When you’re trying to declutter, there are certain things that will stall you in your tracks. And if you’d like to know what those things are, consider this article from the AARP.
Just a few thoughts on the article….
You Shouldn’t “Start With Your Attic”
If you’ve been down this road a few times, sure – go and start in the attic. But there are at least two major reasons why the average person probably shouldn’t.
First, you won’t see actual progress. By which I mean “you’ll see it when you’re in the attic, but it won’t affect your day-to-day life.” Seeing a clean counter the half-dozen times you walk into the kitchen each day is better reinforcement that you’re “doing the right thing” than seeing a clean corner in the attic next time you go up to do more decluttering.
Second, the attic is likely filled with sentimental stuff. Old photos, letters, and all that stuff that you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of – but that you don’t have room for in your day-to-day life – is up in that attic. That’s the hardest stuff to deal with, and the stuff most likely to cause you to throw up your hands in defeat. Tackling it first is insanity.
The Goal Is Not To “Nuke & Pave”
Per the article, “when you’re up against your memories, remember: You’re simplifying your life, not erasing your past.” I actually agree with this sentiment, but not when somebody is telling you to start out by attacking your sentimental clutter!
If you could keep your mom’s love letters or a pile of crusted-over, unusable art supplies that have been buried due to years of neglect, which would you keep? I’m guessing most of you would keep mom’s love letters. And I’m guessing the decision was pretty easy.
This illustrates the goal of decluttering – to encourage you to make decisions about what’s valuable to you, and act accordingly.
But decision-making is a skill that needs to be built and reinforced over time. And when you’re just starting to feel out how getting rid of things makes you feel, you don’t want to be practicing on the stuff that is, quite literally, irreplaceable.
And the sinking feeling that you’re going to make a mistake that you’ll regret can kill your decluttering energy like nothing else.
The Best Advice: Take The Time To Be Happy
The irony of this all is that articles like the one I linked, offering one-size-fits-all decluttering advice, are mostly designed to sell ads that, oddly enough, try to sell you more junk for your home! Which is more of the problem, not a solution.
See, we get in these messes because everybody else is telling us what we should want. So we buy that. And then we wonder why we’re not happy. So they tell us to buy something else, and we do. And we wonder why we’re still not happy.
And when we realize that buying what other people tell us to isn’t making us happy, we flip it on its head. We look to other people to tell us what to get rid of in order to be happy.
But both of these efforts fail, because we’re trying to follow a life plan that was never designed with our happiness in mind.
The goal of decluttering is to make space for what matters in your life, and that’s going to look different for everybody. The question is, what does it look like for you? And what can you do, right now, to move one step closer to that goal?