This is your clutter wake up call.
In 2004–when I started working with people to create systems, letting go of clutter and excess, and taking control of their lives–you would see the occasional article on clutter. It would likely show up in a spring cleaning issue of your favorite magazine, or maybe Martha Stewart would offer a few tips here and there about decluttering, organizing and simplifying.
Fast forward to 2015 and you have entire magazines dedicated to clutter and organization. There is at least one article each month, in every home and garden magazine, on the topic of clutter or organization. Oprah’s latest magazine cover is “Declutter Your Life in 2015”. Paring down is all the rage.
The New York Times recently published an op-ed article, “The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy,” by Pamela Druckerman. She explains how clutter, decluttering, and organization are not just American topics, but worldwide concerns. She talks about the transformative experience that many people experience when they let go of their unneeded stuff. In the end though, she states,”It’s consoling to think that, beneath all these distractions, we’ll discover our shining, authentic selves, or even achieve a state of ‘mindfulness.’ But I doubt it. I’m starting to suspect that the joy of ditching all of our stuff is just as illusory as the joy of acquiring it all was. Less may be more, but it’s still not enough.”
What we need to realize is:
IT IS NOT ABOUT THE STUFF.
The reason that we can let go and let go and still feel overwhelmed is that it’s not about the “stuff” we do or don’t have. It is about two things, and neither have much to do with the items we are parting with:
1 – It’s about our relationship to “the stuff.”
2 – The “stuff” does not have to be physical to be clutter.
Usually, you will read posts where I suggest that you take small steps consistently to provide lasting change. But sometimes you just want to cut out the part of your life that is causing you pain. If this is you, today, right now, then follow the steps below to make a big change immediately.
1 – CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. Learn all you can about clutter; what it is and what it isn’t, and the cost that clutter has in your life.
2 – Figure out where your clutter is coming from and CUT OFF THE SOURCE. If you are continuing to add activities to your schedule, worry to your mind, and stuff to your home, finding time to deal with what is already there will be difficult.
3 – Make it fun and PLAY A GAME. Your brain works better in fun and interesting situations. Playing a game to declutter is more fun and will increase your motivation to get the job done. Join the March Into A Simpler Life page on Facebook to get an organizing tip every day, or join the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. You could play the mins game, or do a 27 Fling Boogie.
4 – GET IT OUT! Once you have made a decision, letting go of clutter is the next step. Remove the thing that you just let go of. There are many ways to do this. If you live in or near Harford County Maryland, you can check out the resources on ClearYourClutterDay.org. Otherwise, Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org, Earth911.org, and TheStuffStop.com are all great resources.
Judith Kolberg, in her book Getting Organized In the Era of Endless, shows how information, interruption, work and stuff are endless but the amount of time we have to spend on these things is not. In the case of Pamela Druckerman, she has addressed the stuff and pared down but she has not handled the information and interruption or her relationship to the stuff and so she continues to feel overwhelmed by it all. In order to feel a sense of release from all that is weighing on us, we need to cut off the stuff and change or relationship to that stuff. Once we find joy in other places than acquiring and discarding things, we WILL find our authentic selves.
I’ll leave you with two quotes:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
“People start to work on their [hoarding] problem when the reasons for change outweigh the reasons for not changing, and not a minute sooner.”
David Tolin, et al Buried in Treasures