The second stage in getting organized (and working on your organizing project) is to LET GO of what doesn't work for you, what you no longer use or need, and especially what you no longer love. Letting go is not just getting rid of things, it's about creating the space and the time and the energy for what you do want.
If you haven't answered the questions from the first stage go to CLARIFY (Stage 1 to Getting Organized). Those questions will help you gain clarity on what you want from your project? If you have answered them, keep those answers in mind as you go get organized. You can change them as you need. Now back to Letting Go!
For those of you who have no problems with letting go of things, excellent! Schedule time today, this week or next, and create that space you need.
For those who struggle to let go of items, here are ideas to use when you want to clear away the clutter in your life.
Ask yourself questions
General questions for most anything:
Are you using it now?
When was the last time you used it?
Do you love it?
If you’re not using it, what would be the worst-case scenario if you let it go and found out in 6 months you could have used it?
It's okay, if later on you do need it. It's not a bad decision. You'll have 6 months (or years) of space to live without it, so it was a good decision.
If you’re not using it but you want to keep it, do you have space to store it, access it AND put it back easily?
If you store it, how will you remember you have it and where you put it?
Questions for reading material:
When will you read it?
No, seriously, when will you read it? What day will you start? Will it be in the morning or evening? Will it be after lunch or before bedtime? Being specific will help make it happen.
Have you set aside the time to read this?
What would happen if you don't read it? And what would that lead to?
Which is more important? Reading the material you're keeping or doing the things you’ve been doing instead of reading it?
Keep in mind that information becomes old news, so you can let go of newspapers that are older than 3 days, weekly publications that are older than 3 weeks and monthly publications that are older than 3 months.
For the questions to ask about paper go to Paper Progress: Questions to Ask Yourself
Think small bites
I am a big believer in a little bit is better than nothing. Have you heard the children's joke about how to eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. So if you aren't ready to let go of all your magazines, your hobby supplies, your shoes or your collectibles, how about letting go of half? Or let go of the 5 you like the least. Get organized one bite at a time.
Move the items out of the house immediately
Have you ever dug through the give-away bag and reclaimed an item?
The best way to prevent reclaiming items is to get the bag or box to its final destination as quickly as possible. When you've filled the bag with the items to give away, move it to your car. Plan on dropping it off the next day or as soon as possible.
If someone will pick up the item, let them know you need them to pick it up by a certain day or it will go to charity. This isn't being mean or demanding. It helps ensure that your hard work and effort in letting go doesn't go to waste.
Let go of thoughts and beliefs that aren't supporting you.
Hold on to things you don't use because you paid good money for it?
Feel you should keep it until you find just the right person who will appreciate it?
Keep it until the kids are older because they may want it someday?
Are the kids older, but you're still holding on to it for them?
Feel you have to finish every project you started even if it's been several years since you last worked on it?
Keep it only because someone special gave it to you? You don't like it but you keep it because of the giver.
Sometimes our thoughts and beliefs may get in the way of letting go of things. Ask yourself if that belief is working for you? What's the worst thing that could happen if you changed that thought? Space to live? Calm? A feeling of peace and tranquility? Let go of those thoughts that aren't supporting you.
Live in the Present
You may be holding onto an item because you’re not willing to let go of the good memories and feelings associated with it. There are better ways of recalling those memories than holding onto something that is causing you stress.
If you’re holding on to the object because you’re not willing to face the bad feelings or memories it brings up, let the painful item go so you can move on.
Whether you’re keeping the stuff because of the good or the bad feelings, you’re in the Past.
If you’re keeping the stuff because someday, maybe you’ll need it or want it, or because you think someone else might want it, you’re in the Future.
If you want to live and find joy in the present, then your things and your environment need to reflect that. The items you keep need to be for the present, for Your Present.
It’s your choice. Do you want to be stuck in the Past, waiting for the Future, or enjoying the Present?
Whether you let go of a few items now or a lot, pat yourself on the back for making the effort to create space for what you want in your life. And don't forget to have some fun doing it!
Next Stage 3: Sort
Stage 1: Clarify what you want
Stage 2: Let Go of what doesn't work
Stage 3: Sort like-with-like & let more go
Stage 4: Organize in zones
Stage 5: Maintain the systems you create
Stage 6: Prevent it from coming in