To Keep or Not To Keep? Ah, that is the question…

I am in the (very slow) process of decluttering and it is, quite frankly, torturous. Whoever said decluttering was therapeutic was correct, it’s just that they forgot to mention that the therapy comes with a hefty side order of frustration, exhaustion and feeling, at times,  completely overwhelmed and over it. 

Now I’m not a hoarder, however I’m just not the best at throwing things away. Clothes hang around far beyond their use-by date, already-read magazines have a habit of turning up in my study, and mail apparently lives in one of three different boxes ‘just in case’ I need that bank statement from 2014. There’s no emotional attachment to these things; I guess, if I’m completely honest with myself, I’m just a bit lazy. I mean, seriously – there are always better things to do than decluttering, and if you can’t find something better to do then you’re not looking hard enough.

Having said all of that, I’m extremely conscious of not letting my lack of joy regarding decluttering allow my house to get out of control. My dirty secret is hidden in cupboards, far away from the gaze of visitors who, most likely, would comment (and have done) that my house is neat and tidy. Which it is. Except for the horrors which lurk in the shadows. I’m not proud of my little secret – in fact, it horrifies me. Why? Because, as I’ve mentioned in the past, my mother is a hoarder. A class A, crap everywhere, overflowing-piles-of-junk, hoarder. 

It dawned on me recently that my mother’s problem started with overflowing cupboards of crap, which grew and grew until my childhood bedroom was so full of ‘things’ (I have no idea what all these ‘things’ are – I’d wager that neither does she) that there is now only a clearance of about 30cm (roughly 12″) between the top of the mountain of stuff and the ceiling. The thought of being even remotely like that terrifies me, so it serves as a constant wake-up call to keep my own crap to a bare minimum.

Thankfully, the task isn’t massive – in our two-bedroom home, all I have to worry about sorting out is the contents of two wardrobes, two cupboards and the dozen or so boxes in our garage – boxes which, I might add, have been sitting in there since we  over in. In February. It’s now December. I read an article recently by Dr Bruce Wells which cited a study by the Australia Institute that found, of those people who had moved “26% of them had up to 7 boxes still unpacked six months later” (Wells 2016, Guilty as charged. The good news there, however, is that I can clearly live without that stuff and so, as soon as I can be bothered, all that crap has a date with either eBay or my local charity store.

As lazy as I might be with actually getting off my butt and sorting through my crap in order to get rid of it, I cannot deny that I absolutely love the feeling of freedom that comes with making my life just a little bit lighter. Every now and then I have a flight of fancy and announce to my partner that I’d like to get our lives down to just a suitcase each, which is usually met with laughter and gentle mocking because, let’s face it, I’m just not one of those people, and I know it. That’s fine. I’m content to find the middle ground; to have a small collection of things which hold genuine meaning and which make me happy when I look at them. 

Getting rid of unwanted stuff is a great way to make you feel better about your home. Seeing clutter (or even knowing it is lurking behind closed doors) can create stress and anxiety, whilst decluttering can improve your happiness, increase creativity and productivity, and if you happen to be selling your house you will find that (surprise surprise) an uncluttered house sells far more quickly (and often for a higher price) than a cluttered one (Wells 2016).

And so I must return to my own decluttering. Right after I pop to the grocery store. After all, change doesn’t happen overnight (and, not to mention the fact that decluttering goes perfectly with a cheeky little Sauvignon Blanc or Rosé…). Keep an eye out on eBay for all that stuff I’ll be getting rid of soon… soon-ish… in the not-too-distant future.


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