Declutter your life to get out from feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Single mom Susan Kiley says that most of our stuff in our life – the books, clothing, furniture, and keepsakes – is pure clutter and unhappiness. Do you ever wonder what’s stopping you from parting with your clutter or how it would feel to let go of all the stuff that consumes so much of your time and energy? Here are five ways you can declutter your life for more happiness.
From the beginning, I was focused on learning, studying, and teaching others how to live a successful and happy life. I wanted an overwhelming sense of happiness and success. Thanks to Amazon, garage sales, and thrift stores, I had a surprisingly easy time buying and collecting books.
Of course, during times when I couldn’t get to garage sales or thrift stores, I turned to creating content at lightning speeds – easy, affordable, and addicting. Much like those who buy clothes and gadgets, or stack pieces of mail on their kitchen tables, I just kept buying, collecting and creating. Now, I am on a quest to declutter my life!
Confessions of a Cluttered Life
😮 I am a recovering hoarder.
📚 I hoard books.
📚 I hoard content.
Not only do I hoard books (1,227 to be exact), but I hoard the content I create. I’ve written over 46 books, published 11. Created enough content to warrant two one terabyte external hard drives and paying monthly for Google Drive 2 TB storage. No joke – it’s a serious problem.
Being someone who helps others get their books and business into the world through systems, processes and organization means I should be good at the ‘help’ I give others, correct?
In April 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, I decided I needed to change my hoarding ways – minimizing the chaos in my life while stuck in the house. Declutter my life and make way for happiness, time, and energy.
Let me state this… . I’m a neat freak! My house, including my garage, is clean and organized. Please don’t go nominating me for an episode of Hoarders, Buried Alive. I’m good, really, and my children and pets are doing great! Here’s the issue: I live a weird dual life where I have to have everything organized, but I hoard books and content in my office where everything is a disorganized mess! Can you relate? Do you need to declutter your life too?
As a single mom of three, I keep clutter to a minimum in all house areas except my office. My office stores all the books and content I hoard. I taught my children how to donate and sell anything they have outgrown or no longer use from a young age. So the real issue is decluttering all the books and content I hoard!l
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Toss The Clutter
At least half of the stuff in your house, garage, or office is clutter. All the piles of junk mail, magazines, and outdated resources – clutter. So why don’t you start with this simple decluttering your life step right away. Walk to your kitchen and pick either a counter or the table. Spend five minutes doing one pile. Sort the pile into three categories: pay, file, or toss.
If you need to toss, go ahead, throw it in the trash. Paying a bill may require you to wait until the money is in your bank account, so put these where you are most likely to remember and pay them on time. Last, anything that needs to be filed take to your file and file away.
Voila! You’re decluttering your life in under 5 minutes! The process of decluttering your life for more happiness is a baby-step process. Think about how long it took to accumulate all the clutter – decluttering will take two to three times longer. Go at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Rid The Book Clutter
One of my biggest decluttering your life tasks – getting rid of hundreds of books. After donating a majority of what I owned in books, I now confidently have only three bookshelves.
Hey, the bookshelves I currently have also serve as a decorative space filler – might as well be filled with incredible books (fiction and nonfiction) then some chotskie (I don’t know how to spell that word) needing cleaning thing-of-a-ma-jig consistently.
Books that made the ‘keep’ list can be found on my 2021 reading list. Organizing your bookshelves may seem a bit OCD to some, however for me, it’s a way to remind myself not to add any other books (without getting rid of what I already have).
If I buy or receive a book to be reviewed, once completed, I need to either put it on the bookshelf in place of another book (can only keep one), gift it to a friend, or donate the book.
So, if you want to declutter your life, try starting with books (or anything else you’ve collected over the years).
Digital Decluttering Your Life
Digital decluttering my life is one fo the easiest I’ve found of all the decluttering your life areas.
While on a plane to Las Vegas, I deleted and organized into files in Google Drive 4,763 photos. Holy moly is correct! My phone was running slow and I wanted to capture all the sights, sounds and action of Las Vegas and my daughter playing at Nationals Volleyball.
Organizing the photos became a game. How many photos could I trash or file before landing – the amount of space freed to take more pictures in Vegas – liberating and joyful! Decluttering does not have to be stressful or boring!!
To remove photos, I scrolled to the beginning, approximately two years. Over half of those photos were screenshots or downloaded quotes that no longer made sense, but at the time, I’m sure they were helpful. Do you do this also – download quotes or take screenshots with the hope to do something with it later?
Freeing Yourself From Clutter
As for the books, the content I hoarded for years is either trashed (no longer relevant or interested in finishing) or complete and published. You can find my books and content in these places:
I’ve never felt more uncluttered after donating a majority of the books (and other stuff) I owned and uploading and releasing content daily. What’s left of the books and content I have are my reference books, or the content that’s not quite ready to make public. (Baby steps, remember…?)
I FOUND MORE HAPPINESS when I freed myself from the book and content clutter – labels and stuff. And, funny thing, success. I don’t feel I am just a ‘writer.’ Or a ‘single mom.’ Or an ‘entrepreneur.’ Or a ‘content creator.’ I am all and more.
Through the years, I’ve found that I go through this clutter detox at least once a year, sometimes up to three or four times! I reason that when I am bugged by something in my life, generally stress due to ex-husband, money, or relationship, to free and think more precisely, I declutter and clean.
Often, we hold onto ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ for sentimental reasons. I have a wedding dress in a preservation box – gorgeous – ready for my daughter. The reality is she is will never wear that dress! Not because it’s ugly, outdated, or she won’t fit into it, but because she is her person, and she’ll want something different and new. I can’t fault her for wanting a new dress if and when she marries. So why continue to holding onto the dress?
Donating or Selling Your Clutter
One of the many times I’ve struggled with my clutter is whether I should sell or donate. Like my wedding dress. Every time I have to go to the basement storage area, it is cluttering my basement and my life. My two options are selling or donating. Selling brings financial gain. Donating means bringing joy to someone who may not afford such a beautiful and expensive dress.
Deciding whether to sell or donate is a challenge but can easily be remedied when thinking of the decision in terms of time. Time is a valuable resource. Do you have the time to sell the item(s)? If your answer is no, then perhaps, donating is your answer to rid yourself of your clutter.
James Altucher, labeled one of the most fascinating people, decided to declutter his life to free himself of labels and stuff. In 2016, he gave everything but 15 possessions away. You can read the story and why James did what he did.
Think Before You Buy
Can clutter creep into your life again? Heck yes! Winter is especially chaos-inducing as I find myself stuck inside the house – reading and creating content. Decluttering your life could be a monthly, quarterly or annual event.
Asking myself, “Do I already have a book like this?” before buying a book helps with impulse buying. And, when I ask, “What value will someone get from this piece of content,” it helps me keep my content creating minimized.
If I buy a book, I must read, review and then decide if I will replace a book on the shelf, send it to a friend or donate. The same theory applies to creating content – post, sell or post and sell.
Stick With It
Decluttering your life is no easy task. My belief is we all go through seasons where we hoard and seasons where we declutter. Identifying areas in your life you need to declutter is a great starting point. Once you identify what needs decluttered – kitchen, garage, business, life – make a plan and take baby steps.
Habits are formed after twenty-eight days – repetitive, conscious action daily. Think about how long it took to clutter your space; it’ll take twice as long to declutter.
What is your opinion on owning less?
Here’s your chance to do one of two things:
1. Declutter and own less
2. Continue the clutter and chaos
If you’re anything like me or were, you prefer to stay in a state of clutter and chaos. When you’re in clutter and mess, it will feel ‘safe’ (though exhausting).
But, think about this for a moment. What if you decided to declutter just one thing in your life today. Just one. Your ‘one thing’ can be anything – screenshots to a decade old shirt – pick anything you tend to hold onto and clutter your space.
Go ahead; I’ll wait…
Welcome back! If you’re stuck trying to declutter your life, try this method. Walk into your closet. Find one piece of clothing you haven’t worn in the last year. Then, go into your kitchen. Find that one tool, appliance, or cup you haven’t used in a year. Most likely, if you haven’t used it in a year, you will not miss it.
Golden Rule: If you haven’t used, worn, or needed an item in a year, then it is time to get rid of it – donate or sell.
TIP: Take everything out of your clothes closet. Arrange the closet into two seasons, fall and summer. Of course, you can arrange into four-season as we have here in Iowa and Nebraska: spring, summer, fall, and winter. As you organize any clothing, accessory, or shoe you have not worn or used in the last year, place it into a donate/sell pile.
How did it make you feel to declutter? Yes, it may have only been one thing, one task, one tendency; it’s a start, and that is all that matters!
I’m super proud of you. You can keep the momentum. You don’t need my permission or anyone else’s to declutter your life and own less for your happiness.
Just because it worked for me and thousands of others worldwide doesn’t mean it will work for you. Everyone needs to find happiness. I just happened to find mine by decluttering my life. I’d love to hear how you declutter your life – what works and what doesn’t. Join the conversation in the comments or send me a private message to susan (at) susanrkiley (dot) com.