Spring is a time when we are called to clean up the old and make room for the new.

How will you heed the call?

If you’ve felt lately that you’re overwhelmed, your to-do list for clean-up is getting longer instead of shorter, and you find yourself wondering how to declutter fast, I’m going to show you the steps I’ve taken that can help you with that.

I start with setting expectations. Identifying what works for me. I keep it clean, not super-clean. I fail to keep a Good Housekeeping-worthy, neat-as-a-pin house. My own mother liked to remind me that as a child, I would leave clean clothes slung over a desk chair in my room (also, I would wash everything except the pots after dinner but that’s another story. Sorry, mom.)

I believe that not having the super-neat gene (it skipped a generation) is good for my marriage. For one thing, my husband grows orchids. Over one hundred of them take up indoor residency during winter months. Orchids and the bark they grow in are a messy business and pieces of bark turn up in unlikely places. I place a high value around cleanliness, but I place a higher value around positive communication with my husband. So I don’t make a big deal of it when orchids are inside by necessity and will ask him to do a clean sweep when it starts to feel like too much mess. I am also grateful to delegate some of the cleaning to someone who is better at it than I am.

I am in the business of decluttering minds and easing hearts, guiding coaching clients from messy distraction to clarity and conscious action. So it may come as a surprise that sometimes I have my own challenges related to letting go of what’s no longer needed. Because I know that many of you can relate, I’m sharing some simple yet powerful tips to clear the space that surrounds you.

Step up to the cleaning project.

Decluttering the basement storage room completely lacked appeal and urgency for me. It was super easy to ignore, being out of sight, behind a closed door and down two flights of stairs. But I knew that messy space was there. It gnawed at me. I felt the call to declutter but it wasn’t easy to jump into action without a timetable. Perhaps you have a decluttering project hanging over you?

What happens when we don’t pony up to the call?  I’ll speak for myself. It takes up space on my list and weighs on my mind, a two-ton forget-me-not of what I have not done. As a result, I spend depleting energy focused on what I haven’t done, which only perpetuates a state of UN-desire.

Enlist a partner for “thirty minutes.”

For most people, the hardest part of decluttering is getting started, especially getting started solo. We imagine we should get the whole job done instead of breaking it down into smaller pieces. This spring, I seized upon a powerful incentive. Our neighbors had a dumpster in their driveway and it was not going to be there forever. One rainy Sunday, I playfully presented to my husband, “We’re going downstairs. Thirty minutes. Let’s see what we can do.” [You are welcome to use this line with your partner, roommate or child. Then let me know how it goes. Dropping a clear “invitation” in advance is also recommended.].

What I noticed is that the act of starting with a small commitment in scope and time carries positive energy that carries momentum. Although my husband and I agreed to thirty minutes, we got swept up in making visible progress. In two hours, we tackled ninety percent of the clutter, removed it from the back room for donations and out to the dumpster. We got rid of the mess mercilessly and without regrets. It was easier than I imagined.

The act of clearing our environment quiets the mind. Click To Tweet

I felt relieved, lighter, more open like I had extra bandwidth. I was surprised by how many items we let go of, how many things we could do without, how much we had saved, for years, that we would never miss. I admit to feeling rather smug and accomplished. We celebrated our near-complete dusty endeavor with a crisp pour of pinot.

Minimize the task.

We cleared almost all of the clutter from our basement. Letting go in one area begs the question:  What else will we release to make space for new opportunities?

tim ferrissI challenge you to short-list what you want to simplify and let go of in your life, then to cut your list by fifty percent. Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek stands by his philosophy that letting go of most items/activities on your list won’t cost you a thing. Imagine what it would it be like to let go of fifty percent of your list!  It calls for getting serious about your choices, making bold decisions and setting clear boundaries.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by
Marie Kondo provides a concise if exacting, roadmap for those who want to dig deeper on a mission to de-clutter. [One thing I learned is to “never roll socks into one another,” to fold them instead. Full disclosure: I learned it, but continue to fold socks.]

Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life. Listen to Graham’s his TED talk video as he makes his case.

Here’s a quick recap of How To Declutter Fast using 7 Easy Tips:

  1. Delegate to someone who enjoys the tasks that you don’t.
  2. Set a due date to create urgency and a small time chunk to make it easier to initiate the project.
  3. Invite a partner to join you.
  4. Identify a strong incentive for completion and aim for good enough, not perfection.
  5. Imagine what it would be like if it was easy.
  6. Experiment with cutting your list by fifty percent.
  7. Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishment. Let it fuel your next one!

Studies show that we are significantly more creative and productive when our environment supports us. When we heed the call to declutter, it opens wide our capacity for to create and manifest new opportunities.

Spring is an ideal time to get a move on and you can start from wherever you are.  Will you join me and STOP staring at the runaway items on your list? I’m D-O-N-E keeping things on the list that don’t get completed or amount to enough. I’m decluttering. Dumpster style.

Do you have challenges with decluttering too? What’s important to you about getting a handle on clutter?