Everywhere I look, I see too much stuff. And not just stuff, a lot of dust-covered stuff. Which tells me two things. First, I hate dusting, especially in and around the nooks and crannies of all my stuff. And second, all that dust tells me that the items in question have not been used or moved in way too long and I should probably get rid of them so I don’t have to dust them anymore. Not to mention, dusting empty surfaces is so much easier than cluttered ones and then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t dread dusting so much.
I read a book a few weeks ago that talked about unshackling our lives from our stuff, obligations, fears, etc. in order to have the white space or margin to think creatively as well as the time to focus on the things that matter most.
I know it’s true in my life. I have a hard time sitting down to do one thing—especially to relax or recharge my mental batteries—when a dozen other things are screaming to be done. And it’s really hard to think positively and creatively about writing a novel when a chunk of my heart feels like a failure as a housekeeper, mother, wife, cook, or friend simply because of a packed schedule that never quite gets done. I guess guilt is some of the “stuff” that I need to get rid of.
So, in 2017, I’ve started a system to help get control of the gazillion details, appointments, and need-to-do’s that clutter my mind. Armed with detailed lists in an app that will filter them out to me on the required date or only one next task at a time for the big projects, my daily and weekly schedules have developed some breathing room. The lists are still there so I won’t forget anything, but they are out of sight. All I see is a prioritized handful of things to do today that easily fit within the routines of my day. Just breathe in that thought for a moment. Ah.
The mental clutter is getting under control, but that still leaves too much stuff in my house.
The book I read had a few rules about getting rid of the physical clutter. First, do I use it? Second, do I love it? (Meaning it’s okay to keep a few things around that remind you of a loved one or a special vacation or simply because they are beautiful and speak to your soul.) Third, if it fails the first two tests and I’m keeping it only because I might someday need it, what would it cost to get a new one if that time ever comes?
This process of physically decluttering is taking longer than the mental part, but I can already feel the load lifting as I tackle a shelf, drawer, cupboard, or counter per day. Some gets trashed. Some gets returned back to where it should have been in the first place. Some will get listed on Craigslist or Ebay to make a little money, but more stuff gets added to the donation box. And the lucky things that remain find their own breathing room in a clean and organized environment.
Bit by bit, I’m conquering my problem of too much stuff. Of course, I’ll still need to sweep through the house and my calendar on a regular basis because I’m not the only one who lives here, but the very thought of breathing room in my home and my mind is motivation enough to keep it up.
What about you? Do you have too much stuff? How hard is it to get rid of things you haven’t used in a year? Can you imagine the freedom if there was less stuff cluttering your home and mind?