Solving the Decluttering Puzzle

Living in a cluttered house is like sitting down to do a jigsaw puzzle. But you have three 1,500 piece puzzles mixed up in the box and only room on the table to do a 500 piece puzzle. Something’s got to give.

Sort out the pieces and find the edges. These are the things you absolutely need. There are three puzzles’ worth though, so some of them will still have to go.

Once you’ve set up the edges, it’s time to tackle the middle pieces. No matter how you look at it, there are still way too many pieces. To stretch our metaphor a little bit, some of these pieces belong to a puzzle you finished years ago. Some of them belong to a puzzle you hope to have one day. The rest are what’ll fit in today’s puzzle with the edges you have.

Let the decluttering begin! Remember, you can still like something and let it go. Yes, it’ll be hard. There’ll be a twinge. But how are you enjoying your space right now?

There’s no perfect situation in life, so choose your hard: will it be hard to declutter or hard to live in your space? Then choose your reward: will it be lovely to not have to make these decisions, to have everything you could ever conceivably need somewhere, whether or not you can find it, or will it be lovely to have just enough and some clear space in your surroundings?

What if you simultaneously want to keep all the pieces and finish the puzzle? I’m afraid that’s not going to be possible. If you despair of your clutter, but are unable to let it go, it may be time to bring in a therapist. They’ll help you get past whatever’s making your brain think it needs all your stuff for your survival.  I know it sounds silly, but on some level, part of your brain knows the prime directive is to protect you. It’s gotten the idea that saving all this stuff is doing that, so let a therapist help you untangle that data glitch so you can get the clutter out of your space.

What if you love all your puzzle pieces and you’d rather keep them all than complete the puzzle? That’s okay, let yourself accept that fact and enjoy your stuff. And if you realize that you actually quite enjoy endlessly trying to do impossible puzzles, why then your clutter is serving you very nicely indeed. It’s keeping you off the streets, giving you a good reason not to do other things, possibly keeping people you don’t care for away from your space. If this is you, please keep the pathways clear for safety’s sake and carry on trying to turn three puzzles into one to your heart’s content.

But if you want to do the puzzle and are having a hard time sorting out all the pieces, there are people out there who’d love to help. If you’re in the Boulder County/Longmont area, here’s how to work with me. If you’re further afield, here’s how to hire a professional organizer.

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