What does it mean to be living clutter free? What does it mean to you?
Let’s start by saying what living clutter free is not.
It’s not a certain set of rules you do or you don’t live by in order to keep your house tidy. We’ve broken far away from the image of a middle-class house from the 1960s a long time ago…
But have we?
I look at the walls of my living room and I mentally calculate the weeks I have left until I have to wash them for spring cleaning. Spring cleaning? You guys … I have 5 kids that I’m the primary caregiver for. In my spare time that I meticulously create for myself not to lose my marbles, I sit and I write to you. Not plan an attack of spring cleaning my house.
So yeah — I think once in the past 10 years since we’ve lived here I have washed the walls of our living room and that one time was the TSP prep I used before repainting said walls.
The point is that it’s important to define for yourself what clutter free means for you, why it’s important to you so that you can take the next steps to create your version of a clutter free life.
Jump-Starting Your Clutter Free Life
The images we carry and the expectations we place on ourselves keep disappointing us
So I say it’s time to let it go. If you have an unmet expectation about how your life should look and that image you carry around keeps you discontented … dig way back into childhood and think about the way you were raised.
- Were you taught to clean properly?
- Were you unintentionally taught how to be a homemaker?
- Maybe you grew up in a “don’t touch anything house” maybe you grew up in an “accepting anything for free and keeping it house”.
Take the emotions out of the way and take a non-judgemental look at the way that you grew up. Try to observe it through the eyes of a stranger. Would you be ashamed to invite someone over because of the mess? Was the house always company ready?
So the question is where do you come from (in the scale of clutter) but also how do you want to live? What does clutter free living look like to you? What feels like the right amount of stuff? We can easily figure this out by imagining what your dream home would look like. Not what the outside looks like but inside.
Let’s do a little exercise right now. Close your eyes and let’s imagine walking through your dream house right now.
You are standing in the kitchen and as you slowly spin around you see the perfect tidy kitchen that makes your heart happy.
What do you see on the counters? Are they stripped bare, colorfully decorated or are they tastefully minimal? Does the fridge have pictures of the extended family all over it? Or is it fresh and clean? Is there a family center station for all the tablets to go? Is There a pile of paper on the edge of the counter neatly tucked away or is there not a scrap of paper in sight.
Now walk down the hall to the living room.
What do the hallway walls look like? Are they clean and bare? Are they a colorful paint? Is there a photo wall of black and white frames and all the beautiful people in your life?
Now head for the living room. Spin slowly around your dream living room. What do you see?
Do you see a sectional in your favorite color off-white? Do you see no electronics because everyone has handhelds and they are cleverly stowed away? Is there a large TV hanging on the wall set to a fireplace setting to create a cozy atmosphere?
Are there clean coffee tables with lamps on them arranged around the room? Does it feel hotel ready? Or family comfy? Are there toys in a bin beside the couch in the corner or is half your living room set up as your playroom?
Keep walking throughout your dream house and see, feel, and experience the inside.
We are not doing this exercise to create a horrible discontentment in your life about what you should have and where you should be living but I want you to capture the feeling of the inside of your dream house as you walked around it.
Was it comfy like a hotel?
Did it look like the home you are living in now only pile free?
Was it beautiful colors that made you happy on the walls?
What was the thing that stood out to you as you walked around?
Tidy? Spotless? Less stuff? Arranged differently? No piles?
Write down your thoughts from your dream home visualization.
We are not trying to change the size of your house. But we are trying to capture the feel of the inside of your house. That is your idea of clutter free living. Letting go of your “should be’s” and dream about what you would really want the inside to look like if time, effort, weren’t an obstacle.
Related Post: Create Your Version Of A Clutter Free Life
Know Your Why
Now that you have captured the feeling of the inside of your house. It’s time to figure out the next most important thing and that is your “Why”.
Knowing and writing down your “Why” is the most important step of living a clutter free life because it is the thing that will keep you motivated to keep going even if you are inching slowly forward two years from now.
And yay! That’s great because that means that you are moving forward and you are not in the still stuck group.
So let’s talk about knowing why. Why do you choose to live to be clutter free?
- Is it to save your feet from all the small little toy pieces?
- Is it because you want to create a space that feels like a breath of fresh air every time you walk in and it doesn’t stress you out?
- Maybe it’s that you want to create a home that you and your kids are proud of?
- Is it that you are on a mission to eradicate the piles that live in your house because piles stress you out?
- Perharps you are looking to ease the cupboard space in your smaller house and make sure that you use the complete full effectiveness of the one closet that you do have?
- Is it that you are so unhappy with your home and your life that you know if you start to declutter you will start your journey of being content and beautifying your house?
What is your “Why”? Why do you need to declutter your house and live a clutter free life?
Prompt: When I imagine walking into my perfectly clutter free house I feel ___________! I love the way the room feels ________! I need to start pursuing a clutter free life on purpose because I need ____________________ if not _______________ will happen.
Let’s flip the script, as this is a trick that will sometimes help define the why and that is the “Why Not” or “What bad thing will happen if you don’t”. Flipping the script will get you thinking long term about the direction you would be heading if you don’t start pursuing your version of a clutter free life.
What will happen to you, your mental health, and your people in your house if you continue to live the way you are living now. None of this has to be earth-shattering revelations, but I know for myself thinking about the terrible awful thing that will happen will get me motivated to start.
For example: “If I do not start decluttering my house I will get my mice hiding in our stuff this fall as the weather turns cold.” Or “If I do not declutter our house no one will and we will be living like slobs and teaching our kids how to not let go of things.” Or “If I do not declutter my house then we are always going to have the stress of stuff in our marriage as he likes things tidy and I like living in the chaos.” Or “If I don’t start decluttering our house … I’m always going to open the door, walk in and hate our home, wishing I lived anywhere else as my anxiety level rises.”
Take the time to think and write down — as studies have shown that writing down a thought will help you to remember it x5 more, so write down your why and your why not. Be honest. No one will see it.
I also dare you to be selfish
… as in why do YOU want to live a clutter free life — forget everyone else and make it super personal and selfish. We tend to think about everyone and take care of all the others needs that when we are faced with the things that we need to change in our own life we call it “Leftover time” because it’s selfish.
But for you busy mom, I dare to say you need a little selfish … but that could be a whole other topic here that I don’t have time to get into today. The point here being: make your “whys” and “why nots” for YOU. If they are not personal and meaningful to you … they will not be strong enough for you to want to change.
Related Post: The Joy Of Clutter Free Living
Step one, to moving toward living a clutter free life is …
Alrighty, now that you have defined your why and know what will happen if you don’t start … let’s get to work and start. We are going to do this in a step by step way.
1 | Break your decluttering time down into 15-minute chunks
We all lead very busy lives and the last thing we need to have is a huge project that requires us to set aside days and days. So we are going to combat this roadblock by doing 15-minute chunk purges. Everyone can find a 15 min block of time in one day.
2 | Shift the mindset
We are going to shift how we think about our homes or make sure that we are all thinking this thought. “Your house is a living and breathing thing.” Not in some woo-woo way. But I never want you to think of once you’ve gone through the whole house you are done, good, and set for life.
Think of your house as the place where your family lives, as a place that constantly has people moving in and out. So with that, your house is a quote-unquote “living thing”. There is movement. There is no stopping. So that means that stuff comes back in after you’ve decluttered … which is normal and expected. So as things come back in, other things need to leave.
There is a movement and flow. Things come in and things go out. Only this time because you’ve already decluttered your whole house or you are decluttering it right now, the level of stuff in the house is down. There’s not as much stuff in the home overall even as things move in and out.
3 | As you declutter and make piles of stuff — move it out fast
There is nothing worse in pursuing a clutter free life than doing the decluttering work and making your piles and stopping there. You have a chance to second guess yourself. There’s a chance to waste brain energy rethinking the decision you make. You have a chance to redo the physical work and go through the bags again.
Yikes. Let’s be super-efficient with your precious time. Use black garbage bags so you can’t see and only have two bags on the go at first. The garbage bag and the donations bag, once both are full dump them and run. Don’t second guess yourself or your hard work.
4 | Get over the all or nothing mentality and just focus on one thing to declutter in your house
Don’t try to look at your house as the WHOLE HOUSE needs to be decluttered but focus on one thing at a time.
As in the drawer needs to be decluttered today in my 15-minute chunk. The one shelf of the closet can be decluttered by me today in my 15-minute chunk.
Keeping your focus on what you can accomplish in your 15-minute chunk to declutter will break down the overwhelmedness of decluttering the “WHOLE” house and as you keep working small steps one day you will look up and be surprised at how far you have come.
5 | Use the decluttering question as your guide to keep, toss or donate your stuff
I did not come up with this as criteria… Kathi Lipp did and she said don’t think about what to toss as what to toss, but empty out the entire drawer, hold each thing and ask yourself what you want to keep.
And use these three questions as your guide. 1. Do you love it? Keep it. 2. Do you use it? Keep it. 3. Would you buy it again? Keep it. By these standards of what you keep or toss you’re creating a life you love. You are creating an easy, fun, and super simple criteria about how and what you keep.
Kathi Lipp’s Post here: How to Declutter Your Home Fast: 3 Clarifying Questions You Must Ask
And that is the whole point of this right?! To create a life you love! Let’s get rid of the extra stress and anxiety our household holds when they are in a state of clutter and let’s create a fun, simple, and easy way to get started on this clutter free journey you are starting or restarting on.