Clutter clearing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get unstuck. It’s also a great way to attract new and better things and opportunities. Clutter clearing is so incredibly effective that it feels like magic.
As we clear out the old stuff, we are making space in our lives for new and better things. And this has more to do with the laws of physics. Nature abhors a vacuum. So, when you create empty space, things come flying in to fill it. If you feel stuck or want a new career or relationship, then one of the best things you can do is get rid of clutter.
Earlier this year, I thought I’d do the Minimalists 30-Day Clutter Clearing Challenge. On the first day, you clear one item. On the second day, you clear two items, and so on. However, in practice, that isn’t a very effective method—at least for me. I tend to do big bursts of clutter clearing and might round up 50 items or so in a bundle. Then, I cart off the stuff to the charity shop for donation. And some days are too busy to think about clutter clearing. Then, someone suggested doing the challenge in reverse. That is, start with 30 items on the first day, 29 items on the second day, and so on. This way, it’s easier as the month goes on. Plus, you leverage your initial enthusiasm for the project. This makes more sense to me.
The key thing isn’t the daily clutter clearing. Rather, it’s the sheer number of things you eliminate (a total of 426 in the challenge). So, as long as you focus on the total number, then who cares on what days you do it? Make it work for you and your schedule. Most people have more free time on the weekends to tackle clutter. So, what if you set aside a Saturday morning every weekend for a month and used that time to get 120 items cleared? This would give you a grand total of 480 items in the month. According to one professional organizer, the average American household contains an unbelievable 300,000 items. This makes 480 items a mere drop in the bucket. Besides, it’s not even 1% of your stuff! Feel free to up the goal for yourself if you have loads to clear.
Where to Start Clearing Clutter?
Let’s start by looking at some stats. The average American 10-year-old already has 238 toys but only plays with 12. Meanwhile, the average American woman has 40 cosmetic items, but uses just five a day. Over a lifetime, she spends $300,000 on makeup and cosmetics–more than the cost of the average home! Experts say we need at most 14 pairs of underwear. However, most women have 21 pairs and men have 20 pairs. The average American has seven pairs of jeans but only needs three. Furthermore, the average woman has 32 pairs of shoes and 11 handbags. Most of these just take up valuable closet space and are hardly worn. Meanwhile, the average closet has 103 items of clothing, even though only 20% of those are regularly worn.
Make Clutter Clearing Easy and Fun
A friend of mine was feeling stuck and said she found the clutter in her house so overwhelming she didn’t know where to begin. The flat surfaces were covered with stuff because there was no space to put things away. I offered to come over and see what I could do to help. After looking around we settled on the dining room and kitchen as starting points. We made a specific goal to clear off the dining room table and kitchen countertop so the family would use this space for meals. But, in order to clear these areas, we’d have to start with the cabinets. We needed the cabinet space to store the things currently cluttering the counter and table.
I started opening doors and soon discovered a very deep cabinet that was full of arts and crafts supplies. I hit the jackpot! Her eldest daughter had just moved to college, and her youngest was past the age of arts and crafts projects. We pulled everything out and donated it all to charity. Cabinet after cabinet revealed old vases and mugs and inherited china that nobody used. I could tell what hadn’t been used just by looking at the dust. So it took no time for me to pull out the things that could safely go.
Of course, this clutter clearing was easy for me because I had zero emotional attachment to her things. I couldn’t believe how incredibly fun and easy it was to clear someone else’s clutter—very cathartic. I even briefly entertained the notion that I could do this professionally, given I’d read so many books on the topic. The key is having no attachment to the objects. When I hold up a vase, I see a vase. But my friend saw something else—”Oh, that was a gift from my aunt for our wedding; I can’t get rid of that!”
We can easily get attached to things that don’t have any emotional hook simply because we spent money and time acquiring them. Then there is the guilt associated with giving away gifts from loved ones. Sometimes, there is the burden or joy of keeping inherited family items. As an outsider who didn’t buy or inherit any of this stuff, I could objectively evaluate what should be kept and what should go. This makes quick work of the difficult decisions.
In a few hours, we generated five boxes of things to donate and a bag of garbage. She had a clear counter and a clear and spacious dining room. It was a complete transformation in a very short period. The secret to speed is non-attachment. That means that you shouldn’t even think of doing this alone. Get a friend and take turns being the objective voice of reason. Not only will you clear clutter faster, but you’ll also have more fun! We celebrated by going to lunch afterwards.
I can’t wait to see what new and wonderful opportunity she’ll now attract. I’m using the month of October to focus on clutter clearing. This will create the mental space for the next challenge in my fandabidozi year of challenges — the national novel writing challenge NaNoWriMo in November. This new challenge is to write 50,000 words (about 175 pages) in a month. I’m finally going to finish the non-fiction book about money that I’ve been writing for roughly the last ten years. It’s about time I get this done! So, for October, I’m clutter clearing to create space. Get your boxes ready and feel free to join in the fun. Let me know what you attract afterwards!