pile of electronicsDe-cluttering is in fashion, which means that most of us have read, heard, watched, or been draw into a conversation about the topic in recent months and years.  Some of us have started our own project to de-clutter a closet, a room, or even our entire home or office.  A few of us have even ventured into to the world of reducing our belongings, which is a more radical version of de-cluttering.  People reduce because they are downsizing their home or adopting a life of minimalism or simplicity.  As you know from following our #RadicallyReducing process, we’re adopting a minimalist nomadic life, which means getting rid of the majority of our belongings and moving into an RV.

Tackling such a project can be wrought with physical and emotional challenges.  That’s why it’s so important to put yourself front and center when you plan out your de-cluttering schedule – and keep that in mind throughout the entire process.

What NOT to Do

We currently reside in a shared living house. We have the housemate who owns the house and the housemate who moved in a few months ago. That’s four adults (plus three cats) sharing space.  It can make it difficult to plan our sorting, especially since we are documenting the process on video.  We don’t want to disrupt the others any more than necessary.

pile o booksWhen the one housemate took a four-day weekend, we decided it would be the perfect time for us to do four days of sorting. That meant four days of gathering stuff into the living room. Four days of setting up the camera and microphone. Four days of actual sorting, with all the mental and emotional energy that requires. Four days of staging the items to be sold, donated, gifted, etc. That’s a lot of lot.

We managed to get three of the four days done and then decided to forego Day #4. It was just too much. In those three days we actually did five separate sorts, because we broke two big categories into smaller subcategories.  Still we were left with boxes and crates full of books, and bags full of clothes and even more items set aside to offer to specific people.  We had run out of time and run out of energy.

The housemate is going away on another extended weekend, but we know better (now!) than to try to schedule blocks of sorting again – especially since we’re still getting rid of stuff from the previous sort, still editing all that video, and still figuring out how to divide up the remaining categories into small enough chunks that we don’t get overwhelmed again.

Taking Care of You, Not Just Your Stuff

No matter how small or large your shedding project may be, you need to take care of yourself – and your spouse, family, and pets. Don’t let your excitement at getting rid of all those items overtake your rational plan.  The high that comes from taking boxes and bags and carloads of stuff out of your home can be addictive.  You want to get rid of more, and more, and more.  Just remember you still have work, school, community activities, family obligations, meals to cook, laundry to wash, and, maybe, a social life to maintain.

Here’s a few things to put high on your priority list as you de-clutter:

  1. water glassSleep. This should go without saying.
  2. Stay nourished so that you have the energy to make good decisions about your stuff.
  3. Hydration is important, whether you live in a desert, a humid climate, high altitude, or really anywhere.
  4. This means taking breaks, especially if you’re scheduling long blocks or entire days of sorting. Make a rule that after every 20 or 30 minutes of sorting you’ll take a 10 minute break or a 30 minute break after every hour. Whatever makes sense for you.
  5. Keep your regular exercise schedule or maybe start one. Even something as simple as stretching or taking a walk can help your body maintain some balance during all the sorting.
  6. Make sure you have a plan for where the stuff is going to go. Maintain some clear areas in your home where you can breathe and relax.
  7. Schedule a massage, a long bath, an evening of quiet music and candle light, or whatever helps you unwind. Consider it a reward for all the hard work you’ve done.

It’s also a good idea to be gentle with yourself. If you can’t stick to the schedule you set for yourself, it is okay. Just take that afternoon or day to tend to other things and shift your sorting to the next available time.  We’ve actually done this several times. After all, we’d originally planned to do one major sort per week, but that was unrealistic for our current situation, just as four sorts in four days turned out to be undoable. Don’t beat yourself up for not meeting your goals.  Shift your goals to a more realistic timetable.

Do you have any tips for dealing with the stress and strain of sorting, specifically how to minimize it and take care of yourself? Let us know in the comments or head over to social media and share your ideas with using #RadicallyReducing.