In the movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise’s character bucks conventional wisdom and starts his own sports management agency with a mission statement to care about the players more than the bottom line. Who can forget his impassioned speech of, “Who’s with me?” and all he gets are “friggin flpper” (the goldfish he removes from the tank), and Renee Zellweger’s character Dorothy Boyd. But as in any Hollywood ending worth its weight in gold Jerry triumphs in the end both ethically, emotionally, and financially.

In terms of organization, my mission statement is filled with a few honest truth’s about what it takes to find inner peace by having less stuff. We have become a society which is entrenched in consumerism. Stuff is cheap and if you can afford it why not buy it? The stuff may make you feel good at first, but eventually the shiny object becomes tarnished, or it’s lost amongst all your other shiny objects that seemed so great when you first brought them into your life. Below are my thoughts about what it truly takes to declutter and get organized. This list was somewhat inspired by Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which resonated with me on many levels. I highly recommend reading it if your aim is to declutter for inner peace and create a life filled with less stuff and (well for lack of a better term), “more life“.

Gather It ALL

– The most successful organizing clients I have worked with are those who recognize that organization does not come from tackling a random closet or cupboard. If you really want to get to the heart of your clutter issues you need to gather everything in one place. For example, if you decide to organize your kids’ playroom, it’s not an isolated space. They probably also have toys and books and other entertaining items in their bedrooms, in the living room and in the kitchen. Once you have it all in one place you cans actually see the mass quantity and then decide what is worth keeping and what’s not. Real world example: A recent client had 3 school age daughters all very interested in art. She wanted to start the organization process in her hallway cupboards which had some art supplies, yet when we moved onto her daughters’ rooms we found more. She ended up with an entire gift box size clear bin of markers. More than either girl could use in this lifetime. When we first started organizing her house, she wanted to keep all the markers because her kids were into art. But, once she saw the sheer volume, she realized a local preschool or art school could benefit by donating even half the marker supply and her daughters would still have enough for years to come.

Decide From a Place of Keep

– Even when you are determined to have less stuff in your life, it can be hard to get rid of things. You get attached to different items for various reasons; someone you love gave it to you, or you remember how happy you were when you bought it, or if you you get rid of it the person who gave it to you will be offended, etc. Instead try turning that around and approach the process from what you want to keep. Surround yourself only with things that make you happy and bring you joy. When sorting through your clutter and trying to decide whether to keep or get rid of something, hold it in your hand. Touch it, feel it, and acknowledge not only the mental reaction, but the physical reaction as well. It sounds very new agey, but I’ve seen it in action and it works. Clients who once thought they could not get rid of something are suddenly filling garbage bags full of uninspiring items and feel lighter and happier as a result.

Honor What You Have

– If you keep something because it brings you joy, then honor it. Store it nicely or display it proudly. Don’t shove it in a drawer, cabinet, or closet to be forgotten about. If it’s a functional item and you use it, put it back when you are done. When you honor the your stuff, your items will continue to bring you joy for as long as needed and you will be more clear about what to keep in your life and what to get rid of.

Start With The Unemotional

– If you’re going to go through every area of your home, there are going to be certain spaces that are easier to declutter than others. Photos and mementos are hard to make decisions about and they take time to go through. If you start with those items, you’ll be exhausted. Instead, pick an area that’s less emotional like your clothes, your kitchen cabinet, or your office supplies. Starting with a less emotional area will help you to be a better decision maker. As you move to the more taxing items to part with you’ll be more in tune with what truly brings you joy and what does not.

Organize Yourself First

– In a family home it’s pretty easy to blame others for the clutter and mess. Inevitably one person cares more than the other family members and can become angry or resentful as a result. If you’re the “organized family member”, and want to feel better about your space, the best place to start to declutter is with items that belong to YOU. Once you’ve pared down your own stuff, and kept and organized only items that bring you joy, your contentment and sparseness will likely evoke a similar reaction in others. They may begin to pare down their own stuff or realize the internal happiness that results from surrounding themselves only with things that bring THEM happiness.

 Photo Credit: Miamiamia