Let's Not Declutter...


Does thinking about getting organized fill you with apprehension and anxiety?

You’re not alone. Most of my clients report that they had been thinking about getting organized, and dreading it, for some time before they made the call to set up a consult. 

It’s the little things that can make all the difference and, sometimes, shifting your thought process around about a situation even slightly can change the way you perceive it.  In my practice days as a psychotherapist, I utilized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a principle means of helping patients change their thought patterns in order to influence and encourage more positive behaviors.

Here’s a small twist to traditional thinking about organizing that might help you feel more motivated and even excited about the sorting process. 

I’ve never been a big fan of the word “Declutter”.  In my mind, “declutter” focuses on the undoing of something, the getting rid of things. The items making up the clutter are not really identified except that they are is just... clutter. Clutter is a word used as a shorthand to describe a set of things that otherwise don’t belong into the same category, but we don’t know how else to categorize them. All we know is that clutter is not a good thing. Clutter is not used to describe anything in a positive light. We just want it gone. 

No wonder using the word "decluttering" can feel overwhelming and oppressive. 

The thing is that each object in your clutter was, at one time, something that you did chose to have in your environment.

Maybe you thought you might need the thing or it seemed important. Maybe it was a gift you didn't really have a use for or maybe it was something that was useful or loved at one time but is no longer working for you. Or, maybe it’s sentimental and you just aren’t sure what to do with it. Those things didn’t just show up in your home. There was some thought behind each one. Maybe the thought was just, "I don't know what else to do with this so I will just set it right here."  

And, just like you gave each item space at one time, you can decide it’s no longer requires the space you have given it. It’s not just a nameless, unwanted pile. All of it had a purpose at one time.

What about the word “editing” instead?

“Editing” is adding clarity, making choices, identifying the best parts and cutting out the things that are unnecessary or superfluous. You are an Editor making edits to your surroundings. Your edits are your decisions about what to keep and what to let go of.

It may seem like simply semantics, but the task of getting organized involves a degree of mental readiness and, if you are someone who feels that the things in your environment have gotten way out of control, you may benefit from the psychological boost of a reframe.

Editing instead of decluttering.

When editing, you are in control of the decision making. You are gaining authority over your items and deciding what stays and what goes based on the criteria you determine. Does it fit in with your vision of your ideal life?

Yes? Great, it stays. No? Then out it goes, properly disposed.

Are you ready to get started editing?

Let’s do it!