Webinar: Overcoming Declutter Obstacles
By Leo Babauta
In this webinar on Overcoming Declutter Obstacles, I give a talk on some quick solutions to the most common problems I’ve seen when people declutter.
In this webinar, I talked about the reasons it can be hard to let go of clutter:
- You donâ€™t have time
- The items represent things you still have to do
- Donâ€™t know where to start
- They were gifts
- They were expensive
- You miss the person
- Itâ€™s your memories of your child, partner, parent
- You might need it
- It makes you feel safe (Depression Era syndrome)
- It might be worth something someday
- The clutter represents your aspirations to be better
How to let go:
- Time: Just 5-10 minutes a day. Make it a priority or you wonâ€™t do it. Make it one of the most important things you do each day, for a month.
- Donâ€™t know where to start: Pick a small flat surface: your dining table, coffee table, or part of your kitchen counter.
- Gifts: Realize you donâ€™t have a duty to keep a gift forever. Your duty is to receive it and be grateful for it, thank the giver. Not to be a steward of that gift for the rest of your life. Who wants to give a gift with that kind of burden?
- It might be worth something someday: Is it in pristine condition, preserved in a mylar sleeve? Then your baseball cards are probably not worth much. If you seriously think it might be worth something, check eBay prices. Sometimes youâ€™re right, and then you can have it appraised. Otherwise, focus on how much this item (and all the others) is costing you in terms of storage and larger house space, maintenance and cleaning, visual stress, etc.
- You might need it: try a Maybe box
- The items represent things you still have to do: Let go of as many of those things to do as possible. Delegate or outsource others (digitizing photographs, for example). Set aside some time to actually do some of the rest of the things you think you need to do — donâ€™t just leave the things around as reminders, but chunk off some time in your calendar.
- They were expensive: Thatâ€™s true, but keeping them doesnâ€™t make them less expensive — youâ€™re spending more time, maintenance & cleaning effort, and storage space to keep the expensive items, so youâ€™re actually compounding the expense by not getting rid of it (if youâ€™re not using it)
- You miss the person — OR Itâ€™s your memories of your child, partner, parent: The person or their memories is not in the item â€¦ itâ€™s in you. Schedule times to remember loved ones (for example), and look at digital photos of them, or journal about them
- It makes you feel safe (Depression Era syndrome): think of backup plans other than having a bunch of just-in-case stuff
- The clutter represents your aspirations to be better: Either make time to do what you hope to do, or let it go for now.
It gets easier to let go with experience. After years of letting go of clutter, I have almost nothing that I couldnâ€™t let go of.
- One in, two out
- Be ruthless
- No buying anything new challenge
- Put stuff in an unused closet, only take it out if you need it
- Hanger system to see which clothes you donâ€™t use
- Turn it into a game for the kids
- Have kids keep the money from a yard sale or Ebay sale, for ice cream
- Help them understand â€œwhyâ€ â€” whatâ€™s the benefit to them of decluttering?
- Give experiences as gifts
- Have a place for paperwork