Training to De-Clutter: A Feng Shui Marathon

Runners at a raceEvery year about now I watch the soon-to-be marathon runners start their training.  The marathon goes right by our house so those in training run the course to get used to the rise and fall of the road. I can only imagine their dedication and what it takes to get in shape. I’m also inspired by those who haven’t reached their perfect running gait, who are visibly being challenged by the time they reach mile 8 where we live—–only one-third of the way to the finish line—yet continue to persevere through their pain. Anyone knows that if you want to run a marathon, you don’t just don the outfit, put on the shoes and head out. It takes training, time and tenacity. If you can’t commit to that, then running isn’t for you. You could get hurt, de-railing any running goals for the future.

People run for different reasons. Some people want to lose weight and get in better shape; some run because it’s an admirable goal; some run to get over a health issue; others have been running in one form or another for most of their lives so taking up the sport is life as usual.

The same mindset for running can be applied to de-cluttering. It takes time, tenacity, and yes, training. Got clutter? Before you decide you don’t, let me assure you that we all do. Some more than others, but there are inevitably pockets, if not whole rooms, where there are things that no longer serve you, are neither useful nor pleasant for you, or you’ve outgrown what they used to represent to you.

Here’s how to apply running principles to the process of de-cluttering. . .

1. Set goals: It’s not a good idea to jump right into a de-cluttering project without first assessing the reality of the situation and why you want to de-clutter in the first place. Hint: take photos of the space you intend to transform—those will become important later. Some questions to ask: What is it about the clutter that is painful to me now? How does my clutter make me feel? How do I want to feel when I’m done with this project?

2. Warm-up: Start small so you don’t pull your de-cluttering muscle. If this is a big project (like a basement or attic), you don’t want to get overwhelmed and overcome—-it’s a sure way to burn out and sabotage the process. Keep your focus on the smallest steps and avoid getting distracted by the enormity of your project. Some questions to ask: Is there one drawer or one shelf where I can begin? Maybe one box? Or one corner?

3. Consistent practice: Consistency will keep you on track. Every day in a small way, keep your de-cluttering plan on track. Regularity is the secret to getting to the bottom of clutter. Some questions to ask: Am I willing to plan a short interval of time each and every day to this project? Can I promise myself that each day I will eliminate/remove/toss 9 items?

4. Celebrate specific mile markers: As you throw out or give away some of your old treasures-turned-clutter, be sure to spend a moment patting yourself on the back for your personal best. Some questions to ask: Can I find gratitude for the things I’m releasing? Can I appreciate how important they once were to me or someone else as I move them out of my space?

5. Finish line: This is the time to truly celebrate. Take photos of the transformation and compare to the ones you took at the beginning of the project. Congratulate yourself on freeing your space and yourself. Some questions to ask: Am I happy with the results? Are there further changes that can be made? Do I love the space now?

CAUTION: Clutter will return—it will find its way back to the area you just de-cluttered or it will find a new place to call home. In order to avoid having to run another marathon to deal with the issue, keep your clutter muscle toned and in shape through frequent use. You can win this race, one step at a time.