I suspect that the lockdown we have globally been through those last few months spurred you (or your partner, one of your colleagues or friends or relatives) to consider decluttering. Because you had a feeling of stuffiness, boredom, anger, or uselessness.
As KonMari clearly promises it on both her website and best selling book (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up): Tidy your space, transform your life. How many are those who are looking for the magic pill to stop screaming about kids’mess, quarreling about partner’socks on the floor, or gossiping about a colleague’s messy desk, and are ready to suddenly spark joy? An easy thought would be to keep thinking that “life is a mess”, preventing ourselves from the boring tidying-up task that our mum used to expect from us as kids.
Yet, the promise is even higher: “transform your life”. Isn’t the promise of any transformational experience or program, mindfulness guru that many of us are ready to pay a good amount of money for?
Those who are regularly moving from one apartment/city/country to another can be privileged in that sense. But when you are not the one who manages the boxing, the moving, and the unboxing then you have no idea about the real amount of stuff you are keeping and transporting in big boxes (trucks or containers). Although I recommend embracing the decluttering as a real practice, there is no need to become a minimalistic guru or an ascetic to reap the benefits. Like any mindfulness practice such as Yoga or Meditation, it is a journey where the benefits are immediate and grow with practice.
Retrospectively, I would say that my decluttering journey did start approx 6 years ago and went gradually. I mean that each time I deal with increasingly difficult categories of “things”.
Each time, I have been through 4 distinctive phases: the “suspicious phase” (when you start to declutter without figuring out the real impact on your life), the “boring/exhausting phase” (when you slowly start to understand the amount of stuff, ie of time you might need to do it properly), the “angry phase” (when you are in anger against everyone, the world, the consumption society, the vendor who sold you that stupid high-end system that broke after 2 months – 3 uses), then the “spark joy phase” (you got it).
Each time, I have felt the following benefits :
You’re building a mentally and physically healthy habit.
Beyond the fact that a decluttered space is easier to clean and accumulate less dust and unhealthy microorganism (especially in the context of a pandemic due to a potentially-airborne organism), it has been proven that decluttering reduces stress and anxiety and brings more calm to the housemates.
As there is less clutter in your space, you will experiment with the mind-body connection and have fewer things on your mind when fall asleep. All performers know the importance of quality sleep, no matter how much you sleep.
Most of all, Decluttering is an intense “decision-making” workshop; It trains you to make decisions on small (and bigger) things, some with zero importance, others with more importance. Learning to make fast and wise decisions is crucial for top performers. Indeed, getting a sense of “joy” in your body-mind will help you in your everyday-life decisions. Once you have decluttered your home, your desk, you will progressively start to apply similar decision-making rules to your relationships, projects, either professional or personal. In fact, you will be willing to declutter your life from any non-aligned (even toxic) item (person, task, occupation, food, clothe), with more and more self-confidence. It is a very empowering and powerful skill.
You gain focus on what is truly important for you, saving time and money. And now you know how to maintain that state of clarity.
Then regular and deliberate decluttering and tidying up with a user-centric approach (ie : answering the question “does it spark joy to me or it is good to have ?”) have others valuable impacts : it challenges the statu quo, trains our flexibility and creates space. These 3 elements nurture the mental towards a growth mindset. You might feel more empowered to innovate, keen to review the limiting beliefs and learn new things.
Explore a less-is-more approach.
There is a point in your decluttering journey that you will have to deal with meaningful objects. It varies from person to another. To me, it was photos of myself when I was younger (i used to suffer from dismorphophobia) then all the school reports from kindergarten to Uni, re-reading the feedback and some judgmental sentences written by demanding professors from elitist schools, with another lens.
It is also all the clothes and small things that belong to my disappeared mother, with her odor, her writing, and her idiosyncrasies. All that little things that made her uniquely alive.
You realize what you have been through so far, the joys, the challenges, the successes, the achievement, the grieves…
It is also the time to rediscover and remember parts that you may have forgotten, consciously or not. A breaking; an artistic talent; an old friendship; a hidden treasure; a business idea; a painful loss; a wonderful trip; a stupid challenge. Things are solid memories. You have the power to choose the ones that will continue to support you. And eliminate the ones that are not supporting you. By choosing what you want to keep with you, and what you want to release, you choose which message about yourself you want to keep, which part of your past that is still caring.
Tell yourself a compelling and caring story.
You’re visualizing your consumer behavior and impact power.
Let us be very clear; in the middle of decluttering, you gonna hate all the f*** stuff you have accumulated since (too) many years, blaming yourself (or other if you really don’t want to face your responsibility) for the money/space/time spent for that.
And where are truly going things we don’t want anymore? Realizing the consumption system was probably one of the most powerful arguments to rethink my lifestyle and understand the need for a global change towards a more sustainable system. 0 waste movement gives 5 Guidelines: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and, eventually, Recycle. Decluttering directly focus on Reduce, reuse, rot, and recycle. The experience helps you to refuse in the aftermath. We, as consumers, have the power to choose where we give our money, time, and space.
The circular economy is still in its early applications, not in daily life yet (for the majority of world citizen I mean). There are a lot of local initiatives and digital tools promoting reuse, sale, or gift of “preloved” toys, clothes, and other stuff. Even it can be a time-consuming task, it is the way to discover the world of solidarity, kindness, social impact, climate-change aware Millenials, video-games collectors, true craftsmen, and passionate repairers.
Changing consumption habits requires time. But it gives you much more: consideration for beautiful things, more time and space for yourself, valuable human relationships.
As Gandhi famously said it, “Be the Change you want to see in the world”.
Once your mental is used to the concept of decluttering, it can be applied, to a certain extent, to organisations and businesses, with a user(s)-centric approach. Benefits are similarly powerful. Here are few impactful examples of applications:
To dig deeper about circular economy solutions and ecosystem around you, follow Fixx’Up.
From a basic decluttering workshop to circular economy applied to your business model, reach me at email@example.com
Beyond real life practice, I have gained substantial qualifications in:
Driven by my passion for fairness and convinced that diversity and inclusion are key to the ability to outperform, I am currently the Chairwoman of Women in the Seafood Industry, a non-for-profit that empowers women of the global seafood industry by raising awareness and influence decision-makers and spreading information on social issues. I also share my experiences and wisdom through mentoring startups and entrepreneurs, particularly as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Insead Business School.
Paul Tran, HR Director & Leadership coach, Singapore
I had the pleasure to accompany Christelle while she was re/defining her projects and goals. She is a total person, who is not afraid to get to the bottom of things, to explore her own vulnerabilities to bounce back. Joyful and enthusiast, she tackles situations with an infectious enthusiasm. Thanks to her temper and creative intelligence (I rather say sparkling), she brings a powerful analytical dynamic. She strategically responds to various challenges that leaders encounter by creating new leads. To sum up her main strengths, I would give 4 words :
Dominique Proudhon, peacemaker & professional coach, France