Monday, July 10, 2017

Does It Make You Happy?

The question for those of us who like to hang on to "things" that I have to ask myself and answer truthfully is does it make me happy? For example, in my closet. Oh yes, those shoes make me happy. Why else would I have bought them? In order to have a truly decluttered home I must ask myself more than that one question. Does it make me happy, is it useful, and do I wear it (or even have I worn them in the last year).

In 2011 Marie Kondo published a book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I must admit that I liked the overall idea. I even went so far as to clear and declutter some areas in my life. In my previous job in education, I had no trouble tossing the old when the new came in. Most of the time, I never taught the same lesson the same way from year to year. It horrified me to find out that some teachers used the same lesson plan book year after year. To each their own. I would have been so bored in my job if I had to do it the same way for a different set of students. Plus, for those of you not in the educational field, each year was a round of a new set of books for one specific subject, which meant 'bunches' of new teacher editions and resources. Teachers are known hoarders. If you walked into any classroom, usually you will find stacks and piles of old resources that have not been touched since the new textbook series was adopted.

That was never my case. First of all I moved around too much and where was I going to store all of this mess. Whatever I needed was provided. Not saying that there were some things that I went out and purchased with my own money; oh yes, I did. These things were usually things that helped me keep the room organized. I found that not only myself, but my students worked better and could concentrate and focus more when in an organized setting.

So then, I found myself feeling the same about things in our home, such as the kitchen. If the countertops are filled, where is the workspace. It means letting go of what is not used. If it is used occasionally, then in my mind, it needs to be stored someplace else. Remember when it became the thing to do to make your own bread? Do you really use that breadmaker? I doubt it. I made my own loaves of sourdough bread for years and never even used a breadmaker. The same goes for a pasta maker. Really? 

Now comes my office at home. I have been in this office for over a year. It is still a work in progress. As my now retired husband is designing his office space for his creative writing, he will be taking some of the 'stuff' that clutters up my office space. I sort of, kind of have it fixed to a degree of my liking. Once he finishes up a bookcase for himself, he will be taking some of the items that make him happy and will be useful to him, which in turn will clear some space for me.

The final act of decluttering comes with my closet. My wonderful daughter came over last year to help me with this and she helped me to make a huge dent in the clothes and the shoes. This job is not so overwhelming for me now and I never plan on letting it get that bad again. My motto is to stay on top of it.

I have some questions that I ask myself when decluttering, whether it be the kitchen, the office, the closet or drawers. It really works for me, so I thought that I would share because once it is done, you will find more productivity and concentration, a better night's sleep, a happier you throughout the day and for me more creativity. I do know there are artistic types who thrive amongst chaos. Definitely, not the case with me. Everyone has their own style.

I like to ask myself:

  • how many times have I worn or used the item
  • do I even like it
  • will I lose special memories if I toss it
  • am I keeping it because it is expensive (then sell it)
  • if I moved would I want to pack it and take it with me

William Morris said it perfectly over one hundred years ago. "Have nothing in the house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." This was long before the ever popular book by Marie Kondo was published and became a best seller. In other words, humans have always had the need to be reminded to declutter their living spaces. The difference between the two books is that Marie actually breaks it down for those of us who are slow learners.

I was going about my decluttering, room by room. Her suggestion was to do it by categories. Books, clothes, kitchen utensils, linens, etc. Also, asking yourself if your "mess" looks happy. Okay, so "messes" don't have human feelings, however, they do look sad all piled up like junk. Sometimes certain nostalgia is just not worth keeping. Be selective and it is probably best not to share with all of your family the discarded stuff, just in case they try to talk you back into something that you already made a hard decision about. Remember, that you have now rediscovered YOU.

There are always rewards waiting for me when I finish the projects. First of all, cleaning becomes so much easier. Our things just look better. The important stuff, the happy stuff stands out. It makes getting dressed easier. Also, it makes shopping easier. I know what I have and what I truly need. 

Decluttering and reorganizing became a necessity when a puppy entered our house. There are certain things that we just did not need taking up space and being there for him to chew.

I am not sure that I could ever become a true minimalist. Find your own decluttering style.
This would just not work for this clothes horse.
Happy decluttering to all!

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