Wednesday, April 22, 2009

365 Days of Decluttering Challenge Meet TCOY

The 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge is key in Taking Care Of You. Simply put, any area of our life where we focus our awareness will grow us from the inside out.

To that end, decluttering is a form of taking care of ourselves, believe it or not. By accepting your own 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge, you began a journey towards improving the quality of your life from the outside in. Removing a single piece of clutter each day doesn't completely clear an entire life's worth of clutter, especially mental clutter. However, it does begin to grow an awareness inside you about self-worth, creating a life of abundance versus scarcity, etc.

Developing an enhanced awareness of yourself is what the Taking Care Of You blog (affectionately known as TCOY) is all about. Putting yourself in the line of priority, and right in front, is not selfish thinking but rather just thinking proactively. There is no better person to know, understand or believe in than you.

Believe Me, It Needs Reinforcement
I chose my blog's title to emphasize a concept I hold to be vital. Unfortunately, taking care of yourself isn’t something that is likely to come naturally. Much like the flight safety announcement telling you that in the event of a crash you must first put on your own oxygen mask and then help others, the concept of taking care of us first needs reminding, as it is most important.

As we say over at TCOY, i
t’s time to focus on...

Taking Care Of You

...because you can do it better than anyone else!

Recent Posts:
Taking Care Of You (TCOY)
Quality Relationships (I Will Be Someone For You)

Decluttering: A How-To

Decluttering physical items is actually a simple process. We, the do'ers, are what make it difficult.

Always Start In 3D
Define your area -- a drawer, a closet, a 1 ft space in a room, etc. (zoom in on your target to help from being overwhelmed by whatever else may be nearby or that will detract your focus from your defined area, i.e. more clutter, an area that you don't like for other specific reasons, etc.)

Determine categories to use for sorting the things stored in that area (a specific use that makes sense in the area, memorabilia/keepsake, homeless object that didn't belong in that area, etc.) and create a gathering spot for items in that category (i.e. a box or basket, a clean spot on the floor, a shelf, etc.)

Decide which category each piece in your defined area belongs into & sort the items accordingly by placing them in the gathering spot. (Deciding comes from a position of feeling/being powerful over your stuff, instead of being overpowered by it.)

A fantastic bit of advice that I have incorporated into my own life came from Alex Fayle at Someday Syndrome, in the Unclutter guest post Instructions for decluttering your home (in less than 500 words).

"Use the sorting time to reminisce about the objects — don’t make any decisions at this point. Allow the emotions to come up and clear themselves out so that when it comes to the streamlining stage you are free from the emotional ties and can make more objective decisions about them."

The final step in decluttering is Action, instead of Reaction.

Many of the reactions we encounter when decluttering relate to negative feelings...(feeling) that money was wasted, (feeling) guilt about the item, (feeling) unhappiness about our home & personal belongings, (feeling) overwhelmed by it all in general, etc.

To gain power over your stuff, instead of being owned by it, we need to focus on equating decluttering with Action instead, and positive Action at that.

So, what positive Action are you going to take regarding these objects?

Ask yourself the basic decluttering questions.

Do I want this?

Do I use it?

Do I love this?

Do I need it?

If you can’t say yes to any of them, then you have your answer: it is clutter to you. As Alex says in the above article, "Life is too short to fill out our spaces with things we’re indifferent to."

Once all items have been put into a category, it's time to get everything to its home.

Gather those items and take them from your working area first thing; preferably all the way to the trash can.

Donation Worthy Goods
Put all items together in a box or bag and put them in your car. The next time you are out and about, plan a stop at the local donation center of your choice.

Items to Keep
Now that there are less items in the area, the items you are keeping can be better organized and stored/used. Make it so.

Or, quite possibly, where the item was before was not the best home for it. Was it "homeless" and not stored with other like items? Was it there just because it always has been?

There are many questions I could pose such as these, but I hope that during this process you are learning to formulate your own questions in your mind. The Action will come from your answers.

It's Just An Object
Always remind yourself, especially in the beginning of any decluttering project, that you want to discontinue reacting to your stuff.

Deciding on your Action, and taking it, will empower you in ways that lead to a much more positive role in your own life. A side benefit is that each action fires up your Motivation Meter as well, and that also creates a positive effect in your life. The accumulation of positive Action will create balance in your life, including ownership over your stuff.

I encourage to begin to examine your life in terms of Reaction vs. Action. You may be surprised to realize the effects reach farther than just clutter!