Is your mess and your hoarding driving you nuts? Here’s an answer.
Less Is More
Sometimes, what seems small brings great rewards.
A few years ago, my family and I moved a couple hundred miles Eastward from our home near Seattle. We lived in a 3,500 square foot house and most rooms had plenty of overflowing junk. The thought of moving everything was daunting so we got a little crazy and start selling stuff as fast as we could list it on eBay or Craigslist. It was fun. We made a few bucks and found things that were long lost. Over the next couple of years, we did the same thing two more times as we moved first to New York and then to South Carolina.
I’m surprised at how little I miss my stuff. At the time, I thought this junk was gold plated. It really surprises me is that I don’t even remember anything we sold other than a few tools and my copy of the OED. Truthfully, though I told myself something different, we saved stuff because of a hoarder mentality: we might need it one day and we never did. And we never have since.
So I’ve become a believer in less is more. Somehow having less stuff on the outside makes me feel less cluttered on the inside.
Ways To Dump The Junk
There are lots of good resources for people wanting to clean up but here are a few things that helped us keep on the narrow path of less:
- Get rid of your broken stuff. This is a hard one for me. I want to fix everything. This weekend. Between trips to the dump and the store and getting the girls new shoes. But the want never quite makes it to the do. Most of the time it just makes sense throw stuff out. Your closets and garage, and maybe your brain, will thank you.
- It really is good advice: if you haven’t used it in a year, then get rid of it. Don’t throw out grandma’s old quilt but, really, that half-empty bag of lawn fertilizer? C’mon. You couldn’t break it with a sledge. Toss it.
- If you can buy it for the cost of two or three cups of coffee then throw it away. I used to keep all kinds of stuff. I would buy a pack of flashlight bulbs for two bucks and use only one. The one left in the blister pack? I cherished it. I’d cart it from toolbox to toolbox and shuffle through stacks of other opened stuff trying to find anything. I admit this is still hard but now I use what I need and through the rest away. I feel wasteful but I don’t have space for it and I’m tired of moving it. For the same reason, we don’t shop at Sam’s Club or Costco much. I don’t need four gallons of tomato sauce at a time. Unless you have an industrial sized pantry that would make Gordon Ramsay proud, it just clutters things up. Buy what you need and use it. Throw the rest away.
- We’ve slowly been shifting our mindset from that of rushing out to buy what we need or want to taking time to buy things that are useful and that bring us some joy. We could buy any old pan for cooking but love our Le Creuset pots. Just using them makes me a little happier. They feel good. They’re easy to control. And it makes the purchase of something more enjoyable rather than just going out to buy whatever fits the bill.
- Give stuff away. First, I called anyone who gave us things to see if they wanted it back. Most of them laughed and said they got rid of it to clean up. So we gave things to food banks or charities where they could either give it away or sell it to purchase things new.
- An educational note for those who have never sold things: you know that hardcover copy of Steven King’s Carrie that you’ve been lovingly dusting and ‘curating’ for the last twenty years? It’s worth about fifty cents if you can find anyone to buy it. We found that a great sale is twenty percent or so of what you paid. Expect five to ten and you won’t be disappointed. No one is trying to offend you – they just don’t want your junk unless you’re giving it away.
- And be a little careful. We’ve never met anyone at our house but always in a grocery store parking lot. Just too many weirdos running around and Craigslist is a perfect forum to meet them.
So clean up a bit. Start with a drawer or a room – there’s no rule that says you have to go top to bottom all at once. Your brain will feel better.
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Wonderful book with over 13,000 Amazon reviews! The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.