Most people view decluttering merely as the physical action of getting things out of the way. And while there is truth in that notion, the cornerstone of decluttering is more likely to be the mind than it is the brawn. Let me explain:
There are a lot of reasons why things accumulate in our homes and work spaces. All of them seem like good reasons and make perfect sense … until we start cluttering up the space. And believe you me, this will happen without fail in a very sneaky way: out of sight!
Think about it: when you do not use something regularly, where do you put it? At the back of the cupboard, in a storage room, in the attic or the basement, or – worse even – in your spare room. Gradually these items will fill up that out-of-sight space and spill out into plain view … and then it could already be a lot of work to sort things out. Quite apart from the mess this creates, it makes us feel cramped and uncomfortable in our homes because we cannot seem to get rid of the stuff.
Now, why did I state ‘it’s all in the mind’? It’s that idea that we need something, or might at some point need it. It’s hard to let go of things that we consider to have a potential of being useful at some point. The problem lies right there: “at some point”. When is that going to be? How long do you have to hold on to something before you realise it’s not necessary? Unfortunately, the “out of sight, out of mind” principle applies. As long as we don’t see that broken toaster we wanted to repair at some point, we don’t worry about it. Unless it happens to be in the way. We all have saved things for future use, but how much of it did we actually end up using? Speaking for myself, I’m guilty of the same thing: I had stuff that I kept for a long time, just in case.
So: how long is “long enough”? When does it turn into “too long”?
Is it worth clogging up your home with things you do not actually need? Once I had realised that things can always be bought, rented, or loaned from friends, I found it much easier to prioritise the ability to use my space to its full extent and enjoy the fact that it is clutter-free against the need to own these things. And the clutter started to become less of a mind issue.
What’s needed is a change of the mind-set to allow for proper decluttering, meaning that we let go of things rather than hang on to them for much too long …
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in our homes and in our minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.