Clear Your (Mental) Space: Declutter & Organize
It is so incredibly easy for things to pile up, both mentally and physically. I know I’m not alone here... Things tend to congregate, pile up and with time, can consume our space entirely way too much. And this, my friends, can be so incredibly taxing on our mental energy. Our home can be a direct reflection of our stress levels and mental health also. I will often joke and let people know that they can tell when my stress is high, because my home is a complete and total MESS. And it is so true. So if you’re at your wits’ end with clutter in your space, or not having the organization or functionality you desire from your space, you are not alone and we are here to help.
The reality is that we all need a refresh on our organization and space, even those who seem to have it more together than us. I also want to acknowledge the correlation between someone who struggles with clutter and their past history. Many people may have a history of poverty trauma, homelessness, or other attachment struggles that can make it difficult to simply "let things go". The opposite can also be true, like for me, where I grew up with poverty trauma but my family struggled with clutter. So I am super quick to trash, recycle, donate or resale items instead of keeping clutter.
Keep in mind that as our lives evolve, our needs change in addition to our organization needs. The other reality is that most people (raises my hand in solidarity) want to organize but truly need to declutter first. Decluttering and organization can bring so much JOY and also require some work.
Phase One: DE-CLUTTERING!
Read below for a few simple tips and tricks on how to effectively clear your physical and mental spaces.
1. Deciding WHERE to start is important
Let’s start with a comprehensive list of areas in your home you’d like to declutter and organize. This can be entire rooms or designated hot-spots, like the infamous kitchen junk drawer or the hallway linen closet. Next, let’s assign a priority to each room by asking which space causes the most stress for you. I like to tackle smaller projects first, like the linen closet, versus bigger projects like the entire kitchen. Once you have successfully tackled a smaller area, you will feel better and hopefully be encouraged to tackle a bigger obstacle.
2. Set realistic expectations and time frames.
Let’s keep it real with ourselves, friends. This space in our home most likely didn't get this way overnight and it may not be instantly decluttered and organized overnight either. Example- I am pretty sure there has been at least three weeks worth of clean laundry on my kitchen table waiting to be put away (no judgement yall). So, with that being said, let's set a timer for a reasonable time, such as 10 minutes, and do a simple declutter. Once your timer is up, you can decide if you want to continue with your decluttering. If you’re done for the day, that is okay too. We can pick back up with decluttering again later, if need be. Be sure to move at a pace that is most doable for you while also making progress in reaching your decluttering and organization goals.
3. Now, let’s start with a swift declutter!
Most people acquire item
s, then acquire more, and more. This is natural, right? Yes, of course it is! And it can also come at the expense of your space. So let’s start with one room in your home to prioritize and let the fun begin! Grab a trash bag (or two), a donation box, turn on some music, and get to work. This means throwing away any items that are trash (old items, expired food/hygiene items/spices, broken items) and recycling what’s possible (like that half full water bottle on the nightstand, old bills or paper items, etc). Next, designate a donation of items you no longer want to keep. Here’s a very important next step- set a deadline on when to donate/resale items! We do not want to hold onto these items for long at all. If possible, move them out of the space within a day or so, or even better, place them in your car at the end of your decluttering!
We also recognize that this step is not easy for some people, and this could be for many reasons including poverty trauma, emotional attachments, sentimental memories, and so much more. Here are a few questions to assist if decluttering is not a simple or easy process for you:
Do I use this daily or often?
Have I used this item in the last two months?
Or is it simply collecting dust because who knows the last time I’ve used it...?
Do I actually enjoy this item?
Does it bring me joy?
Do I even like this item?
Does this item represent me, my style, etc.?
Can I let this item go?
Can someone else benefit from this item more?
These questions can usually help stir us in the right direction when it comes to a simply declutter. However, sometimes this may not solve all our problems either. Still not sure where to start in your home? Feeling overwhelmed? Try your laundry area. Most people do not have strong emotional attachments here and often have plenty that can be decluttered and reorganized.
Phase Two: ORGANIZATION TIME!!!!!
1. More questions to ask!
Once you’ve decluttered your space, it is time to organize the remaining items. So how do we start this phase? Simple- first we want to ask some questions:
Does this layout/organization work for me?
Would changing the location help with the flow of the space?
Would adjustments help with the functionality?
Are these items in the right location?
How can I make these items easy to find and use?
2. Changing things up!
Here is where you can purchase new items to help make your space more efficient and put-together. Maybe before going out and buying new things, you may want to try to reuse or up-cycle current items. For example, a mason jar makes great bathroom storage for items. Small boxes or other items around the home can be used for storage solutions also. Once you have a new system in place, try it out for at least a week, or maybe even two. Of course, you can make tweaks and adjustments if needed after this trial run to help improve functionality and flow.
3. Observe and ENJOY!
Take time to see if your new set up really works how you need it to. Continue to make small adjustments when needed, and most importantly, enjoy your success! Over time you will start to see if this truly works and you can always adjust as needed.
Blog written by: Heather Thomasson, LPC-MHSP, PMH-C
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