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How to Defeat the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ Clutter


Quick, guests are coming over! Hide everything away in the closet — problem solved, right? If you’re the type to manage your clutter in this style, decluttering expert Peter Walsh has some advice for you:

On some level, we all do it occasionally. We’re dealing here with what I call “Behind Closed Doors Clutter.” Your situation is often experienced by people who are perfectionists. Now, people might imagine that a perfectionist has an immaculate house and no problem with clutter, but the opposite is often the case. It’s hard to make a decision if you’re a perfectionist. You want to do something just right or do it all in one go. So you delay doing anything at all, and once you start procrastinating, clutter starts to accumulate!

Don’t take this the wrong way, but get over yourself. The enemy of good is not bad, it’s perfection. “Good enough” is actually the right amount of tidiness and organization that someone should have — not perfection. Perfection is unrealistic, impossible to attain, and leaves you feeling bad about yourself when you haven’t achieved it. Ease up on yourself a bit. Try to be “good enough.” If you have one or two storage areas like this, you don’t have a problem. The problem is when most areas are bursting and your goal is still to be picture perfect. It doesn’t work like that!

However, it’s critical to set a limit on how much of that stuff you can keep in your home. Dedicate one area for it, perhaps the closet in a guest bedroom or a small area in your garage. If that area is filled, then your priority is to go through it today and see what you can part with. If more than one area is already filled, attack each of them until the volume of stuff is reduced to the limit you have set. The key? Do this slowly and in small chunks. Don’t expect yourself to get through the entire spaces in one go. Take your time.

Sometimes, the first step to getting on a healthier track with too much unwanted stuff is to admit that you might need help. This is one of those times. There’s nothing wrong with asking a friend to help you sort out what you need to keep and what is OK to pass on to others. Also, allow your friend to be tough with you, as you need direct, honest, and constructive criticism. Their feedback will help you make decisions that will make your life better. That said, make sure the friend you choose is someone who cares deeply about you. If you open yourself to this process, let go of the need to be perfect and allow someone like that to be tough. You’ll end up in a great position once it’s done.

If you only have 10 minutes, here’s what I’d advise. Grab an empty cardboard box and slowly open one of those closet doors. Reach in and see if you can find five items that you’re ready to send to charity. Five is a good start. Just do that. Close the door again, take the box to your car, and donate it the next time you’re near a Goodwill or Salvation Army.

This post was written by Peter Walsh. For more, check out our sister site, Homes to Love.

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