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Start the New Year off fresh by letting go of clutter!


Start the New Year off fresh by letting go of clutter!

By Brooks Palmer

Clutter is anything in your life that is no longer serving you. Maybe it was great for a while, but now it just sits there. Or maybe it’s something you brought into your life, but it turns out it just wasn’t right for you.

Clutter isn’t just stuff, it can be other people, activities, ways of seeing things, etc. It’s anything that takes away rather than gives to your life.

Now that we are approaching the end of 2015, it’s worth taking a look around your home and life to see what’s no longer supporting you.  By removing the clutter, you’ll be able to start the year off fresh, and be open to new and supportive opportunities.

How do you find and let go of the clutter? In my fifteen years of being a clutter buster, I’ve found the following tips to be most helpful:

  1. Be curious about what’s clutter. “I wonder what no longer fits my life?” Curiosity is energizing. It feels like you are attempting to solve a mystery. This is better than dreading taking a look. Plus it also avoids putting yourself down for having clutter. Curiosity opens you up to see.
  2. Pick a small area to begin with. What often keeps people from de-cluttering is they see everything at once, it’s too much, and they give up before they start. That’s why it helps to start small. Pick one small doable area: a box, a drawer, a stack of stuff, a section of a closet, etc. And just work on that area. Avoid switching to another area. It helps to keep your focus. Plus finishing one area will give you confidence to keep moving forward.
  3. Ask of each thing that you come across, “Do I like and use this or can I let it go?” You’re looking to see how you feel about each item, person, or activity today. Not how you felt about something when it first came into your life.  Sometimes the memories we have about something can make us feel attached to what we are considering. We feel like if we let this thing go, we’ll lose the memories, the specialness we once felt. But living that way keeps us trapped in the past, and leaves us less open to what’s happening in our life now. My experience is that people are happier when they live with things they like and use now.
  4. No maybe piles. You may feel stuck about something, and rather than make a decision, you put it in a maybe pile. But maybe is a clutter red flag. It means you have some uncertainty about what you are considering. It’s worth taking a deeper look at what you don’t like about the item. Did you wish you it was serving you, but it just isn’t? Did someone give it to you as a gift, and you don’t care for it, but it feels wrong to let it go? Is it something you wish you fit in, but you just can’t lose the weight? It’s hard to live with something that makes you feel that way. It will make you feel better to let it go.
  5. Notice the space you are creating. As you let go of clutter, be aware of the space that is taking its place. Open space has a soothing quality. It energizes us. You know the feeling when you are out in nature. You are creating that space in your home and life.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we can feel guilt or shame for having clutter.  We can react by being mean or pushing ourselves. But this only serves to make us feel badly and we shut down. So when de-cluttering, be kind, encouraging, and understanding. The clutter happened and now you are taking care of the situation.  

When you are done with an area, bring what you are letting go of to the trash, recycling, or charity.

Best of luck with your clutter bust. It’s a wonderful thing to do for yourself.


 Brooks Palmer lives in Sebastopol and is the best-selling author of Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back, and Clutter Busting Your Life: Clearing Physical and Emotional Clutter to Reconnect with Yourself and Others. For more info: