Decluttering For Others

Air diffusersAfter I moved in with my boyfriend, I helped him declutter several spaces in the house. The pantry was relieved of boxed and canned goods, some of which had expired 3 years before. The hall closet was cleared of expired medicines, and organized to make it easier to find things.

Eight months later, the hall closet needed another going over. I wanted to check for medicines that had expired since the previous clean out, and I wanted to further declutter and organize things better.

One thing, however, challenged me. Air diffusers. For some reason I had trouble releasing them, even though we use a different brand around the house. I was stumped as to why I had so much trouble with these. We don’t use them, I hadn’t even looked for one of them to use, they would require a different brand refill if we wanted to use them AND if I threw them out, they would be easy and inexpensive to replace.

So what was my block?

They weren’t mine.

I hadn’t made the choice to purchase them, and I wasn’t sure if my boyfriend wanted to use them again.

This is important to remember. It is hard to declutter another person’s things because you don’t know how they feel. Even if they say “get rid of all my old t-shirts” there may be one in there that they want to keep.

This is why I work WITH my clients, and don’t just go in and throw things out. The criteria they may have for choosing what to keep and what to release is not mine. I can guide and encourage, and point out reasons why it would be good to let something go, but ultimately they have to decide if an item, even an unused item, is important for them to keep.

This is also why I rarely help someone declutter their spouse/partner’s belongings. The person the items belong to need to be involved in the process if they are able and willing. This may mean that half of a closet is decluttered and organized while the other half isn’t, but it is better than getting rid of items someone else treasured. (And chances are, once the other person sees how the other half looks, they want the same results for their things!)

Declutter. Decluttter everything that belongs to you, and encourage others to join your efforts. And allow them the opportunity to declutter for themselves.