Last month we moved to a new house and it’s always amazing to me (especially considering how often I move!) how much STUFF can accumulate in a home. We have lived in Canberra for just 16 months and in that time have somehow managed to expand our household considerably with furniture, appliances, clothes, books, knick-knacks, and far too many things scavenged on hikes and travels. One of the things I love about moving is that it gives me a chance to get really present with all these material possessions and decide what things are useful, and what things good be better used by someone else.
De-cluttering is somewhat of an artform, and we all respond to it quite differently. Some of us are minimalists and have no trouble passing on things that no longer fit, suit or work. But, some of us have a harder time letting go of things, especially when an item has a memory or experience attached to it. I tend to be the former, but still things can accumulate so I’ve taken some guidance on this in the past that I thought I’d pass that guidance on to those of you who are feeling like a good de-cluttering might be helpful to your health and wellbeing:
- Seasonally go through closets, cupboards and shelves and reduce any excess.
- When de-cluttering use three boxes: 1) throw away 2) donate/give away 3) not sure.
- If you aren’t sure if you need something or not, put it in the ‘not sure’ box and tuck it away for six months. If you haven’t needed it – you don’t need it. Pass it on.
And the final piece of guidance, probably the one that I have found most helpful, comes from my sister who uses the mantra ‘fifty bucks is fifty bucks’. For her, this means that $50 really is a lot of money, and when you are considering new candle holders, colourful cushions, scented soaps, funky shoes, cool kitchen gadgets, any new gadgets for that matter, consider that fifty bucks is fifty bucks and ask yourself – do you really want to spend this fifty bucks on some new thing. When I’m in a retail therapy kinda mood, this advice has saved me more than once from an impulse purchase that I’m sure I would regret the next time we have to move house (or even sooner).
You might be asking, why should I de-clutter? What’s wrong with having lots of wonderful stuff? Well, the ancient art of Feng Shui (or the Indian art of Vastu) recommend keeping clutter in your house to a minimum, as physical clutter leads to mental clutter ie: too much stuff in the house is symptomatic of/leads to too much stuff in your mind. So, reducing unnecessary possessions allows us to free the mind of clutter and attachment, and make way for new experiences and free mental spaces.
For me, after 16 months in one home I have a few boxes of things that have never been unpacked, and obviously never needed. So, I have been able to donate all this extra material stuff to someone who can use it. The great thing is that all the memories attached to these things can still come with us – and they don’t take up any space in our new home!