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Summary on Decluttering

January 31 marks the eve of the first official day we can forget about our New Year's resolutions. I had numerous talks this year about decluttering and I wanted to share two general pieces of information that may help make the decluttering process easier for the reader.


Decluttering is both procedural and emotional

If you search blogs about decluttering many will give advice about procedures for decluttering, but fewer will advise on the emotional struggle of decluttering. There appears to be something instinctive in us to accumulate and then bond with our stuff. Voluntarily breaking this tie by throwing things away or donating them is stressful. Most people think these feelings are foolish. They don't wonder at people's ability to form emotional ties with inanimate objects, which I think is something truly spectacular. When people I work with fail to hit their decluttering goals there is almost always a hint of reluctance to work through the emotional strain of decluttering. On the other hand, addressing this emotional strain almost always results in progress with decluttering. It has never been true that someone can't find the time to get rid of stuff. Making decluttering a low priority because I don't want to deal with the emotions does make a lot of sense.


Decluttering is more technical than you think

I have found that the skill of decluttering clothing is functionally different than the skill of decluttering old paint cans. Even so, the space we want to declutter might include both clothing and paint cans. I find it useful first to categorize items and then address the individual category when decluttering. Also, if you look for blogs on decluttering, you get a lot of general and obvious advice. If you look for blogs on decluttering clothing, you get a lot of specific and useful advice. In my office, I have furniture, books, electronics, and everything else. If I wanted to make space, or just make sure I'm making the best use of the space, I would look for "decluttering an office", "decluttering books", or "decluttering electronics" online instead of searching just "decluttering".


Decluttering is not only something I like working on in therapy, but it is also something I like to spend time doing. It has very little downside to it and a lot of paradoxical potential for gain. If decluttering is something you want to do or feel you must do, I can commend it to you and wish you success.

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