Green Living

Listen Up, Clutter Bug

Streamline your space to transform your health.

Listen Up, Clutter Bug
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Find it hard to let go of stuff—even the stuff you know you should toss? Before you tackle the problem, it pays to look carefully at the inner patterns that have been keeping you in clutter, says Juli Steinocher, a licensed mental health counselor, massage therapist and founder of mindbodylab.com in St. Petersburg, Fla. “If we want to clear our physical stuff, we have to clear our emotional stuff, too,” she explains. “It starts from within.” Steinocher worked with professional organizer Heather Lambie to identify seven limiting beliefs common to clutter bugs. Find the one that you feel best describes your own feeling, and work with Steinocher’s suggested affirmation to change your attitude toward your stuff—every time your mind offers resistance to the process, simply repeat the affirmation and proceed.

Limiting belief: I might need it one day.
De-cluttering affirmation: I am able to manifest all that I desire.

Limiting belief: It’s worth too much money.
De-cluttering affirmation: I accept myself even though I may make mistakes with money.

Limiting belief: I don’t have enough time to get organized.
De-cluttering affirmation: I am important, and I allow time to care for myself. 

Limiting belief: It’s overwhelming.
De-cluttering affirmation: It is easy for me to be organized and productive.

Limiting belief: It’s not a problem; my husband/wife/child just thinks it is. 
De-cluttering affirmation: I deeply love and accept myself. I love and accept all others. All is well.

Limiting belief: I need this stuff—it fills a void for me.
De-cluttering affirmation: I am worthy and full of love.

Limiting belief: I can’t get organized—I always take one step forward and two steps back.
De-cluttering affirmation: I experience life as a joyous dance, and make perfect progress in getting and staying organized.

Shed skillfully
Don’t want to just toss? There are lots of creative solutions for relocating your clutter:

1. Freecycle it. Why just recycle, when you can freecycle? Freecycle.org helps you match your cast-off china with a family who really needs and wants it.

2. Trade it. Organize a book or clothing swap with your friends or neighbors. Trade your old books for new (to you) ones at paperbackswap.com. Or engineer a creative exchange at tradingo.com, a new website that aims to be the eBay of barter.

3. Sell it. If you’re bothered by all the money you “lose” when you de-clutter, consider selling your stuff. Garage sales are the classic solution, but you can also post items on craigslist.com or ebay.com. “Put the money in a separate account to invest in your space,” suggests Doreen Sweeting. M.D., L.Ac. “Spend it on something significant, like a new couch or a kitchen renovation.”

4. Donate it. There are lots of creative solutions that let you reach out to those around you. “Get connected with your community,” suggests professional organizer Heather Lambie. “Take old books and magazines to a nursing home where seniors can enjoy them. Donate old toys to the nursery at your church. Take old towels and linens to the animal shelter. Check with the YMCA to see if they could use your old printer or fax machine.”

5. Gift it. Holidays and birthdays add to the clutter cycle, not to mention your debt load. You can stop the madness this year by regifting some of the items you don’t use. “There’s no stigma to regifting,” says Sweeting. “You don’t have to keep everything someone else gives you. Move it on to a better home, where it will be used. What’s clutter for you might be a treasure for someone else.”