Remove, discard, delete
I finally evicted the box of junk that’s been living in my closet. Even though it was full of sentimental things, I had to recognize that ultimately I’m not going to do anything with little pewter animals I earned from selling Girl Scout cookies when I was nine. I took out four bins full of recycling, several bags of clothes, and actually did laundry.
I didn’t feel guilty about letting anything go. But I also don’t feel a sense of relief, because I know the junk will pile up again.
The pile up
It always does. Although I made a ton of progress in my never-ending decluttering quest, it didn’t feel like an accomplishment. This most recent foray into cleanliness was not a Sunday afternoon HGTV montage.
Earlier in the day I felt stressed out about work and ended up channeling that into cleaning.
I ended up in a decluttering frenzy, pushing back dinner to nearly midnight.
I felt like if I didn’t ride the wave of intense focus brought on by the need to displace stress, my room would stay in a trash state for weeks.
No parents no rules
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a messy person. Growing up, it only ever seemed like a problem when my parents came into my room. Then in college messiness was easily written off by the metaphorical pile of other responsibilities. But I’ve been out of college for a while now and can’t blame messiness on being too busy. Although I refuse to acknowledge it, I’m definitely an adult now.
As I learn to manage my social anxiety, it turns out I actually want to invite people into my space.
Until I look around and realize how many literal cubby holes are filled with clutter. Do I really need five half empty mini bubble bottles? What am I supposed to do with poorly crafted clay figurines I made when I was twelve? I can’t just throw them away.
Ease of access
I’ve mentioned before that I even took a class on getting organized. One of my biggest takeaways is actually pretty simple: there are no Organizing Police checking on perfection. I don’t need to base my decluttering quest on someone else’s idea of organization.
Instead, I have to learn how to work with my stuff in a way that works for me.
If you feel like decluttering wouldn’t make a difference since everything ends up messy again, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure of a human. It just means you haven’t found a system that works for you yet. And that system doesn’t have to be what you see on TV or online.
You might not have adorable chalk labels in your pantry or a color coded rainbow for your files.
As long as you can find what you’re looking for, that doesn’t matter. Ease of access is the most important factor for organizing your life.
There isn’t one way to get decluttered, but there are plenty of ways that will hinder your progress. Focusing on other people’s visions of cleanliness and clutter-free perfection will bring you down. Sure, it’s great to get inspiration from others, but you don’t need to perfectly replicate their style.
Decluttering is a trial and error process and it is very personal.
Although organizing may seem to come naturally to everyone around you, you’re not getting a behind the scenes look. There really are people who are instinctively tidy, but I am not one of them. And that’s okay. If you’re also chronically disorganized, don’t let it get you down. As long as your system works for you, that’s all that really matters.