When it comes to stuff…..less is definitely more!
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”
If you want to simplify your life one of the first steps is to declutter. It’s hard to even think straight with mountains of junk around the house, or drawers stuffed full of things you don’t need. Clutter has been associated with stress, anxiety, depression, poor health and feelings of helplessness. It is difficult to live well in a cluttered environment and the truth is that clutter takes time! Time to manage and organise, and mental energy just thinking about what needs to be done. My goal has always been to somehow find more time to relax and enjoy life, and so it became clear that the excess stuff had to go. For many years now I have been clearing the clutter and unnecessary things out of my life. It is an ongoing and continually challenging task.
Having cupboards full of things that need to be sorted weighs on our minds and becomes a kind of mental clutter, always there and never allowing us to fully relax in our own environment. For many people the joy of being away on holiday is in part due to the sense of freedom that comes, not only from a change of scenery and time away from the usual routine, but also, time away from our stuff. There is nothing to clean, store or rearrange. We get to forget the to do list, even if it’s just for awhile. The process of dealing with clutter can take time, and energy, but the results are definitely worth the investment of both.
There seems to be a growing awareness that the more stuff we have, the less time there is to enjoy living. There are now countless books and even more websites that will guide you through the decluttering process. There are even online courses you can sign up for. If you are looking for some quick tips, these 10 Decluttering Principles on the ‘Becoming Minimalist’ website are as a good a place to begin as any. The secret is simply to begin. For some people it takes baby steps, for others it’s like a dam bursting once they start. But do start……even if it’s just clearing the kitchen bench, or emptying out the junk drawer. As you unload the unnecessary stuff from your life you will begin to feel lighter, like a burden has been lifted. You will find that a clear space can lead to a clear mind, which in turn takes a lot of the angst out of daily living.
I must clarify here that I am certainly no minimalist, I like having some stuff around me and I do have a tendency towards sentimental hoarding. But I’m working on it, and minimalism does provide inspiration. Minimalism isn’t about living a sparse and meaningless life, it is about creating a life in which you have the time and space to focus on what really matters.
In his book ‘Stuffocation’ James Wallman talks about an alternative approach called experientialism. It’s about using your resources to do stuff, rather than to buy stuff. Getting rid of clutter is only the first step towards having more time and freedom in your life. The most important thing is to stop buying or acquiring more stuff. If we are content with what we have, and are happy to live a simpler life, there is the possibility of vastly increasing the time available to do the things we enjoy. This may be as a result of having to spend less time managing the excessive amount of stuff we own, or ideally, being able to work less and have more free time to enjoy life.
Some quick tips for getting rid of excess stuff:
- start small
- ‘sweep’ your house regularly for things that are not needed
- learn to love your scanner – scan paper clutter and then bin or recycle
- stop buying new stuff
- one in one out rule – if you must buy something, get rid of something else
- give experiences instead of things as gifts
- have regular 50 or 100 thing challenges to inspire decluttering
Some great resources to help you get started:
- The Minimalists website
- Zen Habits website
- Be More With Less website
- The Power of Less – Leo Babauta
- Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui – Karen Kingston
- Your Spacious Self – Stephanie Bennett Vogt