Where It All Started!
I come from a family of collectors; not hoarders, but collectors. I believe it’s a genetic condition. For my grandparents, it was books. My mother has an affinity for birds and angels, not to mention the thousands of photographs detailing our lives. For my brother, it’s stamps, books, Easter seals, Fiestaware, state salt & pepper shakers, and Manhattan glassware. My sister collects pottery and porcelain vases and Luray dinnerware. Me, I have collections of pink and green depression glass, Redwing Lotus dinnerware, and cookbooks. Unfortunately, the collecting has carried over into the rest of life. Now a house full of clutter is staring me in the face!
We moved to Sophia from Wake Forest, NC, from a 3000 square foot house to a five-room farmhouse. The move definitely improved our quality of life, but the downsizing certainly didn’t help the clutter issue! The amount of “stuff” is overwhelming. I say, “stuff.” Have you ever seen George Carlin’s skit about “Stuff?” It’s worth every second of listening. He describes the “stuff” dilemma better than anyone ever has or ever will again!
Where We are Now
It has gotten to the point that when we walk into the house every evening, I am overwhelmed by the clutter and am thus rendered somewhat blind and immobile. I try not to see the clutter and go on to cook dinner, eat and promptly go to sleep. Having always been a night owl, I knew something was amiss. There was a great article in Psychology Today on how clutter contributes to your stress and depression levels. It really hit home. The article contains the following key points:
- Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
- Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
- Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
- Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).
What To Do?
I did what is the family solution to most problems, and purchased two books on decluttering and organizing. I chose the audiobook versions so that I could listen to them in the car and at home. It’s amazing the things you can learn while washing dishes. Both of these books were helpful, full of great ideas and inspiration.
Unstuff Your Life: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good, by Andrew Mellen
I loved this book for its guilt-free, non-judgemental approach to organizing. It contains a step-by-step guide to help achieve organizational success for everyone, tackling every room from the garage to the kitchen to the bedroom!
This book introduced me to minimalism, a genuinely new way of thinking for my collecting mind. Ms. Jay presents an easy-to-follow, simple streamlining method that works in any space, from drawer to entire house.
The Project Has Begun
So I have started the task of weeding through the “stuff” and simplifying my life. I began with the kitchen as that is where I spend most of my at-home time, and also where I get the most joy. Since I have the advantage of having Dream Closets in the family, my husband changed all the lower cabinets in our kitchen to deep drawers and a pull-out. No more standing on my head, trying to dig things out of seemingly backless bottom cabinets. I am now in the process of emptying all the cabinets, wiping them out and creating individual stations containing the tools I need to complete the tasks I do in that area – a technique from Unstuff Your Life. It’s not easy taking a look at all that’s there and parting with things I’ve had for years, but never used. However, IT FEELS GREAT!
I’ll keep you up to date on how the decluttering is going, and how it changes our lives. Until next time, live your best life!