If letting go was easy the clutter wouldn’t be there.
The TOSS can be tough – we so get that! We shared in SORT First. TOSS Later. that sorting everything first, without trying to decide whether or not to keep the items, makes the toss step easier. When you can see exactly what you have and how much, you get clear about whether to keep or release things. Now we want to give you even more support for this challenging step in S.T.A.C.K.S. © (Sort, Toss, Assign, Keep it up, Simplify).
Here are our top ten tips to make letting go easier:
- Let go only when you are ready. To force the TOSS step is abusive whether we are doing it to ourselves or to someone else. If you let go of even 5% of your things you will free space for the new to come in. From Marla – I learned this from my meditation teacher Mary Nickel, of Time Out Associates, who helped me see that I couldn’t clear a lifetime’s worth of buildup in my body in a 2-hour session or even in 3 months. I have been meditating for 21 years and I still need a clean out every day.
- Let your vision support you. Ask the question, “Does this support my current vision?” If not, be willing to let it go. It is powerful to print your vision and put it on a wall so you can see it often!
- Find an Agency you care about supporting. Let go of the idea that you have to figure out where everything is going. Keep it simple and find one agency that is meaningful to you and donate your things to them. If you have unique, valuable items, trust that someone is willing to help you.
- Believe in win-win. Choose Trust over Fear. Look to the gift that you are passing on to others who will love what you no longer need or want. One of our favorite stories is about a client who kept getting stuck on this step because all of her items were so valuable. They represented thousands of dollars of her time, energy and money. But the stuff was paralyzing her. Finally, the day came when she had to let go. She called in sick, sat still, went deep inside, and called out for inspiration. Within minutes, she jumped up and started hauling all the stuff outside to the front yard. She took it all out along with a big sign that said FREE. Then she sat in her living room all day and spied on the people finding treasures. She let herself witness their joy and delight. It set her free. It was a beautiful way to honor the value of what she was letting go. She was then able to start a meaningful new chapter of her life.
- Trust your body to tell you. A simple exercise is to hold the object, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask for a Yes or No. If your answer is yes, you will feel your body lift and expand. You will feel a YES. If your answer is NO, your body will sink or get heavy or tired. This tells you that the object is draining your life force. It is time to let it go. This works well with clutter clearing tasks also.
- One box, one pile, or one type of item at a time. This will support you in staying present and keep you free of distraction. Keep the other piles hidden in covered banker’s boxes.
- Ask the question “Does this serve me in the current chapter of my life?” Remember all of our clutter tells a story. Is this clutter from a past chapter that you are ready to close so you can get on with the new?
- Always do the TOSS step when you are fresh. Because this step takes so much energy, it is important to give yourself a chance of success by having as much energy as possible.
- Have a temporary staging area. If you can’t let it go and don’t want to keep it, give yourself permission to have a temporary staging box or area. Then choose how long. We suggest no longer than 3 months.
- Lastly, get help if you need it. We have other professional organizers come into our homes seasonally and support us in letting go of what builds up. Because it is our own stuff, it is very challenging for us. If you would like support from a professional organizer, check out NAPO and UPO.
Remember all choices boil down to FEAR or TRUST! You can trust to let go of what no longer supports you and that you will have what you need when you need it.
We want you to live free of clutter and replace it with meaning.
Marla, Kate & Team
The key is ONE question at a time and one decision at a time!
The TOSS (the letting go) is the most loaded step of clutter clearing and organizing. If we could do it easily then the piles of stuff wouldn’t be filling up our space. It is often the emotional attachment with the stuff, the story it tells, and the overwhelm of just too much everywhere that keeps us procrastinating going through it.
Here are some of the struggles we hear all the time. I can go through other people’s stuff but not my own. Why is it so hard? I get stuck as soon as I start going through it, especially if I’m touching it. It is overwhelming – I don’t know where to start. My basement is full of my mother’s things. HELP!!
This is why we love the system of S.T.A.C.K.S. © for getting through the stuff. Remember, in the blog Sort First. Toss Later. you were asked to sort first so you can see what you have. The steps of S.T.A.C.K.S. © build upon each other. In the SORT step you are only asking what is it? When you are done you have a clear picture of how much you have – how many months worth of electric bills, how many of the same black shirt, how many pens & pencils, or the same garden tool. Now the TOSS step is easier.
TOSS – here is more guidance:
- Question: Do I need it or want it? It is amazing how often we keep things we don’t even want or need.
- Power Question: Does this item support my vision for this space and this time in my life? Honor the chapter you are in!
- Action: Put it in the keep or discard pile. If using bankers boxes then leave the item in the box and have bags/boxes ready for the give-away, shred, garbage, elsewhere toss categories so it goes quickly.
- Tip: Remember you used bankers boxes in the sort so just take ONE box at a time when going through the toss. This will save you from distractions and confusion.
- Reward: You will get through the toss quicker and with less energy. What you have left is what needs to be organized.
By asking just one question and making only one decision at a time, you WILL be able to get through all of the stuff. And you are still not asking where it will go or what it will go in. Those steps are ahead.
We want to be clear that we know with every fiber of our beings just how loaded the Toss step can be. It is SO loaded that Marla wrote a simple, yet powerhouse little guide called The ART of Letting Go. Please download this free gift and share it with anyone you feel may benefit.
Stay tuned in upcoming weeks as we continue through the S.T.A.C.K.S. © process.
Download our Systems Card as a companion guide to SEE IT. MAP IT. DO IT. © and S.T.A.C.K.S. ©.
With you each step of the way,
Marla, Kate & Team
What does organization have to do with relationships you might ask?
Why is it that “Mr. Organized” partners with “Ms. Chaos”? Think about how often you are at odds with someone in your life because of organization issues:
- Not being able to find what your boss is looking for.
- Arguing with your child about the way their room looks.
- Being accused of throwing important things away.
- Always being asked where something is.
As professional organizers we constantly witness the stress in our clients relationships over organization styles and decisions. Too often those with the ability to organize do not understand when others cannot maintain their environment. Those that are organized need to keep in mind that our research shows only 10 – 15% of the population is naturally organized. Hence, the need to be able to communicate and get help when lack of organization gets in the way.
This barrier between those who naturally know how to organize and the other 90% who don’t is why our main focus is teaching people how. The foundation for any organizing project or communication is three simple steps outlined below.
SEE IT – take a look at where you’ve been
Begin by taking a realistic look at where a lack of organization is impacting your life and relationships. Choose just one area or issue. What’s working, what’s not and why? Keep it simple. Then look at it from both sides and try to see what is at the heart of the conflict. Often our relationships serve as mirrors to look at ourselves. Once you have clarity, why not share your truth with this person or persons and then ask for them to share.
MAP IT – make a plan for where you want to go
Now that you have each shared your truth, each person can create a simple vision for what needs to change. Try asking – what is the single most important change that needs to happen? What is one action you can take? Let this be enough. It is imperative to the relationship that each person has a chance to share their vision and what is important to them.
DO IT – take the actions to make it happen
How you choose to implement your changes or DO IT will be very specific to the relationship. Some may come up with a way to do it together, while others might call in outside help, and still others will compromise on different levels.
Some examples of this are:
- A family sets up a system for incoming mail and an active paper system together.
- A mother and child call it fun time, put on music, and make a game of putting everything back in its’ home.
- A couple decides to hire a professional organizer because they would rather enjoy their time together hiking or taking dance lessons.
- A boss and assistant set up a weekly 1 hour focused time to go through all the lists and questions.
- Two friends or buddies get excited about helping each other one weekend a month with the clutter areas – We all have them you know.