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Decluttering is so emotional – how can I do it more easily?

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Decluttering is an emotional thing to do – after all – you are going through all your stuff and making decisions on each and every item. I feel emotions even when I just think of decluttering some of my things sometimes!

Obviously some items are more emotional than others (for the majority of people things like photos, baby clothes and personal items are harder to make decisions about than toys, magazines and kitchen equipment – for example) – but ultimately when you are looking at your things in such a focused way, you are bound to reach at least one or two emotional stumbling blocks along the way.

How can i make decluttering easier? it's too emotional

I get asked quite frequently about how to make decluttering easier – so I wanted to give a few ideas here today for you. I really hope you find at least one that resonates enough to make those decisions less fraught.

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How to make decluttering easier

#1 – Start with the least emotional stuff

Instead of plunging in wherever you decide to start decluttering in your home – have a plan in mind. If you find it easier to make decisions about certain types of items, then start with them.

Once you get the ball rolling you will find it all the more easy to keep going, and hopefully the momentum of what you are doing will carry you a little easier through the harder decisions.

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#2 – Focus on the positives

I write a post a while back that went into this in far more detail, so check it out HERE (I’ll wait……). Hi again!

The basic idea is instead of focusing all your energy on what you want/need to get rid of – focus instead on what you are getting to keep. You will be able to enjoy the things you truly love that little bit easier when you can see them!

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#3 – Practise may not make it perfect – but it definitely makes it easier!

As with most things in life, you can learn the skill of decluttering by practicing it as much as possible. Get into the habit of making decisions about things on a regular basis and you will find that you are more naturally able to make the more difficult decisions when you start a harder decluttering job.

Start by keeping your kitchen counters tidy on a daily basis. They tend to be a place that collects stuff over the day, most of which isn’t kitchen related at all. If you can make the habit of decluttering that smaller space each day then you will make it easier to continue that new habit when it comes to things like your photos or more personal items.

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#4 – Start in a room where you can close the door

Decluttering creates mess before it gets better – that’s just the nature of the beast I’m afraid. This can create an emotional response just as much as actually getting rid of things.

If you can start decluttering in a room that is less visible, then you can simply close the door on that mess and open the door the following day or when you are next able to carry on.

If you have to continually look at more mess then it can lead to a more negative emotion, and you may want to stop decluttering (“after all, it’s not working….”). This is exactly what you don’t want to happen.

Just as with a diet and exercise – you may very well put on weight at first when you start exercising as you are putting on muscle – but stick with it as you will find that you will steadily lose that weight and more over time.

If you can get through the first room you declutter – then you will know a little more of what to expect, and in the rooms you can’t shut away you will be able to focus on the end goal that bit easier – making it less emotional for you.

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#5 – Trust yourself

When you make decisions, get into the habit of listening to your gut – it’s usually right…

A lot of decisions around whether to keep items are based not on whether you actually want or need the item, but rather guilt about the fact it was a gift, or that you may need it one day.

Fundamentally, you usually know when you want to get rid of things – but the struggle against your inner self can create all these negative emotions that make it so hard.

If you learn to trust your instincts then you will find things a lot easier

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#6 – Don’t force yourself…

Only you can decide when you are ready to declutter any area of your home. You have to be ready for it otherwise you will feel all manner of emotions – most of which will be negative, because you will be fighting an internal struggle to get something done when you don’t want to.

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#7 – Allow yourself to have memories

If you are finding it too painful to part with some items as they have special memories attached – can you actually keep them but get rid of them at the same time?

What I mean by this is that you may not be able to keep the actual item because of space restrictions etc… – but could you take a photo of that item and frame it, or create a memory box that you can treasure?

You don’t necessarily need to keep the whole of an item for it to still be with you and for you to feel those emotions in a positive way still.

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#8 – Make decluttering comfortable

If you make things as easy on yourself as possible when decluttering, it will become a less stressful experience immediately. Why not put some of your favourite music on, have a cup of tea/coffee to hand, make sure you are wearing comfy clothes etc…

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#9 – Take a break

Focusing on anything for any length of time can be exhausting – yet we expect ourselves to be able to tackle a large decluttering project in one go and still be able to make emotional decisions easily.

This isn’t going to work!

If you take a break every half an hour – a walk around the block for some fresh air is perfect – then you will come back rejuvenated and decisions will be more easy than if you were tired and struggled on through.

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#10 – Your clutter has emotions attached already

When you look at clutter in your home I am pretty sure you won’t feel great about it. You will have a negative energy that weighs you down because you know it’s there and you need to sort it out.

Sometimes we are worried about sorting our stuff because of the emotions attached, whereas they may be a lot less emotion attached to dealing with things rather than leaving them as they are.

Yes, of course it will be hard and time consuming to declutter – but you may feel so much better once it’s done. Don’t let your clutter get the better of you.

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#11 – Get stuff out ASAP

The last step of decluttering is clearing everything up and putting things back. Oftentimes this means that you will be left with bags of items to take to various places (charity / tip / friends etc…).

This is a dangerous part – because you have made great progress with your ¬†decluttering, and have made the decision to get rid of each and every item in those bags. But if they are left in your home for any length of time, the temptation is there to take a few things back out…

Trust your decisions and take those bags to their new homes as soon as you possibly can. The longer they stay in your home, the more doubt may creep into your mind, and the more emotion you will feel about the whole process.

Once they are out, then you will feel lighter, and more positive again.

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Tips and ideas of how to make decluttering much easier - and less emotionalThe definition of clutter for me is anything that doesn’t belong in the space it is in – whether that be because it belongs somewhere else in your home or doesn’t belong in your home any longer.

As such, decluttering is immediately made easier because I am no longer saying that clutter is just what I need to completely get rid of.

It’s a very small change in perception – but it really does help with decision making. If you can’t find a place for it in your home, then it immediately makes it a little easier to be ready to part with it.

The key thing to take away from this post is to acknowledge that yes, decluttering is emotional for most people, but there are ways that you can lessen the negative emotions if you listen to yourself and trust yourself more.

If you are looking to declutter anything in the near future, then I hope that some of these tips and tricks will help make things go a little smoother…

CLUTTER- SORTED! eBook from Organise My House - decluttering and tackle clutter for good

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  • Hi Chris – great question – and the answer is that either way is a good way as you are getting it done. I would definitely do what suits you best. You don’t want to be sitting for 4-5 hours straight if you will lose focus halfway through, and you don’t want to do an hour a day if that is too difficult to find the time on consecutive days as you may end up leaving it for longer. Do what works for you and your schedule and you’ll be fine! –
    I would determine what you want to keep and what you don’t want to keep based on what you will want to see in the future. If there is nothing that is needed to keep legally then you may want to just keep for sentimental reasons (I am not sure the exact type of paperwork you are talking about) then you may be better to scan the papers into your computer and label well so you can access when you need to – or just contain it all in a box so you know where to look if needed.

    Hope that helps?

  • Address Our Mess

    Wow, great advice! Sometimes decluttering can be an emotional process that people may not be prepared for, but I think your tips will really help these individuals with the decluttering process. A few strategies to stay clutter free combined with your tips can really help homeowners reclaim their home from the grasp of clutter


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