This is an excerpt from my best-selling feng shui book, “Feng Shui that Makes Sense”. Please note that this entire article has copyright protection and NO part may be copied without the written consent of the author.
What’s clutter? Clutter is anything that you don’t want, love, need, or use. It’s the pile of cooking magazines stored in the garage that you’ll never read again. It’s the rake with the broken handle that you never got rid of but have long since replaced. It’s the obsolete computer now sitting forgotten in a closet.
The accumulation of stuff creates a ball-and-chain effect, bogging you down and impacting you in insidious and profound ways. Clutter has its own built-in sense of inertia. Having too much stuff sitting around can make you feel lethargic and unmotivated. Not knowing what to do with unnecessary-but-useful items results in procrastination. As one of my feng shui students aptly put it, “Clutter is postponed decision-making.”
Having a great deal of clutter can wreak havoc on your mental and physical
health. A closet full of clothes that one cannot hope to fit into again contributes to a negative self-image and a lack of self-worth. Finding places to store things, having to dust them, or vacuuming around them can be so much trouble that some people give up entirely on cleaning. Friends are no longer invited over, and the accumulation of dust can aggravate the lungs and sinuses, resulting in respiratory issues including asthma and chronic allergies. When you don’t feel well mentally and physically, you’re even less likely to take needed action to clear out what’s bringing you down.
The problem is, the longer you ignore attending to things that need to be done, the worse they become. Clutter inherently creates a breeding ground for daily mental recrimination with an incessant stream of shoulds:
“I should clean out that closet.”
“I should organize the garage.”
“I should go through and discard some of these ________ (toys, clothes, tools, pictures, shoes, games, boxes, books, blankets, papers, baby things, craft projects, decorations, magazines, tapes, CDs, DVDs).”
Talk about a guilt trip! All of this incessant mental nagging can have a
detrimental effect on self-worth and self-esteem. Have you experienced the sense of accomplishment, the swelling of pride, and the giddy feeling of satisfaction that comes from taking care of shoulds? Have you ever showed off your newly organized garage to a friend? Have you flung open the doors of a freshly cleaned closet or cabinet in sheer delight? Of course, your friend couldn’t care less (unless your friend is also your roommate and is directly benefiting from the purge of possessions),but that’s not the point. The point is that you feel good! No more guilt trip and no more disorganization. That feeling of jubilation is actually one of liberation. The end result of eliminating physical clutter is eliminating mental clutter as well. Not only have you gotten rid of unused belongings, you’ve also allowed balance and flow to come back into your life, making way for fresh new energy.
If you have a clutter issue, it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. Here are some simple steps to help you get the situation under control:
Step 1. Mark a date.
Mark a date on your calendar by which to have a certain room or area of the house cleared. A very effective motivator is to schedule a donation pick-up with a local charity. You may also want to schedule a garage sale. This way, you know that you’re committed to a specific date.
Step 2. Set up a system.
Set up a system for sorting items. Make three separate piles: one for trash or recycling, one for items to donate or sell, and another for items to keep. Have large bags and boxes on hand for the sorted items.
Step 3. Concentrate on one area at a time.
To keep the process from becoming overwhelming, concentrate on one area at a
time. If your garage is full of unwanted stuff, start there. Once the garage is cleaned out, you’ll have room to place items awaiting a donation pick-up or a garage sale. However, the cleaned out garage is NOT a new place to store more clutter. It’s simply a holding area for the items awaiting the charity truck or your garage sale. Once the garage sale is over, donate the items that didn’t sell to a charity
Step 4. Do a little bit each day.
Set aside at least an hour per day to keep the process moving. Don’t move on to the next area until the first area is completely cleaned out.
If you feel too overwhelmed or uncertain about the process of de-cluttering
your home, seek out professional help by hiring a professional organizer. Check the Internet for organizers in your area. Not only will they assist you in purging your things, they’ll also help you stay organized so you don’t collect too much stuff all over again.
Start a habit of getting rid of something every time you buy something new. Something coming into the home means that something goes out. If your
bookshelves are too full, don’t buy another bookshelf. Instead, donate your old books to the library. It’s a great tax write-off, and the library will be delighted to have them.
By the way, renting a storage unit is NOT the solution to the clutter problem! Even though things are stored away from your home, you are still energetically “tied” to them. If you have to pay for additional storage away from home, then you have too much stuff!
Remember that the results you receive from your feng shui enhancements are directly proportional to the effort you put in. Clearing clutter sets the stage for welcoming the excellence to come.
Copyright 2013, Cathleen McCandless, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article may not be published without the author’s written permission.