Is clutter causing you to avoid certain rooms in your house? Do you pile all your stuff in an unused room when you are expecting visitors? Do you sometimes feel like you are camping out in your own house?
If clutter rules your life, you may have a case of more than just too much stuff. Your inability to organize your stuff may be because you have emotional issues you cannot face, and so you cannot make decisions about the stuff they are associated with.
Maybe you have just resolved to deal with the clutter and organize your home. Great beginning, but if you want to tame clutter forever, you have to deal with the emotional issues at the same time. Here are some things you should do before you start organizing:
1) Take one room and write down everything you see in that room, including all the small objects in your pile of clutter. This may take you a while and may not be particularly pleasant, but do it; it's important. Once the list is completed, figure out what kinds of things are on it. Is it mostly papers of a financial nature? Toys and other objects leftover from when your kids were younger? "Sacred objects" from a relationship that is long over? The furniture you purchase with your ex that does not fit with the new rocker and rug you recently purchased?
2) Now, you need a vision of what you want your home to be without the clutter. This is not some glossy House Beautiful photo shoot; this is a realistic vision of your own home, organized for your current needs. Now you want to record this vision, but doing a drawing or diagram, or by writing a narrative describing it, or by making a list of features you want it to have. The important thing is that it be a difficult exercise that forces you to confront the demons you have been avoiding, the hard choices you will need to make. It is critical to move some things out of your life to make room for newer, more appropriate things. Some things may have been appropriate once, but now they are taking up needed space in your home and in your mind. So cry a little if you have to, and make the hard choices.
Your mantra should be something like:
I will have a home that reflects who I am now and the things I cherish most. My home will support me in my quest for personal growth and happiness. Anything that is in the way of this goal must go.
3) You should certainly tell people about your project because you want to get their support. But it is important to do the actual work yourself so that you confront the emotions involved. If you do not do this, your clutter will come back, and you will find yourself going through this again and again.
OK, now you can go to Staples and buy a label-maker, a shredder, a box of file folders, and a box of trash bags. Plan to spend major time on this. Either set aside a week if you have that kind of time or some Saturdays and make dinner plans that do not include cooking.
This decluttering of your home and of your life may take a long time, and you may have to do it in stages. It is a lot more exhausting than most people expect, and you may not be able to do it all at once. Celebrate your progress as you go, and keep your spirits up. Your goal is a joyful life and a happy, vibrant home. Enjoy!
1) If you want to explore this in more detail, I recommend two books: Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern and Getting Things Done by Paul Allen.
2) If you experience serious emotional responses that are beyond your ability to handle, see a mental health professional; your life may depend on it.
3) This is a deep, scary process, but an enjoyable one as well. OG into it with a positive and fearless mindset, and you will reap wonderful rewards!