It’s trendy to follow gurus who show us ways to tidy, organize, and throw out stuff we don’t need. Our lives are full of clutter, and it seems that every time we go out, we bring something back to add to our already overwhelming piles. Sure, they are important knick-knacks or decoration or they have some sentimental value. I’ve just added the program for the latest Cirque Du Soleil show I attended, and it is going right into the “collection”.
One of the best ways to realize you have too much “stuff” is to move house. Usually, though, most people just pick up the majority of their clutter and move it to a new location – maybe their garage, basement, or backyard shed. Alternatively, we can choose to support the thriving business of storage locations and just pay to leave our clutter piled up in a climate controlled facility. Not everyone is a regular house mover, so our stuff collection simply grows.
The Swedish language has a word that roughly means cleaning – städning. Recently, I discovered a variation – döstädning – the art of death cleaning. If you’ve ever had a grandparent or parent leave you their stuff, you may have discovered that outside the conversations among relatives of what is “mine”, there is a lot of meaningless clutter that is difficult to give or throw away. The Swedes plan time every year to, basically, throw out any stuff that would be difficult for their heirs to deal with. Döstädning definitely has lessons for us all.
Decluttering is definitely trending – even the New Yorker is spending webspace to suggest ideas for your own. There are books, TV series and specials, and even courses you can take to help you understand how it should/could be done. One guru suggested we create three piles of stuff – keep, maybe, and throw (I paraphrase, of course). If it arrives in the throw pile, you can never reclaim it – it must be thrown out or donated. The maybe pile will require another pass, and there are also suggestions on how to decide on keep or throw. You might use the measure of “have I used this in the last three months?” or the “does this thing invoke joy?”. You can arbitrarily decide you are a collector of said items and keep it for no other reason. Ultimately, the decision is yours – it is your clutter to own and keep or remove.
Of course, this discussion appears to be about physical belongings. But it’s not.
In the online world in which we live, we all have subscriptions and memberships that we don’t need. We all have social media accounts we should not be wasting time browsing. And we all have “friends” or connections on our social media accounts we should unfollow and many we should unfriend. We’ve all engaged in posts or conversations that do not reflect our current beliefs or our personal evolution. The rules, I believe, for this decluttering, are much simpler. Ask yourself this question “does this _______ add value to my life or detract from my life?”.
In the real world in which we live, we all have habits that we don’t need. Declutter them.
In the real world in which we live, we all have places we visit that we don’t need. Declutter them.
In the real world in which we live, we often have jobs that don’t allow us to achieve our potential. Declutter them.
In the real world in which we live, we all have people in our lives we don’t need and should remove from our lives. This is the most difficult decluttering you will ever have to do. We are regularly asked to “see the best in people” and that can cause confusion when someone who drags us down is seen to be behaving in a nice manner. It is not about them. It is about you. While some people may choose a comparison of pros and cons to determine the impact of another human on our lives, some of us get stuck in emotions such as anger or fear and don’t know where to start. However you do it, the measure of whether someone belongs in your life may be filled with complications that other people won’t see beyond the surface.
Stepping back and looking at the whole picture, if a person brings negativity, blocks you in some way, or causes you to be less than yourself, they do not belong in your life. Declutter them.