Friday, February 17, 2012

How to conserve your emotional-mental energy when de-cluttering

De-cluttering takes up a lot of emotional-mental energy. Why? Because of all the decisions that have to be made about what to keep and what to let go of. One way I’ve found that can help conserve emotional-mental energy is to try to deal with the same category of things all at one time. For instance, if you have to de-clutter your closet, focus all your energy on your clothes and don’t get distracted by anything else that happens to be there.

The goal when focusing on one category at a time is to come up with some quick and easy criteria by which to decide whether to keep or get rid of something. Making up good rules make it so that you don’t have to consult your feelings and memories and agonize for 5 minutes over every little thing.

If you can’t keep focused on one category, it makes it hard to come up with hard-and-fast rules by which to make decisions to keep or give away. Going from a pair of jeans, to a basket, to a piece of paper, to a Christmas ornament, to a kitchen utinsel, to a piece of jewelry would be hard for ANYONE to make decisions about. Every decision becomes harder and slower because you have to make up new rules over and over and over again!

When I was helping my mom de-clutter, we focused on the boxes and boxes of clothes that she had stored away. Previous to this, my mom’s rule had been “keep everything,” so she had to come up with new rules by which she could sort through all those clothes.

The first rule my mom made for herself was: I will keep my favorite clothes. So, she was able to discard a lot of clothes that were not her favorites.

She made piles of different sizes and different seasons of her favorite clothes so that she would be better able to find clothes that fit.

Other rules that my mom came up with were:

  • I will keep favorites that are also in fashion. (This meant that she let go a lot of clothes that were not timeless classics.)
  • I will keep favorites that are in good repair. (This meant that she let go of clothes that had holes, were frayed, or mildewy.)
  • I will keep favorites that look good on me. (This meant that if she didn’t like how she looked when wearing them, out they went.)

When you go to the trouble to make up good rules that help you de-clutter a certain category of stuff, it is to your advantage to make all those similar decisions at the same time. It really IS easier that way. When my mom finished with the clothes in the basement, she went through the clothes in two other closets as well. She was able to make a lot of progress very quickly and easily because most of the hard work happened at the beginning when making her rules.


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