I received the following question from a reader over the weekend:
“I am buried in clutter! Every single room in my house is full of “stuff”; some of it I don’t even know what it is! I have always been someone who kept everything, but I am now ready to start purging. But with so much junk, where and how do I even start?” – Barbara
Well Barbara, you have already taken the first step – you want to make the change. You want to start digging out from under your stuff, and that is at least part of the battle. Too many people say they want to change, but you seem sincere in that you want to really clean up. But I do understand why you are having trouble getting started, because when you have that much stuff around it is hard to even pick a pile to start with! You look around and see a never-ending line of junk, and chances are that some days you just say “the heck with it” and you go back to trying to ignore it. We are going to change that right now!
My best piece of advice for you in this case would be to start VERY small. Get a single trash bag (the big ones, 33 gallons or so) and park yourself in front of any pile you want. It doesn’t really matter – at this point we want to start making small dents so that you feel that you are making a difference. This trash bag is only for things going in the trash, so if you have personal documents or things that really need saving, set those aside for a minute. All I want you to do is to fill up this single trash bag with trash, all the way to the top. Once you are done, you are done for the day. Kaput. Finished. Tie off the bag, bring it to garage or where you keep the garbage, and relax. Read a book, watch TV, do whatever you normally do. Be happy right now with yourself that you filled up an entire trash bag of trash, because you know why? You are going to do the exact same thing tomorrow – fill up one single trash bag, tie it up, and take it out. And you will keep on doing it, moving through the house.
It may not seem like much, but it is quite an accomplishment to get rid of one trash bag full of trash when you have that much clutter. Small dents create bigger dents, and then you can start seeing the floor again. And doing a small amount of work each day takes the burden off feeling like you have to everything all at once – which usually leads to failure. It took a long time for your house to get like this, I would imagine, so you cannot expect it to all disappear in one day, right? Do it slowly, but methodically, and eventually you will really start seeing the fruits of your labor. Good luck Barbara!