Ah, spring… the cold weather has finally subsided and it’s time to throw open the doors and let some fresh air into your home. Let the sun shine in on your living space and—if you are like so many people—you will be shocked by what you see! Stacks of mail, half-finished projects, even a few holiday cards hiding out in the bookshelf. Before you can even think about spring cleaning, you’ve got to begin with the logical first step: clearing your clutter.
Nobody sets out to create a cluttered space. Think about it, have you ever seen an article on how to make your home a cluttered mess? Did you plan to use the chair in your bedroom as a place to put two weeks worth of clothes? Did you set out to clutter up your home so that walking into it would feel discouraging? Have you ever replaced something—a corkscrew, a pair of scissors, a particular book—that you know you already have but cannot find? Well, my friend, you are not alone.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of clutter is the self-blame and frustration that comes with it. We tell ourselves, “I really should go through that mail… I cannot believe I’ve let it stack up like that.” Yet the stack seems overwhelming, so we put off going through it. Then it gets higher and more overwhelming. There’s a cycle to clutter: put something here, add more, procrastinate, blame oneself, and then feel too defeated to do anything about it. It’s time to break that cycle once and for all.
Let’s turn the issue of clutter on its head. Instead of seeing clutter as the result of a character flaw, how about looking at clutter as the outcome of excellent intentions? You want to give each piece of mail the attention it deserves—that’s your good intention and you’re waiting until you can carve out the time to handle the project properly. Maybe you’ve got a lot of clutter in your kitchen; well, it could be because you have every intention of using that juicer (once you take it out of the box). And what about those craft supplies spread all over the kitchen table? Unfinished projects are a huge source of clutter. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, just that your free time has not caught up with your intentions of making hand-made jewelry for your friends and family.
Celebrate your clutter! Once you recognize each area of clutter—the kitchen counter, the medicine cabinet, every shelf of the bookcase—as the result of good intentions, the clutter will seem less overwhelming. Ask yourself what your original intention was and put your focus there. If your original intention was to make crafts, put all of the craft-making supplies in one place and set aside some time to get creative. If getting through the mail is hard because the bills are piling up, the first step to managing them is to know what you owe (that means opening the envelopes and putting them in a file). If what you really, really want is more space, a good first step is to pick things up off the floor and put like with like so that you can take an inventory of what you have. You may even find a few treasures as you sort through your stuff.
By shifting focus from the self-defeating (“This place is a mess and I’ll never get it straightened out”) to the self-affirming (“I intended to reuse all these gift bags; now I’ll put them all together in one spot that I’ll remember”), you really can sort through your clutter. Are you wondering where to begin? Start with the area that will give you the most satisfaction, set your timer for 30 minutes, and you just might be amazed by how much you get done. Happy sorting!
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