Ten questions to help you declutter

Clutter in your home can have many consequences. The obvious one is that it makes it hard for you to keep your home tidy. It also makes it hard for you to find anything. The available space you have to complete tasks if also limited when there is a lot of clutter. But clutter has another impact. That is the impact on your sense of well being. This affects how you feel about yourself and your ability to make decisions. It can also be associated with depression. Often, people accumulate clutter because of bad things that have happened. The clutter represents the reaction to the bad thing. Decluttering means letting go and that can be hard. That type of decluttering is difficult to do on your own and this is where a counsellor can be helpful. Identifying whether the clutter is due to things you can’t let go of is difficult. The only way you can know is to try to declutter and see whether you can do it.

Start by writing up a plan to approach the clutter. Writing things down is helpful to give yourself a visual reminder of what needs to be done and what you have achieved. That is important to encourage you to keep decluttering. Plan the decluttering room by room. Break each room up into smaller chunks. You want to have tasks that do not take too long, maybe a maximum of an hour. This makes the tasks easier to achieve and gives you more ticks on your list as you complete each task.

Below are ten questions to ask yourself as you declutter.

1.Is this item something I use regularly?

2.If not, is it something I love?

3.Am I keeping this because I feel I should keep it, or because I am expected to keep it? (Either I expect myself to keep it or am expected to by someone else, or think I am expected to by someone else.)

4.Am I holding on to this because I think I should love it?

5.Am I keeping this ‘just in case’?

6.Do I have multiples of this thing?

7.Could something else I own do the same job?

8.Is this item broken and am I holding on to it because I intend to fix it?

9.Is this item worth the time I spend cleaning it and storing it?

10.Could I use this space for something else?

Many people report they feel a great sense of release and freedom when they start clearing out clutter. But some people find it too hard to deal with it. Melissa started cluttering her house after her husband died. She made several attempts to clear the clutter, but each attempt failed. She found it impossible to move on in life after his death. After 7 years of increasing clutter she was threatened with eviction from her house. Melissa had reached a stage in her life where her clutter was holding her back from moving on. Initially it had been because she could not bear to part with anything that reminded her of her husband. But over time the clutter became a trap, she didn’t want the constant reminders of her husband, but she could not bear to throw anything out. With counselling she was able to process her feelings around her husband’s death and find the courage to face the reminders of his existence and also let go of the things that reminded her of him.

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