In the research for my latest book Less Clutter More Life I asked the question, “What stops you from getting rid of what you don’t use.” Here were the most frequent answers:
I don’t have time to go through my stuff.
It’s not my clutter.
I have more important things to do.
I have to take care of other people and other things first.
I am easily distracted and go off on tangents.
I get stuck in the memories of the past.
I want to be responsible and respectful of things I have been given.
It is too emotionally draining.
It’s hard to admit I have an issue.
I am afraid to let something go. I might want it back.
If you think clutter is a modern issue, check out 1 Samuel 10:22b (KJV). Samuel was looking for Saul to appoint him king. “And the Lord answered, behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.”
Here are 10 tips to help you turn your clutter into a blessing for someone else:
1. Start with your own stuff and don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Be a LeadHer by example.
2. If you don’t feel you can do it alone, invite a friend to join you. As my mother always said, “More hands make lighter work.” Offer to do the same for her. You may even have a child who is naturally organized, and would love the opportunity.
3. Decide whether it would easier for you to do a little at a time – or set aside a larger block of time for sorting. Either works!
4. Identify places that would appreciate having what you don’t need. Our county has a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence.
5. Before you begin, get a trash bag, for those things no one needs, and paper and marking pens.
6. For every hour of organizing, allow ten minutes for “clean-up.” Set a timer as a reminder!
7. Go through the area you have identified and ask, “Does this ______ help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If your answer is “Not really,” you have an opportunity for a blessing.
8. If you’re still not sure whether to keep something, ask “What’s the worst possible thing that would happen if I got rid of this, and I was wrong?” If you can live with your answer, let it go. If you’re still not sure, don’t stop – just go on to something else, and keep asking.
9. If you find something that belongs somewhere else, don’t go there – just put it in a pile to take when you are finished. Make a sign to indicate destination.
10. Before you go to your next activity, make a date with yourself to tackle the next cluttered area. Once you have gone through all the areas in your home, you can sustain your success by making it an annual event.
While letting go of what you don’t use isn’t a moral issue, it is a stewardship issue. During the 35+ years I’ve been helping people and organizations clear the clutter, no one has ever said, “I’m sorry I did that.” You’ll be glad you did, and so will the people you bless!