The stuff we own has the power to create the home we want or turn that perfect home into an overrun, overwhelming pit that stresses us out and paralyses us. As a professional organizer, I go into homes where ‘the stuff’ has taken over and the homeowners seem powerless to deal with it.
When people talk about clutter they say they feel ‘suffocated’, ‘buried’ or ‘unable to breathe’. I think that is the internal manifestation of what clutter does. It poisons our living space and robs us of the ability to breathe in our own homes. Clutter also robs us financially, as we spend money to acquire all of this stuff; socially, as we can no longer entertain at home due to embarrassment; and emotionally, as it stresses us out once it has taken over our space.
The single biggest problem with organization is that people think it is all about ‘the stuff’ when in reality it is almost never about ‘the stuff’. And, the biggest mistake many people make is that they believe that if they focus on the stuff they will get organized, but this is simply not true. Amazingly, the first step to getting organized is to not think about what you own but rather to ask yourself “what is the life I want to be living?” And from this question the ones to follow such as “what does that life look like?”, “what do I want from my home?” It is only after you have answered these questions that you can start looking at your stuff and organize by asking of each item, “does this move me closer or farther away from the life I want?” if it moves you closer, keep it. If not, what is it doing in your home? It is as simple and complex as that. Start with the life you want, not the stuff you have!
Another huge factor is that people simply buy too much. Recreational shopping is a killer! However, the same method of thinking applies when you are out shopping. Before you whip out the wallet take a moment and ask yourself “will this purchase help me create the life that I want?” This is a great way to introduce ‘mindful spending’ into your daily routine and in turn create the life that you want. I challenge you to start mindful thinking today and start taking steps toward the life that you want.
Peter Walsh is a New York Times best-selling author, media personality and organization expert who believes that clutter is ANYTHING that gets in the way of you living your best life.