How to Declutter in 5 Simple Steps.

If you are struggling with clutter, perhaps my story will inspire you to declutter.  This article is less than 2,000 words or about 15.4 minutes of your precious time. 

My Clutter

As the youngest child, I was spoiled and messy.  A jumble of underwear, shoes, toys, pajamas, and random socks was a fountain that would spray anyone daring to open my closet.

I’ve spent my childhood between my parent’s apartment and my grandma’s place. My parent’s place was middle-class inspiring towards the wealthy. But, all the rooms were overpacked with furniture, colorful rugs, chandeliers, paintings, wallpaper, clothing, and just endless “things.” Not to mention, part of our living space was a clothing store.

So, I didn’t care for my parent’s living arrangements. Not to mention, my sister and I shared a room. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE my sister. It’s just I always hated sharing space with anyone. 

I’ve started venturing out in search of my home around 12 years old. I’ve traveled and lived in many different cities, never finding a home for myself. 

My Next Adventure: Summer in New York City. 

New York City: Hell’s Angeles

I intended to explore the city and go home with the first drop of rain. But, given that, I came to New York with $500, two bags of clothing, a few words of English, and a giant hangover.

My dad (who was a total stranger to me) offered a room in his Brooklyn apartment. At this time, my father shared a place with his girlfriend in borderline project housing. His neighbors were drinking and playing cards on the stub. There was a cocaine bust once or twice, and my dad got mistakenly attested right before I came to stay with him.

Wherever I Went, There Was My Mess.  

My New York City room was a total mess. My dad bought a new mattress for me, but the rest of the stuff he found and fixed from the garbage collection. If you are not familiar, in New York, people leave their stuff outside. Some of it is junk, but you can certainly make it workable.

I had a bed, a typewriter, and a desk with plenty of mess in every possible corner. I didn’t like my dad’s place. But, I got used to finding myself in messy quarters I disliked. At least, I had a roof over my head and was in no immediate danger.  I perceived my living situation as very temporary. There were many choices: to move, to die, or go back home to my mom.

So, I hated my dad’s place. We had one bathroom for three people and shared a kitchen. Since I never cooked and most of the New York food was practically tasteless, I just ate lots of junk food in the messy kitchen I didn’t like. Not to mention, I continued smoking and drinking.

Messy, Deadly Fun!

New York City was much more exciting than mother Russia! As time passed, I learned the language, got my first corporate job after working in an ugly fur store, babysitting, and doing other shit jobs. My mom finally came to New York. 

I kept on smoking, eating crap, and drinking. A few times, I found myself in the emergency room. I was about 22, and I was taking ten different meds. In my mind, I was getting ancient. When I was 13, I was pretty sure I’ll die by 27 or 30th at the latest.

I got to the point where I couldn’t eat anything anymore, my stomach pushed any food out one way or another, and my face would puff up. So, I just stopped eating!  I was too sick; my room was a mess, my life was a mess, my body was all fucked up.

If Things Don’t Work Out, Find Someone To Fix It.

I took a month off and went to Israel to celebrate one of my best friend’s weddings. That’s when I started losing weight. Only, I couldn’t eat anything. At the same time, I picked up a fitness magazine and saw a picture of Alicia Silverstone where she was hiking with her dog. That’s it. I wanted to be healthy; I wanted to be like her! Unfortunately, I didn’t have the tools. But, the first seed was planted.

When I was 23 years old, I needed to get married because I was getting too old. A friend hooked me up with Alexei. I needed to get out of my dad’s place. For one reason or another, I thought I needed a man in my life. So, Alexei was my token out. In fact, I’ve never loved anyone in my life. I had many passionate engagements and love affairs but never a deep connection with love and respect.

So, I didn’t believe in love. I was pretty sure that Alexei’s love would be enough for both of us. So, we got married and moved to the 1-bedroom apartment, which I hated. We shared a bedroom. The place was a mess.  I was getting more depressed. I gained some of the weight back. I was getting sick again. Still, I had affairs, and I felt terrible. And I started drinking heavily again.

Finally, Alexei brought me divorce papers, and I moved out to the first place of my own! And this was the beginning of my life.

Take Charge Of Your Life, Clean Up Your Fucking Mess!

I met my future husband (Ron) at my old job. I was still married.  I fell in love with Ron the moment I saw him in that stupid conference room where we shared filthy cake for some asshole’s birthday.

I thought we could be friends.  But Ron told me to fuck off. He said I am too messy, and he has no interest in married women. Ron rejected me even as a friend. However, he gave me a Feng Shui For Dummies book before he stopped talking to me. 

It took me about a year to finalize my divorce, move out, and start cleaning up. Then, finally, I dug out the book Ron gave me.

De-cluttering For My Love Life.

When I was working in the New York office, I had a butcher’s knife in an empty cartoon box in one of the corners of my desk. When I applied the Feng Shui chart to my desk, the knife was in my “love” corner. What a coincidence?

In short, there is a Feng Shui bagua with every corner of your dwelling corresponds with energy in your life.

So, I got rid of the empty box and replaced it with a bamboo plant in a beautiful vase. Then, I set my intention to clean up my love life.

At the same time, I finalized my divorce and moved out. And I asked Ron out for lunch.

We went to a corner burger joint. We ordered our cheeseburgers and chocolate fudge to share for dessert. I showed Ron my divorce papers. We were scared. What if we fall in love? What if we hurt each other? What if we break our hearts? So, we’ve decided to give it a chance. We made out in Barnes and Nobel on Bleeker street. Ron took me to the most famous New York restaurants. We listened to Jazz, talked about Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, Nietzsche, listened to the Doors, Tupac, and took road trips.

That’s how I became a believer in Feng Shui decluttering method. 

What do you get to lose if your life as messy as mine was?

Perhaps, get rid of the knife in your love corner?

Toss away a few things here and there?

Give it a chance. If nothing else, you can cross it off your list!

What Do We Have To Lose?

I see clutter as more of a psychological than a physical issue. For example, holding on to the past via my old little black dress that I will never wear. Or fantasizing about the future – I might use my white jeans if/when…

This can cause anger and unhappiness. 

Waking up in the bedroom with clothing everywhere, going to the bathroom with endless crappy boxes, going to the kitchen with greasy dishes and useless gear. No wonder we reach for that candy bar by the time we get to work.

So, I can conclude the problem with clutter is stagnant energy in our lives. It can keep us living in the past. It can affect how we treat ourselves and others. It can affect our weight.

The process of clearing clutter is about letting go. 

For me, de-cluttering worked! Not only I cleaned up my mess, but I also cleaned up my act (including terminating love affairs and paying off my credit cards). Ron and I moved in together and continued to let go of things.

Finally, I got into yoga. I lost weight, quit smoking. Ron and I moved to Colorado! Our house is quite big, especially in comparison with space in New York City. So, I constantly have to check in for clutter. 

How to Declutter in 5 Simple Steps.

What Clutter is?

Feng Shui Diagram is a simplified diagram from Karen Kingston book as follows:

Definition:  Karen Kingston  (KK) defined clutter in one of my favorite books, Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.

Clutter is anything that does not fit into one of the following four groups:

  • Things you don’t love or use
  • Things that are disorganized or untidy
  • Too many things in a space that is too small.
  • Anything unfinished

1) Accept Clutter.

The first step in healing is acceptance. De-cluttering is something that we do regularly. Know your physiology, don’t blame anyone, even yourself, for the mess. How do you operate best? Is it better for you to set a daily time frame where you clean or work better in big chunks?

Initially, I like to spend a full weekend de-cluttering, and I can do some low frame maintenance afterward.

2) De-cluttering Isn’t One More thing for us to Beat Ourselves. 

We need to separate ourselves from our messes. Let’s not beat ourselves up about clutter. Just focus on small actions and the goal of an uncluttered life. Just imagine being able to find your keys, hats, and socks, less to clean, less to organize.

When we are ready to declutter, don’t be discouraged. Just begin.

3) Set and Setting

For me, the easiest place to start is my closet. I don’t care as much for clothing, and it is easy to rid of.  So, I recommend starting with the smallest place (kitchen drawer counts) that you are not emotionally attached to. Then, put a time on 20 minutes, blast your favorite tunes, go!

Next, Karen Kingston recommends taking four or five boxes or plastic bags. And mark these as.

  • Trash: things you don’t love, can’t sell, and can easily throw away.
  • Giveaway:  things you can give to your friends, charity, or list on freecycle.
  • Sell things you can sell on eBay, Craigslist, or your local community market.
  • Storage:  things you are not certain about; you can decide later.
  • Put away: things that you used over the last few months but need put in their proper place.

4) Take Small Daily Action Plan Time.

Commit to decluttering daily for 10 minutes. Look into your calendar? How can you clean it up? What appointments can you let go of?

5) Add item, Remove-Item.

Every time you find yourself shopping, ask a few questions:

  • Will this item add joy to my life?
  • Do I really need it?
  • What can I get rid of before I can buy it?

Thanks for reading!

What resonates with you? What’s your clutter story?

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