My procrastination in the writing about clutter held me captive for days. As I reflected on this procrastination I considered several things and the greatest of these is that I have not been an expert in clutter control. My downsizing and purging of items in my life has not been easy. I must admit it is always easier for me to do clutter control for others and with others. With the death of my spouse, my daughters moving away and my own transition to a smaller abode, I am becoming more confident in my abilities, but even more confident in the profound effects that controlling clutter can create for those in grief.
In grief, de-cluttering offers room for growth in your physical setting and in your mind. Items attract our attention in ways both great and small. Too much clutter can make it difficult to bring something new into our environment or even too difficult to find something cherished already existing in it.
In grief our minds as well as our environments can be cluttered with things, with thoughts, with decisions to make that we may have not been prepared to make. In de-cluttering or redesigning our physical environment, one's goal is to put back items that support not hinder. Perhaps the mind cluttering and activities we perform could also use a bit of redesigning.
Clutter affects different people in different ways. Clutter can:
- Keep you in the past
- Confuse you
- Be unhealthy physically and even a fire hazard
- Decrease financial resources available to you: insurance, storage lockers, maintenance and cleaning
- Keep you ashamed: limiting access to your home of friends and family
- Keep you fatigued: just thinking about the clutter can "tire" you.
According to Karen Kingston, author of several books dealing with clutter control, clutter can be divided into four categories.
- Things you do not use or love
- Things that are untidy or disorganized
- Too many things in too small a space
- Anything unfinished
The time of transition in your life is also a great time to reap the benefits of purging or clearing house of the items above. This is also a task that friends or professionals can assist you with completing. There is no hurry to do it all at once but little tasks like cleaning out your "junk" drawer one day will offer you a sense of accomplishment and create some order in your life.
The first thing to do is to assess an area to tackle, be it the junk drawer, the front closet or even your coffee table or book shelf. Second is to set up a simple system. Four piles or boxes are a good start. One pile is for donation or recycling or selling. Selling could be done through garage sale, Ebay or Craig's List. This is a prime opportunity to enlist your friends' help. The second pile is for trash. The third pile is to save. The fourth pile can be items that will be going back to the drawer, closet or shelving. If you do want to save it, label it with a listing of general contents and the date packed. My preference is a clear bin that can easily be accessed if I need something. If I do not go and seek something within a year in that bin, chances are that I do not need it. Of course important tax papers or receipts are an exception. Limit keepsake items to a minimum. If they are keepsakes for someone else, maybe you can box them up and give them as gifts now, freeing some space for new things in your life.
To reiterate, clutter tends to keep you in the past, keeps you tired, confuses you, makes you ashamed to have people to your home, keeps things on hold, entails extra time and energy to clean and is a health and fire hazard.
There is always the opportunity if you stow something away for a while you may not miss it. There is also the opportunity to bring it back out and stow something else in its place and really enjoy the novelty of this object in your surroundings again. Things are always changing and providing yourself with a change by de-cluttering creates such space. This space can create wealth and space for others.
Learn to lighten the load. Professional Organizers and Redesigners are excellent resources to help you jump start the process. Remember the task can be done is small steps. One drawer at a time or one cupboard at a time can be enough. What truly supports you? The things? The items? The stuff? Or is it the people around you that support you and what happens within your space? Open it up, lighten in up and ask for help if needed. You will be surprised what such a space will attract! A smile in the least.