On decluttering

On decluttering
On return from a retreat is a perfect time to declutter, says Caroline Sylger Jones

For those looking to declutter their lives, imagine three packing boxes. One is small and labelled Beautiful Things. The second is a fair size and labelled Useful Things. The third is absolutely huge, and it’s labelled Crap. Sadly, it’s the box of crap we carry with us most of the time.

Time to get rid of the crap, I’d say, even if you’re not intending to move house. Imagine all that stuff you don’t need not weighing you down anymore. Decluttering is all part of creating a calming, comfortable environment in which you can function well and feel good.

Returning home after a retreat is always a good time to declutter things at home, when you’re clear-headed and have the energy to make changes. You walk through the door, and it’s very easy to intuit what feels right, and what really doesn’t. What looks right, and what doesn’t. What things you need, and what things you really don’t need anymore.

If you fancy it, start the process on a day off, but don’t think you need to take lots of time out at once to do this. Once you get into it, you can pick away, pile by pile, drawer by drawer, room by room, in a spare 5 or 10 minutes here and there. It’s a ritual that I now perform regularly, especially when I’m stressed (obsessive, moi?) – do I need this? I ask. Do I want it? I ask. Why is this getting in my way? I ask. Chuck it out!

Keep things that are of essential emotional value, even if they’re tucked away in a (new & attractive) box. Keep stuff that is beautiful to you, and keep things you use on a daily basis. The rest? Have the courage to get rid of it – recyle it, donate it to charity, sell it or bin it.

If you’re really stuck, ask – does this bring me joy? If you’re tortured by doubt about a particular thing, ask – will this help me live the remarkable life I want to live? Usually it’s a resounding NO! Oh, how refreshing.

If you really can’t be bothered, or if your hoarding habits are out of hand, there is an impressive not-for-profit Association of Professional Declutters and Organisers to call on (can you believe?). I and many others, though, find decluttering an incredibly cleansing and therapeutic thing to do, and you might find the same.

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