Many of us seek happiness, freedom, and flow in our lives. Learning how to declutter our physical space will help us on the path. The best part is that decluttering doesn’t have to be complicated, and the benefits are instant. Just imagine knowing where your car keys are, not wasting precious brain power on what to wear, and not finding your phone in the refrigerator! So, ready to be free of clutter? Let us start by decluttering the mess.
Yoga and Clutter
As we’ve discussed before, the practice of yoga is a scientific path toward freedom and happiness, and the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is a guide. We are introduced to the eight limbs of yoga ( YS. 2.29) which are 1) internal disciplines (yama), 2) external disciplines (niyama), 3) movement (asana), 4) breathing (pranayama), 5) eliminating destructions (pratyahara), 6) concentration (dharana), 7) meditation (dhyana), and 8) complete focused attention (samadhi). Interestingly, decluttering (saucha) is the first recommendation of the external disciplines, and it comes right before physical postures (asana). So we can say that first, we clean up our act. Next, we clean up our home to be ready for physical practice and cultivate a yogic or clear mind with breathing and meditation. But, of course, the yogic path is all-inclusive, and it welcomes every one of us wherever we are. Many of us start the yoga practice to get in shape or find peace. Yet, as we deepen our practice, we cultivate better habits. Still, imagine how much easier it is to practice yoga when you eat well, have a good night’s sleep, clean home, and have good relationships? And that’s how my yoga practice evolved.
I hope to Inspire you by Sharing my Clutter Story.
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. Our apartment was 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, even since I was a little kid – I’ve been venturing out, searching for my true home. I’ve traveled and lived in many different cities, never finding that home. Finally, the search brought me to New York City with $500, two bags of clothing, a few words of English, and a giant hangover. I stayed with my dad (a total stranger to me) in a small dingy room in Brooklyn. Our neighbors were drinking and playing cards on the stub. Once or twice, there was a cocaine bust, and my dad got mistakenly attested. My dad bought a new mattress for me, but he found and fixed the rest 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 hated my dad’s place. But, hating my home became a habit. My physical mess played a symphony with the mess in my life as I continued smoking, drinking, and eating crap. By the time I was 22, I was taking ten different meds. As I continued the destructive behavior, I got married and divorced for all the wrong reasons – more mess. Finally, at the age of 26, I moved out, divorced, got on the yogic path, and lived happily ever after. Fast-forward 20 years, my beautiful husband and I own a gorgeous dream home in the magnificent Rockies. Yoga practice helps me keep my mind clean, and I see cleaning my home as an extension of my practice. I don’t love cleaning but hate mess much more.
So, if you feel anxious about clutter, no worries, we will help you declutter. And, let me tell you, if I can do it, you definitely can!
What Clutter is?
We can view clutter as a psychological rather than a physical issue. Holding on to the past via your old little black dress that you will never wear. Or fantasizing about the future: “I might use my white jeans if/when.” That train of thought will bring you anger and unhappiness. One of the biggest problems with clutter is that it blocks the energy flow creating stagnant energy in our lives. It can keep us living in the past and affect how we treat ourselves and others, and it can be the reason for the weight gain. So, the process of clearing clutter is about letting go.
Karen Kingston defines 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.
Benefits of Decluttering Your Home
- Reduce stress: Clutter takes you away from focus to distraction.
- Financial freedom: When you declutter, the last thing you want to do is to make a mess again. Not to mention, you will not have to replace items that you constantly lose.
- Focus & Energy: Clutter makes it difficult to find what you need. Getting rid of clutter will help you focus better on any task. In addition, fewer “things” will require less energy to manage stuff. So, you have more energy and attention to devote to what matters.
- Lower allergies risk. Decluttering will reduce dust and mold, which is one of the allergy triggers.
- Improved relationships and well-being: It is more fun to cook healthy meals in a clean kitchen. And you will sleep better when your bedroom isn’t cluttered with laundry and other old junk.
- In the ancient Chinese tradition, the Feng Shui Diagram links each place of our home to an area of our life. You can use a simple diagram from Karen Kingston’s book. Simply put, as you declutter your home, you improve your life.
How to Declutter in 5 Simple Steps Fast.
1) It doesn’t have to be perfect, but It needs to be done.
You can spend thousands of hours and dollars buying pretty new boxes, making vision boards, talking about decluttering, beating yourself up, and mentally preparing. Recognize that you are procrastinating. Begin where you are. Even with your best efforts, clutter will eventually accumulate. Just leave things a little bit better than they were before. Set the intention, focus your attention, and create an action plan.
Depending on how cluttered your space is, you can start by allocating a bulk of time for each room, like a few weekends. Alternatively, you can set an hour per day cleaning a little at a time. Be realistic, know your psychology and work with yourself. Would you be better off spending a lot of time or little time daily? Remember not to beat yourself up and focus on small actions and the goal of an uncluttered life. Personally, when I feel like my home is cluttered, I like to allocate a bulk of my time to declutter, and most importantly, I spend time each day to put everything in place. I clean up my dishes right after eating, put my keys in place, prepare for the next day.
2) Make cleaning into a game.
Put some fun tunes, or you can catch up on your favorite podcasts or audiobooks to get yourself into a mood. Imagine that there is a prize for each little clean corner. Make cleaning into a game; dress up for that. Another incentive for cleaning up is it burns calories! Especially if you vacuum and steam.
2) Let’s talk closet: keep it or toss it?
How do you decide what to keep or what to toss? Remember, we are dealing with more than clutter. You want to get rid of stagnant energy and create a flow. You may not want to let go of that black dress, but perhaps put it in the storage been for three weeks?
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 sure about, you can decide later.
- Put away things you used over the last few months but need to put in their proper place.
Once you have things that you will keep, you can shop for necessary storage. I use simple Sorbus Storage Bins Boxes, my sweaters, and Soft Blouse Hangers for my jackets. Of course, I like to keep my wardrobe super simple. I used to own way too many clothing items. Over the last 20 years, I simplified my life to the point where I only own things I love and use. It became super easy to toss and declutter. So, my wardrobe is quite simple. My go-to is a SmartWool sweater (I have ten between black and purple colors) and warm black leggings during the winter. My undergarments are precisely the same (except for a few lingerie pieces). Not worrying about what to wear allows me more time to be creative and not waste my precious brainpower. But you’ll figure out how to keep your wardrobe simple, beautiful, and practical based on your lifestyle. You can use the same strategy for the kitchen and other small or large storage areas to declutter.
3) Commit to keeping it clean.
Commit to decluttering daily for 10 minutes. Look into your calendar? How can you clean it up? What appointments can you let go off? You can use the SOFLY life guide to pencil in your cleaning time.
4) Add item, Remove-Item.
Every time you think about shopping, ask a few questions:
- Will this item add joy to my life?
- Do I need it?
- What can I get rid of before I can buy it?
5) Celebrate Success (no matter how small).
You can take before and after photos of any area that you decluttered and share them with a friend. Then, schedule some spa time or time off once you finish a closet. Once you see how your home is shaping out, you’ll get more motivated to declutter. Trust me, decluttering really works! It might take time, but it will be one of the best projects of your life. Treat yourself to a 3-day SOFLY Complete reboot!