Clutter and De-Clutter. Therapy for You & Your Surroundings.
Clutter is the demon of the ordered environment. It steals your tranquillity and plays havoc with your peace of mind. OK, so I'm over-stating it a bit, but clutter is the stuff that takes up your space without serving a purpose.
The possessions we have that seem to have some sort of hold over us - emails, voicemail, thoughts, things - but that we often want to break free from, is clutter. In this hub we're going to look at how to deal the physical stuff that we gather in our homes/cars/offices and how to deal with it.
Most of us have some degree of clutter and we can think of it as a continuum, from the very minimalist to the pathological and frankly rather scary gathering of stuff. If the thought of an afternoon of de-junking makes your heart sink and terminal procrastination set in, stay tuned, help is at hand.
The benefits of de-cluttering.
Firstly, try this exercise. If your house (car/office) caught fire, what 10 items would you not what to lose? People, pets, clothes are all safe. So what’s really really important to you? This will be helpful later when you focus on what you want to keep and what you’ll throw out.
Next think about all you’ll gain when you lose the clutter. Here are some ideas:
- A home/car/office that doesn't embarrass you. Imagine looking at your environment the way a stranger/visitor would and listen to their thoughts.
- An understanding of what you really need and what you already have enough/too much of.
- That sense of calm when you look at your home and there is less visual mess in the way.
- If you sell some of your stuff you could end up with some extra cash.
- If you donate it to charity or a goodwill store you'll get a warm and fuzzy from helping other people.
- You'll find hours in the day that you would otherwise have used looking for lost items.
Get down to business.
- Make a diary date with your clutter. Dress (down) for the occasion with rubber gloves and old clothes, especially if you're going into the attic.
- Write the date in your diary. Commit to it and take it seriously.
- Put on your favourite music and take a deep breath.
- Start with small tasks. If the whole thing is too daunting then just start with a corner or a cupboard that you know you'll manage in the time you have. If it helps, set a timer and stop de-cluttering when the buzzer goes. If you're all fired up and things are going better than you expected then carry on.
- Finish one area/room/cupboard before you go onto the next.
- Work out why. As you're going about your tasks, think about the items you're tidying - what to keep and what to let go of (see the first exercise). Ask yourself why you want to keep something? What does it bring to your life? Is it useful, beautiful or meaningful?
- A place for everything. Allocate a pile/box for keeping, a pile/box for sending to charity, one for throwing into the trash, one for recycling and one for selling.
- One person's junk is another's treasure so get to know eBay, team up with a neighbour or join a local car boot/garage sale and start profiting from your junk.
- Freecycle is an international network that lets you post an email to a website stating what you're offering and allows others who want it to contact you to arrange collection. The idea is that stuff is recycled and doesn't end up in landfill. There are groups everywhere so Google 'freecycle' plus your local area.
- Ditch the emotion. Some clutter is easy to clear but other things are hanging around because they mean something. If they mean something positive then they fit into the useful/beautiful/meaningful categories. If it's a negative association ask yourself again what purpose it serves in your life.
More reasons to de-clutter - it's bad for you!
The keep-or-go dilemma
Here are some examples of things that cause the keep-or-go dilemma;
- Unwanted gifts. Answer - if it doesn't fit in your home or you simply don't like it, no matter who gave it to you, be brave. Re-gifting is one solution (and people usually fall into an 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' camp on that one) or giving it to charity is another. Bravery is key.
- Old photos. Answer - treat yourself to an evening going down memory lane and keep the ones that are meaningful to you. Find a nice album for them and throw out the dark/overexposed/underexposed/out of focused and unflattering shots. Nothing bad will happen to you if you do.
- Stuff that isn't useful right now but... Answer - if you feel that as soon as you throw it out you're going to need it, create a 'box of useful things' and store the box somewhere accessible but out of the way. Otherwise, can you buy, borrow or hire the item if you do need it again?
- The shoes, jackets, outfits that cost a fortune but haven't been worn. Answer - eBay. Or simply give them away to charity and learn from your mistake.
- Sentimental items. Answer - be selective and keep the things that would break your heart to let go of. Have you got a beautiful box or cabinet to keep or display them in?
The Pareto Principle. We use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time, so make sure that that 20% is easy to find.
Now your home is de-cluttered, enjoy the space you have re-discovered.