How to declutter and get organized

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Are your decluttering efforts consistently stymied by your need to find exactly the right home for your departing possessions?

So many people tell me that they feel guilty sending stuff to the landfill. Oftentimes they tell me this while standing between precarious walls of clutter, with whole rooms out of commission for regular use. Clutter is gaining ground daily as their house effectively functions as a branch of the landfill.

Of course, it’s important not to trash the planet but it’s equally important to value your own space enough to treat it the same way. It’s time to factor yourself in as equally valuable, of deserving to live in a clear, clutter free space.

Yes, it will feel difficult to put things in the trash, knowing where they’ll end up. If recycling is available where you live, that can help. But the most effective way to help the planet is to stop buying unnecessary things.  When you know where everything is, you don’t need to buy duplicates. When you clear out the excess, you can see what you own and come up with good ways to reuse what you have. If you keep a small rag bag full of soft worn-out t-shirts, finding a rag is going to be quick and easy. Unearthing one in multiple garbage bags stuffed full of miscellaneous discarded clothing is not.

In birthing the new you, there’ll be some pain. You’ll throw out some things you know you could use – all those rags! But remind yourself that you have a cleaning service come in monthly and they bring their own supplies. You have enough that your children and their children after them are well supplied with rags, if they’re even aware of the concept. Throwing those potential rags in the landfill seems wrong but they’re trash and that’s what we do with trash.

Can you give yourself a pass to clear the trash out of your space now and then be more mindful about where things moving forward? That’ll involve thinking carefully about what you bring into your house. Is is something you need? Or is it a want? Wants are fine, of course, but when they’re temporary or just part of an overall pattern of shopping as distraction, that has its effect on your environment. Earth Day begins at home, and living in a landfill as a penance for the way we collectively treat our planet is taking on quite a lot of responsibility for a shared global problem.

P.S. Quick health update: my latest scan continues to show no sign of cancer. Chemo did an awesome job. Thanks for all your support and good wishes ❤

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!

I’ve suggested before that therapy is a more than useful adjunct for decluttering, and many of you have already read my interview with local therapist and Rapid Resolution practitioner Dr. Sonja Hellman. I asked her to speak a little more about how hypnotherapy in particular can help you get unstuck.

“Any therapist should be able to tell you what they think causes the problem you are dealing with and what they think will fix it,” she told me.

How then does Rapid Resolution Therapy think of what causes hoarding?

“You have tried to get it under control. You have tried to manage the mess. What is going on? There are two parts of your mind/brain- the smart part, that can see that the stuff you have collected is causing problems, and the primitive part, which is all about your survival. If you have more stuff than you have space for, the primitive part believes that keeping and or collecting stuff is vital for your survival. That’s why there is so much anxiety when you think about clearing it out.”

So how does Rapid Resolution Therapy help me get rid of the clutter?

“You may know what happened in your past that caused you to start collecting stuff, or it may be something you’ve done for as long as you can remember. It doesn’t matter. Together we come to understand why your subconscious mind has you collecting and keeping things. The conversation is gentle, non-judgmental or blaming, and usually leaves people feeling lighter and able to do things they couldn’t before. Once your primitive mind understands that you are safe and that you don’t need the stuff to keep you safe, it gets on board with what YOU want, and it is easier to work with your organizer to let some of the things go that had seemed so vital.”

Sonja Hellman, PhD (720) 470-1094

While I would highly recommend contacting Dr. Hellman if you feel there’s a stumbling block at the root of why you hold onto so much stuff, I’ve also come across another potential resource if one-on-one therapy isn’t an option for you right now. In amongst the online purveyors of cheesy hypnosis recordings, I’ve come across an absolute gem.

The first thing you have to do is get rid of that “Look into my eyes…you are getting sleepy” thing that comes to mind for most of us when we think of hypnosis. Or embarrassing stage performances that have people walking around like chickens and making fools of themselves. Apparently there’s a new generation of hypnotherapists who work in a much more subtle way to reach the unconscious mind, and the company I discovered, Uncommon Knowledge, has been busy. They have hundreds and hundreds of titles, and the pricing is pretty accessible. While you could spend hours browsing their titles, from ‘Nervous Cough‘ to ‘Stop Hating Exercise‘ to ‘Be More Playful‘, what struck my eye was that they have several topics which seem very relevant to what we’re doing here.

Although there’s no way these downloads could possibly be as effective as individual therapy since by nature they’re going to be generic, I’ve found that the one I tried was remarkably effective. Thanks to listening to ‘Stop nail biting‘ for a week, a 49-year-old habit I didn’t think would ever go away has simply disappeared. It helped that the voice on the download was a mellow ever-so-slightly Scottish accent, which was charming and very relaxing. And at no point was I asked to quack like a duck or sleepwalk, in fact I remained drowsily conscious throughout repeated listenings. I tried it for a week and several months later, my nails remain happily unbitten.

If you try one of these, let me know how you find it, won’t you? As ever, I am NOT an affiliate. I make NO money at all if you decide to purchase anything on their site. While I wait for your feedback, I’ll be over here eating roast vegetables and listening to ‘Beach relaxation‘, ignoring the fact that today’s blizzard toppled the tree in our back yard.

fallen tree

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!

There’s an idea going around that decluttering is just for the middle and upper class set who can afford to let something go that they might need to replace one day. Which begs the question, in what situation, rich or poor, will any of us need a single flip-flop, its mate left at the beach? Or a stack of newspapers from the 1990’s?

I’d argue that decluttering is an equal opportunity task, useful to all. Sure, the ultra-rich may be decluttering things they simply don’t like but if I’m living in dire straits, the last thing I need is a bunch of clutter everywhere, making it impossible for me to find the things I need. You could even argue that I’d need to declutter even more than the affluent packrat, since it may cause me hardship to have to buy a duplicate of something I already have but simply cannot find in amongst the clutter. If there’s stuff in there I could sell, I’m losing that opportunity by not being able to find it in my clutter-strewn abode.

The truth is, much of what leaves the house when you declutter is garbage. Old grocery flyers, lidless Tupperware, and torn, stained clothes.  Tons and tons of ancient, unopened mail. We all must deal with the fact that stuff wears out, stuff comes in that we don’t end up using, stuff needs to keep moving so you can use your space. Decluttering on the regular helps you do that.

Whether you’re well-off and have accumulated a bunch of unused stuff through recreational shopping, or you’re going through hard times and you’ve picked up lots of free furniture from ‘free’ signs along the road, it’s still clutter if you don’t use it. Poverty mentality tells us we really need to hold onto that broken chair with the missing leg, but if we don’t fix the chair, if we don’t use it, if our dreams of selling the chair never quite materialize, it’s just clutter. If we stock up on scores of tins of beans because we fear not having enough to eat but we never actually eat those beans, then they’re clutter. They’re ineffectively papering over our fears. Decluttering isn’t the province of the idle rich and moneyed classes, it’s something that makes everyone’s lives better.

I’ve worked with people from all walks of life who’ve told me that decluttering was changing their lives in a way that meant the money they were spending to get it done was worth it to them. Just as you find the money for car repairs when you need them, getting help with a skill you don’t have can be a life-changing investment of resources. Decluttering is a necessary life-skill and if you don’t have the skill set yourself, getting help is going to change everything.

Undoubtedly, organizing has become decluttering’s shinier sister, with an emphasis on expensive containers, Pinterest-inspired fiddly labels, and the inevitable Marie Kondo fussy folding techniques. When people talk about decluttering as something for the middle and upper class, perhaps they’re thinking of all that stuff. The outer trappings of arranging your stuff so it’s pretty. But that Google millionaire who wants four custom-designed closets will still enjoy the results so much more if they declutter first, so they can find things at a glance.

And yes, most people can’t afford to pay for that and would consider it a luxury. But being able to find your stuff? Not having to wade through mountains of crap you never use? Saving money by being able to find the things you need when you need them? Priceless. Available to all. You can do all that without dropping a fortune at The Container Store. And it all starts with decluttering.

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!