The Way I See It: Clear the clutter, clear your mind

Do you ever feel that your stuff is taking control of your life? How much do you really need? As a young adult we had less, then we earn more, we get more and more, then as we age we want less again.

Our younger families are much smarter about consumerism and are collecting less, and being much more thoughtful about how our “goods” affect the environment. From how items are made, packaged, shipped, marketed — is it really worth it? Many older people are fabulous at re-purposing, repairing and reusing items and this becomes smart again.

If something is on for $5 I may want it, but if I pause and think if it was $20 would I buy it, or walk out of the store and decide if I need it I will come back for it? Chances are you leave it for someone else to ponder because you didn’t really need it.

Now shopping and collecting isn’t always about need, however it is important to not overwhelm yourself for want. What does the item do for you? Help you to look fabulous? Grate a carrot faster?  What is its purpose and is that relevant?  Try to connect the purpose to the purchase and then decide if it is coming home with you.

And if it is coming into the house, what is going out of the house? I like this idea, something in, something out.

I am going to be clearing out our house again this spring and use the Six R system:  Return to Owner (adult children, neighbours?); Re-sell — yard sale or consignment; Reuse — Goodwill, Gleaners store, The Mission, CMHA,  Alan Brooks yard sale, but be respectful and if it is broken and junk throw it away; Recycle items — paper, glass, cardboard, tin, etc.; Re-purpose — this for me is a creative outlet, as can I paint that chair or bookcase, to make it more useful. Watch that  you don’t take on too much and fill a room here for the day you have time. One or two projects at a time; Rubbish — our landfill is open seven days a week.

I find this process very uplifting. We did it last year at our cottage and it was wonderful — just brought stuff out on to the lawn and put it in a pile and then away it went. The cottage felt so much better and welcoming to me after it was painted, new to us more practical furniture which actually was all from the re-use category, as we purchased from others. It is now a more restful retreat.

The experts like Peter Walsh say to tackle one room at a time. Also to have a vision for each of your rooms as to how they are going to be used and stick with it. In the kitchen, have the magic triangle between stove, refrigerator and sink, keeping your most used items within easy reach of those — anything else can be put in a cupboard or gotten rid of. He had an idea for utensils and gadgets which was to put them all in a box, and as you use an item it can be placed back into the drawer, after a month any unused items are gotten rid of or stored away until you need them — is once a year enough?

As a realtor I know that storage is very important to everyone. Make it work for you and if your house is short on closets then create storage with built-in cupboards, shelving, bureaus and wardrobes. Under the stairs can be wasted space, doors on book shelves can make them more useful, there are lots of ways.

A cluttered home can lead to us feeling disorganized, anxious and overwhelmed. Tackle it one room at a time so the process of de-cluttering doesn’t become a nightmare as you throw everything out. The de-cluttering shows have a large crew — most families don’t.

Yard sales can help you to get rid of stuff, earn a few bucks, meet the neighbours; just watch that you don’t buy it all back from someone else’s sale. Happy cleaning.


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