Decluttering is one of those words that was created because no other word existed for the task. It is the process of removing those things in our lives that cause us to stumble, lose our way, fall down, or become otherwise distracted. And practically speaking removing clutter is a relatively easy task. Start with a drawer or a closet or a bookcase and start separating into two piles; what you need and what you don’t need. The goal is to get rid of everything that isn’t absolutely essential, that you don’t use, or that you don’t love. The idea of decluttering has been on my mind a lot lately, in fact, as I am following Simple Black Coffee and his now 18-month long adventure in removing the “stuff” from his own life. In fact, in his most recent post he outlined the removal of a sheath knife, a keychain, a bag of clothing, a couple of magazine subscriptions, and even his foursquare.com account. In one fail swoop he subtracted from his life (he made a difference, if you will…in the mathematical sense) so that he could free up his closet for clothes he really loved and wore, free up his keyring some, allow for more room in his drawer, and put money back into his pocket each month (ahem, Make A Difference, if you will)!
But what does this have to do with simple living, the Tiny r(E)volution or anything in between? As we have been planning, drawing, sandblasting, building, etc, we have learned that in order to be successful we MUST keep our eye on the prize. We must remain focused. In order to do that we have to eliminate clutter or the things that cause us to stumble. For some of us it is material possessions. For others it is money. Maybe even for some it is hours spent in the work cubicle or the woodshop. Whatever the case, it is causing clutter in a world that is busy and cluttered enough.
How can we do it though? How can we declutter and truly make a difference?
- Work in time increments. Any task is easier when you employ time-management. Try decluttering for just 10 or 15 minutes a day at first so the effort doesn’t become overwhelming.
- Don’t let it in. Whether you have lived in your home for 30 years or you are building as we are, simply don’t allow any more stuff in. If you have a leak in your roof you can patch it endlessly. The hole is still there!
- Donate. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. To offset your guilt try donating your discarded items.
- Take a commercial break. I once had a baseball coach that told us if we were going to get fat watching TV we might as well use the commercial breaks to build a little stamina. So do the same for clutter. Got magazines laying around on the coffee table? Maybe you have a handful of pens just sitting next to the couch. Perhaps your DVDs are still sitting where you last left them. Use the commercial breaks (3.5 minutes on average) of your favorite show to tidy up a bit. Get rid of the old mags. Check to see which pens have dried out.
- Stop enabling. I like to think Rubbermaid is perhaps the reason for the downfall of modern society. Got junk? They make a drawer to store it in. Drawer get too heavy to move? They introduce the drawer with wheels. If you minimize your storage areas you will naturally have less area to store thing. Less storage means less clutter!
- Don’t be selfish. I once read on zenhabits.net that hoarding is a selfish act. And when we allow ourselves to hoard we aren’t allowing ourselves to donate, gift, or give-away. So let go of some things and be a little less selfish!
- Get help. No, I don’t mean sign up for one of those awful television programs that tells you in hushed voice how everything will be okay. I mean enlist someone you trust to help you make sense of your stuff and go through it piece by piece. Express to them your desire to declutter and ask them not to judge but to help you declutter.
So did I miss anything? Are there other great ways to make a difference? How do you declutter? Or do you like your clutter just the way it is? Let us hear from you!