Dealing With Clutter

Posted: January 9, 2014 in General, Musings

Clutter is a real middle-aged thing. It just builds up over the years and before you know it you are swamped in endless piles of miscellaneous stuff. This has resulted in me ending up with cupboards, wardrobes and drawers full of complete crap.

In the past I hated throwing things out. Having saved money to buy them, it always felt wrong to then chuck them out (unless broken). Who knows, I might need it again at some point. Throwing out books was a special kind of heresy, the culprits of which have a special place in Hell reserved just for them. And its at the bad end of town. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suffering from some sort of OCD where I can’t throw anything out. It was more I just didn’t get round to sorting it out and as time went on the task became bigger.

clutter

Aside from not wanting to throw things out my biggest failing was ‘keeping things good for a special occasion’. For example I’d buy a new shirt which I liked and then I wouldn’t wear it because I was keeping it good for the suitable occasion to wear it. meanwhile I’d carry on wearing the same old shirts that the new one was meant to replace… Yes, even as I write this out I know it reads like madness.

The turning point came about two years ago when the hanging pole in my wardrobe collapsed having bowed so much from all the weight it was having to withstand. I started going through the clothes lying in a pile on the ground. Some no longer fitted me, some had faded beyond recognition and some probably hadn’t been worn inside of a decade. That trendy logo covered T-shirt that I thought looked cool in my late twenties was never going to cut it on a 45-year-old. I couldn’t even remember even having some of them. There were also a few I wished I couldn’t remember. Then there were the ones being kept good, some were years old and still had the tags on them.

Several bin-bags worth later the wardrobe was a lot more spartan, but definitely structurally safer. The next thing was to make sure I didn’t accumulate the same amount of stuff again. Several studies have been carried out and while some may advocate a little clutter helps people be more creative than normal the general rule is clutter causes distraction and stress. I’m not exactly a creative type so it just gets in my way and irritates me.

My current rules to avoid accumulating crap:

  •  Whenever I buy something (especially clothing) I have to throw out an equivalent sized item.
  • Don’t buy what you can’t use or wear straight away.
  • Go for quality over quantity. For example when I buy a shirt now I’ll spend three times as much on the shirt as I used to, it will look better and last longer and it only takes up one-third of the space as three cheaper shirts would.
  • Don’t buy something because its cheap or on offer. Unless you really want it irrespective of the price it will gather dust.
  • Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Getting into debt for an item will leave you despising the item as you will always associate it with the debt.
  • I’m also a fan of digital storage. Dump all my old CDs onto cloud storage and then not have them lying everywhere taking up space? Hell yeah! I haven’t bought a CD in years it’s all downloads now.

Not exactly rocket science there. But I feel better having less stuff around. The possessions I now have are fewer but nicer and I’m happier with that.  Having fewer clothes means I take less time to decide what to wear and because they are better quality I feel better in them.

The start of a new year has lots of us trying to improve our lives. Lists of resolutions are easy to find and ‘being more organised’ is a popular one. Well, a right good way to make a start on this is decluttering. Here’s one of the things that surprised me, I could find reasons (or more accurately, excuses) for keeping things, but the more ruthless I was about throwing stuff out the better I felt afterwards. So if you want to start 2014 feeling better about life then get rid of the clutter – the sooner the better.

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Comments
  1. Doobster418 says:

    Another way to clean up the clutter: move to a smaller place. My wife and I recently moved from a big, old Victorian house with a basement, an attic, and a garage full of accumulated “stuff” to a small condo. No choice but to purge years and years of clutter. It was hard, and in some cases, heartbreaking. But once it was done, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. Now I follow most of your rules to avoid clutter, primarily because I have no room for it anymore.

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