Recently we were feeling down, sad about some friends’ problems and tired of the winter weather. I was tempted to spend the weekend reading by the fire, but we came up with a better idea. We began going through the house collecting items to take to Goodwill.
We started by exploring closets, then began going carefully through each room identifying items that weren’t being used. We tried to take a fresh look at memorabilia and other items that were so familiar that we no longer really saw or appreciated them.
As the momentum built, finding items to pass along became increasingly exciting. I don’t fully understand how clearing clutter can generate new energy and start to be fun, but I know that it can.
In part, there is the good feeling that comes when you give something away to somebody who can use it. But, to be honest, it feels pretty great to simply toss stuff into trash and recycling bins.
Clutter-clearing seems to become most satisfying when we can shift our focus from what we are losing – the various items – to what we are gaining in return, like clean empty space and easier access to the stuff that we decide to keep.
I enjoy the feeling when my clothes closet is a little emptier and I can actually see the garments hanging there easily instead of being crushed into a wrinkled mess. I like opening up space on my bookshelves, rearranging my old favorites and creating room for new additions.
It’s no surprise that I can get a charge out of de-cluttering. In Myers Briggs terms, I am an “ENTJ,” meaning that I am a type of person who likes getting organized.
What has fascinated me as a coach, however, is that getting rid of excess stuff can bring new energy to just about anybody. In fact, the more you resist the idea of attacking that mess, the more benefit you may get from digging in and digging out.
For many people the cleaning process is daunting, and it may take inventive strategies to get you started. One option for reluctant cleaners is to recruit a friend or colleague to work with you, perhaps taking turns in each other’s homes or offices. Or you might even hire a professional organizer to help you begin.
Another useful approach is to break the clean-up project into small bites. Sometimes, for example, I make a game of seeing how much cleaning I can manage in 10 or 15 minutes a day. And I have had clients who have moved mountains of household clutter by dragging it out at the rate of one trash bag per week.
I won’t want to waste Spring on cleaning, but I am pleased to report that continuing our war on clutter is helping us feel energetic as winter drags on.