April 28, 2011

Who Am I Without My Stuff? Part 2: How to Declutter Your Life

Written and photographed by Ursula Jorch

In Part 1 of this post, I talked about all the great benefits of decluttering, of removing the stuff from your life that holds you back, of dismantling the past so that you can be totally and completely here in the present.

If you’re ready to commit to decluttering, if you’re ready for the infusion of energy that the process brings, then here are 11 practical tips on how to make the whole thing easier.

1.      Start with the easiest space.  It’s crucial to get off to a good start with this process.  Pick the area that you think will be easiest to deal with, and start there.  You’ll get a quick feeling of success, and that will inspire you to go on.

2.     Love it?  Need it? These two criteria drove my entire process of decluttering.  If they didn’t fit either criterion, out they went.  It seems ruthless, but really, it’s a clear signal to the universe that you are serious about being in alignment with your true self in your daily life.  It’s an opportunity to really get clear about what that means for you.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll surprise yourself in all kinds of pleasant ways about what the current you really wants!

3.     Talk through the items that you have the most difficulty with.  A friend can really help you clarify in your own mind what you want to do about a particular item that is tough to let go of.  Ask her to just listen while you talk things through, and tell the story of the item so you can have one last visit.

4.     Pace yourself.  By taking things at a reasonable pace, you won’t burn out or get tired of the process too soon.  Set yourself a timer, for whatever interval you think you can work with enthusiasm.  I found that setting unusual time frames was useful, like 43 minutes – it made it seem more fun and like a game!  Stick to whatever time you set, and it’ll make you want to come back for more, especially once you get into the process.

5.     Get some help when you need it.  When I did my huge scale decluttering, I found I could do a lot of it myself, maybe 80%.  But that last 20%?  That was tough!  So I hired a professional organizer.  She helped me with those oh-so-difficult items that I just could not let go of, even though I knew I needed to.  Note: if you hire someone like this, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive service.  Just find someone you’re simpatico with, and be clear about what specific areas you want help with before she arrives.  In my case, the organizer was a Sufi who quoted Rumi while we worked!  Very inspiring, and she also asked me the right questions, rather than telling me what I should do.  The perfect help – thanks, Judy!

6.    Be prepared for some emotions to come up.  Our stuff is never just about the stuff.  We’ve got memories about things past that are attached to what we hang on to.  It’s inevitable that you’ll have some sorrow and grief as you revisit things and decide to let them go.  Let yourself have those feelings.  I must have gone through at least a box of Kleenex during my process of decluttering!  It was all very essential to releasing the energy that went along with those things, and making that energy available to you in the present, so let yourself feel as much as you can.

7.     Keep your sorrow contained.  Particularly if you’re doing a big-scale purge, limit your grieving time.  This process can start to take over your life if you let it, and really, it’s not meant to.  You just need some time to release whatever comes up.  So again, give yourself a defined period to grieve, and then go on to other things.  You may need to do this repeatedly until you get it out of your system, but this way, you won’t be overwhelmed by it.

8.    Get rid of whatever you have decided to purge right away.  The temptation is to reconsider, to go through things again, if they are still sitting there.  After a session, take whatever you’ve decided to release, bag it or box it, and take it to the garbage or the recycling center or the donation center.  Just get it out of your space – you’ll feel a big sense of relief!

9.    Let yourself feel the expansion.  This process opens up so much space, not just in your living area, but also in your psyche.  Feel it, and really revel in it.  It’s an invitation for the new and better-aligned you to fully arrive!

10.  Keep it up.  Make the practice of only buying things you love or need a habit.  Even while being completely mobile, I’m finding that the temptation to start to accumulate stuff again is constant.  Resist it – it’ll save you so much energy in the long run, and you’ll have the chance to constantly be defining yourself in the present.  And that is way more fun than trying to unload all kinds of stuff from the past.

11.    Celebrate every milestone! Letting go of your past, getting the things that surround you into alignment with who you are now, in the present, is HUGE!  It’s an opportunity to embrace and enjoy who you are – seize it, and start living out of your true self, now!

Let me know how things go, as you follow this path to the real you!


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12 Comments on Who Am I Without My Stuff? Part 2: How to Declutter Your Life

  1. ElaineNo Gravatar on Thu, 28th Apr 2011 8:28 am
  2. I’m going to make Love or Need my habit just now – What an awesome post and very timely for me!

    Than for this I’m going to re-read it many times over the weekend (and beyond!)


    Ursula JorchNo Gravatar Reply:

    So glad it’s helpful, Elaine! Rock on!


  3. Christine KaneNo Gravatar on Thu, 28th Apr 2011 8:53 am
  4. #6 is the big one! Even now, I’ll catch that old guilt trying to rear its ugly head when I let go of another regrettable purchase. I’m always tempted to hold on to the item in order to avoid that discomfort. But allowing myself to just experience that feeling and move on is ALWAYS a high pay off in the end!

    great post, my friend!


    Ursula JorchNo Gravatar Reply:

    Thanks, Christine! Guilt’s a big one – I’m glad you’re allowing yourself to move on after acknowledging it.


  5. PatriciaNo Gravatar on Thu, 28th Apr 2011 9:11 am
  6. Timely tips!


    Ursula JorchNo Gravatar Reply:

    Happy to hear they were helpful, Patricia!


  7. Noreen CampbellNo Gravatar on Thu, 28th Apr 2011 7:33 pm
  8. I like the setting the random timer idea! I need something different all the time or I begin to dread. Thank you, Ursula!


    Ursula JorchNo Gravatar Reply:

    You’re welcome! It’s amazing the difference that a little adjustment like setting an unusual time makes, Noreen – somehow it makes it feel more interesting!


  9. LaurieNo Gravatar on Thu, 28th Apr 2011 10:39 pm
  10. Of course, I like the photo!
    X. LL


    Ursula JorchNo Gravatar Reply:



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