Decluttering and organising – whether it’s our home or any other area in our life – can feel overwhelming.
We often postpone decluttering tasks because we believe that it’s too hard, that it takes too much time, that we don’t know how to do it, that it wouldn’t make a big difference anyway, etc.
However, we can decide to start small.
We can create some small wins first. And some confidence. And move on from there more easily.
Starting and finishing a decluttering project – no matter how small it is – is a first win – and an important step of our journey into a clutterfree life.
It’s proof that making changes is possible and that we can achieve visible and valuable results even if we invest only a few minutes at a time.
Our first little successes increase our confidence (‘Yes, I can do this!’) and can help us get inspired and motivated to plan bigger projects. Or to create a new habit, applying the ‘little-step-by-little-step’ approach consistently – which will create huge progress over time.
A powerful little exercise: Declutter and re-organise your handbag
This little decluttering project will help you get a better understanding of the decluttering process in general.
You will directly experience how the 3 steps of any decluttering/organising project work together to create positive results: More space and clarity and lightness. And positive feelings about yourself.
Choose a ‘space’ that you use regularly, a personal ‘container’ like your purse/handbag, your backpack or briefcase (We’ll call it ‘your bag’ here.)
The condition of your chosen bag can be seen as a reflection of who you are and how you treat yourself.
- If this space is cluttered and unorganised it sends the message to its owner (you!), ‘I am a bit messy/disorganised’.
Each time you grapple with trying to find what you need, or you suffer from the heavy useless stuff you carry around in your bag, you experience frustration which reinforces the message ‘I am so disorganised’ and the feeling of frustration.
- However, if the bag is clutterfree and well sorted, you send yourself the opposite message, ‘I am organised’.
You have positive feelings when you open your bag, and you feel in control because you know what’s in there and where you can find it.
As soon as you have successfully cleared up a formerly cluttered space that you access multiple times during the day – like in this case your bag -, you will repeatedly get reminded that you are able to do the decluttering work successfully.
You will also have clear proof that you can overcome the overwhelm that in the past kept you from getting certain tasks done.
You will enjoy the benefits of organised spaces – every time you use the decluttered item.
The 3 steps of the decluttering process
Step 1 – Get a clear picture of what’s in there
- Dump all the contents of your chosen bag on a flat clean surface.
- Sort everything into categories, such as personal care items, personal documents, paperwork/books, snacks, etc.
- Notice what thoughts and feelings are coming up while you look at the categories of things. Any surprises? Any items you had forgotten about? Anything you haven’t used for ages? Or not at all?
Step 2 – Decide what you want to discard
- Start making let-go decisions by assigning things that are damaged or have become useless to a rubbish pile (e.g., crumpled tissues, old receipts, empty water bottle, dried up lipsticks).
- Sort out what you never use, and let go of all the duplicates, e.g., the additional comb, the second and third pen, another roll of peppermint drops.
- Now ask yourself: What do I really need and use regularly?
- Decide and put aside what you are no longer willing to carry around every day. (Reserve the umbrella for rainy days, the sun cream for summer, the novel for times when you use public transport, etc.)
- Have a look at the remaining items.
- Appreciate all the things that are helpful and important to you and decide that you are going to take good care of them in future.
Step 3 – Take action and re-organise
- Throw the rubbish pile into the bin.
- Find easy-to-access storage options in your house for the things that you only need/use from time to time (e.g., umbrella, sun cream).
- Re-pack your bag deliberately.
- Use any compartments that your bag provides to separate categories of things, or find little extra bags to containerise like items (like makeup products, or pens and post-its, or receipts).
Congratulations – You have proven to yourself that you are a capable declutterer! Well done!
Now you can feel certain that you’ll enjoy your clutterfree and organised bag – every day.
Notice what else you are feeling at the end of this little decluttering project.
Do you feel relief? Satisfaction? Clarity? Pride? Something else?
How could you ‘store’ any positive feelings you have right now and ‘re-use’ them in the next decluttering project?