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  • Corrine Banks

Declutter your Home, Mind, and Life

Not by choice, I have moved an average of every 2 years for the past 15 years. Except for the time that we were homeless after our house fire and I moved 5-6 times in 3 months but, we'll come back to that. The process of moving is a pain in the butt. I do always really love getting rid of the stuff that accumulates in a small amount of time though. Before our last move, I had my daughter sit down and watch the minimalism documentary and she got rid of 70% of her belongings. 1.5 years later her room can still look like a tornado. Thank God for doors! When it bothers me too much, we take some time to sort through and see what we can ditch. Looking back on this week after I decluttered every nook and cranny of my home in a few days in an "I'm not stopping until it's done OCD" kind of way, I recognized that it was my healthy, productive way to calm my anxieties for an upcoming event. I have always been aware that a cluttered environment causes me stress so, my house was already pretty clear. This frenzy of clearing started with recognizing that a few pairs of shoes would probably never be worn again and needed a new owner. As I saw each closet and drawer become organized, more peace replaced it. I like the physical act of letting go of things like my race shirts that I moved from home to home. They represented all the hard work going into each race and the memory of that race. The literal "I hauled my butt around swimming, biking, and running for over 10 hours and all I got was this lousy shirt". But, the memory is still there without the tangible element. It feels even better when what you are getting rid of goes to friends and family who find it useful, beautiful, or they get enjoyment out of the item. Or when they are donated to charity raising money for those who have so much less than what they need. The sell pile will bring in money that can be used for a new memorable experiences.

Back to that house fire. We were fortunate that our stuff was mostly all smoke and water damaged, not lost completely. Although it was one of the most stressful times in my life, I learned that after living out of a few trash bags of belongings, I do not need much. Stuff does not make us happy and if it does, it is very fleeting. The weekends when we had to couch surf because our temporary beds were taken, I turned it into a traveling adventure and my daughter and I have some great memories from the experience. I learned a lot about myself what mattered. My family will tell you I have enjoyed being organized from a young age and I have always thought if I needed to change careers, a professional organizer is what I would become. Beyond the home, you can digitally declutter, as well as your personal life, and ultimately your mind.

Home Declutter

Where to start? With whichever area would make the most impact on your state of mind if the space was freed up and organized. If it takes you longer to be productive in a space or that cluttered space makes you cringe, it's a pretty clear sign that it needs some work. There are a lot of declutter methods out there you can look up but, the most simple way for me is to create piles (you can use boxes if you want) for 1.trash 2.donate 3.sell 4.keep. Broken, stained, torn, not useful to anyone, etc. goes in the trash. If you do not think you can sell it, place in donation. Libraries love donated books, cds, movies, and games. Local church, shelters, thrift stores take most items. Animal shelters can use pillows, blankets, towels, and cat/dog toys. Sell anything you can via facebook marketplace, craig's list, ebay, or yard sale. Only keep what you love and use. For some organizing and storage accessory idea help, click here. A few sentimental items are okay but, if you are holding onto a lot of items, think about taking a picture of it then letting it go. Those things can actually weigh us down more than lift us up sometimes.

Digital Declutter

Phone apps - If you are scrolling through multiple screens and can't find what you need, delete the ones you haven't used in the past few months. They will still be there if you find that you need them again and can be re-downloaded. Consider condensing other similar apps into folders to simplify.

computer - clear off your desktop by filing items. Create more folders if needed to make finding what you need faster. Add folders in email to organize your saved items and remove them from inbox. Try to opt out of multiple email newsletters and rollup as many as you would like to and determine what time of day you would like to receive them all. I just did this after years of unsubscribing almost daily from lists I had no idea how I got on. I think I heard angels singing when I found it.

Mental Declutter

If you need a vacation but, can't get away, try a simple meditation technique of closing your eyes and focusing only on your breath for a few moments and picture where you would be if you were on vacation using all your senses to explore your surroundings. I know locking yourself in the bathroom while the kids pound on the door while doing this isn't ideal but, it's something! Toxic feelings can be a form of emotional clutter that will cause stress until it is released. So work on forgiving to release anger and resentment. That bitter pill is tough to swallow again and again. Conquer your fears. Maybe you need to release a person in your life that constantly drags you down. Maybe you need to clean out your friend list on social media. Maybe you need to take a break from social media. Delegate household chores. Resign from committees that you are on only out of guilt. Fill your time only with that which adds to your overall sense of wellbeing. We will all still have to scrub toilets unless you can afford a maid (and more power to you if you can!) but, take time to assess where your time is spent and see if there is anything that can be removed, delegated, or replaced.

Last step - Enjoy your new simple, peaceful, life!

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