Letting Go

Posted by in Minimalism

The topic for May that I had planned on covering, way back in January, couldn’t be more appropriate right now.  I am still processing letting go of someone I loved deeply and grieving.  I am also still working on letting go of objects in general which was my original intent for my Letting Go series for the month of May.  This month I hope to share a couple things with you.  My motivation and how to write your own motivators for letting go.  Setting decluttering goals.  The emotional side of letting go. The decluttering process – how I do it.  Then finally the never-ending story of letting go.

Finding the motivation to start to let go is the first part in actual decluttering.  What is your reason for wanting to simplify?  What is your vision for your home? What story do you want your home to tell about you and your family?  What do you want your home to do for you? Be a sanctuary? Not get in the way? Be easy to care for?

There is no right or wrong answers to any of these questions but somewhere inside them is what will continue to move you forward through feeling overwhelmed,  the emotions, the frustration and all the other struggles you may address while decluttering.  It is akin to writing a mission statement it can be as simple or wordy as you want.  I encourage you to write it down or sketch it out and keep it handy for reference when you are feeling down or like you are lacking motivation.

My motivator statements:

  • I want to simplify my home so I am less stressed, less cranky and can have more time to pursue more than cleaning or dealing with stuff.
  • I want my home to be restful, peaceful and calm with a little bit of fun and whimsy in the mix.
  • My home should reflect that an artist resides here.  It also should be relaxed enough that my kids can be creative and comfortable.
  • I need my home to be my respite from the world.  It needs to be easy, simple, carefree.  I need it to be easy to clean, organized and efficient.

Those are very similar statements to some I wrote in my journal about wanting to get organized several years back before I started on my minimalism journey.  I started decluttering soon after.  I don’t reference that journal as often because I have found that I don’t need to look at it as often.  As I let go of more things I have been able to develop a stronger vision for what I want our home to look like in an aesthetic sense.

Some of you might be saying, “That is great but I feel so overwhelmed I don’t know where to even start!”


Getting Started and Keeping Momentum

What I did.  I first went through my apartment and removed everything that didn’t belong – the obvious clutter.  The trash, the broken things, the items that once were useful but aren’t anymore.  They got trashed or donated.  I then moved on to spaces where stuff had little sentimental attachments.  The bathroom was one and I properly disposed of expired meds, used up samples, tossed old products and decided that I wanted to go as plastic-free as possible – an example of a new vision born from decluttering.

Then I did little bits here and there.  The papers by my desk.  Our file cabinet.  A kitchen drawer.  The pantry.  I just breezed through sections on a whim for the first several months.  It helped but I wasn’t being overly thorough.   Here is where motivation and decluttering will need to be tailored more specifically to you and your personality.

I found that having checklists and charts helped me stay motivated.  I participated in the 2015 in 2015 decluttering challenged offered by Nourishing Minimalism. (2016 charts available here) and the corresponding Facebook group (Note: I am an admin for the group). The chart and encouragement from the group helped me dig in deeper.  Even though I couldn’t see the results directly in my overstuffed and over cluttered home, the chart was proof that I was making progress.   If you aren’t a list maker or likely to stick to counting or charting there are plenty of other ways to find short term motivators.

  1. Set a timer.  If you only do 10-15 minutes a day it all ads up in the end.
  2. Work on a single small area first.  Your bedside table, your reading nook, your closet – someplace that energizes you and will help you recharge.  A place you will see the immediate benefits of decluttering quickly.
  3. Checklists.  If you do best with checklists there are a number of great ones that take you category by category through your home.
  4. Deadlines.  Schedule a pick up from an organization then work to fill as many boxes before that date.
  5. Thoughtfulness.  For some things it helped motivate me if I knew they were going to an organization that would use my things to their maximum benefit.  My old business clothes went to an organization that helps single mom’s who are reentering the workforce with interview clothes.
  6. Experiment.  What works in one area might not work as well in others so change up your tactics.   I found that checklists worked great with office supplies, setting a timer worked well for my living area, thoughtfulness for my closet and small areas worked best in my bedroom.  I have used all except deadlines in my letting go arsenal.

The other larger portion of keeping motivated is setting goals for letting go.  I will be back next week to discuss that in more detail.