On Decluttering

If there is one concept scarier than decluttering, it would be…


And it’s only once your fear of clutter is greater than your fear of throwing away prized possessions, that you can truly begin to declutter your home and your life.

The anger must overcome the guilt of throwing away that sulfur-scented candle Aunt Bertha gave you for Christmas five years ago.

The determination must overcome the responsibility you feel to wear the skirt you spent $30 on and never wore.

You have to want peace at any price.

If you’re there, and if you’ve wanted to start decluttering but you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions.

1) Start in categories and focus on a small section at a time. You could start with jewelry, for instance. There’s at least one pair of earrings that were once cute but you now avoid because they’re tarnished, or because you lost the necklace that matched. Why are you keeping them? When I finally mercilessly weeded out my earrings, I got rid of 18 pairs, which was just under half of them. Now the ones I like will actually fit on my earring holder! Move on to clothes. You never wore that sweater last winter, so what makes you think you’ll wear it this winter? It’s okay to say goodbye. Move onto your bathroom and throw away old makeup or shower gel that you stopped using when you found a better brand. Or am I the only one who hoards cosmetic products in case I change my mind again? Once you leave your bedroom, focus on the kitchen. Or your book or movie collection.

2) If you start feeling nostalgic, STOP. Take a break. You should only declutter when you’re feeling militant and want to wage war against the clutter. Otherwise, you’ll be emotional and useless as you lovingly tuck hideous knick-knacks back in their drawer.

3) Never go back through your get-rid-of pile or you might have second thoughts. You got rid of it for a reason, and although you might try to convince yourself otherwise, that reason is still there. It will always be between you and the unloved object, putting stress on your relationship. Two lessons in one: Don’t go back to your ex, and don’t go back to your clutter.

Now go forth, cluttered one, and rid yourself of stress. A tidy person is a happy person.

A guest post from Lauren, Charity’s little sister and partner-in-decluttering. Lauren recently sat on Charity’s bed for an hour and a half and encouraged her to permanently remove half the clothes from the closet. (And Charity does not regret this at all.)

About laurencalvincooke

Lauren Calvin Cooke lives in Atlanta, GA, with her husband and favorite person JP. She has a B.A. in Theology and Ministry from Lipscomb University, an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is pursuing her Ph.D. at Emory University in Religious Education. Her primary interests are in Youth Ministry and Hebrew Bible.
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1 Response to On Decluttering

  1. Charity says:

    I agree with your “if you’re feeling nostalgic” bit — so right!

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