(Soon to be my first youtube video…stand by–)

How do you back yourself out of a cluttered corner (assuming you can actually get to the corner) when you’re overwhelmed with disgust and despair? It’s not that you don’t see the problem. It’s not that you don’t want to deal with it. You just feel too paralyzed to do anything about it. And maybe you’ve lived with it so long that it’s no longer at the top of your to-do list. It’s quietly worked its way down from “Later” to “Someday.”
And yet, it quietly bugs at you. Maybe you even have dreams about bugs. Your subconscious may be whispering creepy metaphors in your brain.
You take a stab at it once in awhile, but quickly lose your mojo. Now what?
First of all, you’re not alone. As an example, last year Americans spent more money on renting storage than entertainment. Think about it. We put more value on stuff we don’t look at than going to hear live music, or watch a game, or just having fun. Seriously.

So if any of this rings any bells, here’s some helpful ideas that I personally use to deal with my own clutter.

1. LOOK AT IT.

Let’s say it’s your rarely-used den that has become a catch-all ever since your aunt died and you inherited the family memorabilia, as well as the china she and your mom grew up with, etc. Once her stuff (mostly in boxes) took up residence in the den, it was easy to add to it: the chair that needs recovering, the TV with no remote, the collection of cookie tins and decorative boxes. You get the idea…..

2. TAKE A PHOTO OF IT

A photo underscores the reality. Keep it on your phone, or print it out and put it on the door to the room in question.

3. FEEL THE FEELINGS AND LISTEN TO YOUR THOUGHTS.

I don’t mean to get too hippy-dippy, but you need to understand how much discomfort you may be feeling. It’s useful! Kind of a psych 101 suggestion based on the premise that if it doesn’t feel bad, you probably won’t do anything about it. And this could include just being tired of your significant other urging you to clear a path. (Even though you may feel nagging from an outside source is your primary motivator, give yourself a chance to experience some personal feelings like shame or guilt about it.)

4. MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT

Just make the decision. Don’t worry about where or how to start, or how much time it will take. Pretend there’s no excuse and you’ll find out pretty quickly that there won’t be one. Then tell someone about your decision, or write it down next to the photo–anything that will help make the “problem” more real and cement it into your brain.

5. VISUALIZE THE CHANGE

This is always, for me, the most fun. (Yes, I said “fun.”) Think about the space in question and imagine what it could look like once it’s organized. Don’t just imagine it the way it was pre-clutter, CHANGE IT UP. Maybe you’ll free up enough space for a new piece of furniture, or a computer desk or comfy chair and reading lamp. Or maybe just hang some art or a floating bookshelf or buy a small area rug you like. Write those ideas down. And if you can find a photo of something close to what you want, cut it out and put it next to the “before” photo. Picture something different in the space than the way it was before. It’s the bonus prize and a great motivator. Maybe now you can have company instead of feeling embarrassed or filled with excuses. (Note: the same process applies for a small area, like a closet. You visualize being able to put “new” things away and find them again easily. )

6. FORWARD MOTION

Now you’re ready to put your dream into action. Of course, I would suggest to call The Clutter Angel to come to the rescue. But for those who don’t live in the Los Angeles area or can’t make that happen, this will be like virtual hand-holding.

7. DIY

Assuming you’re doing it yourself–first of all let me say YAY YOU! Finally making the decision to make this happen is a very big deal! And please bypass the monkey mind that says, “well, it’s about time” or other negative comments. Instead, tell yourself you’re brave and excited to take on this worthwhile adventure.

Now go reward yourself and prepare for the big excavation……

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