I was tired of having so … much…. stuff. It was hard to find things. My beautiful treasures were hidden amongst things I didn’t care for so much and well, given the online pandemic, it seemed like the timing was right to get rid of a lot of stuff.
I decided on a grand, year-long experiment for the entire year of 2021 to declutter three things every day.
Yes, get rid of three things every single day of the year. That’s a minimum of 1,095 stuff.
Did I do it?
You bet your jammed closets I did. Here’s how and here’s what I learned in my year-long journey.
I realized I had to be clear on why I was doing this. For me it was all about:
- wanting to have more space and less clutter so my stuff and me had room to ‘breathe’
- wanting the things that I really love and adore take centre stage and not be hidden amongst things that didn’t light me up as much
- having to spend less time sorting, organizing, cleaning all that stuff
- purging my scarcity mentality along with my stuff
- Get rid of stuff I don’t like and/or don’t use. It sounds really easy right? Except I knew I’d have at least two blocks.
- One was soothing my inner wild child who would have regular tantrums stating emphatically “I know I haven’t used that thing in 10 years but I really, honestly, sincerely might need it someday.”
- It took me some time but after about six months of practicing getting rid of things, she rarely raised her voice.
- I knew I’d face the block of being afraid of having regrets – of getting rid of something that I’d later wish I hadn’t.
- I came to accept the latter as true AND that that shouldn’t prevent me from my mission of clearing clutter. (And yes, there were things I did regret getting rid of, but more about that later.)
3. The process – how I did it
- YouTube: I spent some time watching Youtube videos of how others clear their clutter and took what I liked and left the rest. I particularly liked what type of clutter bug you are and five decluttering methods that work which helped me understand my style.
- Motivation: I knew I’d need to keep myself motivated through the year so I started using 1SE (one second every day), a really spiffy app where you upload a picture a day and the app turns it into a video diary.
- Ease: I figured out how to make clearing stuff as easy as possible for myself. For me that meant keeping empty baskets around the house that I’d fill with stuff I wanted to get rid of. Not much thinking required, just collect and dump in the baskets (this is one of the five styles mentioned in the video above).
- Win-win: I thought about how to actually make sure the stuff left my house and hit on a win-win situation. I happen to live in Nairobi and have the privilege of house staff. So each week I’d give my overflowing baskets to one of my staff and he’d sort through everything to figure out what he could sell. It was a fundraiser for him and a breath of fresh air for me. Win win.
- Questions: I got uber clear on how I’d decide what to keep and what to recycle by regularly asking myself three questions: Did I need it? Did I use it? Did I love it?
4. Assets and gaps
- A huge ah ha hit me when I realized that there were more steps to getting rid of clutter than just identifying it and getting rid of it. And I also realized which step I was getting stuck on.
- The steps I identified were:
- 1. Clearing/purging mindset (see number two above)
- 2. Sorting/editing (deciding what to keep and what to toss)
- 3. Organizing (sorting what’s left, which could include putting it in baskets, categorizing, labeling, etc.)
- 4. Letting stuff go (actually getting stuff out of the house)
- What was my ah ha moment? It took me months to realize I was skipping step two. My tendency was to move to organizing, before I’ve done a deep sort and edit. Once I figured that out number two became much easier and faster.
- I can honestly say that while it took me a few months to get in my groove, the results have been totally worth it.
- My beautiful things are more prominent, I have more space to breathe and less stuff to clean, organize and sort.
- It’s brought an unexpected quiet sense of joy and peacefulness, not just to my physical space but to my brain as well. Less blender brain and more peace.
- I also have more of an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset. Can I get a high five?!
6. Moving ahead
- Believe it or not, I’m still continuing with my editing and purging. It’s become second nature.
- I’m also exploring extending it to things like my digital hygiene (like email!), and with who and how I spend my time. I’m working on having less of a “magical thinking” mindset (oh that 52 page report? I can write that in an hour! Not!) when it comes to what I can feasibly accomplish in a set amount of time.
Onwards with the adventure!
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Take up the challenge of creating more space to breathe for your and your stuff by purging what you don’t love, use or need.
- Sometimes we don’t realize when we’re stuck in an endless loop, like putting up with too much stuff or in this case trying to ‘simply’ unlock a door.
- Share this post with a friend and/or colleague and take up the challenge together. And to make the process easier for yourselves, see if either of you tend to get hung up on any of the steps in number four above.
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