How decluttering can help
You’re already using 24 hours a day when you start your own business…so finding the time (and the energy) to launch and sustain your project is pretty crucial.
When I wrote ‘7 Ways to Find the Time & Money’ it got shared almost 200 times… and in it I mentioned something incredibly powerful for freeing up energy for business building.
Although it’s a lot trickier to wrap words around it.
Read on for a glimpse at the impact my encounter with decluttering had on my energy levels:
It was a couple of years after my mum had died when a friend started to nudge me about getting a friend of her’s round (let’s call her Susan).
Susan had just started a decluttering business and was marketing her first batch of initial consults at a deep discount.
My own friend couldn’t stop raving about how amazing it had been to have Susan’s help decluttering her kitchen.
But I wasn’t interested.
I felt vaguely pressured.
I kept waving her away.
Yet she wasn’t to be deterred.
“I’ve bought you a voucher,” she said one day, “you need to ring her and book”. She pressed it into my hand and gave me a meaningful look.
A week or two later, she actually booked the consult for me.
Susan arrived, unassuming and so much more relaxed than I’d imagined.
We had a cup of tea and she talked about her passion for helping people release the weight of all the unecessary ‘stuff’ hanging off their homes, cars and work spaces.
What caught my attention was the way Susan talked about how draining this ‘stuff’ could be.
She said, “Emotionally, ‘stuff’ exerts a kind of pull that can actually be depressing”.
Clutter, she assured me, would almost certainly be reducing my ability to relax and enjoy my home, as well as blocking my creativity.
Something about that resonated.
I glanced sheepishly around the kitchen, where we stood.
I felt an overwhelming fatigue, a deep sense of ‘where on earth would I start?’
Susan looked knowing.
“Shall we do an hour now and see how we go?”
So we did.
We tackled the teetering piles of stuff on top of the kitchen cabinetry (I’m tall. It’s easy to bung things up there).
She took down armfulls of clutter and placed it on the kitchen table.
And methodically we worked through it:
- things to keep in the kitchen,
- things that belong somewhere else in the house,
- things to throw away and
- things to give away or sell.
Immediately I felt lighter.
The kitchen felt so much more inviting, so much friendlier. It sounds cheesy, but it felt so much more like a home. Not a show-home magazine picture. But my home, somehow tamed.
I booked Susan in for 4 hours the very next week.
Why 4 hours?
“It can be really draining going through ‘stuff’, detaching from it, releasing it, rehoming it, organising it…4 hours is about the right length of time if you want to avoid feeling exhausted”.
7 sessions later I’d gone through my entire house and garage.
How did I feel?
It was like taking off a large, heavy back pack I’d been carrying around with me 24/7.
Truly, I was astounded.
The emotional burden of ignoring the clutter had been enormous.
It’s actually hard to describe the extent of the relief I felt. It was a kind of spiritual experience. The sense of space, of coming out from under something heavy that I’d been enduring.
And it wasn’t until I finished the work that I realised I really had been depressed.
I’d let the clutter pile up since my mum had died, like a protective cocoon, numbing out the world.
I think it’s similar to how ‘busy-ness’ can create a kind of emotional numbness.
Now don’t get me wrong – nobody was coming round to my house and feeling like it was a really terrible mess.
It was just an every day kind of cluttered mess – the ‘stuff’ of a busy house with two small children and a dog in it.
But its knock on effects were really toxic.
For example, tidying up at the end of each day had felt kind of hopeless.
And that meant having new friends round had felt like too much hassle.
Looking back I could see I’d felt like I’d been just pushing stuff to the edges of the room, trying to clear enough space for a particular task.
And so creating a presentable enough house had basically felt too hard for entertaining new friends!
All of this combined to eat away at my sense of self respect – which even leaked out into my business.
I wasn’t feeling good about myself, or confident enough to reach out to others.
De-cluttering brought a sense of order, of peace. Like my home became restful instead of draining.
Once the house was sorted, tidying up became purposeful instead of tiring.
Clearing a counter or a floor started to feel do-able because there was a place for everything to go to!
Instead of stacking another pile of papers at the end of the counter, or balancing yet another pile of toys at the edge of the room I could actually put things away.
Once it was decluttered, I could tidy my house and, within a short time, have it feeling and looking lovely.
There is a real and meaningful sense of peace – of being at ‘home’ – when your house is largely clutter free.
Perhaps the most important result? I felt like I woke up emotionally.
A fog lifted.
There was room in my life for living – instead of just coping. Instead of just shoving stuff to the edges.
Rather than putting my emotional reserves into ignoring all the ‘stuff’ and tolerating a constant, claustraphobic sense of overwhelm, I started to think about other things.
It’s a cliche but I’m going to say it because it’s true:
The quality of my relationships changed as my relationship with myself changed.
Decluttering my house was a huge catalyst for a lot of healthy changes in my life.
So absolutely, now I feel as evangelical as the friend who gave me the original voucher…
…but conveying the benefits of the experience is very much like trying to describe a colour to someone who’s never seen it.
I didn’t think I could spare the money on something so unnecessary – surely I could just tidy my own flaming house?
It’s just that no, I couldn’t.
Because I couldn’t get past the inertia – the weight of the ‘stuff’ was keeping me trapped, without my actually knowing it.
Even now, knowing all the benefits, it’s still hard for me to declutter a room alone.
It’s hard to get started.
It’s hard to stay focused.
I’ll get lost in a photo album or a scrap book or a set of old birthday cards…and before I know it I’ve spent hours nostalgically mooching instead of decluttering.
Alone, I often can’t be objective and focused enough to get the job done.
Having a compassionate, objective 3rd party to walk with me through it was essential to get the ball rolling.
So if you’re feeling stuck and stagnant, maybe you need to find someone to help you clear out some clutter.
There are great books about it (The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up is a classic, and Stuffocation describes the problem beautifully) but in my humble opinion, if you really want to get started, book a time with a decluttering person to help you.
Even if it’s just for the first stages.
Take the plunge!
And I’d love to hear how you get on.
See you on the road,
See you on the road,