Following on from my last post on Selfness, here is another piece of draft writing from the same book (self-development/coaching).
‘Clutterless < — > Tidyness
I have had a long struggle with ‘clutter’ – I hold on to things for too long that I may never need. I now recognise that there is little value in this, apart from saving a few pennies or pounds in the distant future at the expense of living a cluttered existence. If there is too much clutter, housework takes too long and becomes an unwelcome chore.
There has been much written on being clutterfree but some of this can be over-the-top, and lead to having a de-personalised space which is great for a showhouse but is it really a home?
At one time, I felt rebellious about clutterbusting. Having had to downsize, I had no option than to sell or dispose of many items, some of which I still have regrets about. Thankfully I did not rid myself completely of some of the smaller boxes containing various bits and pieces. I later went through these and as I picked up a piece, I would recall a special person or time in my life. Having a poor memory for some things, these triggers are invaluable and I am so thankful that I still have them in my life.
The key is to achieve a balance between possessions and space, with each possession having a place. This leads to being clutterless (as opposed to clutterfree), keeps the space tidy and results in a personalised environment that is special to you.
Periodically I enjoy spending time sifting through a selection of my possessions to check that I still want to keep them, or to organise them in a better way. This works for me. I have found that by decorating a room in a way that brings me pleasure, then choosing storage solutions that complement that environment, I am able to keep the things that I love in a way that adds to my contentment in my home.
My problem is that I still buy things and bring them into the home. I get pleasure from browsing in charity shops and strolling round boot fairs, disastrous for adding to clutter! But I enjoy it, and therefore my sifting has become a regular occurrence to keep balance within the home. The benefits are that this process can be done mindfully. (A topic for another post.)
Here are a few tips for becoming clutterless:
- Spend random times – perhaps in the evenings or at week-ends – going through a shelf, drawer or cupboard. What works for me, if I am not motivated but want to sort something out, is to set a timer for 20 minutes and make an agreement with myself that after 20 minutes I can be done. Oftentimes I am by then enjoying myself and get lost in the task, carrying on longer and achieving more, with a sense of satisfaction from the end result.
- Draw up your own criteria for keeping things. My own is that an item either gives pleasure, is useful now or within the next year, has memories or some other reason that I can justify to myself for keeping it. Books are my downfall – yet they are such treasures. Also clothes. I do hold on to a lot of clothes, even though I apply the sifting process, but if they are well-organised then I don’t see it as a problem.
- Decide what storage you want and get it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are lots of cheap shelving options out there, or colourful boxes and filing systems. The choice is yours. I have a bed with wonderful drawers which take a surprising amount.
- Question what you are keeping ‘because it may be of use some day’. My experience is that it is the things with memories, special things that people have given me, that I have missed. Those without memories are soon forgotten, and if you don’t need them then the likelihood is that you will not miss them. Amongst my regrets are my food mixer and food processor that I had for many years. I was in for a shock when I saw the replacement cost. So, think twice before sifting too far!
- Think about what you really enjoy in your life. Consider your values and keep the things that enhance your life. Let go of those you will never use and just leave you with feelings of guilt that you should have done something with them.
Accept your level of clutterlessness and enjoy.’
This piece was written a few years back. If you have read my recent post on Clutter-busting, it will be clear that I have not completely solved the clutter problem. It remains something which varies according to my health, energy and motivation.
At the risk of sounding a bit weird, a conversation and youtube watching session with my daughter on shopping hauls gave me the idea of playing around with my new computer videoing a garage book haul. I took a block of ten books off my shelf unit in my garage and recorded myself going through them and talking about them and what I found interesting. I was hoping that by doing this I would at least find something that I no longer wanted. I was wrong … it just reinforced my choice to keep them. And the potential youtube video? It was a learning experience – for a start it was too slow, I was swinging to and fro on my chair – very distracting – and it seemed so false! There’s certainly work to be done if I want to join my daughter in becoming a youtuber (something she wants to do but not yet and would be great if we could both get involved).
By the way, for those that have read my post on Clutter-busting, as part of my garage plan I was researching the cost of skips at the week-end only to find that local skip hire companies are exceptionally secretive about their fees meaning that a few phone calls were needed. Well today I contacted some and was slightly horrified at the cost. Then I looked at the van hire and somehow the skip seemed more appealing. However, even just working out that plan got me motivated to make a start on sorting the garage out, even if it wasn’t according to the plan I devised. I’ve made a start on working through it.
As a last thought, I think being part of this blogging community is really helping to motivate and inspire me. When it comes to the home, I particularly like Le Zoe Musings which has such beautiful photos which include a selection of closet solutions. Blogging has opened up a whole new world to me at a time when the world might otherwise have seemed to be getting smaller.