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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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5 Events To Motivate Decluttering

5 Events That Motivate DeclutteringA few weeks ago, I wrote about preparing for our tag sale. Having a specific deadline motivated my family and me to declutter and get rid of a lot of things. The event was a success and we felt great! While scheduling the tag sale was a terrific motivator, there are other types of events that can make us evaluate our “stuff,” declutter, and let go. What has your experience been like with event inspired decluttering?


5 Events To Motivate Decluttering

1. Entertaining – Throwing a party of any size (from an intimate dinner to a large BBQ) can motivate us to declutter and organize. Spending time with the people we love rather than accumulating more “stuff” brings positive energy into our lives. Use happiness producing events to keep clutter in check.

2. Life Event – Marriage, birth, job change, medical emergency, empty nest, divorce, or death are times of transition. These life events make us rethink our possessions and spaces to accommodate major changes. Things that were once relevant aren’t any more. In our search for clarity and the new normal, letting go and decluttering becomes crucial.

3. Moving – Whether we are increasing or decreasing our living space in a move, there will be things that won’t be needed. Moving motivates us to evaluate the “stuff” and release the extraneous. The more decluttering you do before a move, the easier it will be to set up your new home. On a recent post, one of our readers (Rosemary) shared that as she was preparing for her move, she posted a sign in her triage area that helped her evaluate what to keep. It read, “All you need is less.”

4. Renovating – Going through a renovation is stress producing. It’s also a fabulous opportunity to ask lots of questions, release clutter, and create room for the things you treasure most. Rooms get emptied to prepare for construction and then re-organized when the building is done. It’s a natural opportunity to be ruthless and only put back what you really want.

5. Tag Sale – Bringing us full circle to the beginning of this post, having a tag sale gives you a specific deadline to work towards, increases your motivation for letting go, is an enjoyable social event, and lets you make a few bucks. It’s also fun to meet the buyers of your “stuff,” and know that your possessions will be useful and enjoyed by others.

What events have motivated you to declutter? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation. 

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Reader Comments (15)

Love this list Linda! It is so motivating to have a great reason to declutter. It keeps us accountable and gives us a deadline.

May 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Hey Ellen- Glad you like the list. It's always great to have a reason to keep our clutter in check. But sometimes we need that something extra to get us motivated. I've experienced this myself and also with my clients, that having a deadline or "event" driving the decision-making process, supercharges and focuses all the decisions.

May 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Definitely moving. Not only is it easier and less expensive to get rid of excess stuff BEFORE moving, I always see moving as an opportunity for a fresh start, which involves not bringing along anything that won't be needed or valued in the next phase.

May 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

What a coincidence that you posted this--we are having our carpets professionally cleaned today! I was reading your post to the sound of two men trying to get spit-up and other kiddie (and some adult) stains off our carpets. To prepare for this day, my husband and I had to get all items off the floor and move furniture, kid toys and other items into three staging areas. We've started purging things we no longer need and we're planning to NOT bring certain items back into our living space. And I've finally convinced him that we need a hall tree near a door that the kids and I enter and exit through every day. I'm ordering it today. We put off having the carpets cleaned for a while because of all the work it would entail to prepare for it but we both know that when the job is finished, it will leave us with a better looking and functioning home.

May 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Agin Murray

@Janet- Moving is a major motivator. Love your idea of reframing your thoughts to include the "fresh start" perspective.

@Stacey- What a great story...and how timely! So "CLEANING" is another event that motivates decluttering and decision-making. This works especially well when it's tied to a deadline, such as preparing for the arrival of a service professional. Great addition to the conversation! Thank you.

May 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Life Event! My son going off to college is a wonderful reason to let go of tons of stuff our house *needed* to keep pre-college (books, trophies, markers, poster board, glue sticks, costumes, sporting equipment, extra binders + folders, gym bags, and snacks by the bucket-full - - > because the football team eats A LOT!)

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeralin Thomas

Geralin- Oh, yes!!!! Going off to college, another milestone in our lives AND an opportunity to let go. Bet your snack pantry is a lot emptier now!

Our two daughters have also left the nest. Before each one went, we did our share of purging, evaluating, and storing the treasures. What's interesting is that it wasn't a one-time event. Each time they came home between college breaks, they would go through more things. As they've moved forward, less of their "stuff" feels relevant or important to them. They do enjoy looking at the treasures they've decided to keep.

They've also moved a lot during the college years and are realizing that the less they have, the easier it is to pick up and go. It's been fascinating to watch the changes and transitions.

May 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, I and my organizing teammates @Storables have enjoyed this and your initial post on decluttering so much!

"All you need is less" is very motivational, we also loved your action calls:
“It’s time!”
“Linda, come on. You know you don’t need that anymore.”
So GREAT to keep a sense of humor and talk yourself through the letting go!

I've heard and read many times that clutter = stress. What motivates me to declutter is my forever goal of living a peace filled life. It's not really an event, but more of a commitment. I find the work is worth the reward!

Thanks again for your thoughtul posts that inspire!

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterm @ Storables

M- Wonderful to have you with us. Agreed that keeping a sense of humor whether we're dealing with clutter, people, or just about anything, really helps most situations. I love what you said about your decluttering efforts being motivated by your goal of living peacefully...that you see it as a commitment rather than an event. You've taken the time to define what "peace filled life" means to you and work towards that goal regularly. Bravo!

May 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Interestingly, I just wrote a couple of posts regarding de-cluttering and holding a garage sale. I so appreciated reading your post because it was not only from a totally different perspective but also so enlightening creating an 'a-ha' moment. I had not even thought about there being certain events like entertaining, renovating and moving being other motivators. My reason was for a life event (retiring). But purging and getting rid of unwanted or no longer needed stuff is a lot of Work and quite tiring but well worth the effort! ~Thea

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTime With Thea

Hi Thea- I'd love to read your posts about decluttering. Feel free to stop back and add a link so that others can read them too. Considering different perspectives is what makes our community so enriching. How great that you had an "a-ha" moment, as I often do too when reading others' comments.

You're right that letting go IS a lot of work, and can be tiring. But as you said, "well worth the effort!" Thanks for sharing with us.

June 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I often use books and website to inspire myself to declutter.Changing seasons inspires me to declutter clothing & some decorative items. I evaluate my clothing in the spring & fall when I move the folded items to storage. I try not to store anything that wasn't worn during the past season or is stained, really faded or tattered. Since my hanging clothing stays in the same closet all year, I also try to look at it at those times, too. I look at my various holiday decorations when I change them out, as well. If I didn't use an item for a particular holiday, I decide if I intend to use it again or not. If not, it gets donated, if it is still in good condition.

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvie tracy

Evie- So great to "hear" your voice. Thank you for the fabulous reminder to use the seasons (i.e. change) to motivate decluttering. These are natural times of the year to signal us that things around us are shifting. It's the perfect time to evaluate where we are, what we need, what we DON'T need, and make changes that are more reflective of the now.

June 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I so agree with the list! One of the major reasons I end up decluttering is that I need to move and I don't want to move so much stuff.

Trying to sell via a garage sale is great but what do you do with the rest of the stuff that doesn't sell?

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYvonne Lee

Hi Yvonne- Decluttering because of a move is a good motivator. As you said, it's great NOT to have to move things you don't want. The extras take time, energy and money. So letting go pre-move is wonderful to do when possible.

As far as having a garage sale and knowing what to do with the leftovers, there are options. You can donate to a local charity (some groups even pick up,) give to friends or family, try selling on ebay or Craigs list, give away on Freecycle, recycle, or discard. Choose the easiest path. The key is to let go.

July 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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