Sunday, April 13, 2008

How I Define Clutter

Defining what is or is not clutter is a very personal choice, in my opinion. Just as one man’s trash is another’s treasure, the same is true for clutter. To me, clutter is anything that I do not use, want, love or need (the real one--not the guilt-causing kind!)

When I declutter, I look for the obvious. Such as stuff that was laid down here or there to deal with later and now I do. My procrastinated filing falls into this category too…the paper was put in a pile but I still need to do the real “work” and deal with it so it will no longer be clutter).

I also look at my stuff with someone else’s eyes and, with that different perspective, I decide if it is clutter or not. I look at my clothes, my furniture, my knick-knacks, my housewares, etc. When I see these things with this perspective, it is so much easier to see the clutter for what it really is. I don’t see it as an emotional attachment, a fear of not being able to have what I need when I need it, etc. I see it as an inanimate object that has no more meaning than I am placing on it at that moment…and, remember, I’m seeing it as a stranger would.

Finally, I allow reason to override emotion. I need peace more than stuff. I want to see every single thing as something that I would choose to bring into my home today.

If I purchased the item, I will evaluate it in today’s dollars—not ones I’ve already spent. Would I buy this today? If the answer is no, then it is out of my face and out of my space. There is no guilt allowed. The money is spent and there’s nothing I can do to undo this buying mistake. I don’t allow that object to own a time period of my life sufficient to justify its purchase.

This way of thinking was not how I started, I assure you. I grew up not having much. If anything was useable (and I admit that I used the definition loosely sometimes), I felt I had to keep it.

Having those things around me didn’t make me feel more secure. Instead, I felt unsettled. I was keeping the past very close and always worrying over the future. The present wasn’t even in my thoughts. When I started letting go of things, the priorities changed. The present became of utmost importance. This is the time I controlled. And what I wanted to feel right now was fulfilled, happy and peaceful. I can’t change how I felt in days past and I have no way of knowing what the future brings.

No matter how you choose to define clutter, please remember: surrounding yourself with things that make you fulfilled (not wanting), happy (not sad) and peaceful (settled) will allow you to make “the present” the true gift it is.

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  1. This is very insightful Suzanne. I agree that ultimately, it is the individual that defines clutter. Sometimes we need help to see and overcome the guilt aspect.

  2. Very true . . . I really appreciated these thoughts on clutter, as they help me to evaluate the things I am trying to get rid of as well. I especially like the idea of evaluating something in terms of "would I buy this today?"

  3. Hi there this post is really timely and dead on. You mentioned that you don't look at the object as emotionally fulfilling, and truth be told, I think that myself and others who tend to have some things cluttered may be feeling some kind of emotional pull to things, and thus not able to declutter and organize the best way possible. Thanks for that eye opener.


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