If you know me, you know that decluttering is one of my favorite pastimes. When I say this in casual conversation, some people will follow up with, “how do you have enough stuff to keep doing this regularly?” Well, in the spirit of authenticity, I’ll admit: I also have deeply-rooted hoarder tendencies, so I tend to collect things pretty quickly. I grew up in a fairly cluttered household and I became very accustomed to piles. Piles, piles, piles of things everywhere! The solution to a messy space was to tidy up by putting everything in a pile. We hardly ever entertained guests, and when we did, my mom would take things and hide them in rooms so the house would seem less cluttered. It may seem strange, but that was our standard operating procedure, and I wasn’t really fazed by it.
My baseline for normal living spaces was defined by the cluttered environment I grew up in. It was hard to understand that there were other ways to live. It wasn’t until I went away for college that I realized I could choose to fill (or not fill) spaces differently. I was blessed with amazing roommates who created beautiful examples of tidy, clutter-free spaces that I fell in love with. I learned to let go, to keep my environment clear, to release emotional attachment to things, and eventually I even picked up a few chic decor skills!
If you relate with this experience, know that this transition wasn’t always easy and I still battle the urge to hold onto things that I don’t need, but I’ve come a long way. These are 5 of my favorite decluttering hacks for recovering hoarders:
1 – Look at your $#!T. One of my favorite decluttering books is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I have #KonMari-ed my living space many times (yes, I know technically you’re only supposed to have to do this once, but I’m not there yet) and I swear by many of her techniques! One of Kondo’s strategies is to declutter by category (clothes, books, papers, etc.) and do the entire category all at once by dumping every item on the floor and sorting it one-by-one. This forces us to pick up each item, hold it in our hands, and take a real good look at our $#!t…every last piece of it. To decide whether we keep something or not isn’t based on how useful it is or how it has served us in the past, but by how it makes us feel right now. Only then can we decide if we love something enough to honor it by dedicating space to it in our homes, or to allow someone else to love it by donating or giving it away. This process can be liberating, but it can also be wildly uncomfortable because it often forces us to look certain things in the eye that are strongly related to emotional thoughts, feelings, or experiences. My advice? Buck up, soldier! It’s time to be brave, get out of your comfort zone, and allow yourself to feel those emotions. That’s where we can start to heal and learn to let go.
2 – Be easy on yourself. While this is a cool technique and yields great results, it can also be incredibly overwhelming. Overwhelm kills motivation, so be easy on yourself and know that even the smallest step forward is still progress. Allow yourself to feel. Maybe you’re struggling with letting something go because you know you don’t need it, you don’t use it, and you don’t love it, but it was a gift or has strong sentimental value. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings before you can peacefully let go. Give your treasures the time, energy, and emotion they deserve as you unload them. It’s like making peace with a challenging circumstance or finding closure at the end of a relationship. Like most processes, this gets easier with repetition.
3 – More space for abundance! Who doesn’t want more abundance?! Financial, social, spiritual, physical, creative, time, space, purposeful abundance! It’s much easier to focus on the blessings in our lives that can bring us closer to fulfillment when we’re not bogged down with actual things. “Abundance” tends to feel intangible, almost magical. We know we want it but how to achieve it be a challenging concept to grasp. Think about it, if we have an excess of clothes, we will accumulate a larger pile of laundry which becomes a more lengthy chore. More clothes to wash, dry, fold, put away. Sometimes, we accumulate so many clothes that we don’t even have enough space to put them away and they end up stuffed in drawers or shoved in closets. Letting go of the clothes that no longer serve you will not only allow you to enjoy the clothes that you have and love, but it will also trickle down and create more manageable laundry days. You spend less mental space focusing on the gigantic laundry monster and dedicate those precious neurons to creating, loving, and playing! The cherry on top? When you do get new clothes, you’ll have plenty of space for them! (Instead of playing that “get one new shirt, get rid of two old shirts” game…we all know that never works.) See what I’m getting at? It’s all connected! Create space for abundance!
4 – Inbox Zero. This is probably my favorite decluttering concept. We now live in a time where email clutter is a serious #firstworldproblem. Productivity junkies strive to hit “Inbox Zero” daily and there are intricate strategies to whittle down the number of emails in you’ve collected since the birth of email, some 20 something years ago. Every email symbolizes something you haven’t taken care of and something that is someone else’s priority. A request, an update, an invoice. Each of these things takes up mental and electronic space that could be used for other, more productive, and more creative things. Inbox Zero is nirvana. The state of enlightenment that allows you to create magic, knowing that the relationships and tasks that were sitting in your inbox have actually been tended to. I’m proud to say I am one of these people. I’ve felt the freedom of Inbox Zero, and it is nothing less than transcendent! When I declutter my physical space, I’m essentially Inbox Zero-ing my life. If something is allowed to remain in my possession, it’s because my life is better, easier, more joyful because of that thing. Everything else goes, leaving room for creativity, joyful experiences, and abundance.
5 – Rise From the Ashes – As you declutter and manage your space, navigate the emotions of letting $#!t go, fill your living room with trash bags full of stuff, and get really familiar with your local Salvation Army donation locations, you will feel both amazing and completely exhausted. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the morning after you finish clearing things out is when you can really bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Your living space has a new lease on life, a rebirth into a beautiful new day of limitless possibilities! Once you’ve cleared out your junk, you can change things up! Rearrange furniture, redecorate, and have some fun! At Best Life Ever, we are all about living with purpose – I mean, we have a really badass course called Purposeful Productivity! So I’m always looking for ways to infuse purpose into my actions and environment. I’ll admit, I enjoy the occasional HGTV binge, so of course, that makes me all-knowledgeable in the home renovation and decor department! That is, until I actually have to put my skills into action.
Sometimes, even the fun stuff can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start! This is where I call my friend, Bagua. A Bagua is a guide derived from the chinese ideology that there are eight significant aspects of life and they are equally balanced around yin and yang. In the study of Feng Shui, the bagua serves as a guide to signify various qualities of life in relation to each other as they exist in a given space. It gently suggests what kinds of items, themes, and emotions I’d like to feel in various places throughout our home. If you’d like a super fun way to learn more about Feng Shui, check out a fabulous book called, “Feng Shui Your Life” by Alice Inoue!
Have fun with this and let us know how it goes! And if you want to join us for a Best Life Ever challenge this month, we’re playing the Minimalist Game beginning on September 1. Tag @kimiandpua in your #minsgame posts for a chance to be featured on our Instagram!