The Beginner's Guide to Decluttering for CreativesDecluttering seems like it would only give a person the satisfaction of a tidy house, but it is so much more!

Decluttering for creatives has the ability to bring clarity to the heart and mind, as well as make space for unexpectedly wonderful things!

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Decluttering for Creatives: To Struggle with Stuff

As of writing this post, I have boxes and pieces of furniture across the county in which I live. Some of them are in my in-laws house. Other pieces are in storage on another property. Some are in a trailer on yet another property. And then still others are in our garage. My art supplies are segmented across these places.

In all honesty, I don’t know what I have.

There are times when I’m close to getting rid of all of it. At least 15% of it could be be pared down easily.

Soon after I originally wrote this post, I got rid of two garbage bags of clothes, earmarked a bag of jewelry to sell or give away, and recycled another garbage bag worth of papers in one week.

Then I went on to purge another 4 bags of baby items, another bag of papers, some art supplies, and a box of children’s toys.

Needless to say, I had a lot of stuff and it was time to clean it out.

My On-going Stuff Problem

Since originally writing this post, my stuff situation has shifted.While I got rid of a LOT of things using the principles in this post, I still have some clutter patterns that get triggered every now and then.

This past year, I had multiple people offer me bags upon bags of clothing, purses, and other accessories.

Thanks to my principles around clothing items, I took only pieces that sparked joy. It was an awesome gift because I was able to get rid of a TON of clothing that I didn’t love and able to replace it without ANY cost to me (except the trip to the thrift shop!).

Other things were purchased – various products that align with my intentional living goals. These have been collecting and building in medicine cabinets and drawers. Some of this cannot be avoided – I use them and appreciate them. At the same time, I feel the press of stuff.

Picture frames were given to me – and I appreciated being able to put select photos on display that otherwise would have collected dust.

My stack of "to-be-read" plus some "read-but-no-shelf" books
Note: The only books I bought in this stack were the poetry zines. Several of these books I liked, several more I didn’t.

Some books were given to me, which while I wanted them (and have been steadily reading through them), they also take up a good bit of space.

I also added to my rock collection, which along with other symbolic items, has taken a permanent post on top of a piece of furniture.

On the one hand, I appreciated the additions of these things. Unfortunately, they also added to my stuff situation leading me once again to purge.

Confronting the Stuff

Less than a year ago, I thought, “I can’t get rid of my stuff! What if I move again? How will I fill my new house? What if I want to have another baby? I will totally use all these things! I don’t want to buy all new STUFF?!”

In part this was because four years ago I felt regret for getting rid of a ton of clothing during my pregnancy. My nesting urge went into overdrive, the result being I lost pieces that brought me joy and I would have worn after the dust of new parenthood settled. This mistake was the excuse I used NOT to pare down.

At the same time, all this extra and unused stuff had been a shackle holding me in place. It was the single biggest thing preventing me from moving forward.

In short, holding onto clutter was self-sabotage on steroids.Holding on to clutter is self-sabotage on steroids! Click To Tweet

The Welcome Home Present

In September 2016 after we arrived home from vacation, we discovered our cat peed, pooped, and vomited all over my pillow and our mattress. The ick sank through the foam topper, all the way to the mattress itself. It resulted in us throwing out my pillow, the topper, our blanket, and the mattress.

Was this a bad thing? Sort of.

The topper was 8 years old. It had been moved several times over and had the wear to prove it. My foam pillow was 11 years old, and had long since lost its memory. The blanket was nearly ripped in half when my cat rang its death knell. The mattress itself was functioning on borrowed time.

Our bed was dead before the cat ruined it. This just forced us to address problems that long needed fixing.

As a result, we ended up with a memory foam mattress. When I lay down on this thing, I start to fall asleep almost immediately. I finally got a replacement pillow that I’d been fantasizing about for ages – and satisfies all my sleeping needs! We also got a quilt set that goes with all of our sheets, and honestly, it looks like we planned our bedroom around this thing – but it arrived last!

In the end, getting rid of the bed mess was a way to upgrade our experience. It was a way to allow new more wonderful things into our lives.

This is the magic of letting go.

Decluttering is about gaining clarity

 

Decluttering for Creatives with Grace and Wisdom

Last fall I was given the message that I should declutter, get still, and visualize.

That message sent me on a journey that shifted a LOT of things in my life.

I cleaned everything out – and I mean in every aspect of my life.

Decluttering is not just about physical stuff, but about schedules and commitments. It’s also about cleaning out spaces on my blog and in my business.

Decluttering is about gaining mental, emotional, spiritual, and professional clarity. It makes space for new possibilities.

Decluttering for creatives is even more important because it can foster inspiration, as well as momentum in various parts of life.

For spiritual people, it can be EVEN more important because it allows for purer connections to self and greater possibilities for growth.

Before we go any further, we need to unpack clutter (and exactly why decluttering is so important) as well as how we can make sure we do it in ways that will bring us the most benefits possible (without any regret or fear).Decluttering is about gaining mental, emotional, spiritual, and professional clarity. Click To Tweet

Keeping Your Stuff Because of Fear

Holding onto stuff that we don’t use is often tied to something we’re afraid of. It’s an expression of distrust in life’s ability to meet our needs when they arise, but it can just as easily be tied to dreams we have for ourselves.

I have several boxes of baby clothes, baby items, and maternity clothes. Most of them are things that brought me joy when I wore or used them. Still, I acquired a lot of those items when I was in the middle of a frightening time in my life – my husband and I were in a period of intense instability, depression, and despair. There was a lot of fear about what would happen to our family despite the incredible support we received from our family, friends, and greater community.

So I kept it all.

I’m still not ready to take another baby off the table at this point in my life.

I don’t want to have to look for a ton of clothes (although really, many of them are so male-gendered if we had a girl we’d still have to get some neutral clothes). I don’t want to have to buy everything again. There are a lot of feelings wrapped up in those items – fear of scarcity, fear of not being prepared, a desire to be good ecological stewards, and to hold space for possibilities.Bag of toddler clothes to go into storage?

I felt like I couldn’t get rid of those things in part because many of them were gifts, as well as the fact that getting rid of them would be a symbolic act of closing the door on another baby.

I didn’t love or need them all. Since originally writing this, I did go through baby items removing the most gendered pieces as well as ones we didn’t like. We kept the items we used most often and or hold sentimental value.

Keeping Stuff to Tell A Story

Another issue tied to holding onto things we don’t use is often “supportive evidence” for a story of worthlessness.

For example, I recently went Marie Kondo on my clothing AGAIN (it’s an on-going process!) after which I finally got rid of some old sweaters. Some of these sweaters I purchased as a late teenager. While someone might find value in them, they no longer reflected my personal style, nor did they bring me joy.

My body has changed several times over since I was 18 and these pieces just don’t fit the same way. Holding onto them, thinking they might fit better at a later time, was a way for me to anchor myself in the past. It was a way for me to show myself I wasn’t the same as before, fostering difficulties in accepting myself as I am now, as well as discouraging a new story of worth.

In short, it was just bad news. The sweaters didn’t make me feel good to wear. I didn’t enjoy them anymore – to wear them was to intentionally make myself suffer which is the opposite of what I want in my life.

Organized shirts by color (and season)
I’m not consistent in folding but I am consistent with color order!

It was time to let them go.

Note: The intention to let the sweaters go set in motion other things. That’s around the time when I was gifted clothes, replacing the old with items that bring me joy.

Why should we let stuff go?

If we’ve got a lot of baggage, it’s going to be hard to move forward physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Clutter functions as a holding mechanism, tethering us to our present state of unhappiness by holding us to ideas of an uncertain future and or a past that no longer exists.

In order to move forward, we need to let things go.

If we want to move forward with new relationships, business, publication, sales, art, friends, or fitness, we need to declutter. If we want things to be different in any aspect of life, we need to make space for new possibilities. The easiest way to do this is to declutter.

I mentioned before decluttering is helpful to do in all aspects of life. That includes:

  • computer files

  • movies

  • books

  • artwork

  • holiday decorations

  • art supplies

  • clothes

  • linens

  • appliances

  • containers

  • luggage

  • papers

  • journals

  • toiletries

  • relationships

  • time commitments

  • ideas

  • practices

  • social media outlets

  • blog posts

  • and anything else you can think of!

Declutter to make space for new possibilities!

The Quick and Dirty Declutter Process

Because this can have such a major benefit in how you feel about life, I wanted to give you a simple process to decluttering which combines aspects of Marie Kondo’s suggested process, but with my own little spin.

  1. Pick a “thing” you want to declutter (i.e. clothes, papers, computer files). Like Marie Kondo, I think the fastest results will come with something you interact with on a regular basis (like clothes).

  2. Take all of this item out. So if you’re working on clothes, take all your clothes out of closet, storage, and dresser drawers.

  3. Go through and touch each item.

  4. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you love it? Does it feel good to use this item? Will you ever use this again? Has this item lost its usefulness for you?

  5. Depending on the answers to these questions, you can throw it away, donate, sell, or keep it.

  6. Organize the item (in this case your clothes) so it feels good to use them.

  7. Rinse and repeat for every physical and virtual thing.

What to Expect After Decluttering

If you followed the process and you answered the above questions honestly, there are a few things that will happen:

  1. You will feel good about getting rid of things and someone else getting use out of them.

  2. You’ll feel free.

  3. You’ll feel good in your space – just looking at your closet, for example, will make you smile.

  4. Your body may feel physically lighter.

  5. You’ll start to use things that bring you joy that you forgot you had.

  6. You may find yourself exhausted afterwards.

Decluttering feels good because you’re untethering yourself from the past and uncertain futures by clearing out unused items.

It helps you practice mindfulness, accepting the now, and focusing on things that are enjoyable about where you are in life.Decluttering helps you practice mindfulness, accept now, and focus on the joy of where you are now. Click To Tweet

It can be exhausting because you just let go of some serious baggage. When I decluttered my clothes, I was so exhausted I fell asleep sitting up (seriously!). I had a ton of baggage I’d been gripping, and by letting it go, it allowed my heart and mind to shift to a new space.

I used to think I couldn’t let go of my things. Now, I can’t wait to go through my stuff and find new homes for it – I’m excited by the idea of giving things to someone who can use them. Decluttering feels that good.


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Alexis Donkin

Alexis Donkin is a life coach and intuitive helping creatives build lives based in unconditional love. She is the creator of The Compassion Letter weekly newsletter, and the online course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable, as well as host of the Intentional Writer Interview Series and author of over 17 books.
The Beginner’s Guide to Decluttering for Creatives
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