As you know spring is just around the corner, and I figured I would get an early start on the spring cleaning thing. You know, like a pre-spring-clean spring clear-out before the post spring-clear-out spring clean (OK, I admit that sentence was completely unnecessarily, but it was fun to type, so don’t judge me). And the way I decided to do it, was to dump all of the junk from my wardrobe, all the closets and cupboards into a giant pile in the middle of my living room floor, because I didn’t think I had that much stuff (wrong!) and I figured it would take me maybe an hour max to get everything sorted (double wrong!) and then I’d sit back and relax in my new clutter-free minimalistic space with an insane sense of smugness/enlightenment, while I silently judged all those who choose to surround themselves with unnecessary junk.
Soooooooooooooooo. A week after I started, the way it ended up was a little bit different from my dreamy imaginings. I mean really, who knew dumping all your belongings in the middle of the floor was an ineffective sorting method?! It was me against the clutter, and the clutter was winning while I cry-sorted a pile which appeared to multiply before my very eyes. There came a moment when I had a vision of myself as an elderly lady, with my grandchildren surrounding me, helping sort through junk as I told them the story of how 50 years earlier grandma thought having a clear-out would be a fantastic idea, and they were all born under that pile of post-it notes in the Stationery District of the mess…I could feel the pile laughing at me.
It was a dark time. But I realised I need to address my need to hoard random things, and maybe (definitely) address my compulsive need to spend. Here’s what I learned:
- Instead of a massive clear out once or twice a year, I should do a few smaller ones. I know, duh! It’s so much easier and less emotionally draining to have smaller decluttering sessions. I’ve scheduled in monthly clear-outs because it’ll be a cold day in hell before I put myself through this crap again. I refuse to give the clutter fairies a chance to gift me with anymore unnecessary things.
- I should stop buying unnecessary things and blaming it on ‘clutter fairies’! (even if it’s easier than admitting you have a problem). I found a weighted hula-hoop I never used, 3 boxes of unused Paperchase journals (and yet I never seem to have anything to write in), Sheet music for an instrument I don’t play, a bag of teaspoons (why? Just, why?), and more. I also realised I had a lot of things I didn’t need, but I bought in case I might need them in the future – I don’t need a bicycle pump, but I’ll buy it in case I buy a bike one day! All these things just sitting there. And I whine about not having enough space…and not having enough money. Tut.
- I should stop keeping things ‘just in case’, and get rid of things I don’t use regularly, or I’m guilt-keeping: I don’t mean like Christmas decorations which only get used once a year, or items of clothing which will only be worn for special occasions, I mean four of the five travel first aid kits which I’ve had for 3 years and never used once but hold onto just in case I have an accident, or the shoes I was gifted with 4 years ago but have never worn, and I’m only keeping so my friend doesn’t get upset.
- I will get rid of the extra storage boxes: The thing is, I have collapsible plastic storage boxes everywhere. Loads of them. And that’s part of the problem. Knowing I have a place to store all the junk I buy means I don’t mind buying the junk. Getting rid of the extra storage means I have to think about where little trinkets and such are going to go…and I’m less likely to buy something I don’t need if I don’t have a space for it.
It’s nice when everything is decluttered, and you sit back and enjoy that sense of smugness/enlightenment (it really is amazing!), and it’s also nice to know that the tons of junk I got rid of (donated to a charity shop), not only left my head and house feeling free, but is out there being useful to someone who may need it.