This is the first post in a series of how to start decluttering your home and life when you haven’t taken any initial steps so far, but feel like decluttering may be something you want to do. This post outlines the benefits enjoyed by those who make the decision to remove the excess materials, relationships and commitments from their lives, in order to shift their focus to only those people and things that truly matter to them.
Before you can get started with actual physical decluttering of your possessions, as well as the decluttering of other aspects of your life, including relationships and commitments, it is essential to understand why you are doing it, and what the benefits will be for you personally. While the benefits differ somewhat depending on the individual, there are many exciting changes that happen in everyone’s lives when they begin to get rid of their excess. If you are ready to start decluttering, the following benefits will ring true to you and will help to reinforce the decision you are making regarding the value of living with less.
- Less stress and worry. Most of us don’t realize unless we stop to think about it intentionally, that material possessions cause us stress and worry. How many times have you sat down to take a rest or read a good book, but felt some guilt when looking around because the dishes should be put away, that load of laundry should be folded, the carpet is in need of cleaning, that chair still needs to be fixed and the stack of mail should be gone through today. Or maybe you see an old photo on the fridge that reminds you that you really should call Aunt Elaine today, it’s been three months since you spoke to her last, or that invitation reminds you that you should RSVP for that party you really don’t want to go to, but feel obligated to attend. Decluttering eliminates much of this type of stress.
- No more guilt. Many items we own were purchased because of who we think we should be, or who we were at one time. Whenever we look at them, we feel guilt because we spent money on the item to begin with and we aren’t using it, and it also reminds us that we have failed at being that person we thought we should be. Examples from my personal experience: The do-it-yourself sushi kit sitting on top of the fridge, the yoga block and stretch bands out in the garage, the pressure cooker in the back of the cupboard and the collection of jeans for that blanket you were supposed to sew years ago. Decluttering lets you let go of those expectations and accept yourself for who you are currently, and make changes on a more intentional basis.
- More time. Believe it or not, the average person spends a lot of their time accumulating stuff, taking care of it, earning money to insure it, fix it, worry about it getting broken, or feeling bad that it isn’t used. We spend a lot of time just thinking about things, let alone the time we spend working to purchase them to begin with! When you declutter the excess in your life and leave only those items that are meaningful and useful in your life, you are left with fewer items to think about, clean and care for. This also extends to relationship and commitment decluttering. As you cultivate only those relationships and commitments that bring value to your life, you will have more time personally to focus on what is truly important Decluttering gives you your time back.
- More space. One of the biggest benefits of decluttering is space. Have you ever noticed how nice it is to walk into a new hotel room, or tour a model home for sale, or walk through an art gallery? They all have something in common. They have minimal items displayed and out in the open. The space is a breath of fresh air to most of us who live in homes with wall to wall furniture, hardly an open space on the wall, or drawers in the kitchen that isn’t jam packed full of utensils. Having so much excess effects how we feel in our homes, the space where we are supposed to be most comfortable. Imagine walking into your home and not feeling overwhelmed by anything that you see, no piles of things that need to be taken care of, not many pictures on the wall competing for your attention, and space to live, and breathe.
- More intentional living. Once you have rid yourself of all the extra stuff you have accumulated over the years that is not bringing any value to your life, you are naturally able to turn your focus to what really matters, because it’s all that’s left for you to concentrate on. When you don’t have extra clutter around the house, it is much easier to see that painting you created when you were in college, and realize that you would truly enjoy painting again. Or, when you are able to easily reach all of your kitchen utensils and appliances that you use regularly, it makes cooking that much more enjoyable and more likely to happen on a regular basis. When you have stripped the relationships and commitments from your life that are taking up time and energy, you are able to intentionally focus on those that are the most important to you. Decluttering allows you to live intentionally and with focus.
Hopefully all of these benefits will appeal to you, the aspiring declutterer, and give you the motivation to get started. Take a few minutes and write down the first three benefits that come to your mind when you think about owning fewer things, or freeing yourself from relationships and commitments that are not benefiting you. When you are ready, move on to the next post in this series-