Do you have a stack of National Geographics?


Overwhelmed at the thought of un-cluttering your piles? Breakthrough these 3 common blockers

Do you have a stack of National Geographic magazines? What about a World Book Encyclodpedia set?

Take this mini-quiz

check boxDo you have boxes in the basement, attic, closet, or garage that have been there so long you forget what’s in them?

check boxHave you taken over the kids’ old rooms with piles that you were going to sort through “one day”?

check boxAre you feeling overwhelmed at the thought of downsizing your house because it means you’d have to downsize your stuff?


If you answered yes to any of those questions…

… it may be time to break through your clutter, downsize your piles, and free yourself to enjoy your post-child-raising years to the fullest

National Geo piles 1

Here are three common blockers, that may be standing in your way…


Downsizing Blocker #1:  You are not your papers

Sometimes it can feel like we are tossing out a part of us.  As if the paper was actually the experience or accomplishment.  It’s helpful to remember that the paper is just that, a piece of paper.  Your experience or accomplishment has already become part of the fabric of who you are.  You are not the piece of paper.

Consider inviting a dear friend or loved one over to sit with you as you sort through your piles.  It can be very comforting to have someone else share in the experience.  Sometimes we simply need to be witnessed.

  • Consider asking more than one person … that way you can re-visit different memories with different people.  Plus, you may be able to get through more piles that way.
  • If you have a child who lives out of town, perhaps they can skype with you so they are available to see the papers you want to share.

Who are a few people that may be able to keep you company as you whittle down your piles?


Downsizing Blocker #2:  Things are not memories

Our things do remind us of wonderful times, but they are not the event itself.  We don’t need a basement full of memorabilia that we can barely even see because it’s under piles upon piles.

Instead, we can revisit those memories by going through the piles (as we get rid of them).

Take some time to travel down memory lane.  Go through your piles or boxes with the intention of enjoying the memories they invoke.

As you are going through everything, there will likely be some items you are ready to either give away or throw away.  If you feel ready, take action.

There also may be some items you are not ready to part with.  For those items, consider how you can save them in a smaller format.  Can you write yourself a short note in a special memories notebook?  Can you take a picture?


Downsizing Blocker #3:  “There’s so much to do that I can’t do anything”

If the project seems so big that it’s daunting to start, then here’s a little trick I use with myself that works quite well….

I like to think of my emotions as messengers that are trying to communicate important information.  When I make a game out of decoding the message, it takes the edge off of any emotion and helps me think more clearly.  Overwhelm can sometimes be code for “I don’t know the right steps to move ahead”.

If that’s the root cause of your overwhelm, here are 3 steps to get you started:

  1. Schedule your time.
    If you are retired, then schedule this like work hours.  For example, I had one client who designated every Wednesday from 9am-2pm as “office hours”.   Choose a time and stay committed.
  2. Chunk the work
    Start with one room, or one area, or one pile.
  3. Reward yourself for your effort, not your progress (at first)
    When you first get started, you may not see visible progress.  Focus instead on the effort.  Did you stick to your office hours?  If so, allow yourself to feel successful. You may not see the progress at first, but if you tackle this one day at a time, and you stick to your office hours, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.


Which blocker is in your way?

…. and what are you going to commit to doing to break through?



  1. Loved this!!! Everything applies to me, but you write in a way that allows for no guilt just positive activity. Congrats on writing in such a clear succinct manner.

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