I’m going to link you to a book that started all this for me in my own life. I don’t get any money for linking to this, but it’s important to me that you are at least aware that this exists. There are some pretty extreme ideas here, but a. obviously some pretty extreme measures need to be taken, and b. you don’t have to do everything she says (obviously). “The KonMari Method,” as it’s now known, is a great way to empower yourself to clear out your space, and in turn, clear out your head and heart.
The long and short of it is this: if you don’t LOVE something, or if the something doesn’t serve a direct function in your life (soap, hairbrush, car keys, etc.), then it goes. No more useless stuff taking up real estate in your space and causing clutter in your brain. Because what you own owns you. You have to take care of all that stuff. You and I both know how quickly that stuff gets out of control. Organizing? Just a way to store your clutter; it’s organized hoarding. This is all according to the KonMari Method, of course.
Piles on the tables.
Clearing off one surface to get to another.
Avoiding entire rooms because they’re too overwhelming.
Not inviting people over because you are way past “company clean.”
Pictured: hot mess
I see you. But you’re ready to move beyond that. It’s overwhelming, I know. Where do you start? You start small. Start with that little pile right over there. See it? You’ve been looking at it (and its friends, the stack on the stairs and the heap on the table) for weeks, thinking that you need to take care of it then telling yourself you don’t have time. Do it now. It will take less than 10 minutes. Don’t let anything leave your hands without sorting it. Be ruthless. Outdated paperwork gets trashed. Needs shredded? Tear it into threes and throw it into different trash cans so it goes out at different times. Kids’ schoolwork you can’t bear to part with? Save one favorite piece per month and keep it in a folder. Photograph everything else and trash it. There are solutions for everything; stop stopping yourself from succeeding. Google is your friend; find a method that works for you and use it. No more excuses. Once you start getting some momentum, the relief you’ll feel will be amazing.
So much relief that…rainbows will burst from your head…? Results may vary.
Part of moving forward is letting go. This is so, so hard. It’s really something you have to learn and practice. Something to meditate on is the quality of stuff. There isn’t a single thing I own that can replace an actual memory I have. There isn’t a single thing that can replace a person. It’s stuff. Saving something for the sake of saving it is a waste of your precious resources. This is how we create clutter. Do I really need a special tool to seed a pomegranate? No, especially considering I hardly eat them. It’s ridiculous, even if it was inexpensive. Do I really need to buy this adorable ceramic bird that’s on sale? It matches my house perfectly, and it’s so cute, but then I’ll have to take care of it – dust it, take care that no one breaks it, find a home for it somewhere in my house, arrange it…multiply this by 20 or 30 other things that were so cute but were on sale and I just had to have them…you see where I’m going here? Picture frames I’ll never use and are out of style but I thought I’d spray paint someday…out. Vases that came with flower arrangements…you know, for all the future flower arranging I’ll do?…out. 20 hair clips for the one head of hair I have…out. This out of tune piano that’s beyond repair that my grandmother kept in her great room? Jeez, she really loved it. I kind of like it, but it’s taking up space, and my house is pretty cramped. No one else in my family wants it, what do I owe it? It’s a thing. It’s not my grandmother’s love. It’s not my grandmother. It’s not my memories of her. I respect that these decisions are difficult, but we somehow get owned by these things we think we owe something to that we simply don’t. Let them go. Things are not love. Stuff is not memory. Room by room you can go, freeing yourself of the stuff that owns you, the stuff that’s weighing you down, the clutter that greets you when you walk in the door every day. Your home is your sanctuary, and you are the curator of a very special collection of only things you need and love.
Imagine entering a home filled only with things that bring you joy.
Having trouble getting the rest of your peeps to fall in line? Well, I’m not a family counselor, but here are some ideas that might work. For my family, I had to walk them through it and be with them. That’s for the major overhaul part. If I’m doing a quick pick up in the morning before work, I create bags for my kids to get their stuff out of my way. I’ll just grab a reusable shopping bag and throw all their stuff in it so they can take care of it when they get home later. I don’t have to look at it anymore, and it becomes their problem. Win/win. Another idea is to have quick cleans during family tv time. Whenever a commercial break comes on, everyone rushes to do as much picking up as they can until the show comes back on. It’s a fun game for the kids, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get done. When it’s all said and done, though, remember that you’re the one who wants the space like this. You can’t make anyone else who lives with you want it like you do. If you want your space to look or be kept a certain way, you’ll have to resign yourself to the fact that you’ll be doing it yourself (aside from others picking up after themselves).
Then sometimes you won’t even be able to get the dog to help.
Here’s another bit of advice I’ve picked up along the way that’s really helped me out. It seems simple: pick up after yourself. Start paying attention to what you’re doing and you’ll see that you leave your own little trails throughout your living space. I get busy and super focused often, and I don’t want to be bothered or slowed down by putting things away. This creates messes fast. Put the tape and scissors away as soon as you’re done wrapping that gift. Put the laundry away as soon as it’s folded. Put the tape measure back as soon as you’re done with it. All these little things add up quickly.
Not putting stuff away is how you end up with five of everything.
The thing you should know about what I talk about on these blogs is that I try to speak from experience. This is no exception. I’m at the tail end of my own years-long purge, and my husband and I have decided we’re not done yet. It feels so good, that we’ve decided to keep going; we’re going to do it again and see what else we can part with to make even more space in our lives. So far we’ve taken out box upon box of donations, and we’ve gone room by room, methodically “gutting” each closet, cabinet, drawer, nook, and cranny to rid ourselves of the stuff we have no use for. In the process, I’ve found my desire to shop and acquire more things has subsided substantially. I love walking into my home and having that feeling of openness and being able to breathe with all the space around me. I say all this because if I can do it, I know you can. Think about how you think about your stuff, and think about how you can start to change those thoughts and begin to really let go. Start small, and you’ll notice big changes come pretty quickly. Good luck. You’ve got this.