The Cult of Letting Go of Everything

There’s a trend afoot these days to get organized, and it’s becoming almost like a cult: the goal (as some preach it) is to let go of every thing (at once! GASP!) that isn’t useful, needed or loved, with the promise that doing so will leave you happier, less stressed, and more in harmony with your environment.

True, an organized home (or office) brings us a sense of well-being, and in a world fraught with uncertainty, longer work hours, and the stress of daily life, a home or workplace that “feels right” is essential…

But equally essential is being true to oneself, and as a professional organizer, I’m (sometimes) observing that people are jumping on the organizing bandwagon with reckless abandon and losing themselves in the very process that’s supposed to help them zero in on their true self. They’re becoming overly zealous about de-cluttering and buying into a paradigm that’s ill-suited for them.

Take, for instance, my client Elizabeth. She’d read one of today’s popular organizing books, yet when I arrived at her tiny studio apartment for our first session, she was in despair; craft supplies were all over the floor, even though she implemented many of the book’s target points.

When asked if I could look inside Elizabeth’s closet, I was surprised to find two large bookshelves. The real surprise, was her wonderful collection of literature. As a reader myself, I asked about the collection, and her eyes lit up. She’d been an English major in college, and she couldn’t bare to part with her books. We relocated the bookshelves to a corner of the room, and we moved an easy chair next to them (Voila! Instant reading nook). The reclaimed closets accommodated her clothes amply, and we used the floor of the closet to house craft projects. Elizabeth was thrilled to have her books out in the open, where she could enjoy them, and I was thrilled for her, because when I left, her home was a reflection of HER, and she told me her apt. felt “home-y”.

I’ve learned a lot about de-cluttering in my 18+ years as an organizer, but I’ve learned even more about people.…… I’ve learned that clutter and emotions are intertwined; I’ve learned that no two people are alike, and a one-size-fits-all approach simply cannot work for everyone. It sets up false expectations for those trying a prescribed method, and can engender feelings of failure. And I worry about backsliding. Too much change happening too fast leaves little time for some people (not all) to acclimate to their surroundings

Instead of a one-pronged approach, a kinder, gentler more expansive solution is needed;  Each individual, in accordance with THEIR belief system and their own challenges must be taken into account.  People need time to reflect and process their feelings. They need to do so at their own pace, and without judgment, and they need the latitude to “make peace” with their decisions.

Indecision can lead to feeling overwhelmed, which can lead to paralysis. People need time to process the many emotions that a person’s clutter brings to the surface. At the heart of it is decision making, which  is often difficult, even excruciating. It takes practice, and I know that too many decisions made in rapid-fire succession leaves no time to appreciate the benefits of an organized life. 

Your space needs to speak to YOUR taste, style, and preferences.  The objects that one person considers clutter might be another person's passion.  YOU decide!  Or better yet, let's decide together, so that your home can become a reflection of your own individual personality and unique style.