This is the fourth part to a six part series here on Simple Mom.
Photo by Karl Sinfield
Stuff. Do you have too much of it? A lot of us do. And it’s a surefire way to keep you spinning in circles at home.
If you have too much to pick up, look for, clean around, organize, and trip over, then it’s no wonder you’re feeling disorganized. And if you’re having to do it over and over and over again, it’s no wonder you’re feeling unproductive. That’s why the third key to a disorganized and unproductive day is simply having too much stuff.
An overflow of stuff turns into clutter, and clutter turns into disorganization, stress, chaos, and a lack of peace in your home. Who wants that? No things are worth that.
Stuff Begets More Stuff
Photo by Aja Thomas
What’s even worse is that in a consumerist culture such as ours, more stuff demands more stuff to contain it – Sara at On Simplicity brilliantly calls this “meta clutter.” Stuff to hold your stuff. Do you find yourself continually needing it, collecting it, wishing you had more of it?
Instead of inventing more creative storage, why not consider getting rid of some of your stuff? You’ll instantly add more square footage to your home. It’s like building an addition, without the expense, hassle, and dust.
Let me tell you a short version of my experience with this. Not quite two years ago, we moved our little family over 6,000 miles away to a new country. Flying overseas and settling into new living conditions required us to whittle down to the absolute essentials. We managed to pack everything we needed into 15 boxes – that included books, clothes, toys, everything. Those boxes were our check-in luggage.
We stored a minimal amount of stuff into the smallest storage unit we could find back in Texas. These were things like quilts, yearbooks and baby books, sentimental photos. Things we didn’t want to lose, but that we didn’t want to take, either.
Photo by Julian Baker
We sold everything else, either in a garage sale, on Craigslist, or to friends and family.
At first I thought getting rid of stuff would be difficult, painful even. It was a little at first, but it quickly became invigorating and relieving. It was really freeing to not be weighted down by stuff. And we really didn’t have that much to begin with – we were living in a 1,000 square foot apartment before moving overseas.
We bought furniture, bedding, and other household goods when we settled down here, but I’m so happy we haven’t resurrected more needless clutter. The four of us now live in just under 1,500 square feet, we have one closet in the entire place, and we have plenty of room for it all.
What To Do?
Overwhelmed when you look around your home? I understand. I’ve been there. Here are a few ideas to perhaps get you started in your decluttering process.
• Don’t try to declutter your entire house all at once. You’ll flip out and throw in the towel before you even start. Make a workable plan, such as tackling one room a day over several weeks.
Photo by Chris L
• Make a plan of action immediately. Ever decide you don’t want something, but then you just stand there holding it, not sure what to do with it? Get two large boxes and label them “sell” and “donate,” and put your items in there without analyzing over it for too long. Keep these off to the side, and add to them throughout the day.
• If you haven’t used an item in over a year, chances are high you don’t need it. To find out if those seldom-used items get touched, put a simple removable sticker on the bottom. As you use your things, remove the sticker. A year later, if there’s still a sticker, then you probably don’t need it.
• If you’re still undecided about something, designate an “undecided” box. Pack up your undecideds, mark the date, and store it away in your garage or a closet. In three months, look in the box again. If you’ve now realized you can live just fine without it, then there’s your answer.
Coming to You Soon
I’m zealously working on a little project that I hope to announce sometime next week. It’s a simple little tool that will guide your decluttering process, and I truly hope it will encourage you towards running a simpler home. I’m pretty excited about it, so be looking for it soon!
Edited to add: In the comments section below, reader Crystal pointed us to an excellent short documentary online called The Story of Stuff. It’s about 20 minutes long, but it’s worth a watch – quite eye-opening! Thanks, Crystal.
Do you feel like you have too much stuff? What’s your short-term solution for dealing with clutter? It’s surprising how little we need to live, really. Perhaps letting go of some of your belongings is your antidote to a disorganized, unproductive day. What do you have too much of?