Thursday, 31 January 2013

lose the clutter - part one

Print from Lisa Congdon via Jacqui Smith on Pinterest

I always run into problems with this quote.  Beautiful to me can mean a sweet wrapper my other half gave me on a wonderful day out that, even when I see it now, can remind me of how happy I felt then, and it can make me feel happy again. Useful can indeed mean a cardboard box that gets in the way right now but will come in handy next Christmas, to send gifts to someone you love.

To a greater or lesser extent both the above examples are also excuses. They're 'reasons' people who collect clutter/hold onto things/hoard find to justify why they keep things that, to other people, are rubbish.

They mean something.

They'll come in handy. One day.

Another reason the clutter builds up is that once it reaches a certain point/size/volume, it is harder to deal with it. One box of papers to go through might take an hour. Ten boxes full of unfiled documents and notes is so daunting that it's no wonder it makes more sense to put them back on the shelf, make a cup of tea, and find something else less scary to do.

Most people have a clutter Achille's heel. These are mine, things I would like to keep but know I mustn't. But still might keep anyway ...

Magazines. I love magazines. So much so that I barely buy any now (which has the added benefit of saving me money), because I'll only be tempted to hold onto them, or pull pages out and keep them in a folder already full of pages that have been pulled out of other magazines.

I have thrown a lot of magazines away.

I have sold some of the older ones on eBay.

I've given a lot to charity.

I still have too many and must throw them away and must stop pulling pages out on the basis that it's got some information on it I will forget if I don't keep it.

Souvenirs. When I say souvenirs I refer you to the above-mentioned sweet wrapper. This is hard one. I value my memories intensely, the time spent with people I love, the little moments that I fear will be forgotten if I don't have that physical reminder.

One way I've found around this is to photograph these little ephemeral items, and then discard them. In some ways, the act of remembering them like this, with a photograph, helps the memory become stronger.

Another solution is to not allow myself to hold onto such things in the first place. Don't keep that ticket from your special date at the cinema as a bookmark - just throw it straight into the bins outside the multiplex. It's gone then. And you have no option but to trust your memory to do its thing.

Books. Which are like magazines but worse. Because they're books and you're not meant to throw them out, are you? I value books, all my books.

A read book contains memories of when it was read, beautiful imagery and writing, ideas it sparked.

An unread book contains such promise. It may contain the meaning of your life within its pages. Read it and you'll find out, but don't read it just yet and let the promise linger...

Clothes. I have too many clothes and very little to wear.

Many of my clothes don't fit.

But the fabric is soft.

Or pretty.

It might fit again one day.

I could turn it into a handbag (I could!).

I could turn it into a new item of clothing with just a few basic sewing skills.

I could use that nice soft fabric as a duster.

It would be wrong to even give it to a charity shop.

I've still got uses for it.

I could ... etc.

Ad infinitum.

This is part one of my decluttering thoughts. As is suitable for someone who has too much of things, I also seem to have too many thoughts on this subject! So I'll post post part two separately. It will have some hints that have helped me, and some links to other sites, if you need more wisdom than I can provide!

Do leave a comment if you have a constant battle with possessions - or if you don't, and tell me how you manage it!


  1. Boy do I know where you're coming from! I have spent that last couple of months reading about minimalism and de-cluttering. It's a hard job!

    I feel the same way you do about books. Seeing a book I've already read reminds me of all sorts of memories like what life I was living when I read it and the ideas that it sparked.

    Best of luck on your de-cluttering journey!

    1. Yes, I totally get where you're coming from with books - they are just so much more than just books!

      Thanks for the comment, and the link to your great blog :)


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