Over the past year I’ve slowly reached into every closet and crevice of the house. Konmari-ing the crap out of it (literally).
Here’s a few things I learned along the way – both about decluttering and myself:
- What’s important to you at this moment may not be so important 1, 3, or 5 years down the road. Get perspective.
Just today I went through the biggies – a pile of pictures, mementos and “things I couldn’t throw away/donate, but also didn’t know where to put”. 6 hours later I’ve gone through every receipt, card, trip memento, wedding memento, rubber band, nursing pad…you name it, I probably sorted through it.
3 or 4 years ago when I first went through this stuff I thought “We can’t get rid of these wedding cards/trip mementos…it’ll be so fun to look through them down the road and relive our happiness!”
Today I confirmed, it’s not actually all that fun. 95% of the wedding/engagement/birthday cards were tossed and only those with cherished messages were kept. Same with the trip mementos I couldn’t bear to toss – the metro tickets, the KLM baggage identification (honestly! why on earth would I keep it), a napkin from my baby shower…all found homes in a fresh & shiny black garbage bag.
Makes me think about the things I’m contemplating and stressing over now and how it’s hard to step back and keep things all in perspective. A few years down the road I’ll realize some of these stresses were real, but 90% were garbage.
2. It takes time to properly sort through messes.
The tricky pile I worked through today took up a corner of our upstairs hallway. Maybe 3 or 4 square feet.
It took the entire day to go through (minus nursing feeds and a dentist appointment). Some innocent pictures and papers that looked like it could be swept through in 2-3 hours took an entire day!
It makes me realize that if you want to declutter right, you’re going to have to invest the time in it. The same goes with decluttering your soul.
Whether you’re weighed down by issues from the past or wading through a problem now, it takes time to figure things out. A quick Band-Aid solution (like retail therapy, an indulgent snack) might patch things over for the moment, but the issue will still be there. Real therapy (whether a journey you embark on your own, with a friend or with a professional) takes time to sort through messes – but if you put in the hard work and have patience you will see results.
3. Clutter drains your energy.
Decluttering is no walk in the park – but seeing clutter in the same spots day after day sucks energy out of you, and you don’t even realize it’s happening!
I’m always amazed when I look at a previously cluttered space (like the nursery that was stacked full of boxes, presents waiting to be given, and extra baby paraphernalia) and feel a burst of energy. My step is lighter and as cheesy as it sounds, I walk around feeling like my life is open to more possibilities.
I bet clearing mental clutter would yield similar results.
“To Do” mental clutter (book the winter tire change, order catering for the party, write daycare cheque, tell hubby about massage appointment, etc.) – Clear it by writing a list, prioritizing, and setting a date you’ll complete it.
Emotional clutter – Clear it by paying attention to your feelings/reactions. Ask yourself why you feel that way and whether you’re reacting to the situation or to a previous experience. Dispell the clutter you create in your mind, like the self-bullying I described in my previous post.
4. Decluttering is a continuous process.
While I’m pleased with the decluttering completed thus far, I know from experience that I need to stay vigilant and maintain order by (1) keeping things in their place and (2) determining efficient solutions so clutter doesn’t have a chance to make a home.
Similarly, self-discovery and keeping a clutter-free soul is a continuous process. Regular meditation is a great way to tap into your center and become aware of your thoughts. If you don’t make time to look at your mental clutter you won’t realize how much it’s affecting your day-to-day and weighing you down.
Have you been decluttering your house or mind? I’d love to hear your experiences and progress!
I’m happy to see the progress made thus far. I’m thankful for my mentors and inspiration (minimalist blogs are great!). I’m hopeful that I’ll stay on top of my mental and physical clutter.