How to build your clutter clearing “muscle”

When you first start clutter clearing, it can feel quite challenging. But as your clutter clearing “muscle” develops, the decisions about what stays and what goes become easier and easier.

Clutter clearing muscle

I once got talking to someone about clutter clearing, as I often do when I’m out and about. He described in great detail his first experience of clutter clearing and how long he had agonized about what to keep and what to let go. If he hadn’t needed to do it in order to move house, he said it would never have happened.

However, after he had moved, he liked the results so much that he now actively enjoys clutter clearing and looks forward to it as something to treat himself to whenever he has the time.

‘I find my life works better, and my business runs better clutter-free,’ he explained, and his eyes visibly lit up as he enthused about his new lifestyle.

This man is clearly a quick learner. Not everyone finds clutter clearing so easy or embraces it so fully. But the good news is that the more clutter clearing you do, the easier it gets.

Building clutter clearing skills

An analogy I often make is that learning to do clutter clearing is like building a muscle. When you first start exercising, your muscles are weak. But the more you exercise, the stronger and healthier you become, and the better you feel.

Similarly, with clutter clearing, the first time you do it, it can feel quite challenging. But as your clutter clearing “muscle” develops, the decisions about what to keep and let go become easier and easier. And the sense of achievement that comes with all the small successes means that you’ll actively look forward to the next session.

Break each clutter clearing project into small chunks

Another similarity is that if you overdo exercising, you ache so much that you don’t feel like doing it again for a while. So it’s best to start slowly and gradually work up to a more strenuous regime as your fitness improves.

The same applies to clutter clearing. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to declutter huge areas. And especially don’t make the mistake of dragging everything out of your cupboards and drawers into a huge pile in the middle of the room. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Break each clutter clearing project into small, manageable chunks, such as a shelf or a drawer at a time. At the end of each task, assess how you feel and decide if you want to continue. The endorphins that will be released into your bloodstream at the successful completion of each area mean that you will usually feel motivated to do more. You can work your way around your entire home in this way, one small area at a time.

Build your muscle gradually

The first time you do clutter clearing you may feel reluctant to let go of some things that you know you no longer need or use, but you somehow don’t yet feel ready to part with. That’s absolutely fine.

The first pass allows you to start building your clutter clearing muscle and develop confidence in your decision-making abilities through letting go of the easy and obvious stuff that is just taking up space in your home. The real clutter clearing work often starts on the second pass, by which time you are seeing your belongings through different eyes after experiencing the benefits of the first round. Things that it seemed so desirable before now look like the clutter that they really are.

Do regular clutter clearing workouts

After building your clutter clearing muscle, you will want to sustain it, and the best way to do this is to adopt new habits in your daily life to stop clutter in its tracks so that it has no chance to pile up again.

Each time you catch yourself putting something somewhere “just for now”, stop, go back, pick up the item, and take it to where it really belongs.

Each time you find yourself wanting to keep something “just in case” you need it, stop, reassess, and ask yourself if you’ll ever truly get round to using it.

And most importantly, each time you find yourself about to buy or acquire something you really don’t need that will become clutter as soon as you take it home, stop, reconsider, and walk away!

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2015, updated 2019

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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One Response to How to build your clutter clearing “muscle”

  1. Hi Karen

    We recently move from a four bedroom to a two bedroom cottage. It was hard to let go, but after reading your book .. Clear you clutter – my wife and I gave most of our furnishings, furniture etc to a homeless charity.

    It felt like the right thing to do and I experienced a great sense of peace. A year later we have settled in our new surroundings meeting so many lovely people and now we just lock up and go on short breaks. I have to start clearing my paperwork before it starts piling up.

    Warmest wishes

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