Tag Archives: clutter clearing process

Perfectionism: A Barrier to Clutter Clearing

Single Word: PerfectionIf you were to glimpse some of the cluttered spaces I’ve spent time in, you’d probably wonder how perfectionism could be part of that problem. They look anything but perfect! But, spaces can become that way because of perfectionism. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clients say, “If I don’t have time to do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it.” And, when they don’t do the task, the stuff involved gets left where it is. So, a desire for “perfect” becomes an ever increasing clutter collection.

Another way perfectionism shows up and interferes with the clutter clearing process is that clients want to find the perfect new home for things they are ready to get rid of. If they can’t identify the right place to donate items, those items stay put, waiting for the perfect home. Instead of being released, they  continue to be clutter.

The need to be perfect in recycling efforts can also get in the way of clutter clearing. For example, a client has lots of styrofoam peanuts that they know can be recycled, but they don’t know where to take them. They decide to hold onto them until they can locate a place to take them. However, researching to find a place to donate them never makes it to the top of their to do list. So, the peanuts remain as clutter. 

I have the following suggestions for addressing the above expressions of perfectionism:

  1. Done is better than perfect. I learned this when I was faced with the daunting project of writing a master’s thesis. My perfectionism paralyzed me! A wise counselor told me that getting the thesis done was more important than doing it perfectly. That wisdom helped me lower the bar of my expectations, get to work and successfully complete my M.A.
  2. Do whatever is easiest to make things leave your space. Believe that things that are donated always end up in the exact right place to be. Having to find just the right home for items you are getting rid of is a barrier to letting them go. Besides, when you put off moving things along to new homes, you are depriving yourself of the benefits that come from the shifts of energy that occur when you release things.
  3. Recycling is a laudable endeavor, but it is no longer laudable when your commitment to it is stronger than your commitment to yourself and your well-being. What is more important? You reclaiming your life and peace of mind, or you being the perfect recycler? Do the best you can with recycling, but it’s really OK to let some things go to trash that could be recycled.

The benefit of becoming aware of perfectionistic behaviors and easing up on the need to do things “perfectly” is that you’ll remove road blocks to getting clutter clearing done, you’ll be able to get traction in your clutter clearing process and complete clutter clearing tasks, and then you’ll reap the benefits of living in a clutter-free space — more peace, a greater sense of well-being, greater self-esteem, and a feeling of being in control of your life.

5 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Quit Clutter Clearing

2012-08-06 16.04.46Clutter clearing is a complex process. Many people try to start and very quickly flee to the sofa, shopping mall, or anywhere but in the middle of their stuff. What makes that happen? Following are 5 ways to guarantee you will quit clutter clearing.

1. Start with paper. Paper is one of the hardest things to clear because every piece of paper requires that a decision be made. You’ll wear out your brain very quickly doing paper. It ranks up there at the top of the list as one of the most boring things to clear. And, it takes forever to clear enough paper to see that you’ve made any progress. If you start with paper when it’s not the only thing that needs to be cleared, you set yourself up for discouragement, frustration, overwhelm and failure.

2. Start with little things. Like paper every little object requires that you make at least one decision–keep it or pitch it. Every little thing is alive with an energy that talks to you. A collection of little things to sort is very noisy and overwhelming. And, like paper, you’ll have to make a lot of decisions before you’ll see and feel tangible results. You are more likely to quit first!

3. Start in the attic, garage, or basement. Attics, basements and garages can be the dirtiest areas in the home, especially if they are used primarily as storage areas. The negative energy of dirt will deter even the most conscientious and determined soul. They are also dump spots, places where people throw things that they don’t know what to do with, things they don’t want to make decisions about, or things they don’t want to deal with at the moment. As repositories of stuff that’s not used very often, the energy in those spaces can range from very static to very chaotic and overwhelming. Also, attics, basements and garages aren’t places where you spend much time. Unless they are the last areas that need clearing, starting in those complex caverns of negative energy, places where you won’t see the results of your efforts, is another great way to guarantee that you’ll run for friendlier, more rewarding areas to work or the sofa.

4. Start with anything that has strong emotional associations. Most people quite naturally avoid clearing things that bring up strong negative feelings like sadness, grief, regret, embarrassment, or anger. But, if you are unconscious that a particular item will stir memories of a loss, failure, loved one long gone, or precious memory, and suddenly come face to face with feelings you are unprepared to face, you are very likely to halt in your clutter clearing tracks.

5. Start anywhere with no plan. If you just dive into the clutter clearing process with no thought given to how you will do it and where you will start to achieve immediate positive results, you are very likely to start in the areas that scream the loudest, those places that have the most negative energy and are the most difficult to do–like paper and little things. That is a setup for failure.

Why set yourself up for failure? Now that you know not to start with paper, small items, items with emotional content, in the garage, basement, or attic, or with no plan, where do you start? With a plan to clear big things from high use areas that will produce visible results quickly.

Awareness is Essential for Clutter Clearing Success

Clutter clearing is no small feat!

Clutter clearing is no small feat!

Clutter clearing. I’m sure you’re familiar with the challenges of engaging in and completing clutter clearing tasks. Who wants to do it? Why go there where there’s a good chance you’ll feel a myriad of uncomfortable feelings, like overwhelm, disgust, sadness, regret, anger, fear. Let’s face it, clutter clearing is a challenging process at best, and an overwhelming nightmare at worst. Initiating and sustaining action to completion are no small feat!

But, you may not be conscious that engaging in action and completing clutter clearing tasks are not possible without sufficient awareness. You may be aware of the clutter pockets in your environment that need excavating, but how aware are you of what it takes to motivate yourself to take action to tackle a problem area? What’s your best time to tackle a clearing challenge, the time of day when your brain is best able to make decisions? Where is the best place to start to ensure optimal clearing? Where are the land-mines in the mix of your stuff, those things that hold energies and stir feelings that could shut you down? And, when you run into them, what’s the best way to address them to prevent fleeing the scene?

Much of this awareness can come from paying attention to what happens when you begin to clear clutter. You may notice that mornings are your best time or that you clear best with support from a family member or friend. You may notice that you always quit when you start with paper or you encounter an item associated with your childhood. But, do you take that awareness and change focus, adjust what you’re doing and continue clearing? Unfortunately what I find is that people tend to run from uncomfortable feelings of any kind. They quit and move onto something else. They don’t take the time to pause and reflect on what happened and consider other options to quitting. In so doing, they miss a valuable opportunity to generate awareness and learn the valuable lessons that could be gained from their unpleasant experience.

Another way to generate awareness is to work with a coach. Coaching is a co-created partnership with a supportive trained coach in an awareness/learning/action process. Coaching provides the time to pause and reflect on challenges like procrastination and avoidance while clutter clearing.

With the support of a coach you can become more aware of what tends to shut you down and what works for you to initiate and sustain action to completion. Obstacles that impede your progress can be identified and strategies for addressing them generated. Coaching is an opportunity to step back and create the awareness needed to successfully accomplish your clutter clearing goals.