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Decluttering the myths of decluttering

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't.” Joshua Becker

Photo by Todd Kent

Decluttering is not a one size fits all practice and it is not a one and done proposition. We grow, we change, we evolve, we like, we dislike, we change our minds, we know things for certain as they pertain to our story. For all these reasons getting out the clutter is also an evolution, a changing of the guard, and a growth analysis of our story.


Photo by Jade Scarlato

Myth 1: 24/7

Decluttering is a 24/7 responsibility. (Buzzer sound). Like stated above, decluttering is an evolution that takes place throughout time and space at intervals, moments of sorrow and jubilation, and just because. If we are alive, we will without a doubt accumulate stuff. Example of stuff could be greeting cards, wrapping paper pieces, tea bags, different sizes of screw drivers, air fresheners, match books, etc. These are the physical markers of a life lived but will we always feel the need to hold on to all this stuff? Nope! At some point we will suddenly be ready to let it go or downsize the amount of something. Do it when you are ready, as you are ready, do it. Realize your reality and adjust accordingly. Stop accumulating those things, find a home for those things that leaves it in one place. And if you misplace something, ok, strict adherence to rules will only lead to rebellion.



Myth 2: Declutter only when you feel like it.

Decluttering should take place on a regular basis. You can determine that schedule but for a good declutter session to be successful you need to keep tabs on the clutter itself. So, whether once per week works for you or once per month or once every 3 months, or 6 months is doable, stick to that schedule and chances are your out-of-control clutter will be handled and manageable in no time. Think of this as investing time in yourself. It is healthy and uplifting.


Photo by Sia Moore

Myth 3: Avoid empty spaces.

Whoever decided that empty spaces mean poverty or lack of imagination or less than is sadly mistaken. Have you ever noticed that when you finally sit down in a space that seems to announce a void, you wind up taking a bigger, more fulfilling deep breath? That’s because empty space in calming in a chaotic world. Empty space tells our entire body to relax, take a load off, stop and feel the peace. Take a lesson from the art world and embrace empty space. Empty space speaks so much louder than crowded space.


Photo by Annie Spratt

Myth 4: My goal should be to achieve minimalization.

Shipping containers, 100 square foot dwellings, camper van homes are not everyone’s ideal dream of downsizing or living well. To minimalize your space doesn’t mean to give up everything that defines who you are unless you truly want to live with as little as possible, then by all means, minimize away. In the picture above I see someone who decided that there is no need to use a placemat, or a spoon to stir the coffee, or use a napkin or use sugar or cream from the table, just to name a few. Owning more might be too much responsibility but owning not enough or too little might be too cavernous to function well. Choosing to have less is a very personal endeavor and within that alone there are hundreds of ways to call your downsizing, minimizing. Live and let live I say.


Photo by Wonderlane

Myth 5: I can’t change who I am.

Habits. Something we do with intention, over and over until it becomes something, we do without thinking about what we are doing. Habits are easy to create when they are bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, swearing, etc. Habits are hard to create when we are trying to change out of a bad habit. Can a bad habit be changed into a good habit? YES! As in the movie Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Change makes you feel alive and purposeful. Staying the same does not feed your need to grow and evolve and change for the better. Only each of can determine what “better” is but if it feels like a burst of hope and energy, creating a new habit will feel like a right path. See that messy desk in the picture above? If this is you or your interpretation of your life right now, take it slow and declutter one little spot at a time. Use 15 minutes everyday to get that space in shape and something you know you will feel proud of. Continue to declutter and maintain that space until it feels like you are doing that without thinking about it and you will find that you have created a healthy habit.


Photo by Nathan Van Egmond

Myth 6: You must spend money to declutter successfully.

So, you want to de-clutter, but you do not have the money to do it right. No worries. I bet, without ever looking in your home, you have at least 20 items that can be used to rehome, organize, or store the items that will stay successfully decluttered. Do you have empty tissue boxes, or empty plastic tubs in different sizes, or empty toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls, or empty cereal boxes? If so, then you have the makings of creative storage solutions without spending more than what you spent for the original item that will now become an upcycled, recycled and creative way to organize your stuff. You can spend money if you want to, but it is not necessary. Try the inexpensive method before committing to spending money on a system that has not been proven to work for you yet.


Photo by Mathieu Turle

Myth 7: It is not a waste of money or time to have duplicates of things I use all the time.

Yes, it is. Think about how often you go searching for your keys, cell phone, or wallet. Think about how often you go searching for your lipstick, eyeglasses, tissue packs for your briefcase or bag, zip ties, tape dispenser, socks, or lunch bag. Not only it is costing you in time spent searching but it is costing you in mental health with regards to stress, good sleep, and good nutrition along with each time you don’t find what you are looking for and spend money to buy another one of those lost or misplaced items. On average, Americans spend 2-1/2 days each year looking for lost items in their home or car or storage unit.


Some other myths that make the rounds are:

1- It is too difficult to find time to get rid my decluttered stuff.

Answer: Pickuplease.org, Salvationarmyusa.org, 1800gotjunk.com

2- I don’t think I can recycle this.

Answer: epa.gov, nrcrecycles.org, nationalwaste.com, electronicsrecycling.org

3- No one will want to buy my decluttered stuff.

Answer: ebay.com, facebook.com/marketplace, nerdwallet.com, decluttr.com

There really is no excuse to NOT declutter. The only thing you will ever need is the right mindset, energy to see it through and a vision of what you are hoping to achieve.


Good luck and don’t forget your categories, KEEP, TOSS, DONATE.

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