After the holiday onslaught of gifts and gets, the new year is the perfect opportunity to declutter.  You start January armed with a label maker and ready to organize, but the volume of stuff makes it almost impossible.  As the nation’s top decluttering expert, people ask me all the time, “What’s the easiest way to organize?”  “Simple,” I say.  “Have less stuff.”

But letting go of clutter is difficult. We have actual emotional blocks that keep us from letting go of our clutter. Seven of them to be exact.  In my upcoming book, MAKING SPACE, CLUTTER FREE: The Last Book On Decluttering You’ll Ever Need, I discuss all seven of the emotional blocks and how to break free of them.

Some of the emotions that get in the way include: sentimentality (but Aunt Lois gave it to me, how could I possibly get rid of this lamp that doesn’t work?), guilt (but I spent so much money on them, how could I possibly get rid of these ridiculously high heels I’ll never wear?), or pure fantasy (but someday I might take up mountain climbing so how can I get rid of all this rope?).   If you deal with clutter on a daily basis, you know these can be powerful stumbling blocks.  If you are grappling with any of these emotional blocks, how do you declutter?  Here are 5 simple questions to ask yourself about any item in your home or office to decide …

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

If you want to keep it and you say yes to any of these questions, it can stay! If the answer is no, then it goes!

  1. Do you use it on a semi-regular basis? By semi-regular, I mean at least once year, such as the large platter I have that holds the turkey at Thanksgiving. I have used it every year for over two decades, and it stays. The old sleeping bags that haven’t been on a camping trip in ten years should go.
  2. Is it making you money?  Do you use it for work, or does it help you generate income somehow? It stays. Whatever is piled up in the corner of the family room for that someday garage sale that you’re never going to have should go.
  3. Can you buy it again for a reasonable price or borrow it?  Is it costing you more to store it or fix it than it would to buy it again? Or is it something everyone has and it would be easy (and free) to borrow from someone you know? It should go.
  4. Do you have a place to put it away in your home?  Is it in a comfortable place where it fits easily? Great! It stays. Is it shoved on a closet shelf so that every time you open the closet door, it falls on your head? It goes.
  5. Do you love, love, love it?  I mean, do you love it? If yes, then it stays. If it’s okay, I sort of like it, “I hate it but so-and-so gave it to me,” it goes.

These five questions will help you launch your decluttering process.  Every time you hit up against one of your emotional blocks, ask yourself these questions and letting go will become easier.  It’s a process so remember to start with the easy stuff (not family photos or your beloved grandmother’s jewelry) and set yourself up for decluttering success!

The child of a hoarder, Tracy McCubbin knows firsthand that the grip “stuff” can have over some people is very real.  In 2007, while working as an assistant for a major television director, Tracy discovered she had the ability to see through any mess. Ten years later, dClutterfly is Los Angeles’ #1 Home Organization company, serving clients like Mindy Kaling and Ray Romano, as well as countless producers, directors, and executives. Tracy’s book Making Space Clutter Free: The Last Book of Decluttering You’ll Ever Need (Spring 2019), reveals the seven emotional blocks we have with regard to our “stuff” – and how to cure them while creating permanent change for a happier, healthier, and clutter-free life. To learn more about Tracy, go to tracymccubbin.com.

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