In my previous post, I spoke about how clutter clearing is one of the most transformation aspects of Feng Shui. The regular routine of de-cluttering nourishes our personal energy, contributes positively to our relationships, and helps us focus on the actions required to fulfill our dreams. But clutter doesn’t manifest only in the form of overstuffed untidy spaces. This post gives information about types of clutter, what hold it has on us psychologically, and methods to release our attachment to it.
The misconception is our definition of clutter. Many of us have a narrow definition. We believe if we can just categorize, containerize, and label our things, we no longer have clutter.
But clutter can still lurk in the tidiest most organized spaces. In the book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston defines 4 categories of clutter:
So we don’t have to have chaos to have clutter.
What category do your things fall into? I have a number of things that fall into the first category: “things we do not use.” This distinction has prompted further reflection. Here are some of the reasons, I believe we are holding on to these items.
As you can see as a professional organizer, I am also confronted with clutter dilemmas. The reasons we hold onto things can reveal aspects of our psyche.
Some of the attachments are because we:
We are holding on to several totes belonging to a family member, and one of the items being a grad dress from 2010. No one thinks of a beautiful graduation dress as clutter, but it is if you don’t have room for it. Okay, we have the room, so feel an obligation to help, but know the dress will never be worn again. Along with storing other people’s clutter, we also have gifts in storage to avoid the risk of hurting people’s feelings.
My son’s diecast car collection. He has no room or interest in them any longer, but it is a physical reminder of my son’s childhood and how happy he was when he received these cars as gifts over the years.
My Usborne Book collection was over 300 at one time. My kids grew out of them 15 years ago, but I found it extremely difficult to let them go. I have paired the collection down to my favourites, and I give myself permission to keep these because I truly love them.
We sometimes buy things and regret it when it doesn’t live up to our expectations. For example, we were really into juicing and regretfully bought two different types of juicers. We barely have time to juice with one juicer! Because we don’t like wasting money, we held onto it “just in case.”
However, feng shui experts tell us that when we hold onto things “just in case” we are sending out a frequency of not trusting and feel insecure about the future. We have since sold the juicer, but there are also a few kitchen gadgets that fit this description.
I personally don’t have any unfinished projects. I am task driven. But I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I believe if this is an issue for you, once some of your clutter is gone, you will be able to focus better and will have more time for projects if you set it as a priority.
Being aware of the four types of clutter is the first step. Also, sorting our items get us see exactly what we have. If we see we have 20 pairs of scissors, it is not difficult to let them go. That technique is great for the first sweep of decluttering, but some clutter is emotionally tough, and these 5 tips will help you through subsequent sweeps:
We have to assign importance and relevance to items we identify as clutter. We first need to look at our life at a macro level; know what it is that we want and make decisions of what we keep in our house with the end in mind. If you will be downsizing in 5 years, then the collection of 25 Royal Dalton dolls could be moved to the next stage in the process.
If the item truly enriches our life, then we should give ourselves permission to keep the item. If it doesn’t enrich our life, and we have 20 similar items we are likely hanging onto it for emotional reasons, we need to set boundaries. Use the 80/20 rule and a timeline.
When it comes to clothing, we generally only wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. This rule tends to hold true for other things as well, such as video games, books, DVDs, music and more. With my Usborne Book collection I set a boundary of keeping 20 of the 300 books. Read more about this rule here.
For my son’s diecast car collection. I have given myself a deadline of 6 months. When that time comes, I will apply the 80/20 rule.
Sort and store like items together. Then, on a weekly basis, we can confidently evaluate our physical spaces and things and set boundaries for the things we are on the fence about. Regularly items should be moved to a holding bin. On a monthly basis the bin is reviewed and a final decision made to let it go.
Think of clutter clearing like the routine of getting your hair cut. Many of us don’t have the expertise to cut our own hair and think nothing of getting our hair ‘decluttered’ by a professional. Space decluttering or downsizing is no different. A professional organizer can help get you on your way to balancing the energy in our surroundings and to create great effects you wish for your life.
Organize to Optimize with Melody Oshiro serves Parksville and most areas of the Regional District of Nanaimo. Are you looking for more hours in your day to focus on what is most important to you? Contact Melody if you would like assistance in organizing your home or office. Check out her package rates.