On Mondays we explore different “keys” that may open the door to the life you want to live. This post is written by both Tracy and Kel.
We are doing something a little different this week. We both realized that there was one step that got us moving down the path towards our dreams, long before we committed to doing the thing we loved every day for a year. As simple as it sounds, that step is decluttering. This is so important that we have decided to make decluttering in all its forms our focus this week.
But first: what is clutter?
Kel and Tracy’s first definition of clutter: anything that keeps you from doing what you want to do.
Your children (or other family members) are not clutter. Your beliefs about what you can or cannot do because of them might be. Don’t believe us? Then check out the story of Baker at Man Vs. Debt. He and his wife spent an entire year traveling…with their infant daughter.
Kel and Tracy’s second definition of clutter: anything that attaches you negatively to the past.
Tracy knows a wonderful woman who had a houseful of furniture that came with her after her divorce. That woman would walk into her house each day and see these big things that reminded her about her anger and her pain. Even if that furniture was still good and usable, for that woman, it was clutter.
Kel and Tracy’s third definition of clutter: anything that no longer serves the person you are now or want to become.
There are lots of ways and lots of things to declutter. There’s the most obvious kind, the random junk that accumulates on the flat surfaces and in the backs of the closets in your home. There’s also the clutter from the leftover parts of your old life—hobbies you no longer enjoy, games your children played when they were younger, clothes that make you feel frumpy or no longer fit.
But there are also other kinds of clutter that are much harder to see at first glance. There’s clutter in your relationships—old issues that never quite get resolved, things you mean to address but never do. There’s clutter in your body, whether it’s the more obvious extra pounds on the outside, or the parts of you that just don’t feel quite right anymore. There’s clutter in your schedule—all those little things here and there that keep you from focusing on yourself and the things you really want to be doing. There’s clutter in your finances—debt, a lack of goals, no clarity about the actual picture. Then there’s the worst kind: clutter in your mind. Old beliefs that tie you to the past and “rules” and thoughts that no longer serve the person you are now or the person you want to be.
We both feel so strongly about the benefits we’ve found from the decluttering we’ve done so far that we decided to dedicate some time talking about the steps we’ve taken and how it’s helped us. We’re going to start with Flylady’s decluttering steps, because that is where we both started. And you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
FlyLady’s Declutter Kit
One of the best things about Flylady is her advice to declutter your home. She feels so strongly about decluttering that she tells you not to even attempt to clean a room until it is decluttered. Now, depending on the room and the amount of clutter, this task could take quite some time. Kel just decluttered a closet that held her art supplies and it took about 2 1/2 hours of time to go through just 3 shelves worth of “stuff”. (And Tracy will tell you that Kel’s house does not look cluttered at all!) So if you’re someone that likes to hold on to things and not let them go, decluttering a room may take some time. But that is OK! Flylady gently reminds us that the clutter did not fill up our homes overnight and it will not leave your home overnight either.
Flylady has several tips and tools to help you declutter:
1. Her first tip is to declutter for 15 minutes a day. That’s right! Set your timer, grab a garbage bag, pick a room and start decluttering. This of course works great for your car, purse, garage, shed…..anyplace in your home that has too much “stuff.” If it needs to be decluttered, 15 minutes will help get it done without overwhelming you.
2. Her second tip is called the 27 Fling Boogie! Kel loves this one. (Tracy forgets about it, unfortunately!) It’s fast and easy and makes a difference every time I do it. Instead of setting a timer, the 27 Fling Boogie has you find 27 things to let go of. Yep! Just count it up. This even works in small places like the “junk drawer” in your kitchen, craft closet or desk. If you throw it away or give it away, then you can count it, even pieces of paper, pencils that don’t work, bent paper clips etc. These things build up and clutter the small spaces in our lives. We both hate pencils without working erasers!
3. Flylady is not a fan of garage sales. Moving your clutter from your house out to the garage does not count. The point is for it to leave your home. She wants you to put it in it’s proper place in your home, OR throw it out, OR give it away in a timely manner. Either take the bag to a donation center or to the person you wish to give the item/items to that day if possible. If not, plan when you’re going, and make it as soon as possible.
4. Flylady has a wonderful set of pop up containers that help you sort your belongings into three categories: Put Away, Give Away, and Throw Away. These containers store flat and pop up to hold your items until they have left your home or been put in their proper place. Of course you don’t need these, as you could use 3 garbage bags or 3 empty boxes as well. The point of having the containers is to keep you decluttering for 15 minutes, instead of running from room to room putting things away.
5. A couple of times a year Flylady has a SUPER FLING BOOGIE! She gives special mission reminders to declutter all sorts of places in your home. At her site she asks that you estimate the POUNDS of “stuff” you declutter from your home and it’s all added up at the end. This is just for fun to see how much clutter can be released from all her Flybabies’ lives. For fun she also asks for people to write in on the “weirdest” thing they found while decluttering. Flylady is a firm believer that “if it isn’t fun, it won’t get done.” (Think “A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down!”)
In talking with each other, we’ve realized that decluttering our lives may be the biggest “key” we’ve ever found. We’ve also realized that it’s an ongoing process. There is no moment where you can say “ta-da, I’m done decluttering!” It’s more like peeling back the layers of an onion. Once you’ve made the initial step of decluttering your home or your life you realize that there’s another layer underneath. There are other things that you can let go of at a deeper level. It’s easy to declutter the broken items sitting there, but it gets more difficult to climb down in the bowels of your closet and declutter things with sentimental attachments. As you clean out your spaces or your schedule or your mind, you change, and so you may find you need to reevaluate your “stuff” in terms of the person you have become.
That is as it should be. If you’re not changing, you’re probably dead.
Our blog is about our journey towards living out loud, and we want that for you too. Decluttering is a huge step in that direction. Tune in tomorrow for Tracy’s thoughts on her personal experience of decluttering…and start thinking about your own.
Tracy and Kel