Today we welcome professional organizer Pooja Gugnani, founder and owner of Organizing with You in Chicago, and her advice on changing your mindset about clutter.
Imagine yourself in a state of organized bliss, where all parts of your life merge seamlessly together because you know where everything is and where it belongs. Not a far-fetched dream if you can recognize that organizing involves your brain as much as your brawn.
Throughout my professional organizing career, the biggest challenge I encounter is modifying my clients’ acquisition of things. It is easier to organize belongings than to change the way we think about buying new things. I’ve spent more time trying to get clients to eliminate the desire to collect things than to create an organizing system for them.
I recognize that our society is designed to foster consumerism and we all know that it’s the backbone of our economy. So, how do we fight our desire to buy? How do we conquer years of instilled desire to purchase and accumulate? Here are five easy yet powerful tips for you:
- Saying is believing. Replace saying “I don’t have enough” with “I have more than enough.” Train your mind to be content by actually saying it out loud.
- Make space, not mess. Instead of finding ways to create more storage to fit your clutter, think of ways to create more space by eliminating your clutter. Get creative! Storage systems and organizing products sure are wonderful — I could live in The Container Store if they would let me — but nothing is more visually appealing and satisfying than adding the space and the freedom to move around easily in your environment.
- I see clutter. Learn how to identify clutter. I don’t just mean spotting the mess around you or recognizing which things which are out of place. As you’re sorting through your things, be wary of what I call “red alert” phrases. If the phrase “this may come in handy someday” or “I didn’t know I had this” is attached to an object, it is time to reevaluate if it belongs in your home anymore.
- Face amnesia. When you come across an item in your home or office that you had forgotten about, there’s a 50 percent chance that you didn’t miss it enough to go looking for it — and most likely it has lost its utility in your life. Feel comfortable getting rid of these things.
- Detach and donate. The toughest phase of the downsizing process is finding the heart to dispose things you’ve owned for years, or that have memories attached to them. The best way to part with your “favorite” things is to know it will find a good home again. I encourage clients to personally donate their possessions to a family member, a child in the neighborhood or a drop-off at a volunteer event. It is particularly rewarding to see firsthand your favorite stuffed toy in good hands, bringing a smile to a new face. And once you experience that joy, it will be easier for you to give things away.
Above are just some of the ways to modify your thinking before you modify your surroundings. From this day forward, think of buying anything large or small as an investment and weigh its usefulness carefully before you pull out your wallet.
Your mind is a powerful tool, so don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage as you get organized.