Making space for change
Most people I know who are serious about moving forward also know the power of clearing out. When we move forward we need to make space for the new and learn to leave some old things behind. It’s key to remember that you can bring the learning and experience of your past with you without carrying all the things and old beliefs with you!
I’ve written before about the mental declutter, but it’s a topic that keeps coming up in conversations so I wanted to come back to it again. It’s pretty simple really: a cluttered space often comes from a cluttered mind (or vice versa).
To move forward you need to allow lightness and it starts with your stuff (especially if you’re thinking about relocating or traveling for an extended period of time).
I get a lot of questions around this from both travellers and non-travellers, so I’m going to share the system I use. Being somewhat of a minimalist, I do like to travel and live light and organised. I’ve also found that it really helps in avoiding overwhelm and for most people it also brings a lot of calm and clarity.
If you’re serious about starting with a reasonably clean slate, it helps to start clearing out and organising your space at home.
First things first: focus on one key area at a time! The order I’d recommend to tackle your space is:
- Bathroom – easy one to start with to get some momentum going!
- Kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer – easy next step!
- Kitchen cupboards (cutlery, crockery, pots and pans etc) – logical next step after the food related things!
- Living room (furniture/books/ornamental things/photos) – this is where it starts to get more difficult to say goodbye to things you’re used to having around.
- Bedroom and wardrobe (personal stuff, clothes, bags, jewellery and memories) – this is usually where it starts to get harder
- Garage/storage area – difficult and easy, as the things probably ended up here for a reason in the first place and you might not use them very often.
When you start with an area:
- Organise things in 3 piles: 1 = things you’re definitely keeping, 2 = things you’re unsure of and 3 = things that can definitely go (this includes broken things you’re not going to fix in the next week or month and expired food/products)
- Bonus tip for this step is to make this fun! Invite a friend over, have a cup of coffee/glass of wine and let them help you get non sentimental about what you really need/use.
- Put pile 1 stuff back in an organised way (you might even need some new storage solutions as well).
- Leave pile 2 for a moment and come back to it in the next day or so. Then ask yourself honestly if it’s staying or going.
- Get rid of your clutter in pile 3 as soon as you can to clear out your space, ideally within 1 week. Yes you heard me, if you’re serious about creating space for change, you need to get moving!
How do you get rid of the pile 3 stuff then?
There are so many creative options here, so please don’t throw it in the trash! A thing I’ve started doing a lot lately is pack an old bag (from pile 3) with a towel, some soap, warm socks, some snacks and whatever else useful I have and give to a homeless person in the city on my way to work. This is a great way of doing something nice and helping you clear out at the same time. And it does not cost you a thing!
If this is not practical for you, there are lots of other things you can consider. You could give/swap with a friend, donate to a charity shop (homeware, books, furniture or clothes – sometimes they even pick bigger items up at your home if you call them and organise it). Lastly you’d be surprised how much you can sell off on Facebook marketplace, Gumtree.com.au, Craigslist or other websites. Every time I’ve gone through and done a clean out, I’ve usually sold things I no longer need for a few hundred dollars per occasion. And even if you can’t get money for something, at least you can offer it for free if someone just comes and picks it up.
I only throw things in the trash as a last resort, as it’s so easy to repurpose things or get rid of items in other ways.
This might all sound a bit too hard, but believe me – it’s worth it as part of your transition process. The lighter your load is, the more freedom you’ll have and the more grateful you are for the selected items you’ve actively chosen to keep (for whatever reason you chose them!). This also means that you have physical bandwidth to welcome change, flow and new things in your life.
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