Most likely now that Christmas is past you have more stuff than you had before. Some of you are now engaged in a further shopping flurry to get the good deals in the after-Christmas sales.
Why there is clutter-
Meanwhile I am concentrating on decluttering. I am trying to get rid of too much stuff. It just accumulates, doesn’t it? Over the years more and more stuff fills your house. Some of it must be updated (technology) or maintained, cleaned, sorted, stored, and otherwise messed with. Some of it sits in a bottom drawer or closet for years without any use or attention, yet we keep it. Why?
There have been many articles written on this but it seems to come down to two things in my experience:
- We are so busy we do not have the time or the energy to sort through it all and get rid of what we do not need.
- When we do pick up that item in our sorting the nagging thought is always there: someday I will need this.
To reinforce that second thought I have a number of times gotten rid of something and then shortly thereafter have found I need it. My brain then says, “see, I told you you’d need that someday”.
Of course most of that stuff in those bottom drawers and closets will never be needed. But our mind, which is wired to save against scarcity, only focuses on those few times when you did get rid of something and then found you needed it.
Why reduce clutter-
There are many reasons to reduce clutter at least for me:
- A neat and tidy work space is more efficient.
- It is easier to find what you need if there is less stuff to sort through.
- A neat and tidy work space looks better.
- The less stuff you have the less time you spend fiddling with it – sorting it, storing it, retrieving it, etc.
Most of us have too much stuff and much of that stuff is clutter. Joshua Becker wrote a recent post on how we collect this stuff and how we should look at clearing it away. He makes many good points. It is worth reading.
How to get rid of it-
My aim is to start by cleaning up my study. I have a penchant for collecting office supplies: staplers, hole punches, paper of different kinds, pens, pencils, etc. As I go through stuff I categorize it and deal with it in this way:
Heirlooms – things of significance to me like the ink well that belonged to my grandfather: keep.
Gadgets – divide into two groups: those I’ve used in the past year keep; those I have not used for a year or more: donate.
General stationary and office supplies: same as gadgets.
This is much more difficult than it sounds. It takes time. It takes focus. When I sit down to sort my brain is chattering at me about the dozen more important things I ought to be doing with this time. Some objects evoke memories leading me down a lane of reminiscence and slowing progress.
Have I used that in the last year? Is it likely I will use it in the year to come? Those are sometimes hard to answer. Better keep it just in case. No! That is why you have too much clutter in this study. Pitch it.
And so the process goes. It is difficult.
Then there are the books. My greatest weakness is books. I love them. I love to read them. I often study them. I prefer to keep them. Will I read them all again? No. But which ones will I want to consult at some future time? It is almost impossible to tell. I also love the look of a book shelf lined with row after row of books. My own library!
I am categorizing books: classic fiction I keep (not a lot of those); ordinary fiction I need to donate or sell back; most of the nonfiction work I keep though I am increasingly screening out those nonfiction books I found not so useful. I’ve gotten rid of four or five boxes of books in the past year but still need to trim down the collection to the most important. I remind myself to get more fiction on the Kindle to avoid this problem.
And so the process goes. It is always difficult. If it were not difficult I would not have clutter!
Bookstores and the internet are full of guides on how to declutter and get rid of what you do not really need. But in the end no one else can do this for you. You have to make the tough decisions and cut stuff loose.
Sort. Get rid of stuff. Try to avoid collecting much more. It is a process. It will take some time.
In the end it is worth it.
Or so I keep telling myself.
Wishing you well,
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.