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How to get started on decluttering


This article is everything! There is a big overlap between mental health issues and the state of your home -- when I used to do home-based therapy, I would walk into someone's living room or kitchen and just think, "ah, this is how their brain works." If you're depressed, which comes with symptoms of low energy and lack of interest in things that used to be enjoyable, then cleaning up is at the bottom of the list of things you're going to devote your energy or interest to. Or for folks dealing with ADHD or autism symptoms, how do you maintain focus in a room full of distractions? How do you make decision after decision after decision about all the stuff? It's exhausting and overwhelming. And then you're in a vicious circle of being surrounded by an accumulation of stuff which is depressing and constantly signaling to you how depressed you are, making it even harder to tackle getting it cleaned up. In "‘Depression Rooms’ and ‘Doom Piles’: Why Clearing the Clutter Can Feel Impossible," counselor KC Davis advises to focus on a category of clutter: "trash, dishes, laundry, things with a place and things without a place. Focusing on one category at a time keeps her from getting overwhelmed when it seems like there are a hundred different items that need to be put away." Designer Lenore Brooks focuses on systems -- what is not working in your home or day, and how can you improve it? I advise clients to find where bottlenecks are happening -- if you aren't putting your clothes away, is it because the dresser drawers are too crowded and small to get things into them? Or are kitchen counters always full because you don't have the room to get garbage into the recycling or trash?


And, how do you befriend a daily routine to help maintain your space? I can't stand gardening because those weeds always come back! Clutter and dishes and laundry similarly don't go away just because you spent an hour on them a few days ago. Rather than be frustrated by having to do it again, use Davis's idea of Future You -- in the morning, how much better will your day start if your kitchen is tidied up for breakfast? Tomorrow You will be delighted by your efforts! I fold kitchen tidying into bedtime by getting started earlier so I can get the big stuff cleaned up in the kitchen, setting up a much less stressful morning to come. And always remember, there's never a right or wrong way to get this stuff done. Don't beat yourself up for not doing it perfectly. Instead, understand and accept that it's hard, and then gently consider, how do I make this easier for myself? And if you need to, Run The Dishwasher Twice!

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