Less is more. Simplify! Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut the clutter. All of these are great ideas, but how do we get there? Why are we trying to get there? How will any of this change your new year? I have been teaching ways to clear clutter and simplify since 1998. That is creeping up on 20 years of clutter clearing advice. What could possibly be left to say to you as we head into 2016? This: Get clear on why you are clearing clutter. When you can continually refocus on the why, the how will come more easily for you.
Focusing on the why is an internal event. Call it goal setting. Call it prioritizing. Call it list-making. Call it a mission statement. I am pretty sure you know the jargon. If you don’t take time to figure out why you want to clear your clutter, you won’t get there and stay there because you don’t know where there is—literally, you don’t know where you are going. Why do you want to get rid of your clutter? Seriously.
Personally, I want to get rid of clutter to free up time for my priorities. My own goal is to free up time “to make faith, family, and friends my daily, hourly, and moment by moment priority.” That is a pretty lofty goal and honestly, I get sidetracked and mess up on this a lot. I am human. We all are. We make mistakes. We fall down. We brush off our knees. We learn. We go on. All of that is just fine.
I clear clutter to free up time and energy for “faith, family, and friends.” When I have less stuff to pay for, clean, organize, and store including everything from paperwork to my home contents to the stuff in my garage and my car, I have energy for what is important to me. What is important to you?
Figure out your core priorities. Stay focused on what is important to you. Dangle your purpose constantly in front of your mind minute by minute as the reason for the mechanical tasks of clutter clearing. When you hold this priority or mission statement in your thoughts, you will get through the closet organizing, or the paper piles, or whatever task you have set out for yourself. You will prioritize your days, your years, and your life to focus on this.
I refuse to clutter the cabin my husband and I just purchased. At home, we will be downsizing so we don’t spend so much time and resources maintaining all the extra space now that we are empty nesters. I also am clear on our personal priority for the cabin. It is “To have fun and make great memories with family and friends.” To do that, we really don’t need a lot of “stuff” up there, and I certainly won’t turn it into a place to store stuff from our home. Buying more stuff won’t accomplish our cabin priority.
You too will buy less because indiscriminant more stuff simply won’t help you focus on what matters to you. The piles won’t regrow. You will get rid of paperwork you don’t need and simplify what is left so that it takes less time and energy to manage paperwork. When physical clutter isn’t in your home, you will clean faster and get back sooner to your priorities.
You will keep less because, after all, it is just stuff and you don’t want stuff to burn up your money, your time, your energy, and your life. You will trust the Universe to provide what you need and no longer save so much for “just in case” or “because I might need it some day.”
Next, you will focus on your passion and your priorities because you won’t be out shopping or at home constantly whittling down and reorganizing. That isn’t to say circumstances won’t change. Daily priorities change, and the stuff you need in your home will change. I am just suggesting that when you keep your core priorities in the forefront, you will work through the clutter more ruthlessly and faster.
Finally, you will have less stuff and more purpose, time and energy! Clutter will regrow some as your life changes (children growing up, parents needing help, interests and careers changing) but it won’t regrow as quickly because you are focused on your personal higher purpose. Does that sound good to you?
Yes, after 20 years of teaching clutter clearing and organizing, I am encouraging you to be bold, ruthless, and quick with your clutter. Time doesn’t stretch out in the distance for me the way it seemed to 20 years ago. I look at some of the stuff in my life that I now clearly understand will outlive me. What for? The implications to that are to be strong and get the clutter clearing done. Don’t let closets, cupboards, drawers, and file cabinets claim your precious life. Focus on your priorities. Yes, you can and you will do this!
Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life, a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips readers may pick and choose from to fit their personal style. She is also a breast cancer and melanoma survivor who wrote Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We’ll get you through this. Free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.