If Decluttering Doesn’t Work for You, This Might Instead
It all started with an innocent book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You might have heard of it.
With promises of my life being changed, I eagerly embarked on this new hobby of decluttering. I held items and asked myself whether they sparked joy. I whittled down what I owned, sending off the unwanted items to their new homes.
But the more I engaged in this process of decluttering, the more it felt wrong.
I think I realized it one morning when I went to my closet to find something to wear and realized I’d decluttered myself into an abyss of mismatched items and way too many sweaters.
Apparently what sparked joy for me didn’t match up with what was practical for life demands.
But, I continued on, thinking I must have just done it wrong. More decluttering must be the answer!
And in this pursuit, I followed advice on how to declutter my home in only a few days. I’d fallen off the Konmari wagon not even halfway through, so I figured this had to be the answer. I just need to focus! Get it done once and for all.
I went around my house systematically one room at a time, throwing out trash and keeping what seemed important. Again, I had an inkling something was wrong with this process for me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
And then, in the fall of this year I did something very unlike me. I signed up for a challenge to build a capsule wardrobe. Seeing as I no longer had anything to wear, this wasn’t just an attempt at vanity. I truly needed some guidance on how to build a usable wardrobe.
Over the course of 33 days, I wore a combination of outfits. To prepare for the challenge, I had to buy some new items, assess what I already had that worked for the challenge, and set aside or toss what I no longer needed.
And that’s when the epiphany began.
I wasn’t decluttering so much as I was filling in the gaps. Once the gaps were filled, it became natural to let the other things go.
Mentally, this lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Why would I keep 10 sweaters when I only need 2?
I was approaching the things in my life from a place of abundance rather than letting go. I didn’t have that uncomfortable feeling that I’d had while I was decluttering, like I was losing stuff. My things weren’t clutter, they just weren’t part of the framework I was building. They didn’t serve a purpose anymore.
Not only that, but my new wardrobe was so much stronger than my old one. Unlike after my decluttering mission, when I was left with no clue what to wear, I was now making use of everything I had.
The way I see it is this: It’s very similar to losing weight.
You can lose weight but still be “skinny fat” as they call it. My closet was skinny fat: I’d lost the extra bulk but the proportions were off. And not being a closet expert, I had no idea what to keep and what to give away.
Hmmmm…. I thought. Would this apply to other parts of my life and my home?
I realized that for this to work, I had to find a framework for what I was trying to do. I chose my kitchen, since they say it’s the easiest area to organize.
And I found an awesome blog post all about kitchen essentials on a blog that enticed me with it’s perfectly laid out dinner table and serene color scheme. It helped that I’d vacationed in the area where the blog author lived—I felt a connection. I kept coming back to that post.
So, I made my list: The “anti-declutter” list as you will.
And I assessed my kitchen. What did I already have? What did I have three of? What was missing (I’m talking about you, extra serving spoons).
And I set to work. And it was fun! I made a list and checked off everything that I already had. Then I made my “to buy” list of things that I needed. And I covered the kitchen table in things that were being donated.
I felt like I’d finally figured it out. I had a vision of my perfect kitchen, and these extra things were just…. extra.
I’m not saying I have it all figured out. The rest of my house needs a massive declutter or anti-declutter.
But I’m saying that if the decluttering movement somehow feels off to you…
Or you feel sad letting things go…
Or you feel drained sorting through so much stuff without any fun…
Or you have no idea what to keep and what to toss…
It could be that what you really need is to do an anti-declutter. Particularly if you live with depression or another mental health issue, turning this task into a fun one can help.
And that’s just the start of the fun. Wait until you start hunting for treasures to check off your “buy” list. I’m still looking for unique dessert plates in different colors that I collect from meaningful places.
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