By Coach KB
The change of seasons has been on my mind for a few weeks now - the mornings are dark and cool as our hemisphere retreats farther from the sun; the leaves are changing and falling; and my chickens are losing their feathers in seasonal molt and have all but stopped laying eggs. Everyone seems to have gotten the memo that we are transitioning from the summer season of abundance - garden harvests and extended hours of daylight for productivity and fun - to the fall and winter seasons of scarcity… Except for Costco*. Costco already has out their Christmas decorations, and correspondingly, piles of various toys/tools/trinkets that could fill gift bags and stockings of all sizes. All of this waiting for you. It’s speaking to you. It’s calling on you. It’s convincing you that you should ignore the natural instinct of the season and fill it up instead with an abundance... of crap.
Sometimes it’s impossible to get away from it. Even if we don’t buy into seasonal consumerism ourselves, other people make sure we are not left out by bestowing their well-intentioned “gifts” upon us. Sometimes even when we make requests against them, the urge to create a sense of abundance in this season of scarcity is strong and we are the recipients of the “obligatory” gifts anyway. Ironically, much of the crap we are “supposed” to consume is meant to provide a sense of a simplified, uncluttered life - a new phone that does the work of a phone, computer, and a planner; a carrying case for your phone that also functions as a wallet; one charging station for ALL the phones in your family; and just to make sure you don’t think I hold some sort of awkward grudge against cellular telephone technology; how about all of the cute little storage boxes for sale designed specifically to hide all the useless crap we buy to make it look like we live a simplified and uncluttered life?
How do we get away from it? The idea of fewer possessions, less clutter, less debt, and ultimately less stress is nice but how? When the whole world is telling you more, more, more, here are eight tips on how to declutter your life so you can give this season of natural scarcity what it is begging for. At the very least, they are ways to declutter your home a little to make room for the inevitable new “gifts” acquired during the season. :)
- Pick a room of the house and give yourself a whole week dedicated to eliminating unnecessary items from that room. You are busy and you probably use the room differently throughout the week so this time will allow you to assess what is really important to keep around and what you could really do without. Set up a box or a bag in the corner of the room or in the garage to place items you no longer need in the house. Make weekly trips to donate the items to Goodwill or dedicate a place out of the way to save items up from each room and make one large donation at the end.
- Pick one item from your house each day to give away until Christmas (85 days if you’re wondering). If you are struggling with the idea of getting rid of so many things, maybe just go until Thanksgiving or just do the weekdays or maybe start with one item per week. Consider that each article of clothing counts as one item.
- If you absolutely can’t find anything in your bathroom/kitchen/laundry room to get rid of or if counting items is not your thing, commit to filling a certain size bag or box. I’m not talking about a Ziploc. Go for a large trash bag or one of those big boxes they give you at Costco to carry all your crap home in. :)
- This one could take a little longer than 85 days, but a cool idea I heard about was to turn all your hangers around backward on the rod. When you wear an item you can put the hanger back as you normally would. At the end of a given time (6 months was recommended) you had to give away any items that were still hanging on the reversed hangers. You can also use this same principle with shoes, toys, cleaners, tools, craft items, linens, or anything else you think is taking up a lot of space. Feel free to allot different time periods to different groups of items.
- Decluttering isn’t always about getting rid of things - take 5 minutes in each room - one room a day - for a week to return items to their proper locations.
- If you have kids (or if you act like one) turn it into a game. Use a deck of cards and have each family member draw one. That person is responsible for finding that many items to either get rid of or return to its proper location. Play this game at the turn of each season or on the first of the month or as often as makes sense for your family.
- Invite your parents, your boss and coworkers, your child’s friend’s parents, a new love interest, or your neighbors over for dinner. But you have to believe that they are super nosy - no fair stuffing all your crap in a closet or under your bed. Nothing makes you clean a house faster than company other than your friends who love you with or without your clutter.
- If all of this seems overwhelming, it might be more feasible to start outside the realm of tangible things. Our lives get cluttered with unnecessary tasks that take up a lot of head-space. Give up one of your favorite shows and spend the time instead reading a book or playing a game with your family or going to bed earlier. Pick one day a week that you do not check Facebook (or any social media, for that matter). Only allow yourself one day a week to take a working lunch. All the other days make enjoying your lunch the only thing you do during that time, even if you have to go out to your car to do it.
No matter how you slice it, most of our stuff is unnecessary. It takes up physical and mental space and time. If you did not have clutter, you would not have to waste your time organizing it, cleaning it, getting rid of it, or even reading this blog about it for that matter. The reality is that we usually hold onto things because they serve to fill a void somewhere else in our lives. We grow emotional attachments to things instead of people. Oftentimes the more things we store in our house the less space we have to store memories in our hearts. It takes a lot of self-reflection to examine our attachment to stuff. Will one of these eight ideas solve the clutter epidemic? No. But it might save you a few dollars at Costco this season and get you one step closer to a simpler, freer life.
*And probably Target and Wal-Mart and every other super-store in America that I can’t speak to because I do not frequent them.