Oh, lawks – I have too much stuff, I need to de-clutter!
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
The Lady of Shallot
Those of us who are not minimalists face a big hurdle in life and that is to determine where to draw the line between “lots of lovely stuff” and “clutter”. On the face of it and particularly, I am sure, to genuine minimalists, lots of lovely stuff looks pretty much the same as clutter. However, there is a tipping point, and I reached that last week. It took a comment by my grandson (the reluctant owner of a minimalist mother) to make me take stock and determine that there is a whole category of things which I regularly move about from place to place and which I neither want nor enjoy.
My favourite temporary storage space for such things is in my wardrobe, but when that wardrobe is required for the purposes of hide-and-seek, the things have to go elsewhere. The only problem with that is that elsewhere is aready full of things. Action is required.
The first step in any action plan is to think. In this instance, the thinking led me to an understanding of the nature of my clutter. For me, clutter is stuff that I have already let go of emotionally and cerebrally, but somehow haven’t physically removed and it falls into a few categories:-
- Items that might be worth selling – these need to be priced and listed for sale.
- Items might be waiting to be taken in to a charity shop – hardly difficult to accomplish.
- Items that I have categorised in my head as difficult to dispose of and therefore have not even tried to think of ways to remove them – these need rather more work, but it can be done.
One example of the latter was my old printer which I could happily have just put it in my garage and forgotten about. One of my first actions after my grandson’s visit was to list this on a sale site free to anyone who was prepared to come and collect it. I had an offer pretty instantly. Not everything that I want to sell garners any interest, but it’s always a good starting point and if no-one wants it, donating to charity remains an option.
One idea for tackling stagnant clutter is to make a decision to remove a certain number of items each day. This week I am setting aside just 15 minutes after I wash up the breakfast things each morning to go through one tiny area and see if I can remove three items. It might be a kitchen drawer, or a storage box. Today it was the box I use to store my spare make-up and skincare; I easily found more than three things in that which I wouldn’t ever use. One bonus in setting a number is that it’s human nature to try and beat it.
I am writing this on the penultimate day of International Correspondence Writing Month and after I write my final letter tomorrow I am looking forward to going through my letter-writing box and weeding out some things that I no longer want to keep. Then I can recycle the box and that will be a grand achievement for the day.
I’m not a profligate purchaser and there are plenty of things in my life which I am happy to just keep using until they conk out without feeling any need to keep updating. I expect my CD player and television to last me years; I don’t see any need to buy newer, bigger, splashier models. One thing my grandson commented about last week was a couple of framed photographs that I had just bunged under my chest of drawers pending some action. I told him I intended to put up new photos and he asked what I would do with these. I was happy to be able to point out that the existing photos would be replaced, but the frames re-used with new photos in them. That raises a question in my mind, too – in these days where we are all trying to reduce our impact on the planet’s resources, why don’t shops sell cushion covers separately? The vast majority still come with a foam or feather pad inside them, but it would make much more sense to sell the covers and pads separately. I mean, you don’t have to buy a new pillow every time you buy a pillow-case.
These are just some thoughts I am having as I try to create a bit more breathing-room in my flat. I am certain that this doesn’t mean I am going to become any sort of minimalist. I will still end up with more stuff than I need, and I don’t doubt that I will be decluttering in some form until I become too old to get to the charity shop and even the bin.
Do you have any favourite decluttering tips? Are you a minimalist, a maximalist, or something entirely healthy in between the two?