Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting out into the Great British weather and, with the help of my mum, obliterating a jungle of weeds in my overgrown driveway.
Not only do I feel the results of a great workout, I see my front yard getting better and better with each passing day. It’s such an exhilarating and satisfying feeling that I’ve vowed to never again let it become a tangle of hidden rubbish and weeds.
As the mountain of uprooted weeds towered behind me, I was reminded of the first time I decluttered my home; the feeling of lightness, the satisfaction, and the silent promise to never overburden my home and my life again. I couldn’t. Not once I’d seen the results and experienced the benefits of owning less.
The more we ruthlessly dug and tore out roots, I couldn’t help but think of how similar it is to the clutter in our homes. Have you ever tidied and organised your home, only to sigh in despair when days later the mess comes back? Have you ever bought a stack of pretty boxes and storage solutions, only for the mess and overwhelm to come back worse than ever?
Weeds are the same. Left unchecked, they come back with a vengeance. They spread even further, somehow bigger and stronger than before, and before you know it you’re back in the garden with an aching back and mud-caked shoes.
To get rid of weeds effectively, you can’t just rip off the surface and call it a day – you must dig deep and rip out the entire root. But before you do that, you may have to spend time identifying the weed types so you know what you’re dealing with. It’s the same when it comes to dealing with the clutter in your home.
First of all, you must identify the clutter, then, you must get to the root of the problem to prevent the clutter from reappearing in the first place.
Just like it’s a waste of energy ripping the leaves off a weed above the surface, it’s equally futile organising your stuff into boxes and building more shelves. The weeds will be back. The clutter will multiply. Without decluttering first, and without changing your mindset, you will find yourself organising over and over again.
To prevent the mess from taking over your home for the hundredth time, you must deal with the root cause, which isn’t always easy.
Perhaps you buy things to fill an emotional void, you get bored easily, or you can’t resist a good sale. Maybe owning brand names and the latest fashion or tech is your weakness. There may also be piles of guilt-laden gifts and decades of memories and keepsakes stowed in the shadows. Not to mention, the whole process can be overwhelming, and if you’re not used to letting things go it can be exhausting to make a single decision.
If that sounds like you, I’m here to tell you not to worry. You’ve totally got this and you’ve the power to reset your home and your life.
The key to unleashing this power is to be consistent. Grow those decluttering muscles by doing a bit each day, or each week (whatever works for your schedule). And as long as you get rid of items quicker than you’re bringing new ones back to the house, you’ll gradually start to see a difference. If you must buy something new, make a rule that something else leaves. Don’t give clutter a chance to take root in yet another box or shelf.
As I’ve weeded over the past few weeks, I’ve found I can go for slightly longer before tiring, and when I see a weed reappearing, I can get straight onto it because it stands out in the renewed space.
Over time, you will find that decluttering becomes easier and easier, and as you deal with the root cause you’ll no longer even need to buy new storage. You’ll be too busy enjoying your new space and getting rid of even more as your decluttering muscles become more defined.
Once you’ve curated a space with only the things you love, clutter will stand out, and you’ll be able to make snap decisions before more objects join it and the mess starts all over again. You’ll finally be in control of your environment.
However, it doesn’t end there. To maintain this control you’ll need to form new buying habits and ask yourself why you ended up with so much stuff in the first place. What emotions were behind the purchase? What motivates you to add things to your basket?
You’ll also need to look at the emotional bonds you had with your stuff and why they manifested. For example, I used to hold on to old school work that had won awards because I had cripplingly low self-esteem and it symbolised that I wasn’t the things the bullies called me. It also shown I was a hard worker with the things I was passionate about (writing).
Dealing with the roots of clutter is a lengthy process; you must put in the work, be honest with yourself, and dig deep. Beneath it all is a life you never thought possible.