My decision to prioritise Decluttering as Task No. 1 was easily made as I feel that once I have relieved myself of unwanted items, which have taken years to accumulate, I will be able to move around my garage, my wardrobe, and my desk(s) – yes I have two – but it’s not a collection! Consequently I will be free to access and work in these uncluttered physical spaces. This in turn will allow me to concentrate on the things I need and want to do – rather than thinking where will I do it and where will I put it once finished.
If you have read my previous post about freedom you will see I am convinced that by relieving my brain of making so many unnecessary decisions about things, I will also have uncluttered my mental space. I’m sure the body will thank me too! Success with the remainder of the “tasks” will follow, with perseverance of course! (Remember those tasks were to turn around my attitude to exercise, actually complete the projects I begin, and banish procrastination) Once I have decluttered, I will have finished a task, and I will feel liberated – FREE – to get on with the next tasks – I might even feel like going for long walks, regularly. There you are – procrastination gone just like that!!
But is it that easy? Yes – and No!
Firstly we have to get to the bottom of why we have accumulated so many useless possessions. Much has been written about hoarding and decluttering. Hoarding is now recognised as an illness, has various causes, and is treatable with therapy, support and guidance. A hoarder is someone who collects, keeps and stores items for “later use”. These items can include tinned food, dolls, records, cardboard boxes, newspapers, Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons, old light fittings, teapots, or even kitchen sinks!
Serious hoarders have been known to keep everything that comes into their home, sheds and gardens. They have often been traumatised by something, either as children or adults – death of a parent at an early age, a divorce, an old friend dying later in their life. They tend to replace people with things -because “things won’t let them down or leave them”. Some are no longer able to move around their homes safely – hence unable to attend to the necessary chores around the home that we take for granted – cooking, sleeping and maintaining personal hygiene. Over the years they withdraw from family and friends, are unable to ask for help and unwilling to accept help when offered.
Fortunately I do NOT fall into the serious hoarder category – but I empathise with those who do. There are various things that make us hang onto a particular item. Some people collect certain things (like brightly coloured teapots), some just love being surrounded by books or family photos, others have the “scatter cushion syndrome” and only feel comfortable propped up by at least a dozen cushions while reading in bed. Each to their own. I am probably guilty of most of those – except the teapots!
Twenty four years ago today I was married. We were lucky to be given many wonderful wedding gifts, allowing us to comfortably set up our first home. Moving house (and towns) became a regular occurrence due to my husband’s work commitments. As married life progressed and No.1 Son grew up we accumulated more books, toys, tables, bed-linen, garden tools, sewing equipment and fabrics, dogs and chickens. Each time we moved packing up and unpacking took longer – and more decisions needed to be made.
Sadly, in 2002, our home burnt to the ground. Nobody was home at the time, so no human or canine loss. Fortunately not everything was burned – we managed to retrieve most photos, some books and pictures, toys and clothes. (But a word of warning – this is NOT a method of decluttering I would recommend!) While we concentrated on rebuilding the house over the next 12 months, I was also rebuilding the other “collections” – books, music, having pictures re-framed, photos, recipes, scarves (one of my downfalls!) – so that when we finally moved back into our wonderful new home it actually felt like a home, not an empty shell.
The re-accumulation was on track!
Some years later my husband became my ex-husband. No.1 Son and I were on the move again. There was not the time – or the will – to have a good throw-out before moving this time – so all the “stuff” came with us. We spent 4 years adjusting, finding it hard to let go of the excess, for whatever reasons – and trying not to welcome more clutter into the house. Then an opportunity came to move to a better house and location – closer to university and work. ‘Ruthless’ was a word I used while packing up this time – but once it was all in boxes and my friends and family were doing endless loads to the new home, I realised something was wrong. I discovered that I didn’t really know the meaning of the word ‘ruthless’ after all!
Accumulation is a slow process – getting rid of it all can seem to take even longer.
This is where a plan comes in!
Now, these plans can take on many guises – each person will develop a plan that suits them, using the time available and, of course, their end goal. But I intend to follow a pretty simple formula.
And the key to success is to
- Be honest with yourself
- Enjoy your small achievements – daily
- See it through to the end
The plan will reveal itself in my next post. I will let you in on my mess – with photographs! I will explain my starting point and invite you to leave comments, share helpful hints and creative ideas for my quest – and yours!
Until next time…..stay safe.
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