Words of Decluttering Wisdom

A messy room is a sign of a messy mind my mom used to tell me when she’d burst into my childhood bedroom and survey the random piles of clothing, books, papers and an assortment of pieces of whatever hobby I was into at the time.

I wrote that little quip of hers off at the time, arguing that I knew exactly where everything was. So therefore, the mess was okay? But now that I’m older, I get what she was saying. Unfortunately (or, rather fortunately) I live in a condo so there’s no place for messes to hide. Except for maybe the home office.

I decided I was going to really do something with the office. It was getting overwhelming, and I was feeling like I was working in a storage locker. New vacuum cleaner? Great! Let’s just hang it on the wall behind the office door! A new bike? Fantastic! That goes on the office wall, under the other bike. Oh, and another guitar. Yay. That goes on the wall opposite the bikes. You get the idea…

Before the year closed out, I wanted to organize the space better. But decluttering is sometimes overwhelming. I get why people tolerate it, but I didn’t to any longer. While it’s inevitable some stuff has to stay, the space needed some decluttering.

So, in the name of easing that messy mind, here’s a couple of tips that helped me:

TAKE CARE OF THE THINGS THAT MATTER

Keep the things that matter and get rid of the things that don’t. This requires some honesty and hard decision-making. One of the things that really helped me was realizing that I’m not going to be around forever. Do I want to be sorting the same box at 40? 50? 60?  If I haven’t used this object in the last 10 years, will I in the future? Probably not. A word of caution, though. I read Mary Kondo and cleaned out the rest of my place according to her rules. I got rid of everything that, in her words, did not “bring my joy.” Logically, it’s a good rule to a point but I ended up tossing some things that I later needed. Lesson learned!  Another thing that helped was having a time limit. I had to be disciplined and make fast decisions. No time-outs to skip down memory lane. Nostalgia is not your friend.

WHAT IS THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN

What will really happen if you get rid of this item that you’ve been hanging onto for years? Play through these scenarios. Be fearless (and this is important. It’s easier to toss stuff when you’re not afraid.). Ask yourself if you would pay money for the item. If not, get rid of it.

ON THE TOPIC OF JOY

Okay, I’m not going to talk to my socks ala Kondo’s advice (if I remember correctly!) but it isn’t a bad idea to eliminate stuff that reminds you of past problems and conflicts. Don’t keep the stuff that awakes pain and regret. Lighten your load and remember letting go is part of living.

BINNING

Some people suggest making the process less painful by having a three different bins or boxes. The first one is for the stuff you keep. The second is for the stuff to be donated/sold. The third is for the stuff you’re not sure about. The idea is to put everything into sharp focus. If you haven’t thought about or needed the items in the “not sure about” quarantine bin after a month, then get rid of it. I think this is a great idea but, for me, I want to deal with everything now. Not in a month.

IT FEELS GOOD

Decluttering and organizing feels great – which is why this post belongs on this blog. Next on our list after the office are the bathrooms where I know I have some jars of old creams (not SeaLuxe!!) and makeup that need to be recycled and chucked. Lighten your load as much as your heart can bear.

And remember, letting go is part of living.