What Do Onions And Tomatoes Have To Do With Decluttering

Friday Sep 01st, 2023


What do onions and tomatoes have to do with decluttering??

With harvest time upon us, some of my friends and family will be using this weekend to do big batches of canning, “doing down,” as my grandma called it.


This started me thinking about the connection between onions, tomatoes and decluttering. (Don’t ask…it’s just the way my brain works! Stick with me for a moment.) 


When you peel onions, you know to expect tears. Same goes for decluttering: it is an inherently emotional activity. There might even be tears. As someone who has just undergone a major decluttering event myself, I can attest to the difficulty of letting go. Sometimes purging was simply a matter of getting rid of duplicates (or sometimes even triplicates!) of items like rolling pins or weed whackers. Seriously, why would I need more than one of either? This was an easy and obvious decision to let go. 


A bit trickier were things I liked but didn’t actually use anymore: breadmaker, costume jewelry, punch bowl. Some items I really hemmed and hawed over but ultimately decided to donate. 


Then there were the truly heart-wrenching items to declutter: anything related to my four children. Wow! There were tears on occasion as I reminisced of my time as a full-time mom. I was feeling so nostalgic and parting with disintegrating macaroni art, high school honour roll certificates, and the yearbooks they had left behind was tough! (Don’t worry, they were duly notified of my intention and given the chance to retrieve what they themselves wanted to keep.) Anything I just simply could not part from in the momentum, I set aside, deferring the decision to another day.


Here is the second major similarity between onions and decluttering: just as an onion has many layers, decluttering may take several go-arounds. Don’t think of it as a once and done event. It’s a process. And what you feel today about an item may not be your final decision in the future. Decluttering is so tied up with our emotional state that sometimes the overwhelm causes us to freeze, and that’s okay. Set it aside to do another day. It will all get sorted eventually. (Here I am definitely speaking to myself!)

Next, you’re probably wondering what tomatoes have to do with decluttering. This connection is a little more direct. In “The Decluttering Battle Plan,” I recommend using the Pomodoro Method. This technique is named for the little red tomato timer found in so many kitchens. By limiting your decluttering activities to 25-minute increments, you combat overwhelm and procrastination. Again, I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of this method. When faced with a job I’d rather not do, called “task-avoidance” by the experts, I set my phone timer for 25 minutes and commit to getting started. For many people, decluttering isn’t so much about the doing, as it is about the starting. This will help.


The other great thing about this method is that you can get a surprising amount done in 25 minutes of focussed activity. It’s actually proven to be the time increment that is most people can focus effectively on a single task and net good productivity. When you see the results, it motivates you to keep going the next time you schedule a decluttering session. Like getting fit, or planting a garden, or some other activity that takes effort over time, structuring your decluttering session for maximum payoff without overdoing it is the way to go. 


If you are interested in learning more about decluttering, I invite you to attend our upcoming in-person workshops throughout the GTA. We will be hosting “The Decluttering Battle Plan” several times in the month of September. Check out our website www.smartrealtysolution.com/specialevents to learn more. 


Can’t attend in person? Then why not request your copy of “The Decluttering Battle Plan” workbook, or sign up for “The 30-Day Decluttering Challenge” online

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