Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rendering an account helps us de-clutter


And verily in this thing ye have done wisely,
for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward,
to render an account of his stewardship,
both in time and in eternity.
(D&C 72:3-5)

We may have the notion that we will render an account once and for all on Judgement Day, but this scripture shows us that we will render an account in time (or during our lives) too.  While it may still seem like the accounting is only done once, when we do it often, it can help us continue to make progress.  

We are familiar with the account that we give every year to the bishop about our tithe-paying status, but rendering an account can be a helpful tool for other areas or our lives.  Specifically, I want to point out how it is fundamental to the de-cluttering process.

            Rending an account to another person helps us figure out what is surplus.  There is something about talking to another person that helps you think more realistically about how often you really use something.  This is one way professional organizers help their clients de-clutter.  Professional organizers are adept at asking questions that will challenge us to think about our need for things, to think about how much is appropriate to have that will not get in our way, and to think about whether the frequency of use justifies the space things take up.  

The following questions can help you clarify whether you really need something:
What is this and what is it used for?
How often do I use it?
Is this really helpful to me? (Does this item make my life easier, save me time, save me money, fulfill an essential need?)
Do I love it?  If so, why?
If I had to buy this again, would I buy it?
Is this the best place for it?
Do I have space for this?
How many of these do I have? (Do I need them all?  Which are my favorites?)
Do I own something else that does the same job?
Is owning this more trouble than it is worth?

Some people might feel uncomfortable with having another person ask these questions; it might feel like they are being judged.  However, if the person asking the questions does it with compassion and a desire to understand, rather than to condemn or mock, then it creates a safe emotional place.  I try to make sure my clients know that they are not the ones under trial, but their stuff is.  My clients may balk at the beginning, but as time goes on, because of the safe emotional space I create and try to maintain for them as they answer, they get better and better at asking these questions themselves and making the judgment themselves.  

Usually when my clients have a hard time explaining why something is needed, there is some sort of emotional issue or attachment involved and they need time to work through those issues.  I don’t push too hard when this kind of situation comes up because I know the issue will come up multiple times with other possessions, and eventually my clients will come to a realization themselves to let go as I help them deal with the attachment.  Once their awareness has been raised, they are ready to learn by their own experience whether they need something or not.

            When we ask ourselves questions about our use of our stuff, we are in essence giving an account of part of our stewardship.  It can only help when we are as honest as possible and as realistic as possible.  Then, when we act bravely to fix the problems, whether by repair, donation, recycling, or just plain throwing things away, we need not fear accounting to anyone else.

            It is possible for the process of rending an account to become so quick and easy with practice that becomes almost intuitive.

            If you want to see the question process in action, you can check out the article “How to use Declutter Questions to Make Purging Decisions at the blog I’m an Organizing Junkie.

P. S. What do you plan on applying these questions to?  What have you been able to let go of because of asking these questions?

P. S. S.  I will be posting future insights from the scriptures about organizing and de-cluttering on my blog “House of Order, House of God,"  so if you want to get up-to-date notification on your blog readers, feel free to follow me there too!