Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” – Tony Robbins –

Is your basement so messy that you’re afraid to go down there? Did you start a project last year to purge and organize, but you just couldn’t get the job done?

Decluttering your physical space can make you feel lighter and happier. There are lots of reasons why we hold on to clutter. I’ve moved several times, and every time I have to decide what to bring with me I find it extremely hard to let go of my possessions. Every object has a story, and I’d rather tell the story about the object than give it away!

Maybe you hold on to things for practical reasons. You might need that shoe box for something someday.
Perhaps you’re the sentimental type. How could you get rid of your lucky keychain that your first boyfriend gave you in 9th grade?

It’s possible that you simply never had the time or motivation to cleanse and purge; or maybe it goes deeper than that and it’s time to look within and figure out what’s really going on. What is it that you are still holding on to or refuse to deal with? How would you feel if you took action?

If you have reached a point in your life that you really do want to declutter, but it feels too overwhelming, here are some ways you can take control:

  • Get the tools you need for the job. Figure out ahead of time what will help you be successful, for example, trash bags, shredder, labels, markers, etc.
  • Take baby steps. If you can’t do it all at once, then chunk it up. Whether it’s 5 minutes a day or 2 hours every Saturday morning, pick the time segment that works best for you.
  • Use your calendar. Block off time on your calendar to work on decluttering, and treat it as you would any project that is important to you.
  • Visualize the result you want and how you will feel when it’s done. What will your space look like after you’ve decluttered? Do you have other plans for this part of your home? How will you feel once it’s organized?
  • Ask “why?” Is there a logical reason you are keeping something or are there deeper reasons? Understanding why you are holding on to something will help you decide what action to take. In my case, I had a lot of old sweaters my grandmother crocheted for me. They were out of style and didn’t look good on me anymore, but they represented my grandmother, who had passed away. Once I realized that I didn’t need physical possessions to keep the memory of my grandmother alive, I was able to get rid of them, keeping just one.
  • Make it fun. Play your favorite music or listen to an audio book or podcast while you declutter.
  • Donate if you can’t throw it away. Check out your local Goodwill or Habitat or other organization that might appreciate your donation and even come pick it up.
  • Consider your friends and neighbors. If it feels too impersonal to donate an object that you are emotionally attached to, consider giving it to someone you know. For example, if you can’t part with the Lego set that your child has outgrown, because you remember all of the good times you had building together, give it to a child in your neighborhood. Wouldn’t it be great to know that the Legos are now providing enjoyment for another family?
  • Ask for help. Is there someone in your life with great organizational skills who is willing to help? You can even hire a professional organizer. Personally, I just need someone else to put a sentimental item in the trash. Out of sight, out of mind. I coached someone who decided that she wasn’t going to tell anyone else about her project to declutter until it was finished. That’s okay too. The only person you have to answer to is yourself. Do what works best.
  • Take a photo and then toss. If you’re still holding on to your son’s artwork from kindergarten and he’s in college, take a photo and then toss the artwork.
  • Measure your progress. Take before and after photos so that you can see your results.

Last, but not least, after you’re done, don’t forget to celebrate your success!