I’ve often contemplated this seeming disease that plagues us. I love to organize and clean things and have since I was a kid. Definitely a “Type A” personality here. Just for fun, I enjoy watching YouTube videos on organizing and cleaning, and I’m amazed at the glutton of household items average people possess!
I will preface any further observations and opinions by saying – We have moved many times in our twenty-one year marriage, which forces close scrutiny of one’s “stuff”. That said, we’ve had Salvation Army cost out twice with their big truck to haul away many boxes, faux ficus trees, train sets, brick-a-brack, clothing, china, etc. In addition to that, we’ve taken bag after bag to Goodwill almost weekly for the past year as we continue to sort through boxes. Incredible the volume one collects over the years!
So, I’ve been forced to handle every item and evaluate. I can only imagine the challenge for those who’ve lived in the same house for twenty plus years and how quickly things can get out of control. Tastes in decor and furnishings change, fads come and go, the kids outgrow toys and clothes, hobbies move on, etc. And if you have an issue with excessive shopping, especially as a means of therapy; well, then, all bets are off! An intervention may be necessary. Haha.
If a Type A like myself can accumulate a fair amount of excess, then anyone can. It seems so easy to allow things into our home and we have no real method of allowing an exit for anything!
Dealing with our excess …
When sorting through a room/box/dresser, I always ask myself three questions:
1.) Am I currently using it?
2.) Have I used it in the last year?
3.) Will I likely use it in the next year?
The consequence of holding onto excess is that they seem to multiply and therefore occupy mental space as well. They bog us down and we are hindered from letting our creative juices flow and finding general happiness from a tidy room. They are “non-value added items”. Now, I am not suggesting getting rid of all sentimental things or counting your household goods, etc. I am, however, offering a method to consider applying to our excess, which seems to be an epidemic.
I recently read a statistic that said 10% of Americans rent a storage unit outside their home! Wow! That is staggering and in my humble opinion, a huge waste of money. If we do not have room to house said item, then maybe we don’t have room in our lives for it. I understand there are causes for short term leasing, such as military personnel, etc. But, we’re talking about long term leasing. Why do we have so much stuff?
I often tell my kids that when I was their age, we didn’t have Walmart to run to for whatever item we thought we needed at that split second. There were grocery stores, hardware stores, department stores, etc. And things were pretty expensive, so we didn’t often get new things outside of Christmas, birthdays, and a new school year. This must be a foreign concept to them as now we even have the all-too-tempting Amazon and internet shopping in general.
Stuff is so entirely accessible. Add to that the “in your face” marketing that envelopes our society and there seems to be no escape!
On the flip side of consumerism, we have this new trend of minimalism. Interesting. While I think there are merits to this idea, I personally do not think it is for me. But, I do wholeheartedly agree with the need for keeping our “stuff” to a minimum but in a more balanced way. For instance, I don’t feel like our family needs seven bottles of shampoo and conditioner, nor do I feel the need to count our toiletries. I don’t believe we need three sets of everyday dishes, nor do I feel like we should count our plates and bowls.
To every area of life, there should be balance.
So how do we achieve this balance with our stuff?
I would say that we have to nip it in the bud. Deeply evaluate items before we purchase them. Do I really need this? Do I already have something that will work just as well? Do I need “another” one? Will it add value to my life?
It seems that once an item enters our homes, it takes up near permanent residence and eventually reaches the point of excess. I like the “one in – one out” idea. If you purchase one item, you put one item in the donation box. Simple idea but effective.
I think the greatest purging, organizing, decluttering, cleaning tool you have is …
your attitude, frankly.
“Attitude determines altitude.”
Like any other aspect of life, the results are impacted by the space between your ears.
If you have a sloppy, couldn’t care less attitude, then your home will reflect that. If you are disciplined and focused, however, your home will reflect that also.
“Input yields output.”
Put on some happy music. Whatever that is to you. Sometimes I prefer classical, sometimes contemporary Christian music, sometimes easy listening. Depends on my mood, I guess. Whatever will inspire you and bring happy feelings, put it on. Music has an amazing ability to carry us away from our present tasks (mundane as they may be) and take us to a joyful place in our soul.
Give yourself a pat on the back during each step of your progress. You deserve it. As long as your feet keep moving in a positive direction, you are one step closer to the environment you desire.
Just think of the joy you could bring to someone less fortunate as you place unwanted items in the donation box. And, next time you feel the urge to place an Amazon order or hit the mall, ask yourself, “Is this necessary?”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a war plan to develop regarding the glut in our garage…