This is a topic very dear to my heart. I delight in de-cluttering my own house, and helping others de-clutter theirs. (I like de-cluttering my own house better, because I don’t have to ask anyone permission to throw things out. And in my own home, I get to enjoy the space and order afterward.)
I have heard of two great books on the subject. I’m positive there are more. First is It’s All Too Much, by Peter Walsh. The second is written by Alice Fulton-Osborne. I have not read it, but I heard her present her ideas, and those ideas were delightful. I plan on checking out It’s Here… Somewhere from the library. These books go in depth, with steps and charts and plans and everything else you need. So I’ll just share why the subject is dear to me, and hopefully it’ll convince you to look further.
1. Space is beautiful. What areas in my house do I love the most? The areas where I can see where the floor meets the wall. A simple pleasure, yet not to be understated.
2. Cleaning up is easy. You should have more places than things. (Buying more places is not the solution.) If you do have more places than things, then everything has a place. And then, even husbands and kids can put things away. The hardest part about cleaning up is when people don’t really know where things go. If everything has a place, cleaning up becomes a task that requires zero brain cells. Sometimes, your family members just can’t spare any more brain cells (for things that matter to you and not to them.) Making it easier for them is just making compliance more likely.
3. Everything you actually use is handy. If everything is handy, nothing is. Life is so much simpler when things are organized according to how they are used. Sometimes we make ourselves do unnecessary work, like shoving things out of the way to get to what we actually need or cramming things back into a drawer. And those “things” that you consistently move out of the way… you don’t need.
4. Less waste. One huge reason people can’t throw or give away their unnecessary things is because they paid good money for them. Sometimes a lot of good money. (The solution is to not buy it in the first place.) I suppose the real thing we need to know here is what will be of value to us in the future. My solution? Budget very little money for things that are not absolutely necessary, just nice to have. Then, with scare resources, you think more carefully, buy less stuff, feel worse about bad choices and gather more memorable lessons from those choices. This is one (of many) reasons why our abundance sometimes isn’t a blessing. (I will probably blog about this later, but here is a short, off-topic list. We waste energy because we can afford to. We eat packaged, processed food because we can afford to. We buy too many things because we can afford to. Instead of improving others’ lives with our resources, we make our own lives worse. Which makes us less likely to improve others’ lives in the future.)
5. Having too many things is a burden. I can only use so many items. The number that I NEED is even smaller. (Yes, Holly, people in Africa feed families of five with a pot and a wooden spoon. But I don’t want to live like that!) Surprisingly, I’ve found I can live quite comfortably on a minimal number of things. …And if this is important to you, I can live (almost) just like my neighbors with a minimal number of things. But, unlike them, I don’t have to dig around piles of stuff, I know where just about everything is, and I’m not constantly reminded about things I still “should do sometime.”
I apologize for my hypocritical use of the word “I.” I, too, have clutter. I, too, have things I’m holding on to for stupid reasons. I, too, have to navigate around some piles. I simply spoke in this manner for simplicity in writing, and because I have enjoyed these blessings in some areas in my home.
Still have arguments for me? Take a look at those two books I mentioned above. Then we’ll talk.