I used to be a complete neat freak. I was soooooo organized. When I think back to some of the places I lived years ago, the memory is of a totally spotless home.

And then it all changed. I made major changes in many areas of my life, and I was feeling like I wanted to let go of so many things. Among other things, I felt restricted by my extreme neatness and my super organized lifestyle.

So I let it go. And made the move to disorder and disorganization. People who knew me years ago will probably never believe that last statement, but that’s what happened. Ever since then, I’ve been on a rocky road to finding a balance that works for me. I’ve developed this tendency to accumulate stuff, and then go on a decluttering rampage and get rid of it.

My desk used to be spotless. Even last year, when I had a job in town, my desk was immaculate. It was the most organized desk in the office: computer, pens, filing rack to organize papers, and a vast stretch of empty desktop.

I can’t say the same for my desk today. It’s cluttered. I have my computer, papers to the left of it. Pens in a cup and paper for jotting down notes behind my computer, mug of tea and hand cream to the right. And to the far right, I’ve got a plant and another stack of papers that seem to reappear no matter how often I get rid of them. Oh, and iPhone and iPad on the right side of my desk as well (it’s a small L-shaped desk). As if that’s not enough, my desk has built-in shelves, so I’ve got all sorts of things piled on my shelves.

Oh, and a chair to the right of my desk which serves to collect any number of items I choose to pile up on top of it. To the left of my desk, I have a bookcase, which is not only filled with books, but random papers and junk. Unfortunately, the shelves are so deep, that the books go near the back of the shelves, leaving me all sorts of space to pile into the area in front of the books. I’d take a photo to give you a clear idea of what this mess is all about, but I’m too embarrassed.

Or should I say…that’s what my desk looked like this morning. Today, I deep cleaned my entire office, walked downstairs to get a mug of tea, and freaked out at what appeared to be a blanket of leaves in our back garden. I spent about 15 minutes raking leaves and piling them into our compost bin.

And I felt fantastic afterward. I had decluttered my office, and I had decluttered my garden. No more random junk, no more leaves.

The thing is, clutter can be distracting, and it can become overwhelming. It’s important to let go of the things that we no longer need, and getting rid of these things can actually leave us feeling lighter, more energized. You’ve probably noticed this feeling after a deep spring cleaning of your house.

Or perhaps you’re not bothered by the clutter in your life, but you do feel drained, overwhelmed, disorganized. Try decluttering. Start with one area, and see how different you feel after a deep cleaning.

Take a look at your spaces: your desk, your office, your closet, and other parts of your life. What needs to be decluttered? What things do you no longer need? How can you reorganize the things that you do need? Sometimes when things get out of hand, it can be overwhelming to restore order to our personal space.

If the decluttering task that you face seems daunting, split your personal space up into smaller chunks: desk, bookshelves, bathroom, bedroom closet, etc. Make a written list of all that needs decluttering. Prioritize your list: some areas are clearly more important to declutter than others. Set yourself a reasonable deadline for cleaning out each area. Get started.

As I was writing this, things started to sound familiar to me. That’s right, I’d already written a post on decluttering early last year. Unfortunately, things get out of hand from time to time, and as my husband says, I need to read my own blog. Fortunately, I’m lucky in that I tend to move a lot, which means that I do an intensive decluttering each time I move. In fact, between the time I wrote last year’s blog post and now, we’ve moved home…so we’d already gotten rid of many things.

But decluttering still needs to happen on a regular basis.

Which areas of your life do you find more challenging to keep clutter-free?

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