You see it in news feeds on Facebook. You see it on Twitter. Someone takes a picture of it and posts it on Instagram. You see a picture of it in a magazine. You see it on a 5-minute segment of your favorite daytime talk show. CLUTTER! They tell you it can be done in these few simple steps, show you the before and after pictures. Then you fall down the rabbit hole of thinking you can do it too because they made it seem so simple and the end result was perfect. Is this real? Can it be this simple? Will I achieve this same result?
The answer to those questions is yes and no. You must be realistic about your situation, lifestyle, and habits. When working with clients who want me to make the magic of decluttering their house look like that perfect picture they saw, I must let them know that decluttering is an ongoing process. It involves behavioral modification, an emotional rollercoaster ride, daily tasks, and one of the toughest of all, TIME.
Behavioral Modification: You have to figure out the WHY. Why am I constantly living in a state of clutter? You have to deal with the HOW. How can I continue to live like this? How can I make this go away? Next is the WHERE. Where do I even start? The biggest step in this process is the WHO. Who can I turn to for help? This process can and will be mentally challenging for some. It will help to keep a diary or notes on how you are feeling about the clutter in your home. As you take the journey of decluttering, the notes help you understand the underlying cause or at least guides you towards the path to figuring it out. Some can do this on their own but if you are able to afford/have access to a mental health professional, they can help guide you through this process. It is not an overnight fix and will require you to work on the WHY and HOW, which can then lead to the WHERE.
Emotional Rollercoaster: Your house has been cleaned, you are happy, and feel good about yourself. Two weeks later, you feel sad, depressed, and unhappy with the way your life is going. You have no energy and cannot figure out why. You are constantly exhausted and stressed. You stay sick but cannot pinpoint the reason why. You isolate yourself from others because you don’t want to have others see you living like this. You are now back to where you started-CLUTTERED. You feel overwhelmed when facing your clutter. Your anxiety builds up as you pull into your driveway or unlock your door to walk into your home. These emotions are real and can lead to high-stress levels. You cannot turn these emotions off at the snap of a finger, however, working on behavioral modification is key to helping with the emotional rollercoaster living in a state of constant clutter can cause.
Daily Tasks: Set a timer, schedule at least 2-3 days out of the week you will dedicate at least 10 to 15 minutes to concentrating on one area. This helps you to stay focused and keeps you on task. It is better to accomplish mini tasks/goals versus being disappointed by creating a larger mess in multiple areas of your home. Everyone in the household MUST participate in this process. If more than one person contributes to the issue, then they need to participate in the process as well.
Time: Yes, someone can come into your home and make all of the clutter disappear, but it can return just as quickly as it disappeared, especially if you haven’t taken the time to figure out WHY is it happening. I recommend to all of my clients who utilize my organization services- time, patience, daily to weekly tasks, setting up a system that works for them and their household. There is never a perfect time to get the process started, you simply have to schedule it into your Calendar of Life. It is a necessary process that you have to be involved with and committed to deal with. The timeframe will vary from person to person but do understand that time can include months to years, not just hours and weeks. You have to pace yourself and give the systems that are set up to help you time to work and be modified.
Decluttering is a process that cannot be rushed. It takes time for the clutter to build up and so it will take time to get it sorted. You have to allow yourself to open your mind by setting mini-goals and start utilizing systems that will help you stay focused and get the job done.