Monday, August 6, 2012

De-clutter

I recently returned from a 3-week vacation and the first thing I did was de-clutter my wardrobe. I actually took each and every clothing item and decided to either keep it or throw/give it away. It seemed easier after having disconnected and have been living out of a suitcase for three weeks. When I came home I realised that my wardrobe was full even though I felt I had carried a lot of clothes around with me. It is a shocking realisation - the clothes I packed for three weeks are only a fraction of the amount of clothes I have collected over the years. 

The decision making process about each and every item is a hard mental exercise. The discipline to truly look at each item and make a decision instead of creating a new stack of 'whatever-clothes' is hard work. It is almost like pacifying the little angle and devil on your shoulders each time you hold a clothing item in your hand.

You cannot imagine how relieved and proud I was when it was over. When I was done with my clothes I took on to clean up all my paperwork. What a relief. The physical de-cluttering helped me to 'dust' and 'wipe' some memory and make space for new things and allowed room for new perspectives.  It is amazing how the physical and mental exercise work hand in hand.

If you also in the de-cluttering mood, here some tips:
  • When you start, do it from a good emotional space. You will actually enjoy it if you don't see it as a burdensome task of 'cleaning up' or 'sorting out'.
  • Be honest to yourself. Don't start lying to yourself why to keep certain things. If you can't let go, keep it and try again next time. If you get tired and not good in taking decisions anymore, take a break.
  • You don't have to do it all in one day, but make sure you have enough time the next few days to get through the full space you want to de-clutter - if not, this space will become the best procrastination trap you set for yourself.
  • Set yourself some ground rules before you start. For example, if you de-cluttering your clothes you could say 'I will throw out everything that I haven't worn for more than a year' or 'I will give away everything that I actually don't like but just keep in case it could come in handy' or 'every item that is older than 8 years can move on to a new owner' etc. The rules help when you have doubt about something but you will also be surprised how many times you will be trying to cheat your own rules.
  • If you are de-cluttering your paperwork and memories, keep just one of its kinds. For example, if there was an annual festival in your hometown and you have kept the entrance slips for each and every year, choose one and throw the others away. The memories will remain the same.
  • Think of other people that will benefit of your things. It will give you a feeling of satisfaction and make it easier to decide to give it away. You are not throwing it away but someone else might enjoy it and actually use it. 
  • Be disciplined - do not create an extra stack or bag or box with things you 'not sure' about. Most of the times you can just throw the things away. Force yourself to find a new place or category for the item you not sure about. 
  • Life is about the people you meet, the moments of joy and pain you share - not the things you collect. It will make you feel good to get rid of material things and be reminded of exactly that.
If you want some useful reading, get the book 'How to simplify your life.' After I had read it for the first time, I was able to throw two black bags full of stuff away.

Tell me about your 'de-cluttering' experience.
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