There is nothing like moving to remind me how little I actually need and how much I actually own. It also creates a great opportunity to deal with the physical clutter of my living space. I’ve been discovering the power of an uncluttered life. Something that, for me, is a work in progress.
I’ve always heard that admitting you have a problem is the first step. I first noticed it when a realization struck. Every day I was fleeing my home. Even now, I seldom want to be home. It is not a place of rest or relaxation. It is not a refuge. It was and is nothing more than a place to sleep and occasionally eat. Thankfully, that discovery was followed by that ever important question – why?
For me, my home represents a growing pile of unfinished business. I am face to face with a mountain of tasks from the moment I walk in the door. Dishes lie dirty in the sink. Unopened mail litters the tables. A painting sits halfway done on the easel. And small papers packed with notes, thoughts and ideas litter every open space proclaiming loudly, “Project in progress!” To take it one step further, it includes for me a constant reminder that I’m not there yet. Now, you tell me, would you find rest or refuge in a place like that?
Something has to change. These are a few of the things I’m learning about how to approach clutter that I hope will also help you. Things I’m slowly implementing in my own life.
- Clean. It’s always easier to keep up with if it’s a process and not an event. For example, I am creating a habit of washing dishes as I make them. No matter how you do it, organized and clean space is pleasant to be in and you’ll free yourself from the nagging and guilt of things you “should be doing.”
- Organize space. Separate work spaces and rest spaces. If you don’t see the work to be done, work that will always be there, then you’ll be better able to rest in your own home. And when it’s time to work, you won’t be face to face with other little things competing for your attention. This goes for separating projects as well. I’m a musician, a writer, a dancer and a teacher. When it comes time to write, I need to be able to escape that seminar I’m preparing.
- Organize time. Just as you separate space, it’s important to separate time. I’ve had to learn that the whole of my life is important. It’s easier to break away from one project when I’ve scheduled time for the other. For me, this is the only way that I’m able to keep up with everything.
- Create a space you love and fill it with things you love. This also means getting rid of the things you don’t love. Be true to you and get rid of the excess.
- Hurt some feelings. I don’t mean deliberately go out and hurt people’s feelings, but in a way we have to be prepared to. A lot of clutter comes from gifts that we don’t want, don’t care about and can’t use, but we don’t want to offend the person who gave it to us so we keep it. Get rid of it. Note: We can do something about this by talking to our friends as well. We can take a proactive approach to gifts.
- Get help. If you can’t do it on your own, then get other people involved. There are even professional organizers to help us!
- Finally, learn to ask why? We need to see our clutter inducing habits and find out why we continue to do those things. Clutter emanates from what goes on in our minds.
Removing the clutter is a healthy decision and it will free your mind to create. It strikes me that Julie Cameron’s morning pages often functioned as a way to unclutter the mind as well. Just one more workspace that, when clear, helps us become more effective.
So, how does clutter effect you? What ways have you found to successfully deal with clutter in your life?
For anyone who wants a little extra reading on the effects of clutter. Here are a few sources.
- How Clutter Affects You at Care2
- Home Relaxation: Why It Pays to Organize Your Home from Elizabeth Scott, M.S.
- A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves from The N.Y. Times