Decluttering After Life Transitions



Clutter can overtake us quickly. We are busy living life, attending to our family and doing what we do.  We grieve a loss.  We transition into the next phase of life.  All of a sudden we look around and there is clutter in our home, office, and head.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless.  There’s a plan to put into place to help you declutter and get back your life.  Decluttering after life transitions helps you move forward.

Making the plan

That saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” applies to decluttering too.  It may have been 6 months or 6 years that clutter has been accumulating. It may be more than one transition that has occurred, such as a loss of a family member, a new job and an empty next.  Start by acknowledging that  your life has been focused on priorities.  Then step back and start making a plan.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself:

~ Who should make the decisions about the clutter?

~ Do I have a time line to get started and get finished?

~ How do I keep what’s most important but let go of what is not?

~ Am I ready to get started?

Once you answer these questions you can proceed


Taking steps forward

Start by making your work manageable. What makes it manageable can be creating your team, creating chunks of work or finding a new perspective. Creating a team can include your family or professionals. Leverage your team by knowing what do you want to accomplish and who has the best skill set to get this done.  Create chunks of work by breaking the work into units of space, such as room by room, or time increments.  Finding a new perspective can include looking for a treasure you have lost, finding money in your clutter, or taking a positive approach in that you make people your priority at the time your clutter accumulated.


Letting go

Your transition may include feeling of grief, shame or remorse.  Let go of “how did I let this happen” and embrace “I am creating a new life.”  As you work toward organization, embrace your new feelings of empowerment. Life transitions can open new doors for you and new options you have not thought of before.  Letting go of stuff can help you let go of emotional blocks too. Life transitions require support. Support can include a professional organizer, coach or therapist.  Decluttering after life transitions supports your new vision.


More decluttering strategies here.

7 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    Transitions can be challenging. I like to think about making space for the opportunities, experiences, and supplies that are part of my today and my future. Space is a beautiful thing, and we tend to fill it up, so a transition can be seen as a move into a new space, which will soon be filled with new memories and adventures. We really weren’t designed to drag our lives around behind us.

  2. Ellen Delap
    Ellen Delap says:

    You’re so right! It’s really about shedding the stuff that holds us back. Many times that stuff is sad and filled with vulnerability. It’s a good thing to take stock and keep less.

  3. Janet Barclay
    Janet Barclay says:

    Sometimes people put off dealing with the clutter for any number of reasons, but when they finally get to it, they wish they had done it much sooner. It’s always worth it!

  4. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    The question “Am I ready to get started?” is key. I’ve dealt with both grief-stricken clients and family members who attempted to jump feet-firsts into the decluttering/downsizing process prematurely. In these situations, it’s best not to rush the process until it’s truly “time”. Thanks Ellen!

  5. Liana George
    Liana George says:

    I love the questions you posed: Who should make the decisions and am I ready to start? Those are SO important for people to ask before they start any organizing project at any stage. Sadly, too many people don’t take the time to really assess and evaluate those things and once they get into the project realize that they aren’t ready or shouldn’t be making the decisions. Thanks for sharing such great insights!

  6. Ellen Delap
    Ellen Delap says:

    @Janet – it’s so true. It’s worth the energy and time to make changes.

    @Liana – assessment is the best first step as well as a time line. These preparation sessions create clarity for you. Your goals align with your work this way.

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