Opportunity or Stumbling Block?

Some people look at getting rid of clutter as an opportunity: a chance, if not to change direction, then at least to clean up their path a bit. Other people see the need to get organized as a stumbling block, something that trips them up at every turn.

Are the people who see decluttering as an opportunity too optimistic? Are their rose-colored glasses a little too rosy? After all, life’s problems will be there whether their drawers are neatly arranged or not. And are the people who focus on the stumbling blocks too pessimistic? Are they using their reluctance to declutter as an excuse to not get moving in other areas of their life?

Perhaps the task of getting rid of clutter presents a combination of both opportunity and stumbling block – just like so many other things in life. And maybe we need to find a middle ground, some realistic and doable place between unbridled optimism and self-defeating pessimism that allows us to move forward with the “stuff” in our lives.

Here are some tips I’ve gleaned from talking to others who have been through the process of decluttering.

Just start. Don’t wait for someone else. Don’t ask for permission. Be your own source of power. And don’t worry about the “right” place to start. Just start.

Set a deadline. It may help you to focus. But as you keep expanding the parameters of the job, remember to reset the goal.

Do a little, often. Don’t wait until you have a free day; use those two hours you have. Don’t wait for a two-hour block; use the twenty minutes you have each day to accomplish one small task.

Celebrate your progress. Don’t wait for what may seem like an elusive end product but find delight and satisfaction in one clean shelf, one accessible drawer, one bag of clothing donated. Take before and after pictures to remind you of how much you have accomplished.

Ask for help if you need it. Don’t despair if the job seems too daunting. Ask family and friends to help in ways small and large.

Whether you see cleaning up your clutter as an opportunity or a stumbling block, you may have tips to share that will help others. What works for you?

≈Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

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