- Is it out where I can see it, on a shelf/hanger/pile on the floor/hook where it usually lives? Then I'll probably pass over it when decluttering, and will come up with all sorts of rationalizations as to why it should stay.
- Has it been moved into a go-away box or pile? Then I cease thinking about it entirely and can easily let it go.
Let's call it Mindless Clutter Effect. MCE means that simply walking into a room and declaring a decluttering mission by looking around (at least for me) is probably doomed. But if I physically touch an object, and maybe move it to a different place? Whole new ballgame. Let's look at an example.
For the past few months, I've been continually pulling things out of my closet and depositing them in an ongoing 'donate' box. Every once in a while the box got dropped off at a thrift store. The selection process was fairly random, and just happened whenever I'd think of something that could go. I had to work up the motivation to actually remove the thing from the closet, while leaving everything else behind. I even tried the backwards-hanger trick, but I tended to wear everything eventually if it's there for the wearing, so that was somewhat self-defeating. Every thing gotten rid of this way required effort to move it.
I managed to purge maybe 20 items in several months.
A couple of weeks ago, some friends came over to help me in my closet-cleaning mission. We physically removed every single thing from the closet (in batches by category) and laid it all in big piles on the bed. Then every item was held up, maybe tried on, and voted upon. Anything with any doubts about it (poor fit, unflattering, not something I've actually worn in a while, a generic 'blah' feeling) went into the go-away pile. The rest was looked through again briefly to see how many were left, the less-awesome pieces were revisited, and then the stuff to keep was put back into the closet. Each thing to be kept required the effort of putting it back in the closet.
The clothing was removed from its natural habitat and backdrop (the closet), and put into a new context (on the bed). Such a simple change, but it (along with the support of having people there to help, of course), allowed me to remove at least a third of my entire wardrobe. The pile above is what'll go into my yard sale when I get around to having one.
What's interesting is that even though the pile has been sitting in my bedroom, totally accessible and visible, I've felt no urge to pull anything out of it. Things in the pile that I'd previously been unable to imagine getting rid of have become irrelevant. MCE defeated.
The moral of the story? Try pulling clutter out of its original context. You might be surprised at how much easier it is to part with unnecessary stuff. Also, have fabulous friends who think going through someone else's closet is fun!