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Without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of getting organized is clearing the clutter. Now decluttering, in theory at least, should be easy. After all, it’s really about weeding out the things we longer use or need. And if it’s stuff we don’t use or don’t need, we should be able to just let it go. But it’s not that easy, is it?
There are a number of reasons why letting go of excess stuff is challenging, but one of the biggies is that we live in a culture that emphasizes quantity. Super sizes, multi-packs, buy one get one deals – there is a ton of focus on having more. That focus makes it hard to resist saying yes to more, even when, or perhaps despite that fact that we don’t need more of whatever it is. And it’s especially hard to resist saying no things that seem practically free.
However, that doesn’t mean we need to give up and give in to this all too human tendency. If we’re going to declutter our lives we’ve got to be deliberate in our actions – we’ve got override our default behavior.
Here’s what I do – I ask a refocusing question whenever I am tempted to hold on to, or accept something I don’t really need or truly want.
And it’s a super simple, straightforward question: Does this add to the quality of my life?
If the answer is no, it’s a clear sign that whatever the object is, it needs go. The reason it needs to go is simple, if it isn’t adding quality, then it’s detracting quality from my life. If I have to care for something that isn’t helpful to me, then I am expending energy in way that isn’t smart.
Hard truth – everything we take possession of requires care on some level – it might not be much, but it is something, and that something takes time and effort.
I suppose I could say one of my life tenets is that I choose quality over quantity. And I do this not just with things, I do it with activities and relationships as well. Is it sometimes challenging? You bet! It takes practice to let something go, even when the right choice is very clear. After all, we are hardwired to hold on to our stuff – letting it go suggests we are losing something. But that’s an illusion. By choosing quality over quantity we actually gain much more!
Now I want to stress something, choosing quality over quantity doesn’t mean that your home needs to be full of expensive stuff, that you have to wear designer labels, or that you can only take high end vacations. Rather, it means opting for the things that will add value to your life. It means being selective. Sometimes it means waiting for something better to come along.
For me, most often at least, value come from simplicity. I enjoy really simple things. I would rather have one pair of fabulous fitting jeans, than six pair that are kind of ho-hum. I would rather spend a relaxing afternoon sitting by the lake with a good book than go to the spa (but please don’t tell my spa owning friend). I would rather spend leisurely time in the kitchen than go out for dinner. But that’s just me (I know, I am actually kind of boring). I know lots of people who save so they can indulge in what’s meaningful to them – like yoga retreats or buying a pair of designer boots – that’s quality to them. You have to define what quality means to you. And there is no right or wrong.
My challenge to you, try surrounding yourself with only the things you use, love and value and watch what happens. When you choose quality over quantity, you’ll automatically increase the quality of your overall life. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idea – so please share!
And if you haven’t yet, you’ll probably want to go grab the free How To Clear Clutter & Get Organized E-Course – in 6 lessons I take you through the whole process of decluttering and simplifying life! Hand holding included!