Two of the most common questions I receive from clients, both in person and online are how to clear their clutter and how to improve the Feng Shui within each space. Clutter and Feng Shui are intricately related so asked together, these questions makes a great deal of sense.
As you are probably aware, I am a Board Certified Professional Organizer but I am not a Certified Feng Shui practitioner. I am however, an avid student and studier (if that is a word?) of Feng Shui principals.
It is incredibly important for everyone to have good energy (Feng Shui) in their home, and clutter can zap good energy in many different ways.
Let’s explore the four different types of clutter and how each can hinder a positive Feng Shui result in our homes.
1.Unused, unloved items
If you don’t use it, and you don’t love it, you don’t need it.
There are two main reasons why people hang on to things that they really don’t need: guilt and memories.
If you are holding onto an item because someone gave it to you, perhaps a friend or a loved one who gave it to you has passed, there s no reason to feel guilty about letting it go. In fact, there will be many more benefits you will reap after deciding to let it go than to keep it.
For instance, when you let the item (or items) go to charity, a bevy of other people will benefit including the workers who intake, itemize and place your item on the sales floor, the person who stands ant the register and makes the sale, the money it creates for that charity and last but not least, the person who loved it enough to purchase it!
If the consumer spent their money, it means they liked it enough to take it home and put it on display within their home.
When you decided to let it go and donate it, you also received the benefit or less clutter and freed up space within your home, You might also have released the guilt of not really liking the item to begin with.
After all, Grandma loved this item so why do I feel guilty about not wanting it in my home? Do you hear how this sounds? Times change and just because Grandma kept the converted oil lamp to remind her of day gone by, it wasn’t a day gone by for you. You grew up with electricity throughout your home, There is no reason you should feel guilty for things that don’t really have anything to do with your life now.
So you see, releasing this item makes r
OK – let’s talk about the ‘memory’ reason why we keep items. Sometimes we feel that if we let an item go, we are also letting the remembered experience go. This is not the case – unless you are worried about getting Alzheimers. Not to be rude, if you have Alzheimers or get it later on, the memory will probably fade from your life anyhow.
One of my clients has spent her lifetime acquiring ‘collections’ of various things. She has an apple collection (from when she was teacher), a bud vase collection, a spice jar collection, a Japanese ball collection, two ginormous china collections, a black pepper container collection, a ball jar collection and more . . . All of these collections made it extremely difficult and time consuming to downsize her life into a retirement home. After not letting go of her collections, she is squeezed into her new apartment and her daughter will have to deal with all of these collections later…
Here is the thing about collections, they will multiply with zero effort. Your friends and colleagues who find out you collect something and have no idea what to get you for your birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, they will get you an additional item for your collection! And then your collection multiplies!
Another thing about collections is that your interest in the collection might eventually fade but the additions will keep coming! I learned early on NOT to announce something I was collecting and have managed to keep my collectibles under control. Yay!
I am not saying that you should not collect things that are inspiring to you but instead, as a grass roots observer of this phenomena, provide a word of warning about the future results of your decisions.
SO, if you re still holding onto something due to good memories of times gone by, you might want to make a digital photo and say bye bye to the actual item – or collection! If you decide to downsize the collection, maybe you can keep one item, the one with the best memory and most dear to your heart! One item is much easier to maintain than a collection of 12 or 20!
2. Disorganized or untidy items
There is nothing worse than looking at a shelf or a drawer and see a jumble of completely non-related items. You have no idea about what what was supposed to live there in the beginning. It might have started as a place to store cables but now it has hair ties, toys, makeup, scissors and other random items that could never fall into a single cohesive category even for the most creative!
If this is the case, this area is now what like to call it – a dumping ground!
A dumping ground is created when there is no thought about what should live in that particular space. Since there is no overall idea, everything random can go there and before you know it – you have another space within your home that makes zero sense to you or anyone else who shares that space.
The easiest way to tidy up your space is to ‘containerize’ them. Whether you use drawer dividers, steppers or bins, choose your weapon and containerize your items to keep them contained (haha) and looking more tidy! A word of caution do not buy containers until you know what it is you are trying to contain. I’ve got my eyes on you shoppers!
Every space within your home should have a designated purpose. Is that shelf meant to store cleaning supplies? Is that drawer set aside for all of your loose cables and nothing else?
When you are clear about your intention for each space with your home, you can begin to clear it of all interloping items and move them elsewhere.
This is easier said than done I realize, and I can’t give you all of the tactics professional organizers use in a single blog post, which is why I wrote an entire book and created an entire Home Organizing Made Simple course to help you take action.
Bare minimum, the beginning of the process is to determine what each space should be used for and when creating order in that specific space, stick to that category.
3. Too many items, too little space
In Southern California, where I live real estate is at a premium and every square foot costs a small fortune.
Frequently my clients live in much smaller homes and not very many have basements or garages. Small living spaces that overflow with too many belongings is common. In fact, in over 16 years I have only one client with a basement and they actually built their basement after the fact. They raised their home up and dug a basement underneath! Cool project but not practical for every day people like you and me.
Living in a smaller space can be a good thing if you have learned to simplify your life. For most of us, however, clutter is created because we have trouble letting go of enough items to fit a smaller lifestyle.
Have you ever read Chic Simple? They say that our quality of life doesn’t come from accumulating things, but trimming down to the bare essentials. I am inclined to agree.
Open space is a necessary element of quality mental health.I think this is why many of you are wanting to clear your clutter right now. That’s also why my company is called addspace To Your Life! and why I called the brand for all of my organizing products Organized and Energized. I know that if you have space, you can create better life and if you are organized you absolutely will have more energy!
Everything in your life requires energy so it pays to take the time to get rid of the items that are taking up precious space and probably zapping your energy.
4. Projects we never finished This is a current topic, complete with several funny memes right now during our sequestered COVID 19 experience. Now that we all have the extra time, we supposedly have been dreaming of, we can finish those projects that have been waiting in the wings (aka perhaps the garage) for years, right?
Well, maybe not, We now might be navigating through losing our empty-nester status because our college age kids are back. Or perhaps we have now lost our free time during the day when the kids are at school AND we have the added burden of home schooling them! Or maybe we are now living full time with frustrated husbands who are trying work from home in our former girl cave / home office!
Whatever the scenario is within your home right now, don’t beat yourself up if you still have not tackled your pending projects.
Instead, take a step back and ask yourself these questions:
Do I still care about finishing this project?
Is it still important that I finish?
Our passions and interests come and go as we move through life.
If you still feel like tackling your unfinished project, then set aside time to get it done, Perhaps make it a family project, something you can all work on together? Maybe it is a good excuse to have some time for yourself and work on it on your own. Maybe it is something that you no longer give a hoot about! If so, let it go.
Until it is, right now at this point in time, a work in progress = CLUTTER!
The best thing you can do for yourself is to move forward with it, one way of the other. Don’t get bogged down with guilt over never finishing that project.
Let it go or set aside the time to finish it.
Take some type of action and move forward. Ditch it or complete it. It is that simple!
If you feel like you need more guidance than with this one simple blog – check out my online DIY course – Home Organizing Made Simple. I have created videos to guide you through clearing even the most difficult areas in your home to help you declutter, simplify and thrive!
One Feng Shui principal expresses that unfinished business in your home means unfinished business in some area of your life. These unchecked issues in your life may haunt the back of your mind and drain your energy. As your conscious mind suppresses your problems and things let undone, your energy is robbed from you. Completing those things in your life that are not complete will give you a surge of energy and heighten your spirit.
Overall, having space and order in your environment creates a path for energy to flow, and a place for new beginnings. Just about everyone would like something new to begin in their lives.
Clearing out clutter will change the way you and your family think about things and give you new experiences. Do you see the connection between clutter and Feng Shui? I wouldn’t be surprised if you released yourself from clutter today!
Having space and order in your home will create a path for new energy to flow. New energy creates the space for intentional and new beginnings.
Right now we are all experiencing a new beginning and a new shift in our life. Those who are in tune and feeling the shift are actively beginning to clear their clutter and creating better Feng Shui within their home.
Clearing out the clutter in your home will change the way you and your family think about life and what is truly important. I guarantee you, it is probably not your stuff.
Decluttering will also give each of you a greater sense of personal power and control during this new experience of a global pandemic.