Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Cecily Paterson of www.cecilypaterson.
I started out on my decluttering journey because I was tired of spending all my hours at home doing the same thing. All I did all day was clean, organise and put away all of our stuff. I’m married with four children and a dog, so we have a lot of it.
“This is ridiculous,” I thought to myself as I stumbled up the stairs with arms full of plastic toys. “I don’t want to be the curator and caretaker of everyone else’s bits and pieces. I want to live my life.”
So I began to declutter.
It started out as a little bit every day – a pair of old shoes, some toys that the children weren’t playing with. And then I did major cupboards and untouched drawers and corners of rooms that have been stressing me out for years.
Every time I decluttered physical objects and items, I felt fantastic. Every time I was able to make a decision to let something go I felt lighter and a little more free. We’ve made progress: we actually got rid of ‘the pile’ in the kitchen last month. And it hasn’t returned. A few months in and already I feel less uptight and less worried about the things I ‘have’ to do. And I’m getting to spend more time on my writing, which is really why I’m staying home in the first place!
I came across Project 333 in the summer. It was a revelation. Only 33 items of clothing? I went into my bedroom to see how I measured up. Before I even started counting I went through every item with a ruthless eye. After I’d filled two garbage bags with pieces of clothing I hadn’t actually worn in two years or more, I began to count. At 35, I culled a bit more, and now I am at 34 items in my wardrobe.
I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for years. I began because it seemed a very cost effective way to buy as many clothes as I wanted. Back then, I thought, like most of us, “More is better and gives me more options.” Now, though, I’m seeing that having less is freeing. The great items and the ones that really suit me get worn much more. I still love to shop at the thrift store, but from this point, when I go to buy my ‘new’ clothes, I’ll scrap everything in my cupboard that I haven’t worn in the last six months. I can still choose what I like, but I’ll have a quicker turnover of the older clothes. One item in, one item out. It’s more fun to have a wardrobe change every six months!
But the decluttering has affected my life in more ways than I thought.
- I’m actually telling the truth more. When I ask myself in the cold light of day, “Why do I want this? Will I use this? Do I like this?” I’m having to answer with honesty and candour. Sometimes I hang on to things for reasons of ego (“People will think I’m cool if I have one of those…”) or fear (“If I get rid of that I might find that I have to go without….”) or self-delusion (“I’ll fix that one day…”).
- I’m appreciating the peace my eyes and body feel when they don’t have to negotiate great piles of mess. I’m breathing more deeply and feeing more relaxed.
- I’m realising that I have instinctive accumulation reflexes which not only cost me money, but put my energy and enthusiasm into excess stuff rather than relationships. I now have other ways apart from shopping to spend my leisure time.
- I’m more grateful for what I do have and less lustful after what I don’t have. This has meant a tangible and recognisable change in mood and outlook. I’m happier because I have less stuff.
- Because I’m more focused on what I’m doing with the minutes and hours of my day, I’m more focused on my writing. Before, my blog was a mishmash of interests and irregular postings. Now I know what I’m trying to do. And so I’m writing about living an uncluttered life, in every area.
Cecily Paterson is an author and editor and blogs at www.cecilypaterson.