Finding Balance By Losing Clutter

As a student, I moved eight times in four years. When some boxes were never opened between moves, I started to think I was packing baggage I’d be better off without. The summer before my last semester, I began shrinking my piles of school-age keepsakes, candles given to me on my fourteenth birthday, and scraps of fabric saved for the day I’d buy a sewing machine (and thereby become crafty). With every bag I donated to charity or chucked into the dumpster, I felt an internal balancing—I was letting go of some of the past to make space for the present. My expectations of what I should be doing now gave way for what I truly wanted to make space for, and a little blank space was left for the future. 
Letting go of the past, or what’s left behind to remind you of it, is sometimes easier said than done. I’ve broken it down to a five-step process to help bring you and your home to a balanced, clutter-free state.
1) Start with the big stuff. Do you have a tacky lamp, an extra side table, or camping chairs you haven’t used in years? Making an instant dent in the clutter gives you a boost to keep going.
2) Label four boxes: Donate, Sell, Dump and Relocate. Surveying one room at a time, consider every item from paper clips to furniture. Ignore closets for now. When you've gone through everything in one room, move the boxes to the next room. Remember, this is not nostalgia hour. If you're mulling over photographs or reading journal entries, promise yourself a time in the future to reminisce, and get back to work! Let it go if you cannot answer the following questions: Who gave it to you? or Where did you get it? When? Why?, or if it does not get a strong yes for Does it bring back a strong, positive memory?
3) Get the skeletons out of your closets. Closets are often black holes of clutter. Repeat the survey for things to donate, sell, dump, or relocate in the closets. I was amazed at how many of my stored away items I had not been missing. A good rule of thumb: if you haven’t enjoyed an item in the last year, get rid of it.
4) Frame, display, photograph, or re-purpose sentimental items. If you’ve got something you can’t part with, put it to use. Make the jewelry box your favorite aunt gave you a corral for small office supplies. Take a picture of your child with their best art projects, and throw out the projects that you do not frame. My mother saved a beautiful postcard sent to me by my grandmother when I was six months old. I feel love from her and from my mother when I look at it, so I keep it in a double-sided frame. All the Hallmark cards with just a signature inside? Gone.
5) Get rid of the boxes. Set aside (and boldly defend) whatever block of time you need to donate, sell, dump, and relocate. Make a schedule that includes time for clearing everything out, such as by posting items for sale online, having a garage sale, dropping off donations, returning borrowed items, and relocating items to more efficient spaces. If your Sell box is still waiting a month later, give it away and enjoy the gratification money can’t buy.
When my clutter was cleared, I had a shelf dedicated to my sweet elementary school days, a comfortable space to play my keyboard, and a place in mind for a crib. My past, present, and future feel balanced. Each step of the journey to clutter-free existence, congratulate yourself!

1 comment:

  1. Anna I love this article! My mom told me about it and she loves it too. You are so talented


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