Friday, 16 January 2015

Space - the positive power of decluttering

This idea is so in vogue right now, but for the record, I would like to say that I have been planning on doing it for way longer than it's been popular (it's just that it's only now that everyone else is doing it, I feel guilted into doing it myself ;) ).

It's the idea that we all hold on to way too much stuff. I am hugely guilty of this. I used to walk into my space and immediately begin criticising myself internally for the amount of mess and clutter everywhere. It was so bad that it's going to be a while before I can shake my well-earned reputation of having the messiest bedroom there has ever been. I am, however, hoping that it'll be possible, because for the last week, my room has been tidy. Oh my gosh, it makes such a difference.

The biggest difference is that I'm able to sleep. I'm able to move in my space enough that I can do bedtime yoga, which is something I've never been able to do. I don't fall asleep with dim outlines of piles of mess looming at me, and I don't wake to what looks like a thrift shop has exploded. My clearer mind that is not sleep-fuddled or filled with self-directed anger is able to focus on other things, specifically job-hunting and writing. If I'd not felt as calm as I do, the Black Dog would have got a grip once more. I've been able to fend off the January low spell in a way I haven't before. Thanks, tidy bedroom.

So, other than the world and its dog (not its Black Dog - that is something different) decluttering, what prompted me to do it? It was this article in the Guardian. I am now quite a fan of Marie Kondo. Interestingly, so is my mother, who discovered Kondo's book not long after I read the article and decided that she wanted to follow her advice, too. So we spoke recently and discovered we were in the same place about what to get rid of, and how to get rid of it.

I have adapted Kondo's teachings to my own frame of mind and have come up with these questions to ask myself:

  • Do I use this object every day? 
  • If I don't use it every day, does it make me happy?
If I don't use it all the time, and if it doesn't make me happy, why on earth have I still got it? 

Even if it does make me happy, does it really make me happy or is it associated with a memory that I'd be just as well-off writing down? This is my latest query and comes from my having dug out my treasure box - a large wooden box that hides in my bedroom and contains treasures that I have seen as important from the age of about 5. The really old ones really are treasures; they are things I grew up loving. But around the age of 10, sickly sentimentality meant I began keeping really weird things. More than one object to a memory, sort of thing. So I was brutal - I had new special memories (cards from my 30th birthday, letters from the children I worked with at the zoo, wedding invitations) that needed space. So I took everything out. If it wasn't a real treasure, it went. 

The brilliant thing about that little activity was that a) I made space for my new treasures and b) I got to bask in happy memories from the treasures that really are important to me. There were a few sad ones in there, too, but they were that kind of prickly sad that is such a very human feeling, so I enjoyed that, too. I also found a birthday card written to me 15 years ago by a dear friend going through a tough time, Thanks to marvellous social media, I was able to take a picture of it and send it to her to remind her of the things that used to be important to us. She says it helped. I was glad to be able to share it with her. 

So - declutter. Make space. You will feel better and you will reconnect with the possessions that really do matter. Don't think about how much things cost when you bought them. Think about what you've got from them in that time. Expensive clothes that don't fit will never look their worth. Sling them out. Nobody else gets to tell you what a treasure is, either. If it's a treasure to you, keep it. 

Happy organising! 

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