My Personal Decluttering Journey

Patience is key when it comes to decluttering

Don’t worry about how long the job will take; just work on it one item at a time. It’s best to approach a job like this with a lot of patience, allowing it to take as long as it wants without feeling rushed.

For years, I put off this endeavor because I couldn’t fit it into any type of timetable. I only made substantial progress when I gave this project a completely open timetable with no deadline, preferring to do it properly rather than rush through it. Surrendering to the project’s unpredictability was really beneficial.

Turn on personal mode completely

When I was in default work mode, I couldn’t go far with this project. I could only accomplish it if I made it a priority, which meant devoting a portion of my year to prioritizing my personal life above my professional objectives. That was a difficult thing for me to do, but I saw it as a personal growth experiment to explore what it would be like to put my professional life on hold and prioritize my personal objectives for a while.

For example, I haven’t published any articles while working on this project. My last blog entry was 47 days ago, so I’ve been away from blogging for over 7 weeks.

I feel like I should set aside a substantial portion of each year to accomplish something like this. When I was able to slip into non-work mode while traveling, I found it difficult to fully transition into personal mode at home because I work from home.

I could always rationalize that I should be able to work on these tasks on weekends and nights, but that strategy never worked. It’s been a lot more successful for me to completely load in the context of working on a personal project by making it my top priority for weeks on end. This is a whole-brain activity, and I’m finally getting it done in a way that feels good by giving it my entire focus, not just my after-work concentration.

What is your relationship with the items

Ask questions like these for each item:

  • What kind of connection do I want to have with this item?
  • Is keeping it still worthwhile?
  • What if I let this item go? How would I feel?
  • What is an intelligent and regret-free method to process and release it if I want to let it go?
  • The regret-free standard is particularly useful to me.

All items’ importance should be assessed

Allow each object to defend its value and worth to you. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you “should” keep something just because you’ve had it for a long time.

I eventually let rid of several objects I’d kept since the 1980s or 1990s, such as a high school tennis racket. Even though I had previously thought that I should always retain them, it felt nice to finally release them.

Put some old rules about what you think you have to keep to the test. Check to determine if those guidelines still hold true today. Don’t allow old norms become second nature to you; reevaluate them.

I find it useful to inquire: What regulation states that I must preserve this item?

I used to have a rule that I had to retain all of my old trophies and honors. Is that, however, a requirement? No, it’s just a rule I picked up in elementary school. This time, I finally got rid of certain prizes (such as plaques) that were no longer important to me, such as those from Toastmasters’ speech contests from over 15 years ago.

Recycle old devices

Do your homework to determine the best approach for recycling outdated gadgets. It’s considerably easier to deal with electronics clutter if you’ve established a system for dealing with them.

Because Best Buy has made a commitment to perform a lot of tech recycling, I found that their stores are fantastic for recycling outdated gadgets. They’ll take nearly anything, including old desktops, laptops, cables, mouse, keyboards, hard drives, routers, printers, speakers, cameras, VCRs, video gaming systems, and more. See bestbuy.com/recycling for more information.

For some types of electronics trade-ins, both Amazon and Best Buy will give you shop credit. I turned in a 9-year-old iPad (which was restricted to iOS 9 at the time — we’re on iOS 14.7 now) and two ancient Apple TV boxes for Best Buy store credit. In exchange for Amazon credit, I turned in an old Sonos speaker and some wireless networking devices. Amazon will even cover the cost of delivery. You could make more money on eBay, but if you only want to get rid of a few things, this is a great option.

If you want to move old data to new devices, Amazon is a wonderful location to look for user-friendly interfaces for old technology. A USB interface adaptor that can connect directly to 2.5′′ and 3.5′′ IDE and SATA drives, CD/DVD drives, and floppy disk drives may be purchased for $15-25. I had 6 old hard drives from PCs and laptops that I used from 2002 to 2007, and they all functioned, despite the fact that most of the systems on which they were stored had long ago perished. It’s usually just a question of using a screwdriver to remove an old drive and attach it to a current computer.

Delete your digital information

Most people who resale outdated smart speakers (like Amazon Echo devices) don’t even factory reset their devices, according to an article I read. Before handing on a device, at the very least perform a factory reset, which is quite simple to accomplish. With a simple web search, you may learn how to accomplish it on any device.

Mac OS makes it simple to safely erase outdated hard drives by overwriting old data with three or even seven passes, rendering the data unrecoverable. Simply connect your drive, launch “Disk Utility,” pick the disk you wish to wipe, click “Erase,” choose the desired security level, and proceed. The previous disks I wiped ranged in size from 20GB to 160GB, and it took me about an hour to do it.

Best Buy and other electronics recyclers have agreements with firms that will destroy your hard drives for you. Best Buy offers this service for free, whereas other retailers may charge a small fee. However, erasing the drives before giving them in is still a smart idea.

You may also physically destroy an old hard drive yourself. There are numerous methods for doing this, including driving nails into the platters of outdated hard drives. Just make sure you’re wearing proper eye protection. Personally, I believe it is preferable to leave this to a professional tech recycling facility with the necessary equipment.

Donate to a good cause

If you live near a charity donation drop-off place, this may be a convenient method to get rid of unwanted goods. I’ve dropped off a number of stuff there because it’s only a few minutes away.

Some organizations will even come to your home and collect goods for you for free. I’ve even given two old automobiles this way in the past. Even when the automobiles wouldn’t start, an animal rights organization arrived to haul them away. The charity may still resell the automobile for a profit, and they saved me the hassle of dealing with it, so it’s a win-win situation.

I don’t like eBay, so I didn’t utilize it for any aspect of my project, but it’s always an option if you enjoy using it.

Items should be replaced with their photos

Take a snapshot of an object (or numerous images) before letting it go if you want to save the memories of it but want to get rid of the clutter. Check to see whether it’s okay to just retain the snapshot and let the physical thing go.

I’ve let rid of a few moderately emotional objects after realizing that a photo would enough to keep the memory alive.

Emotionally connect with the space you wish to create

Consider using more attractive or motivating frames instead of merely decluttering to make a process appear less monotonous or laborious. Thinking about changing the space into a location in my home that I felt good about – a storage area that is neat, clean, and beautifully arranged, and that makes me feel calm and soothed when I’m there – was a wonderful frame that helped me take my garage project ahead.

Treating every project as an upgrade is another framing that works well for me in general. I’m really adept at finishing tasks in this format. So instead of cleaning the garage, I’m transforming it into a well-organized component of my house.

The entire project may also be thought of as a succession of little improvements. I simply find that framing work as improvements motivates me more.

Thinking about how I wanted to feel within the space was really beneficial, and I believe it helped me make better judgments about how to organize it. I was able to gauge my progress based on how I felt, and I continued to take little efforts to match the space with positive sensations.

Continue to ask questions like these as you progress:

  • What element of this place still makes me feel tense?
  • What element of this environment makes me feel good?
  • These types of inquiries may be quite useful in determining which components to process and improve next.

Choose storage options that make you feel good

My garage lacked adequate storage for the goods I needed to store, such as camping equipment and workshop tools. As a result, when I started, several objects were just laying on the garage floor. I looked for storage alternatives halfway through the project that would suit my needs and elicit the emotional response I desired.

I discovered that Costco is an excellent source for cost-effective storage options. I found two sets of these metal shelves on sale for $90 each at my local Costco. Because they’re on wheels, I was able to commit to using them to arrange some goods (such as camping gear) before I made a final decision.

Setting up these shelves earlier in the project than I had anticipated was very beneficial since it allowed me to completely turn one section of the garage into a well-organized room. Even though other areas of the garage were still messy, updating one corner to be exactly how I wanted it let me really nail down the mood I wanted for the entire room. It was reassuring to know that part of the room had already been completed, even though other parts still needed work.

Time for cleaning

Cleaning and decluttering are inextricably linked. Cleaning a room makes it seem completely different, as if you’ve upped the bar for how that space should be treated.

I’ve been vacuuming up a lot of dust and sweeping away cobwebs, dead bugs, and leaves as I walk through the garage. It’s not spotless – after all, it’s a garage – but the cleanliness boost has made a significant difference in how I feel about the area.

Never use the word “should”

Continue to inquire:

  • What type of connection do I want to have with this area in the end?
  • What would be the next step in improving the relationships.

These questions might assist you in determining your future steps. Never think to yourself, “What should I do next?” There are no shoulds here… only invites and opportunities.

Accept the mental and emotional challenges

It’s not simply a physical experience to sort through old belongings. It may be both mentally and emotionally draining. Many objects can evoke memories and associations from the past.

Allow yourself to linger in those ideas and sensations, giving yourself plenty of time to digest them. You may believe that doing so will slow you down, yet it may also have a powerful transformative impact.

Through this process, I frequently felt as if I was reconnecting with and reintegrating my former self. As a consequence, I feel more inwardly integrated… I’m more appreciative than ever for the numerous opportunities I’ve received.

Processing old physical objects assisted me in processing old memories and trapped energy, resulting in improved emotions of inner calm.

I hope these pointers are useful to anyone who is embarking on a similar cleaning (or upgrading) undertaking.

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