What I’m Getting Out of Structured Decluttering

I’m joining Mrs. Money for her Decluttering Challenge: 365 in 2011.  Here are my reflections from one week in.

Each time I set out to declutter, it gets a little bit easier and a little bit harder.

The process is easier because:

  • Odds are good that in the time since my last declutter session I’ve been inspired by other bloggers who are decluttering or I’ve seen inspirational photos of clutter-free spaces
  • I feel a little less attached to the stuff each time
  • I’ve become more familiar with ways to part with stuff, all of which have beneficial outcomes (donate to folks who need the stuff, sell it for money I could use, etc.)

The item selection is harder because:

  • I get rid of the most obvious clutter each time, so each subsequent decluttering session has a tougher selection to choose from
  • Sometimes I find myself examining items that I’ve previously justified keeping (maybe that’s why I liked giving up the boxes; it had never crossed my mind that they could go!)

In the scheme of my decluttering history, which has been taking place at pretty regular intervals for the last few years, 91 items is chump change.  I’ve gotten rid of 91 items plenty of times before!  Just because the process is familiar though, doesn’t mean that this Decluttering Challenge is feeling like old hat.

Ten days ago, I learned of Mrs. Money’s Decluttering Challenge, and one week ago, I committed to participate in the challenge.  In these seven days—and 91 things—I’ve experienced decluttering a little differently than I have in the past.

Here are some reasons why this structured decluttering is working well for me:

  • It’s nice to have a deliberate, intentional process.  For years, I’ve been aimlessly decluttering.  Which typically means that I declutter whenever I have a whim, get inspired, or have a stressful encounter with stuff (e.g., lose something important).  While I have set mini-goals before (“get rid of fifty things this weekend”), I’ve never taken on a goal as big as 365 things.  This gives me a game plan, and a long-range one, at that.
  • It’s nice having an endpoint in sight, even if it’s false or arbitrary. It wouldn’t be the end of the world for me to give up 220 things and realize that I was happy to hang on to the rest of my possessions.  I would still have gotten rid of those 220 things in a timelier, more orderly fashion than I would have without the challenge.  Regardless of how far I get in 2011 (which I’m thinking could definitely be 365), it won’t really be the end; I expect this to be an ongoing process, I’m just glad—and relieved!—to feel closer to my objective sooner.  With that in mind, it doesn’t matter what the target number is; it could be 200 or 500 or 337.  That’s irrelevant to me.  [I guess for some people the number could matter, because it might be encouraging to think it is one item a day.]
  • Participating in the challenge is encouraging me to take pictures—and pictures are confirming for me that this stuff really is junk (junk to me, at least). I had heard others say it before, but I never fully realized how helpful the camera can be when you’re decluttering.  And you don’t even have to have a nice camera!  When I’m feeling a little embarrassed about the state of the shoes I’m about to post (stay tuned for them!), that’s a good sign that I shouldn’t have had any qualms about parting ways with them.
  • The sense of community is nice—and beneficial. Not only is it more fun to declutter knowing that others are working toward the same goal, seeing what others decide to part with can show you things that you might like to declutter as well.  It has some of the benefits of suggesting what you could stand to get rid of without the awkwardness of them actually saying it about your stuff.  [Having someone help you identify clutter can be a helpful tool, I just can’t imagine doing that for 365 things!]

I was already sold on “decluttering”—hence Resolution #6 and my objectives described here.  Now, I’m sold on this challenge, too.

Feel free to join us!

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2 thoughts on “What I’m Getting Out of Structured Decluttering

  1. […] I'm up to 105 items.  I posted about the benefits of this challenge earlier today, in my post "What I'm Getting Out of Structured Decluttering." All interested are welcome to […]

  2. […] addition to the thoughts on the benefits of the Declutter Challenge that I posted here, I’ve found that I have another benefit to add, which I first articulated this week in a […]

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