Decluttering is daunting. One option, if it all seems too much, is to shred all your worldly possessions, like Michael Landy did.
Another option, is to not clutter in the first place. Thus, to be used in conjunction with Martin Lewis moneysavingexpert’s mantra, here is a mantra for not-cluttering:
Where will I put this in 6 months time?
Ask yourself that when shopping. Go on. Hopefully, you’ll buy less stuff. It’s a bit like debt, really. You get into debt by regularly spending more than you earn. Lots of little bits of crap, add up to a whole heap of shit. The same thing happens with clutter. If you keep getting more things than you have room for, you’ll have a cluttered house. And if you cut down on the things you buy, you’ll have more space.
For example, Phyllis used to have a cook-book habit, which at its worst took up a good eigth of our old flat. As essential as every cookbook was, there were only about 3 useful pages per 100. So I set about tearing her books apart and stapled the best pages together into one Megamix Cookbook. Not really, but she did cut down and now she just gets the ones she can picture herself using in a few years (the rest have been stashed somewhere I can’t find them).
Once you’ve got yourself into the ascetic mindset of a non-clutterer, you can contemplate decluttering. This is a massive pain in the arse, but these eclectic bullet points should help numb that pain:
- Decluttering is not getting rid of stuff you don’t need, it is the act of getting rid of stuff you probably don’t need. I say probably, because the reason you have something in the first place is that you needed it. I struggle to shake the belief that something I bought might be useful one day. It’s a big jump to make, moving something from the category of ‘my stuff’ to ‘useless shit’. For example, a 4x10inch Trace Elliot Bass Amp. I can’t be certain I don’t need it, perhaps someone will stumble upon my myspace page and ask me to play the Rivoli Ballroom. But that probably won’t happen. I think I need the amp, but the fact is I probably won’t need it. Farewell amp.
- Another big thing to consider when looking at treasured artefacts of your previous life, is if you will ever get the time to use them again. Probably not going to make your own pasta? Bye-bye pasta machine. And are these things still safe? Magic Mushrooms. Better dispose of them safely…
- Also, consider packaging. For example, CDs. To have zero clutter, you could back them up, join a music streaming service or convert to a fundamentalist religion that regards modern music as sinful. However, they all carry a downside – time spent backing up, certain songs can be difficult to get from streaming or torrents, and who really knows which religion is right? (Buddhists). You could just get rid of all the cases and sleeves, that’s what we did. See how little space about a thousand CDs takes up when stuffed into big folders:
- You don’t have to keep on top of it. Well, maybe you should, but we don’t. Decluttering takes time, and time is not something I have enough of to waste doing boring stuff like decluttering. If, like us, you work a lot and don’t use childcare very often, you will probably watch clutter become obsolete and decay, long before you get the chance to remove it. Even worse, you’ll watch other people’s stuff that you should have returned ages ago gather dust and die.
To be honest, we’ve had dead matter on our window-sill for months- cacti, giant African land snails. But we know that we’ll tackle this stuff at a suitable Time to declutter. Examples of a suitable Time to declutter are:
· Imminent birth of child
· Family coming over for Christmas
At all other times of year, you can say, “Sorry about the mess, we’ve been a bit busy”, to which your guest will reply “Oh don’t worry, our place is just as bad.” Their place is never as bad- it’s either spotless, because they have more time than you, or it’s a disgusting mess, because they are too avant-garde to clean their house, and you wish they hadn’t dared to suggest their place is similar.
Now, you’re ready to declutter.
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