The pervasive effect of clutter on peace of mind.

We bring all this stuff into our lives little by little, bit by bit. It all seemed like a good idea at the time but then you need somewhere to keep it, some of it may require regular maintenance and most of it will require cleaning at least occasionally. Seasons come and seasons go, life changes and the next thing you know those things you once “couldn’t live without” are just wasting space or worse still perishing from lack of use.

It may seem like that stuff is doing you no harm and, you never know, you might need it someday. But someday never seems to come unlike now which is ever-present. Now everything you own is a responsibility whether big or small, used or unused, add all your stuff together and you have one big burden weighing down on you whether you recognise it for what it is is not.

There is the burden of guilt for spending money on the now unused stuff.  There can be a burden of obligation to keep things you don’t want just because someone gave it to you or there are memories attached. There is the financial burden, if your dwelling has expanded in size over time in order to house this excess of stuff or maybe you have rented a storage unit to house your stuff or maybe you are still paying off the credit card debt. There is the burden of waste when knowing perfectly good items are being neglected and possibly wasting away unused. And although these are just objects there can be a burden of loyalty to the object simply because it served you well at some time. And lets not forget the burden of disorganisation due to things being crammed into every nook and cranny. There are many more subtle burdens that almost go unnoticed but they are still there lurking.

Whether you have just started to minimise your possessions or have been at it a while, take a close look at everything you own because there are a lot of potential burdens hidden among your possessions that you are better off without.

Today’s Declutter Item

This is another one my procrastination clutter items that I have finally gotten around to getting rid of. They don’t fit anymore although I only weigh 3kg heavier than I did when they used to fit. I kid myself that the leather shrunk but I don’t kid myself that I am ever going to weigh 54kg again.Bob who came with Brian to pick up the hutch yesterday also took these motorcycle leather for his wife.

Motorcycle Leathers

My Gratitude List

  • Something that made me laugh ~ When the icy cold water trickled under my bear foot when I got into the bath tub to clean it today. It tickled. (It is a large corner bath, hence why I have to climb in to clean it.
  • Something Awesome ~ When you remembered to press the save button on your computer just before the weather takes the power out.
  • Something to be grateful for ~ Getting all of my outside work done before the rain set in.
  • Something that made me happy ~ Knowing that tomorrow I can finally take it easy for the day. It has been a busy week.
  • Something I found fascinating ~ How after months of hip pain I finally get a referral from my doctor to get an xray tomorrow and this week my hip hasn’t given me any trouble.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

 


Continue reading with these posts:

  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need or want but once their usefulness to us has expired we hang on to them. I feel that there are […]
  • Life moves on I received the following comment from Kimberley to one of last week's posts ~ Who Are You Now. Kinberley wrote: "Your post should be titled, “Isn’t this how clutter begins?”  We move […]
  • Don’t be fooled by the little things Little things add up to a lot. Overlooking them when decluttering, because they are insignificant, won't allow you to declutter to the fullest extent. You would be surprised how much […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. This is exactly why I try to keep an outward flow. We’re not big shoppers, and we STILL end up with more stuff (gifts, etc.) so I like to do regular purges. Honestly, I may have had a twinge of missing this or that donated or sold item here or there, but mostly I’ve never looked back after getting rid of a thing.

    • Hi The BabbyMama,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for your comment. I ended up at your blog last week while putting together my Favourite Five for Friday and am looking forward to taking a better look when I have more time. Things have been a little hectic at my house over the last couple of weeks. I took a quick peek at Wordless Wednesday just now and is that Cherry Cheesecake in a jar?

      I have the odd twinge myself but like you I don’t bother to look back. I don’t bother to replace the items either as there is always a way to substitute or just go without. I enjoy the challenge.

  2. I totally hear you on this and I think once your eyes are opened to how your clutter effects you there is no going back. You can turn your back on things for a while and live with it, but then those seeping uncomfortable feelings creep back in and nag at you.

    For me, my main motivators to decluttering is that I feel disorganised because of my clutter ( ie I can’t find things so I run late) so my motivation is to be clear, ordered and organised.

    Also I have a growing resentment to the amount of TIME I spend shifting things from one place to another, getting dressed in the morning because I can’t find anything or cleaning things. I want that time to do the things that bring value and meaning in my life…

    Thanks for reaching into my brain and bringing out some of the lurking thoughts; it all helps to get me fired up when I’m lacking in energy to tackle a shelf or drawer 😉

    • Hi Mrs Green,
      sometimes on a perfectly beautiful day we can just feel glum and not really know why. We may not even realise that it is the weight of responsibility that is the cause of our glumness. There are certain things that can’t be shifted from that load, perhaps maintaining a household, going to work, taking care of the family~ these things all carry equally satisfying rewards to balance out the responsibility… but there are others like the oppressive weight of our clutter that can be removed and banished forever. Even with the slow and steady approach you can begin to enjoy the weight lifting from the very first item that you remove and it gets lighter and lighter the longer you keep at it.

  3. Oh how this speaks to me. Clutter drives me crazy. It makes me feel overewhelmed, irritable, and stressed. I don’t like to give up precious time to messes so I want everything neat and tidy.

  4. I completely agree with your assessment that your stuff just weighs you down. By de-cluttering my space with rabid abandon since the beginning of this year, I find that (now that I’m nearing the end of the tunnel) that I have more free time, I’m less stressed and my house looks pretty awesome all the time. I don’t worry about there being a mess when people drop by. And, since the daily housework has been minimized, I’m more likely to do things like clean out the fridge once a week rather than once every eight weeks! Congratulations on your thoughtful quest! I can’t wait to read more.

    • Hi Bethany and welcome to 365 Less Things. Your comment is so true all the things you mentioned come together to make life less complicated and more fulfilling and enjoyable. Last week I cleaned out my fridge, this week I cleaned under and behind it and I also cleaned the oven. When there is lest stuff to clean up, under and in, there is more time to clean properly. I feel so content in knowing that nearly every nook and cranny in my home is clean. Except of course the 19year olds bedroom, there are certain nooks and crannies where even I fear to tread.

  5. “There is the burden of guilt for spending money on the now unused stuff.” That is me, and that’s why I have such a hard time getting rid of things that are just too time consuming to sell. I should donate them but thinking how much I paid for them makes me feel so guilty, especially because I am now on a very tight budget (lost my job). At least, this has taught me to stop buying non functional stuff. 🙂

    • Hi Natalie,
      and welcome to 365 Less Things. Unfortunately sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way but with every problem there comes opportunity so hang in there and hopefully there is a better job just around the corner for you. As for the selling, I know that can be a pain sometimes but it is well worth the effort if you are on a tight budget. Every little bit extra coming in helps. After 18 months of this decluttering mission I still find selling to be a burden but then every time I do it I think that wasn’t so hard and look at the money I made. Thinking about the effort involved saps more energy out of you than actually making the effort.

  6. Hi! I cleaned my wardrobe yesterday. I spent about 1 hour and 30 minutes doing it, at most. I donated 1 huge 100 liters bag of long unused clothes. Some where too ugly, others were too small, others were old, too worn. I did not have to make any wrenching or heartbreak decisions. It was just “look, good/been worn = goes back, bad/ugly/not worn = toss in the bag”. But the process to get there was agonising :-(. I spent days and days thinking about it, and it would clutter my mind. It would annoy me day in day out. But I would think that I had to hang on to most of the stuff because it is clothes and we always wear clothes, and what if I lose weight? What if one day I awake and want to wear that specific piece of clothing? Well we all know that is not going to happen. So this post is right on the spot encouraging us to keep what we use today, as in really use, not only hope to use.

    • Hi Andréia,
      If I new how to add a fanfare to this comment response I would. Wow! Good for you, that horrid closet finally sorted. Yahooooooo! How many weeks of agonising over that did it take to entice yourself to spend only and hour and a half to do the job and get it behind you? It is always just mind over matter isn’t it. I am so pleased for you.

      • Thanks Colleen! I heard the fanfarre alright and really appreciate your support 😀 !It took me two weeks of deep, horrid agony…that is over now !!! 😀 😀

        • I say again, good for you! When you next encounter an area you are dreading just remember the time wasted agonising ove the closet and just dive right in, it will be far less painful in the long run. That’s not to say be thoughtless and rash about getting rid of stuff it just means don’t agonise over the inevitable.

        • The funny thing was that when I actually was dealing with the clothes I had very few doubts. Of 30 pieces of clothing I kept two that I wasn’t really sure I should get rid of. But as they are winter clothes I might reevaluete that opinion in a few weeks. It was way easier than I had expected. The trouble lies in that little nagging voice in our heads that says that if you donate, you will have to buy another. It is so not true. If you have 5 real nice wool sweaters, you will have one for each day of your working week. Do you need more? No. At home you can have some old pieces and wear them. But you definitely don’t need a cramed full wardrobe.

          • That is exactly right Andréia. And keeping the few things you weren’t sure about is a good move because soon enough you will know whether you really are going to need them or not. Have you not had any cold weather yet? It is cold where I am in Australia now and I would have thought your climate is about the same.

    • Way to go Andréia! I know you spent more than 1 1/2 hours fretting over getting around to doing this. Hurrah for you!

  7. I did not something as big as Andréia did (congratulation!) but I completed my mini mission too. It looked worse than it was. I had to declutter 2-3 items in my drawer. The rest was just a matter of organisation. There were things that didn’t belong there so I found a new place for them. (Now I have to organize some of the new places but this are peanuts.) I spent 40 minutes to do this.

    • Well done Sarah, so often the task is much easier in real time than it was in our heads. How much better do you feel now that the job is done? A lot better I guess. Now use that momentum to throw yourself into the next task on your list. A little declutter gloating is in order I think. That is to go back often to the drawer that you finished decluttering and have a little peak to remind yourself what a great job you did. Yay for you!

  8. Hi!

    I used to declutter frequently until I reached what I thought was my goal. I am quite pleased to say that I’ve kept it that way to the most. However I can not stop agreeing with every word of todays post.

    I have had a vague feeling of dissatisfaction for quite a while, and reading your post I realised that I’m NOT DONE decluttering. I still have stuff in my home and in my life overall that is weighing me down.

    Thank you for putting the issue of guilt in such good words! A while ago I came across the expression “Sometime never happens”, and I was so happy to find it again here! Maybe I’ll make it my mantra..!

    / Emmi in Sweden

    • Hi Emmi,
      that was exactly the message I was trying to get across, that sometimes we think we are decluttered enough but don’t realise we aren’t. I doubt I will ever become a true minimalist but I will keep decluttering until I have scrutinised every item remaining at this point and know for sure I am happy to keep them. Who knows how much longer this will take but I will keep at it until then and in the meantime nothing will come in that doesn’t have an immediate use.

  9. Having done quite a bit of decluttering this year it’s clear to me how much better I feel with less stuff around…I’ve been able to be more creative now that my quilting and hooking supplies are pared down and easy to access…the sewing room table is ready for use at all times and not overflowing with bits of everything…

    What you say??? A flat surface available for use? That’s unheard of in my life…to be honest, there is more than one empty flat surface around here now…life is so much better with breathing room…

    • Hi Kelly,
      I hear the freedom in your words and I really like the phrase life is so much better with breathing room.

  10. I really needed this right now. Excellent kick in the pants to stick with it! My mind has done a shift over the last year or two. I used to worry so much about what an item was worth and what it would cost to replace it, I was always afraid I would NEED it when it wasn’t around. But now I am in a more stable place and less fearful (in no small part to blogs like yours). My new vision for my stuff is space, peace and balance. My SPACE is finite, so I want to be comfortable in it, likewise my TIME is finite, and I am tired of chasing down my misplaced items and maintaining the overcrowded nooks and crannies and all the extra CLEANING! yikes, how did I let it get like this, and why didn’t I put the work/stress of owning so much together before?

    • Hi *pol,
      we all have our epiphanies every now and again and I suppose you were just due for one. This is why I write the same thing over and over again but in different ways. Eventually I have ended up writing in a way that that speaks to you. Good luck with your decluttering and enjoy the freedom it brings.

  11. Good for you, Andreia!

    I’m still having a challenge with how many too-small sizes in the closet to get rid of. Both my husband and I would like to lose a lot of weight, but neither of us have been successful at it so far.

    We both have several sizes of smaller clothing stored in our spare closet, and it’s packed. I have SIX sizes stored!

    I’d like to dare to give away these clothes, but as you mentioned, am afraid that I’d just have to go buy them all over again (and they don’t make jeans like my favorites the same way any more).

    Also, I’ve heard it said that as soon as you give away your small clothes, you start losing weight, which is something we’d love to have happen, so maybe I should start filling a donation bag today.

    But I won’t, because I’m still afraid that we’d need those as soon as we got rid of them. Silly thinking, for sure, but most of you probably know the feeling I’m talking about.

    It sure would free up a lot of space in one of the closets if I could let go of these we-have-a-dream clothes. 😉

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