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5 BS Facts About Decluttering Everyone Thinks Are True

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You've got too much stuff and not enough time to deal with it all. Your laundry piles up in the basket (whether it's clean or dirty), your dishes just don't quit, and you're just amazed if you get to the end of the week without pulling something slimy -- which you forgot to cook in time -- out of the back of the fridge.

So it's probably time to declutter. Ok, not probably. It is.

You're committing yourself to decluttering, and you're going to do it right this time, but everyone is going to give you tips and tricks that are fun to read, fun to pin, and fun to imagine might someday work for you.

They won't work for you.

BS Fact #1: Decluttering is a fun hobby.

The truth: "Oooooh, decluttering? I love decluttering! I'm ALWAYS getting rid of stuff," says your too-perky friend when you mention your hopes for your home. But she's a little nuts, and here's why.

Decluttering is a task. It shouldn't be a hobby. You do it, and then you're done. If you work to maintain equilibrium with your stuff in your home, you won't have to have a big declutter-fest every weekend for the rest of your life.

And if you're honest with yourself, aren't you getting rid of crap so you can stop having to deal with it all? And so it will stop getting in your way all the time? Do you really want to have to write "decluttering" into your weekly cleaning schedule?

Get the job done. All the way. Then you won't have to "just looooove decluttering!"

BS Fact #2: Just ask yourself 3 magical questions.

The truth: There are no magical questions. Certainly, there are great questions to ask yourself about the objects whose fates you're trying to decide. There are loads of lists of suggestions of these questions to ask, but there are no shining golden questions that will apply to everyone.

The typical "Does this fit? Do I wear it? Have I worn it recently?" questions for clothes don't work on me. I'm kind of a clothing minimalist these days, so I wear everything, and I don't have things that don't fit. But at the end of the winter season, before I put away my long-sleeved things, I asked myself some different questions. "Am I looking forward to wearing this again next winter? Did I enjoy wearing it this year?"

You can read as many lists of questions as you like, but you'll know which ones are the ones you need to ask yourself once you hear them. Don't waste time with questions that are useless for the way you think about your things or for the way you live your life.

Focus on the ones that resonate with you, gurus be damned.

BS Fact #3: You need to buy more baskets / boxes / labels.

The truth: I love lists as much as the next girl, and I always perk up when I see things like "31 genius tips for organizing your whole house." But about 19 out of 20 times, when I click on those "articles," all I get is a gallery of products. Use these fancy stone-bottomed baskets for storing your galoshes. Hide your dozens of cookbooks in magazine holders. Use a tie rack to hang your 136 tank tops. Bend wire coat hangers into swirly shapes (try not to cut yourself) so that you can lovingly hang your 27 pairs of $2 Old Navy flip flops.

The key to organizing your whole house isn't buying baskets, boxes, and labels. One of the first steps is getting rid of the extra stuff. And you don't need to buy one thing for that.

I've actually been asked, "How can I declutter on a budget?" Well, you start by not buying anything.

BS Fact #4: There's a magical folding technique for clothes.

The truth: You don't need to tightly roll your t-shirts and store them in rows between drawer separators. The fact is that if you're looking for a magical folding technique to solve your clothing storage problem, you need to decide if it's a priority to keep everything (and then get another dresser or more space dedicated to clothing storage) or -- more likely -- if you need to declutter some things.

Magical folding techniques won't make you actually wear those 142 t-shirts you've been saving from every event you've ever attended. Just because they can fit in your drawer doesn't mean they should.

BS Fact #5: Declutter one thing a day, and things will improve.

The truth: Your super-peppy friend from #1 who just loves to declutter all the time will probably also give you this tip. Super helpful, right? Baby steps, right?

No.

When you're bringing in more than one thing a day (most of us inadvertently do even if it's just the mail, kids' schoolwork, a small gift from a friend, and so on), you've got to declutter more than one thing a day if you want to make any progress at all.

What can you do about all of this?

Thankfully, it's pretty simple.
  1. Decide what you want in life.
  2. Decide if your clutter is getting you there.
  3. Realize it isn't.
  4. Get rid of it. As quickly as you can.
  5. Don't buy more stuff unless it'll actually help you get where you want in life.

Get Emily's free eBook, Finding the Awesome: 3 Steps to Doing More & Stressing Less for more inspiration and guided, broken-down exercises to find your awesome.