to begin this seemingly monumental task of changing your life around from overwhelmed and cluttered to be more simple and enjoyable?
You’re in luck! I can help expedite the process for you, whether you’re a newbie or an experienced clutter buster with just a few remaining barriers holding you back. Today I want to share with you 5 steps to remove the floodgate of physical, emotional, and mental clutter in my life and allow me to gain momentum and regain my energy and creativity.
If you happen to prefer watching this content on Youtube, I’ll post the video for you as well below, or just read on to discover these powerful decluttering steps.
While some people just want to jump into things, like my container buying self, taking the time to work through these 5 steps will actually get you farther, faster. I would in fact say they are essential for true success at ridding yourself of the extraneous things stealing your energy and joy. This is what enabled me to get off the floor where I’d been staring at the mess around me and actually get moving. Trust me on this–I’m a changed woman and now nothing can get in my way of pursuing the life I value.
- Clarify what you want in life and in your home. Write it down. This is your “why” like everybody’s been talking about in the motivation world. It will help you keep moving when things feel tough; you have a goal and a light at the end of the tunnel once you’ve clarified this for yourself.
I wrote for myself: I don’t want to feel overwhelmed but rather calm and peaceful. I want to have time for creativity rather than guilt for not cleaning, etc. I want more freedom to say yes when it matters, like having people over, because I have more energy that’s not being spent on managing my stuff.
- Define your Past Self, your Phantasy Self, and your Present Self.
a. Past Self: This one will definitely help you if you tend to be sentimental like me, and get you unstuck emotionally. Pick one or two of your most poignant life seasons and describe yourself then. What were you like 10 years ago? Before college? In college? Before kids? As a new parent?
Example: In high-school, I was pretty spontaneous, easy-going, and creative while having a serious studious side. As a new wife and mom, I was overtired and overwhelmed not knowing how to manage my home and be a confident parent yet.
b. Phantasy Self: No, I’m not talking about bedroom stuff here–this blog is rated G, people. I’m talking about the you that you have either thought you would or should be or might be one day…but it’s just not happening now.
Example: My phantasy self is someone who can sit and leisurely hand embroider all day, who cooks elaborate meals and sews all my kids clothes. My phantasy self decorates with breakable collectibles and valuable antiques. My phantasy self is super patient and enjoys cleaning, and always puts things away. (Ok, you get the picture).
c. Present Self: What makes you who you are? Are you an introvert? Are you a people-person? Are you on a mission of some sort? What do you value most?
Example: Present day Amy is a creative woman and mom who enjoys setting goals (like posting a new YouTube video each Friday, with other creative or decluttering goals within) and relaxing with her family.
- Identify Sources of Clutter for your home. How did you accumulate all this stuff? What habits and actions do you have or not have?
Example: I used to do retail therapy, shopping with my kid in order to not be alone (it got to be too stressful to shop with two littles so I eventually did this less, but still tempting at moments of stress to shop alone). I used to think of the value of the items instead of having higher priorities like space in my home (which helps me concentrate and feel more calm). I also used to be unable to say “no thank you” when someone wanted to give me all THEIR decluttered goods. (If I take anything now, it must be something I have been needing or wanting, and I try to apply the one-in-one-out-rule.)
- Plan how to overcome these issues. Educate yourself. You had a lifetime of learning and practicing untidy behavior, now you have to retrain your brain! Listen to podcasts, read books, chat with friends about it, watch YouTubes (join my tribe and do this journey with others! I have listed some of my favorite resources in the description box of video I linked above. )
- Act incrementally. Just keep moving and practicing this new way of thinking and living! It doesn’t matter if you declutter 5 minutes a day or 50 minutes a day; if you’re doing something, you’re going to get better at it, be able to make decisions faster, and lose the decision fatigue so many feel at first, just like when you begin a new muscular exercise routine. If you don’t know where to start but want to make progress and practice YOUR new skills, join me in a few simple decluttering activities, click here.
It has been about two years for me of really dedicated focus on decluttering, and weekly I declutter at least a grocery bag full.
I want to encourage you that you are not alone if changing the way you think and act feels difficult. It will get easier, especially if you put into practice the five steps I’ve outlined for you. Back in one of my very first videos you can kind of see me processing through several of these things that I’ve mentioned today and it pretty much shows me at ground zero when I decided that I’m not gonna stay overwhelmed and stuck anymore.
Even if you’re at ground zero too, surrounded by piles, you’ll get there, if you just start today, not “one day.” You really don’t need hours to commit to it, you just need to choose today and do something. I believe you can do it! Blessings on your journey, friend!