De-Cluttering is Not Just about Stuff

At the heart of de-cluttering (on the way to simplifying our lives) is the notion that we should identify the essential – and eliminate the rest.

While we generally think of clutter as having a physical form – like objects that you can see and touch – it also extends to other things like:

  • ideas
  • thoughts
  • mindsets
  • habits

I love new ideas…and I constantly think (and write) about them.  I’ll often spend large amounts of time entertaining ideas to the exclusion of other things that I really should be doing.  

I also have a continuous improvement mindset which means that I’ll often be so busy trying to make something perfect that it actually prevents me from just making it good…with the result that nothing happens.  Perfectionism is said to be the mother of procrastination…with which I have enormous experience.

Suffice to say, some people find this irritating.  

While it’s often interesting to reflect on what other people think (another great time waster), I’m really motivated to do something about this because I have a lot of things that I want to do before I depart this mortal coil – and mental clutter is an obstacle to that happening.

Anyway, in my quest to resolve this issue I’ve enlisted the assistance of Leo Babauta – author of “The Power of Less” – The 6 Essential Productivity Principles that will Change Your Life.”

Babauta’s big 6 include:

  • Set limitations
  • Choose the essential
  • Simplify
  • Focus
  • Create habits
  • Start small

Since this is an abiding topical issue in my life, I’m going to commit to a project to fix it.  I’ll be documenting my progress on my Have More For Less discussion forum…HERE…and you’re welcome to join me to see how things are going…and to discuss any aspect of de-cluttering.

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De-Cluttering

De-cluttering is the pathway to minimalism…and simple living.

The notion that underpins minimalism is that we accumulate stuff…but we eventually get to the point where that stuff owns us. It determines how and where we live…and what we have to do to buy more of it…and to keep what we’ve got. Then we have to insure the stuff so that, if someone steals it, we won’t be out of pocket.  The theory goes that individual freedom (to large part) comes from abandoning our attachment to stuff.

We find that as we own less, so we have greater freedom to choose where we live and how we live. If life is suddenly costing much less, then we don’t need to spend as much time working…and we’re free to pursue other things like travel, volunteering……anything!

In 2013, we moved from a three bedroom house on 3000 square metres to a one-bedroom cottage on less than a thousand square metres on Macleay Island.  While we welcomed the lifestyle change, an initial declutter was necessary just for us to be able to get almost everything under cover.  This was our first faltering step toward minimalism – and a simpler life.

In the ensuing three years, we slimmed down a bit more, but we still had a 20′ shipping container full of things for which we had a questionable need.  I’d also erected a 6m X 3m shade shed to accommodate the things that would no longer fit in the container.

My living space is just 6m x 4.5 metres (20′ x 15′) but its contents were such that it made keeping the place clean and tidy took more time that I wanted to spend on housekeeping.  My workshop was even worse.  Undertaking any task that required access to a workbench required that I move a heap of things before I could start work.

So, in late May, I embarked upon the third stage of the de-cluttering process.  

I can now walk the length of the 6m x 2.8m shipping container and I can also circumnavigate the bench in my workshop.  Housekeeping my living space now requires less time.

Some of what I’ve discarded will be sold and the rest will be donated to local service clubs.

Another outcome is that I’ve learned that decluttering is an ongoing process.  As I sit at my desk, I can see several items that seem to have escaped our most recent move toward minimalism – and I’m sure that the same applies to the house, workshop and backyard.

I’m also confident that each subsequent decluttering event will become quicker and easier.

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