Why your clutter has to go and how to get started.

Let me tell you ‘bout some clutter. I have tendency to hang on to some shit. Always with the excuse of “that will be useful for something,” or “so-and-so gave me that and would be upset if I got rid of it,” and the ever-looming “I’ll get around to it at some point.”

That last one is my nemesis. It’s especially relevant for the many projects I dream up, maybe get a start on, but can never commit to finishing. So the pieces of these half-hearted plans just sit around, mocking me, making me feel guilty for never being able to follow through on anything. Which isn’t true, but feels true when the stuff reminds me of my inability to complete something on a daily basis.

So I’m done with it. For several reasons, which I’ll get into in a sec. But mostly because we are about to have a BABY and we just don’t have room for all this junk anymore. And I no longer have the mental capacity to tolerate its taunting.

That’s why I’ve dedicated the next few posts to clearing out the clutter in our homes and lives.

So why bother with the clutter?

Maybe you’re thinking it doesn’t matter if you purge, because it will just come back. Or why bother taking the time to sort through your stuff when you could just continue to ignore it. Or maybe you LOVE everything you have and couldn’t possibly part with any of it. I get it. I never said this was an easy task. But it is an important one. Here’s why:

  1. Dust particles contain some toxic SH*T
    To quote Riki Lindhome from her ridiculous cameo in the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Everyone is [allergic to dust]. That’s what sneezes are.” (Kris truly IS allergic to dust, but that doesn’t seem to keep it from collecting around our house.)

    Everything in your home is not only gathering dust, but also adding to it. In addition to dead skin cells, human and animal hair, dust mites and their feces, outdoor dirt, pollen, and pollutants that are either tracked in, carried in, or blown in, many of the objects in your home are breaking down on a constant basis. And if you consider what many of these items are made of–synthetic textiles treated with flame-retardants, paper, metal, and plastic with coal-based dyes and inks, petroleum-based plastics with BPA, the list goes on–simple dust doesn’t seem so innocuous anymore.

    When these particles are broken down so small, they become incredibly easy to breathe in. Children are particularly susceptible to inhaling (and even eating!) this nastiness since kids are so close to the ground and have their hands on and in everything. And the small ones put everything in their mouths (yay… I can’t wait!).
  2. Mess causes stress
    Your clutter is stealing your energy. It weighs on your mind, even if subconsciously, and likely makes you feel like you don’t have it all together. Unfinished projects, items you wanted to love but just don’t, gifts you feel obligated to keep, clothes that don’t fit, books you never have the time to read, etc. All of these carry some amount of guilt. These objects are not worth the stress they carry. And the load that comes off your shoulders when you let them go will be highly liberating, I promise. Also, it’s so much easier to find and use things when they aren’t buried under a pile unread fitness magazines. :)
  3. Narrowing your belongings down to only the things that bring you joy and reflect the life you want to live changes the entire feel and ambiance of your home, which will probably also bring you joy.
    This may be a good time to mention Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method and her book The LIfe-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s about much more than just clearing the clutter from your life. It’s a whole new approach to stuff and a way of filtering your life so it’s filled with only the things that bring you joy. This can feel like a radical concept, but if you think about it, what’s the point of hanging on to anything that DOESN’T bring you joy? If it’s not filling you up, then it’s most likely draining you. And whatever is attached to that (an obligation that weighs you down, a relationship you don’t want to tarnish, etc.) is either not worth it, or is just an excuse. If your aunt stops talking to you because you gave away the purse she gave you for Christmas three years ago, then there is probably something deeper in that relationship that needs fixing. It’s not about the stuff.

    Even if you are not ready to fully commit to the KonMari method (I’m not even 100% sure I am…) this idea of only keeping that which sparks joy, is still a really good way to weed out the junk in your life.
  4. Make room for the life you WANT.
    There’s a good chance you are on this blog because you want to live a greener life and create a home environment more conducive to that. In order to bring in the items that reflect the life you want to live, you’ll need to make room for them, and let go of the things that no longer serve you.

    OR maybe it’s simpler than that (which is totally fine!). Maybe you’d like to entertain more, but cleaning up the house always feels like too much of a chore. Or maybe you’d love to have friends visit from out of town, but your guest room is still loaded with boxes you never unpacked. Or maybe you want to start a new hobby–or even a new business–but all your old endeavors are still hanging around mocking you (see reason 2). Whatever it is, clearing space in your home clears space in your life for new things to happen. Clutter is simply baggage. Once you cut it loose, your energy, and the universe, can focus on bringing you the things you really desire. That thought may be a little “woo-woo” for some, so take it or leave it. But I truly believe that we must make space for that which we want to come into our lives.

Whatever your reason for purging your clutter, I’m so happy you’ve decided to do it. But there’s a really important next step to take.

Set goals for your purge.

This is SO important. If you begin purging without any specific plan of attack or goals to achieve, there’s a really good chance you’ll stop partway through and never finish the job. Here are some tips for setting your decluttering goals that I’ve adapted from The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home. So be realistic with your plan, and please be kind to yourself if it takes a little longer than you hoped. As long as you are making progress, that’s all that really matters.

  • First, visualize–in whatever way works best for you (i.e. drawing, writing it out, creating a mood board)–what you want your completed space to look and feel like. Having a concrete representation of what you are working toward will help motivate you to make it happen.
  • Make a list or a map of all the rooms and ‘clutter hot-spots’ you want to tackle.
  • Give each space a grade based on the severity of the clutter. For example, on a scale of 1–3 (3 being the most cluttered), a particularly messy room or closet would get a 3. This will help you prioritize your time.
  • Set completion dates for each phase of your cleanup and schedule the time you plan to work on it. Large chunks of time are ideal, but if all you have to work with is 30 minutes at a time or even just ten minutes!), it’s still totally doable. You may want to break down your goals into smaller areas if this is the case (i.e. instead of “the kitchen”, break it down into “organize the fridge,” “declutter the upper cabinets,” “tackle under the sink,” etc.) Putting these details in the schedule could help focus you on the task at hand.

Now that you have a plan of attack, you’re ready to get started! Check out the next post for some handy tips on clearing out the clutter.

Oh, and please leave a note below if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for other readers!

See ya next time!