Using our hiking analogy, most of us do not want to live out of one single backpack, but we do want to live freely, and be able to do what we like, when we like. The more we collect stuff, the more it can slow us down, take up our time with maintenance and replenishment, clutter up our calendar space AND our mental space. Consider for a moment what you might be able to do if you had less clutter in your life. We’re not talking obligations here, just actual STUFF. Our experience has been that de-cluttering is a very freeing way to live. You feel lighter – literally and mentally.
Since I was a child, I have been a natural organizer. Each toy had its own place, and books were stacked neatly from largest to smallest. Even in my adult life in the corporate world, I recognized my quirkiness when I – go ahead, you can laugh – sorted my large and small paper clips in my desk drawer. Perhaps I got some of my habits from my mother, who was constantly sorting and re-organizing. But I really believe that this is something that was in my DNA when I was born, because to this day, I get a positive physical reaction when I organize things – it calms me. Likewise, when I am in a room or space that is in disarray, I feel stress, and I start organizing the room in my head. Like cooking is for some people, organizing relaxes me.
Perhaps this gave me an advantage or a head start on being an LT, I don’t know. Because I want to be clear. Purging and organizing are NOT the same thing. My mom organized her house to the hilt with pretty containers and labels, but she still had a LOT of stuff. You know the categories: “I might need that one day” or “So-n-so might use that one day” or “If and when I see this person, I’ll see if they want that thing.” You can be the guru of organizing and still end up with a house full or – heaven help me, a storage unit – of stuff that you don’t use, and never will use. Managing all this stuff takes time, it takes energy, and it takes up space in your life, literally and emotionally.
The Initial Purge
So, this leads us to the initial purge – the first step in becoming an LT. Think of this as the layer of frosting on a multi level cake. Your goal here is to create working space so that you actually have room to sort the stuff that may require more time and thoughtfulness.
You’ll want to think big here:
– pieces of furniture you were keeping – for your child’s first apartment perhaps (even though they are 10 years away from having their own place). When I asked my son about furniture items I thought would be cool for a dorm room or studio apartment, the look on his face said it all. Our kids do not want our old furniture. They’d rather have new stuff or used items they found themselves on-line or at a thrift store. It needs to be their style, not yours
– kitchen appliances you’ve never used (I had several of these still in the box from my wedding – 28 years ago!!)
– the dozen glass vases you’ve accumulated from various flower arrangements that are probably pretty ugly, you just can’t bring yourself to toss them – but do it anyway
– the blankets and sheets that are piled up or don’t fit any mattress you currently own
– the coats crammed in your entry closet that have not been worn for 7 seasons
– the board games with missing pieces that only got played a few times
– You get the picture – speaking of pictures, that old art that is stacking up in the garage that you thought was cool when you were 20, those can go too.
Again, for this pass of purging – your goal is to think “big” and “create space” for fine tuning the purge process on the next rounds. And remember, it is a process. The good news is – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You are eating an elephant layer cake here, and every little bite gets you one step closer.
More tips at a favorite blog – “An Uncluttered Life”: https://www.anunclutteredlife.com produced by Betsy and Warren Talbot.