Reclaim your life by decluttering

by Yin on June 8, 2009

in Being Organised

There are many websites that offers advice on how to declutter and organise your life. Decluttering is very important- for the sake of your sanity, getting things done in faster time, being able to find stuff and… even a good nights’ sleep.

How are we going to:

  •  effectively manage time…. if we have to grope around stacks of stuff to find our car keys when we need to go somewhere urgent
  • have a good night’s sleep… if chaos (messy cupboard with clothes jutting out of its untidy drawers; memorabias and albums being all over the place) is what our mind registers the first thing in the morning and the last thing before we close our eyes
  • be healthy…..if we have expired can food and rotted vegetables/fruits in the fridge because everything’s all a mess
  • pay our bills on time… when the bills laid buried under stacks of unopened mail, stationery
  • perform at our peak…. when we cannot organise our emails, never organise our tasks and reminders properly or have tonnes of paper all over the place
  • help but not feel overwhelmed and under pressure …. when everywhere we look is clutter, chaos and mess?

 

Even when running a business, as seen in this bag small in Chiang Mai, customers will be less inclined to buy

Even when running a business, as seen in this bag stall in Chiang Mai, customers will be less inclined to buy

Clutter robs us of quality life and it depletes you of your energy.  How we manage our outer surroundings actually give people an insight of our inner world. People observe us more than we know- and if we can keep our desk tidy and our inbox organised, it gives people the impression that we can manage our lives as well. Now if you are the boss and you have 2 employees- well, have almost similar performance levels. When it comes to promotion, who will you promote- the one who is neat and well organised.. or the clutterer who insists that he/she can find things even though everything’s a mess?

But it is not so much so about how others look at us that matters. Many clutterers would insist that they can only work with a messy desk, and believe it is a waste of time to be organised. Unknowingly, untidy things really can messes our mind as well, and make us less calm. 

But what does cluttering and not able to throw away things represent? Generally a person who have problem throwing away things have problems letting go.

That means, the tendency to hold on to the past, to things that cannot be changed, to anger, bitterness, dissapointments, achivements, rejection… the list goes on and on- all these will prevent the person from moving forward. If you go to a person’s house who is decorated with lots of memorablias of the past (hopefully well arranged), you would find the person have the tendency to talk about the past, to questions why things happened the way they were, etc. I am not talking about a few framed photos but the person actually dedicate a lot of space to things that belonged in another generation.

Please don’t misunderstand- I am not saying that we should throw away old memories- what I mean is that in our lives, we need to live in the present and look forward to the future. We have hopes and goals- and to make them a reality, we have to make space for them. If our space (and mind) is filled up with the past, how can we hope to achieve what we set out for?

Getting Down to De-cluttering

Normally if we were to search on “how to organise our desk” or “how to organise our lives”, we will come across the “how-to” do it. Like schedule the organizing, break into manageable chunks, separate stuff into bins, send items that are good conditioned to charity, etc. But if we are not committed or internally we do not believe in decluttering, it is only a matter of time before that desk or room become the mess it originally is.

That is why, we need to read on the “whys” as much as the “how-to”. The articles that addresses the “whys” will make us understand the negative effects of clutter and why we have to declutter our surroundings.  Literally no one like to do spring cleaning or decluttering, more so a clutterer. Therefore, we need to understand the negative effects of clutter and how it affects us- from our emotions (overwhelmed, confused, angry) to our ability to let go of the past.

Only then we will be motivated enough to take the first few steps. And as we see results and feel the change within us, we will gradually declutter more and more areas. Eventually, we will be able to commit to take time off to clear our mails and put back things from where we take them.

It is harder to change the world inside- so we start by changing the world outside, that will in turn influence our world inside. For instance, I spent weeks clearing my garden- pulling out weeds, and having a mini lorry to come and cart away all the stuff. I cannot lie to myself that there is a HUGE difference- the before and after. Just by looking at my tidy garden calms me down. I cleared my bookshelf and have all my books neatly arranged- and I feel good looking at the bookshelf.  Books that were no longer needed are then donated.

Contrary to some schools of belief, chaos is NOT an expression of creativity. If you go to the homes/workareas of many famous artists, you will be surprised that their places are neat and tidy- and their things are placed where they can find them. It is hard to have the inspiration to come out with a work of art when you cannot even find some colours that you need. I used to do a lot of beading/ribbon work in the past- and I often waste a lot of time searching for my beads and a particular ribbon colour. Or I ended up wasting money buying duplicate items because I thought I did not have it. Then one day, I bought little plastic storage boxes with compartments to separate beads according to colours and placed my ribbons in a toolbox.
I keep my ribbons in order with a simple portable tool box

I keep my ribbons in order with a simple portable tool box

On Saturday, I cleaned out my closets- and arranged all my clothes neatly so that I can easily see and find them. Then I took 3 bags of clothes and put into the recycle bin for charity- and it felt good to give, and to let go. On Sunday (yesterday), I rearranged my room so that the first thing I see when I open my eyes and the last thing I see before I go to sleep are items that motivate me and reminds me of what my goals are.  Believe it, the effort is truly well worth it.

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{ 1 comment }

Zara76 August 8, 2012 at 6:15 am

An excellent article which at least showed some understanding of the mindset of hoarders. Well done and thank you.

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