I am on a mission to reduce clutter in my outer world, knowing that doing so will increase the serenity in my inner world. In addition to being tired of clutter, I am also tired of not being able to find things (especially books) when I need them, and I’m tired of dealing with broken or torn items in my work space. I came back from vacation with fresh eyes - and my fresh eyes didn’t like what they saw, including piles of books everywhere, one intolerably slow computer, a printer that makes horrible grating noises, network problems, over-stuffed closets and a messy home office.
While I was away on vacation, I listed in my journal over 30 tolerations in my life. Tolerations are little irritations that you put up with because you:
a) don’t notice them,
b) are too lazy to deal with them, or
c) think they’re not important enough to win the priority battle.
Yet, these small irritants add up to big energy drains that leverage your peace of mind. My list of tolerations included both work and home issues (I work out of my home, so work and home are barely distinguishable). Many of the things I tolerate pertain to clutter and disorganization in my environment. I made a vow to start eliminating them.
Here are five ways that I’ve cut the clutter:
1. Prepare for the engagement.
Assuming the correct mental attitude is the most important step you can take to cut clutter. Envision a clean, organized environment and the serenity that it will produce and you will set the mental stage for the ensuing hard work. Getting a little angry about the mess helps too. Very important is to adopt an attitude of I DESERVE TO HAVE A CLEAN, ORDERLY ENVIRONMENT!
2. Enlist help.
Fortunately, my husband hates a mess more than I do. I was able to get him to help in the clean-up effort. I bribed him by promising to pay him - despite what you’re thinking, the payment will be in dollars, because he is an employee of my corporation. You could offer to pay a son or daughter to help you in your clean-the-clutter campaign. There are many ways to entice family members to assist.
3. Throw stuff out.
You know the rule - if you haven’t used something in the last year, you probably don’t need it anymore. Gosh, that’s hard to do in real life - I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ll need it again someday. Well, today I realized that even if I needed something again someday, I’d never be able to remember where I put it - so I may as well get rid of it!
Here’s what I have thrown away: 20 unused placemats (I NEVER use placemats! In fact, I don’t like them. But I kept the ones my mother sewed for me - I gave myself room for sentimentality), marketing nicknacks including 5 paperweights (who uses paperweights anymore?) from companies that no longer exist, a stack of 10-year-old magazines, about 100 books, old clothes, two boxes of sewing patterns and 5 boxes of unused fabric (I used to sew for my daughter when she was young - she’s 17 now and doesn’t want any of Mommy’s hand-made clothes. Imagine that!).
4. Fix it or replace it.
Broken or damaged items that contribute to your well-being need to be fixed or replaced to reduce your irritation level. Today, I have fixed a torn rug in my office, mended a torn bed skirt in our bedroom, watered and mulched a tree that is threatening to die from the summer heat. Yesterday, I sent a computer off to the technician’s shop to be fixed.
5. Organize your books - or whatever you collect.
I have over a thousand non-fiction books that I use often as resources. Believe it or not, I’ve read most of them. I asked my husband to help me alphabetize them by author’s last name. After a full day’s work, my books are now in shelves in alphabetical order. Interestingly, we found that I had duplicate copies of about 10 titles - I am so guilty of being a book addict! Theoretically, I can now look up a book on Amazon, go to the bookshelves to check if I already own the title, and not order any more duplicates!
Whether it is books, DVDs, CDs, nicknacks, quilting supplies, woodworking tools - organize them so you can find what you need quickly.
Today, I am feeling almost virtuous about my attack on clutter. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll feel the inner serenity…