My life as a de-clutterer

It occurred to me the other day that I spend most of my time being a curator, organiser and caretaker of stuff.

I clean it, I sort it, I put it away and then I do it all over again. All day, every day. There’s stuff in every cupboard and drawer (and we have a lot of cupboards and drawers). There’s stuff I use, stuff I don’t use and stuff that might come in useful one day. There’s stuff I was given, stuff I want to give away, stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t like. And it’s everywhere.

It then occurred to me that I don’t particularly value my stuff. Even the word ‘stuff’ sounds a little bit pejorative. I go so far as to call it ‘rubbish’ sometimes. And yet I paid money for it, I put time and energy into keeping and storing it and I go and buy more of it.

I watched a movie set in the 1950s recently. “There’s something different about that house,” I said to my husband, and I didn’t just mean the style of furniture. Then it hit me. The house in the movie was sparse and empty in comparison to my own. We simply own more these days.

But I don’t want to anymore. Clutter makes me anxious and stressed. My brain feels full and my body is tired from the work and effort involved in purchasing, keeping and maintaining stuff all the time. I’m not a hoarder – far from it. I’d say I’m normal, perhaps even below normal in the amount of stuff I own, but I’m tired from it.

In 2012 I’m joining the minimalist, de-cluttering, de-owning movement. My aim is to get rid of at least one item per day - by selling, donating, recycling or simply putting it in the garbage. I’m going through the house one drawer and one shelf at a time. What I’ll throw out will include:

  • Broken things
  • Things I haven’t used or worn in over a year
  • Things that are ugly or that I don’t like
  • Things that I have too many of
  • Things I’ve kept because ‘I’m going to get to them one day’ (My craft cupboard is going to seriously suffer!)

Things I’ll keep will have to fall into these categories:

  • I use them all the time or at least more than once a year
  • I need them because nothing else will do what they do
  • They are beautiful and I get pleasure from using or looking at them