Does Your Stuff Slow You Down?
I read an article a week or two ago where the writer said she was so energized after clearing out an area of clutter that she was inspired to make soup stock. What a great feeling that is.
Think about how often we get in that situation. We tend to collect and accumulate, from mugs and dishes to small appliances to paper. All of it stacks up, takes up space and can bring us to a full stop. Let’s face it, if most of the surfaces are covered, it isn’t very appealing to do anything, whether cooking or working at something else.
Do you ever walk into a room, ready to get to work, only to feel discouraged when you see all you have there that needs doing? It can bring out plenty of negative thoughts in our heads. Not only is there little space to work, but the ‘undone’ often involves emotions that go deeper than we want to go. Then it can overwhelm you while it makes you feel guilty and out of control.
Yet, sometimes working on one spot, one corner, the burden is lifted. We can feel the weight of it all lighten. We get a sense of being free.
Having some sense of being in control is a big part of it–at least for me. There are plenty of areas in my life that seem out of my control. So I have areas in my house that I do control, whether through an empty drawer, a clear counter or getting rid of excess.
THE ART OF THINNING
These days I spend quite a bit of my time thinning things out or writing about living a simpler lifestyle. The goal is to get to the point where I only have the things I love, use, or need. It’s getting there, but still I’ll miss a couple of days to find the stuff eagerly encroaching the counter space. It wouldn’t surprise me if the paper reproduces during the night. It happens so fast.
How can we fix it? Is it possible to get there, surrounded only by those things we consider essential? I believe it is, though I am learning it is a continuous process. It’s fun to me now to see what I can eliminate. Ever since I gave away the china hutch I’ve found that true. I still don’t know why it was so freeing, but it was. I felt lighter and happier for weeks knowing it was gone.
Here are a few of the suggestions I’ve read that will help you begin.
1 HANDLE THAT STACK
They say…Deal with the mail once. It’s great it you can do that, but I go for twice as acceptable. I don’t want to stop to write a check for a bill every day or pay it online. So I sort it as soon as I get home, shred it, file it or set it in the bi-monthly box for bill payment. That being said, ideally most of the bills are set up on auto-pay electronically.
2 ONE OUT, ONE IN
They say…Something in, something out. I totally agree with this one. At first I would go for two things out when one comes in. If I buy something now, the goal is that it saves somewhere else. Often a new small appliance can replace the job of two or three. If you must have the new “thing,” while you are justifying it, include what you will no longer need as a result.
3 WAIT A WEEK
They say…If you want to buy something, wait a week to see if you still want it. I think that is pretty good advice, especially on large purchases. Some of the time you will forget about it. Some of the time you will decide you don’t really want it. If you do still want or need it, that also gives you time to really compare prices and shop around.
4 HAVEN’T USED IT? DITCH IT
They say…If you haven’t used it (or worn it) in 6 months or a year, get rid of it. This is my favorite, and a quick way to make fast progress. So I definitely support this one.
There will always be some things you keep to store in bins out of the way, like ski clothes and winter gear. We all have some favorite things we don’t want to part with, and that is okay. A thought though; it might make it easier to part with Aunt Lucy’s dishes if you give them on to a family member. I am a firm believer in passing down at least a few things that our grandparents and theirs may have used. Even if the kids don’t want them now, at some point they will probably be grateful to have the memories.
One other suggestion that might help you. If it is hard for you to thin out, don’t tell yourself you are going to get rid of things. Pack them up and put them in the garage for six months. At the end of that time, chances are you will see you no longer need them. At that point donate them instead of throwing them away. It helps me to know someone else will love them.
EMPTY SPACE IS LIBERATING
These ideas will help you get started. When you see how liberating it is to have a clear space on that counter, you’ll be pleased. It frees you to imagine what you can do, without the sense of too much to do before you can even start. At your desk, where you work, think how freely ideas can come in when they are not crowded out by everything else.
It isn’t that I am that organized. Please don’t think that. It simply gives me a sense of peace when I open a cupboard or a drawer and see some space there. Empty space, uncluttered, and available. Even in a smaller home it gives me a sense of having more room. When I think of how little I actually use on a regular basis and how much still fills my space, it inspires me to continue.
You can read the article mentioned above right here.
The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life
Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life
January 24, 2015
Merry, yes, my stuff sometimes slows me down–almost every day, in fact! As an artist, writer and granny who would rather play with food in the kitchen or spend time with her grandchildren, I know I’ll always have unfinished projects and messes around the house.
Yet, like you, I need to feel I have control over some parts of my life and to see spaces here and there that are free of junk, beautiful and, yes, even empty.
Thank you for the reminder that, while I may never live like a Zen nun, I can take comfort in all the spaces I manage to clear and keep clear.
Excellent tips, all. Thank you.
January 25, 2015
Thanks Kathryn. We all face that so often! Funny how I can get it together one day, then it piles up again. Seriously, I need to learn about paperless living! Since you inspired the article, thank you for that. It is encouraging to know it helps doing a space at a time.
January 23, 2015
Though I may be generally organised, I know I could do to get rid of some stuff! You’re so right that it can feel overwhelming. I sometimes have an item on a to do list, to go through the paperwork drawers, but it’s a job I hate and often feels so big that I procrastinate and it gets put off. Along with lots of other things I hope to sort out ‘stuff’ a little more this year, but I’m going to have to find ways in which to make it enjoyable and brake it down into small chunks, otherwise I’ll find something ‘better’ to do!
January 23, 2015
I hope you find a system that works for you. I’ve come to enjoy it, to see how much I don’t need or use. I confess to having a box that I’m storing though, afraid I’ll miss some items. It can accumulate so quickly, which is why I try to pay attention to the one in, one out rule! Appreciate your comments very much–thanks!
January 23, 2015
Yes! Even sitting here I am surrounded by piles on my desk, under my desk, and all around me….even on the end of the couch behind me. I know I would think more clearly if I would clear the excess.
January 23, 2015
That’s one of my next goals, Marsha, to be paperless! If hospitals can do it, I should be able to! I know it won’t be total, but shooting for most of it. It DOES bring us down. When I see a stack it can often make me feel like I am shirking my duties. I hope you give it a try too. Let us know how it works when you do!