Archive for May, 2008

Declutter your life

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

I made an amazing find in the book store the other day: No more clutter, by Sue Kay (Hodder Mobius). It had started working its magic on me even before I reached the checkout. Just the idea that it’s possible to ‘clear your space and free your life’ was enthralling.

What amazed me most was the insight into why life was so cluttered in the first place. Before this I would never have considered myself a hoarder. But I am, I know this. OK I don’t store old newspapers or collect thimbles. But I don’t let things go. And of course, the main culprit, is the desire for new things. (There’s your problem!!!)

Mostly it gave me the confidence to try, take that first little step towards a clutter free life. And that’s the biggy – it only needs eyes to see the clutter, but knowing where to start is the problem. It’s like trying to chip away at a mountain!

Watch it! And it will clear itself!
But starting with clearing one surface is a good start. Staring at the problem helped a lot too. Forcing myself to actually look – really see – the clutter was a big step. As you look at it, even though you’re not doing anything about it, you’re asking yourself the questions. “Why am I keeping this?” “Where did that come from?” “Will I seriously ever need that again?” As you stare you’re also rehearsing the actions of dealing with each item.

Throw it away! Don’t buy it again!!
I was brought up to save my money to get something and then treasure that thing. Throwing something out that is perfectly functional (and that has cost me good money) really goes against the grain. It’s also not very green. Ethical disposal has always been a big problem for me. The Earth’s resources have gone into making that item and it’s not right to throw that item into the landfill, when another part of the Earth (or its atmosphere) is going to be ravaged to get the same raw ingredients out. But me keeping that item and filling my house with its friends is not helping the Earth – and it’s not helping me! The key HAS to be in changing my future behavior. Not buying more clutter. Purchases make me happy. Clutter does not. But they are one and the same. It’s time to cut out the happy! A clear space can be my happy. AND it can give me peace too, which let’s face it, things never can.

Give it away! Or not??
It’s great if you can give stuff away, but then that’s how I acquired a lot of the junk in the first place. I was too polite to say no when other people were de-junking their own lives! So I didn’t want to pass on my problems to someone else. Freecycle is a great solution to this. Let people decide themselves if they want what you’re giving away, and then give it to the most deserving of them. Or the first comer, which if you’re being ruthless – and by this point you should be! – gets the junk out of your life that much sooner.

OK to go!
Starting with that one surface – and still only as a thinking exercise – lets you start the job with an action plan. And also a sense that it’s achievable. When you come to do it for real you know what goes where. It may be days or weeks since your rehearsal but you’ve figured out which items need moving, which are for the garbage, which can be given away, what can be recylcled and what can be Freecycled. When it comes to actually doing it, you’ll be amazed how easy and how quickly it gets done.

The trick is not to get dishearted when you look at the next surface or turn around and see the junk on the other wall. Just repeat the looking and seeing process and have faith that it will get done again.

Keep it clear!
Let the clearing spread out. Think forest fire, but slower. Within a few days you and other people will start noticing the difference. An important tip here: Don’t let that space you’ve cleared heal over. Put a big, clear note on it so others know that if they put something down on that surface you have cleared there will be big trouble. Police the surface! It is the seed of your decluttering.

Further reading:
Tips from Sue Kay’s website.
18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess

Read on...
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