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Conscientiousness key to conquering clutter


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POSTED: Monday, May 11, 2009

Which best describes your home or workspace: comfortable and calming, or cluttered and cramped?

If the latter, let's look at more reasons clutter accumulates. Understanding can be a big step in reversing the situation. Do any of these reasons apply to you?

» Unbridled buying. Today's economy is putting the brakes on out-of-control buying, but some people still love acquiring things. Some do so for “;retail therapy”; (it's cheaper than a psychiatrist, they tell me) or because having an abundance makes them feel secure.

I saw a woman on TV whose home and garage were packed with purchases. She said that she could seat 50 people in her living room. Her husband groaned that many of her chairs (largely mismatched) had never been sat in!

Let's remember that we are not the sum total of our possessions.

» Emotional attachment. It's normal to have attachments to certain items that have meaning to us, but with time it becomes impractical to keep them all.

I'll never forget a column by Linda Tagawa that I read many years ago. While purging, she came across a bikini she had knit years ago for her then teenage daughter. It brought back good memories, but she let it go, realizing that the best place to keep your memories is in your heart. How true that is!

» Inherited items. Some have inherited boxes or roomfuls of a loved one's possessions that aren't used or even liked.

I don't think your deceased loved ones would want you to be burdened by their belongings. Might it better honor their memory to pass less meaningful items on to people or organizations that would be happy to have and use them?

» Forgetting your goal. What is your reason for de-cluttering? As I continue to clear out my garage, I keep my choice simple: to keep or not to keep. Sometimes I'm stalled thinking that I paid good money for this and never used it, and perhaps if I sold it, I could get some money back. But then I remind myself that my goal is to clear out the garage and simplify my life, period. Off to the donation pile it goes!

» No time to un-clutter. It took time for the clutter to accumulate, and it will take time to undo. Un-cluttering is not fun for most (except for people like me). People argue that they don't have time to de-clutter, but often time goes to easier and less important things.

I believe that where there's a will there's a way (and time).

In “;For Packrats Only,”; Don Aslett writes, “;No one really has an excuse not to de-clutter—it takes no preparation, no license, no practice, no permission or permit, no special place or time, requires no extraordinary coordination. You can de-junk while you are listening, visiting, resting, exercising or even watching TV.”;

I encourage you to be in control of the clutter. By doing so you can avoid an eventual day of reckoning when it must be dealt with. More on that in the next column!

See you in two weeks!