The Messy Art of Decluttering

Nowadays, we can’t escape the word “decluttering” without darting our attention to Marie Kondo’s work, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It’s fantastic, sure. But without our own submission, self-help books are consumed by our old ways. The art of decluttering is like breaking up with a person that has only shown you love and affection. Sure, they may have made you feel insecure at times — but there were times where they were a source of comfort, bringing you this indescribable sense of tranquility without talking too much. The problem with clutter is that it usually boils down to procrastination. We all want to take a day off to clean our physical space up. We all wish that we could drive home the minimalistic ways of a Buddhist Monk. Yet, we stare at items that we no longer have any use for with eyes of endearment, knowing in the pit of our stomach that it’s time to let go of these items. We just never give ourselves the go ahead.

Springtime is that time. Well, anytime is that time really. Whoever said that timing is everything is wrong — at least when it comes to decluttering. It’s all about our urgency for action. So that shirt you got six years ago on sale from the designer store, there may be no Hollywood red carpet event for you to wear it to. You’re better off wearing it at your nephew’s birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. And we know that you’re not going to commit such an atrocity. Let it go. It’s okay. I have some tips that have allowed me to realize that living a smaller and more condensed life made me more productive and successful in the long run. I also heard that Barack Obama narrowed down his wardrobe so that he had fewer decisions to make in the day. I’m not that busy — but still.

Having a daughter made my wife and I realize that there was a ton of clutter inside of our apartment. It’s difficult decluttering with a partner because they simply may not see eye to eye with you when it comes to that basket that was gifted to you by a family member somehow related to your mother. This brings me back to timing. Marie Kondo makes it clear in her book that those memories associated with certain items can make or break a decluttering situation. Detach yourself from those memories and those potential memories that cease to exist. Think about the present. Are you really going to remove this Blanche from Golden Girls chia-pet from your closet? Where is she going to look okay? Do you really think that chia-pet looks like Blanche from Golden Girls? See, you aren’t a fan of chia-pets. They’re frightening.

I was curious about how we could preserve more memories in a non-destructive way that was tasteful. My wife implemented an idea that blew my mind — that I have a feeling she borrowed from a blog — where she takes photos of items that she cherishes before parting ways with them. It’s a sentimental way to save memories and reduce unneeded clutter. She did this with our daughter’s artwork and began to create an artbook full of photos that get the point across. We loved it so much that we took the time to take a photo of it. That one minute of our time will now live on forever, floating on our server’s cloud drive. This idea is universal. Compacting all of those memories onto a hard drive can save you a ton of room in your house, making it feel more like a home!

When we think of our personal items, we think of anything but the present. The idea that the item that was so important to you in the past will have a purpose in the near future is your mind playing tricks on you. We are overloaded with clothes, objects, and attached thoughts (sometimes imaginary) with these items. We look at our lavish clothes lined up in our closet but think to ourselves that we have nothing to wear. We notice the glassware collecting dust in the cupboards, but have no clean dishes. Our attics and basements are used for trips down memory lane. Our storage units look like a goldmine for storage wars.

This should be a trigger to yourself that spring cleaning is upon you. But the anxiety associated with this cleaning doesn’t need to lead to any hyperventilating or nausea. We just need to breathe and consciously think about the things that we need, the things that we once needed, and those re-gifted items that you received from your mother.