You go on a crash diet, lose a lot of weight and are super pleased with yourself. A few weeks later you notice you’ve put on a few pounds. A few months later you put on even more weight and a year later you’re back to where you started. Wash, rinse and repeat. This is what yo-yo dieting is all about.
Now, let’s take the same mindset and apply it to the home. You go on a major de-cluttering effort. You toss out bags and bags of stuff. You donate lots of items to charitable organizations and organize what’s left. Two weeks later you begin to notice your organized home isn’t quite as organized as it once was. You also notice you’re beginning to accumulate things again. A year later you’re back to where you were before you de-cluttered. This is the beginning of yo-yo de-cluttering.
Slow and Steady De-Cluttering
I’m no diet expert but a large majority of folks who maintain their reduced weight are the ones who took the slow and steady approach. Their weight loss wasn’t the result of a diet; it was a result of a lifestyle change. They slowly made dietary and lifestyle changes that allowed them to lose weight and keep it off. They didn’t cut out everything all at once; they made healthier choices one choice at a time and noticed a slow and steady weight loss.
Take the same approach with de-cluttering the home. You could hire a team of professionals to come in and de-clutter your house in 24 to 48 hours. Once they leave you have a pristine house but how do you maintain it?
Number Your De-Cluttering Efforts
Instead of hiring professionals, take it slow and be mindful. Come up with a number. The number represents the amount of items you will get rid of on a daily basis. Chose a number that is realistic and manageable. If you work a full-time job and have young children, you might have to opt for a smaller number.
In my case the number is 5. I make it a habit to get rid of, donate, sell or reorganize 5 items a day. Whether it’s going through 5 files in the home office to shred outdated documents, or donating 5 outfits from my closet to a charitable organization the number 5 is a workable daily number for me.
Because the number is workable and the process is slow, I’m able to slowly adjust to my new uncluttered reality. As I slowly remove the clutter I can re-arrange the rooms, drawers, files, closets as necessary.
As more and more items are removed, I can modify the organization pattern on the fly. It’s much easier and more workable than suddenly being thrown into an uncluttered environment without a clue as to how to make things work for my family’s daily habits and rituals.
Tip: Make the reorganized space simple and easy to maintain. If it takes too much effort to put things in its proper place, items will accumulate in an easy to get to spot (like the floor or bedroom chair). Keep it simple.
You’ve got to be mindful not only of what you’re getting rid of but keep an eye on yourself when you bring things into your home. De-cluttering starts at the store. Do you really need the item you’re about to purchase? Mindless purchasing will get you right back to where you started (as mindless eating will pack on the pounds).
Just like making lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss, living a de-cluttered life requires the same type of transformation. De-cluttering isn’t “one and done,” it’s a lifestyle change.