June 05, 2017
Are you someone who holds onto things unnecessarily? Maybe you have a “junk drawer” in the kitchen that is filled to the brim, or perhaps your hall closet is overflowing with things that you have been meaning to sort through for months. If you feel like your “stuff” is starting to take control of you, then there's no time like the present to start getting control over your stuff.
It is so important to check in with yourself every few months and determine how your physical environment may be encroaching on your mental health. As summer kicks off, it is important to take inventory of your things and start asking: what's weighing on you and what can you unload to free up personal and mental bandwidth.
Below is my personal guide to de-cluttering your space and mind. Follow these steps every time you are feeling overcome by your surroundings. A good rule of thumb would be to perform quarterly seasonal check-ins on your physical environment but you may need to adjust according to your current situation.
You’ll be amazed at how much space you can create in your life for positive things when you simply make room.
Think of minimizing your belongings as an indulgent experience. For the next few hours, you are going to focus on taking care of you and your environment. Get everyone else out of the house, light a nice candle, put on some music that you like, and relax. This experience is going to reward you in more ways than one. The positive effects will radiate in other areas of your life by freeing up time and space for creativity and much-needed relaxation.
I find it best to start by making a list and putting pen to paper in terms of what I want to accomplish. Once I write down everything that I would like to get done, I estimate how long each project will take me to complete and rank in order of importance in accordance with how much time I have. For instance, during this "home edit" I need to rearrange my hall closet (30 minutes), my kitchen cabinets (1 hour), and my guest room closet (1 hour). Priority number one is the kitchen cabinets so I am going to start there and try to move quickly. I always start with the biggest projects first because if for some reason, I run out of time and am left with the smaller projects, I am more likely to wrap them up when I have an extra half hour. I also like writing a list because it keeps me on schedule and it feels so good to get things crossed off.
The easiest way to get going on a project is just to start clearing out. Empty every item out of your closet, cabinet, drawer, etc… and wipe it down completely. As you empty your belongings, sort into 3 piles, keep, donate or discard. Take a moment to appreciate the symbolism of the fresh start that you are giving yourself.
This can be the tricky part for many people. Don’t make the mistake of keeping too many things when you do a clean out because it could turn into an exercise in futility. Mindfulness is being able to determine what really matters. Do you really need this item? Have you used it in the past few months to a year? Is this the best location for this item? Think about having a place for everything and being able to keep everything in its designated place. Don’t be afraid to retire this item and replace with a new one or give to someone who may be able to put it to better use than you can.
Once you have sorted through your things, start placing items that absolutely must go back in this designated space. Remember to ask yourself, “Do I absolutely need this?” And “Is this the best place to put this?” as you arrange everything neatly. Place taller items toward the back for easy access, use baskets to organize under cabinets and keep less frequently used items in harder to reach places.
Once you have found the perfect place for everything, take a moment to appreciate the gravity of what you have accomplished. Not only have you improved your physical space, you have subconsciously created space in your mind that will encourage creativity and increase productivity. It will allow you more time to focus on the things that you love. In getting rid of trash, and donating items you no longer need, you will feel lighter overall and have a sense of satisfaction because you have helped yourself and others.
Remember that this process of personal and home editing is ongoing. Your main goal is to be more aware of what you bring into your space and how it may affect your life on a daily basis. By clearing the chaos from your environment, you will realize immediate benefits that will make you both healthier and happier.
I hope you find these tips to de-cluttering your physical space and mind as helpful as I have.
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Please feel free to share your stories here. I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Follow me for updates @christiemandia.