Take control of your clutter
Another month, another decluttering expert – this time in the shape of Gretchen Rubin, author of Outer Order, Inner Calm which teaches us that if we declutter at home and work we can not only make room for happiness but free up head space to tackle life’s bigger issues.
Featured in the April issue of Red Magazine in an article by Cyan Turan, Rubin says: “Taking control of the stuff of life makes people feel in control of their lives in general…The reason for this is twofold: on a practical level it’s easier to find things, put things away and cope when guests drop by unexpectedly, but emotionally, our environments reflect who we are. We project ourselves into our homes, offices and cars, and when one is out of kilter we feel blocked. This is especially true for areas where we spend a lot of time or that feel closer to us, like kitchens and beds.”
Rubin talks about people who are clutterblind (meaning the presence of clutter doesn’t bother them). For these people, clearing stuff out would help them to create a physical space – creating an outer order can help to instill a sense of calm.
In summary her top decluttering tips tell us to:
- Think: does this energise me? Let items fulfil their tiny destiny in a useful rather than a joyful way.
- Don’t keep things you’ve replaced with technology: do you really need that calculator or dictionary?
- Add beauty: decluttering isn’t necessarily about minimalism.
- Don’t furnish a fantasy identity: we conjure situations where a particular item might be worn but are you really that person anymore? We often hold onto items because they cost a lot and we’re frustrated at the waste of money. Clearing out your wardrobe is energising. A useful question to ask yourself is: would I be happy if I ran into an ex wearing this?
- Beware deep clutter: deep clutter is things you think you need but never use.
- Take photographs: releasing yourself from the burden of sentimentality is a big issue. Rubin suggests taking photographs to honour the item and hold onto it in a way that doesn’t take up space. Letting go is hard because it feels like you’re letting go of the person. If you really can’t throw the item away, keep a small memento. You don’t need multiple mementoes, just one iconic thing. If it doesn’t serve you in your life, let it go.
- Decide what is truly exceptional: that’ll be whatever evokes the strongest memory. The longer you hang onto something, the more sentimental value it accrues. By holding onto Birthday or Christmas cards beyond two weeks, for example, they’ll start to become precious. As a rule of thumb, bin cards after the occasion ends.
- Create external accountability: if you’re an Obligor – someone who needs to be accountable to someone else before they feel motivated to do something – call in the troops. For example, if a friend asks for hand-me-downs tell them to expect a bag in a fortnight. If you’re an Obligor you’ll feel they are counting on you and it’ll make you far more likely to do it.
Futon Company says: Powerful stuff! We’re especially interested in the concept of sentimentality as that’s the area we struggle with most. It’s one thing to clear out a kitchen cupboard but quite another to cull photographs or objet! If you’re not quite ready to let go of your clutter consider tidying it up at the very least to create some sort of order. To help get you started check out our space savvy storage items….