Man, I was so determined to write a post today! I was thinking something “Huggie-Wuggie”, but nothing seemed to really click – even the idea I spent a good few minutes/hours mentally thinking through today. To be candid the moment for blogging has really passed now, and bearing in mind that I’ll be busy tomorrow there’s really something else I should be doing right now, that looks a lot like this: zzzzzzzz!
But. There are a few posts I have read today, and something that has been simmering beneath the surface of my psychology has finally clicked and finally I have decided to deal with this humongous issue of clutter that is possibly my biggest weakness. And I am doing it by way of a blog! So I am going to trial it here on HW until it really catches/ I feel really committed to it, at which time, if it ever happens, I will give it its own subblog.
I know that this is quite a random topic to talk about here, and so off topic from HW issues but – shrug!
So anyway, my life has so much stuff. It’s almost no exaggeration to say that I am drowning in stuff. At times it has just been ridiculously overwhelming. And you know what, there have been countless times when I have looked around at my stuff, and thought that I really had to deal with it, but up until today, I have had no clear vision about how to deal with it – so I’ve just struggled on. But as I say, today a few things have crystallised in my mind! Actually, on HW I have referred quite a few times to the fact that I am messy and I have always known that it is so bad that it could literally drive my husband to frustration. Actually forget the husband – it drives me to frustration! No matter whether HW chooses to show up soon, or continues to take his sweet time, or possibly just never shows – I have to deal with this for myself, and for everyone else I ever have to live with. I would really like to thank everyone that has lived with me and this habit, and patiently endured!
There are so many things that I could potentially talk about regarding this: I’m going to make an unordered list here to help myself for later:
* Consequences of this, eg never being able to invite anyone around, never being able to find ANYTHING!
*Causes, psychological issues, sentimental things: I even struggle to throw away envelopes from birthday cards etc. Really
* Comparisons: I CAN do it! Financial successes
* A few simple tips and tricks
* I would snap pictures, but seriously I am too ashamed! Maybe I will post temporary pictures!
* Just found my physical copy of my Greek New Testament (in the ?original? Ancient Greek)! I was thinking to myself literally yesterday that I had no idea where this book was. So when it hopefully comes to resuming my Bible Translations, I would need to rely on online resources. However, I did a very, very, very cursory pick through my totally overwhelmed bookcase – and there was my Greek NT! Please understand, my bookcase is still completely overwhelmed, and as I type this still carrying a number of things that are not REMOTELY related to books, like jewellery, and vests – but I removed about 3 or 4 redundant items out of hundreds, possibly thousands, of items which are mainly books and folders.
*2020 my year of big decluttering! I’m hoping that by the grace of God, by 2021 my home will be so pristine and uncluttered that it would be hard for anyone to believe that I ever struggled with this!
*I may well add links to the random things I read today which all combined to make everything click. For my own reference these were as follows:
— Pocket closet
— Kylie Jenner’s closet (super organised!)
— Serious environmental cost of returning Christmas presents
* I honestly cannot be bothered to register and maintain yet another new domain name for this new idea, so it is just going to have to be another subblog on Huggie-Wuggie! But let’s see if it sticks first!
*Gamification – to my shock that really motivates me!
I may well add to this list as time goes on, OR if this blog idea sticks! (Which, considering the spontaneous nature of this post, I cannot guarantee!)
But what I do want to write about today is this: a few simple tips and tricks that occurred to me that should hopefully help in terms of dealing with this once and for all.
– So one of the big issues is that I look at everything and I just get overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start, so that usually means that I don’t start at all. Not only is there a lot – like seriously a lot of clutter, but it is all in the wrong place. So many things do not have defined homes – aargh! I now realise that all I needed all along was a strategy, composed of a few simple ways of thinking of all this stuff.
So I am going to pour out these simple tips and tricks as and when they occur to me just now in an unordered list, and possibly neaten them up later:
1. Bookshelf! – There is a reason I specifically referred to my bookshelf above. It has occurred to me previously in various small-scale attempts to tidy up that it is easiest to just focus on one area at a time. But for whatever reason my mind has only just connected the dots that this is true also of big scale tidying up or decluttering. So now a very basic strategy is to identify a few basic areas which are decluttered, and systematically work through them one by one, starting with the areas that cause me the most distress. Actually, as messy as my bookshelf is it is not remotely the place that causes me most anguish. That dubious honour belongs to this very desk space that I am sitting in as I write this. It was fine (but only by my standards!) but over the last week or so I transferred stuff from elsewhere, and now it is definitely not fine, by any standards. In fact as I type this, I am sitting awkwardly on my chair, facing the pc from an angle as the chair is anchored by so much stuff that I physically cannot move it into a more comfortable position for my typing. So this clearly will be the first place that I need to deal with! (And I also finally need to get myself a proper orthopaedic chair for my typing, as I’ve been promising myself for so long!)
The advantage of decluttering section by section is that I can easily see progress being made. Pragmatically speaking there might be some things or areas which are technically not ordered, but at least look neat, so they do not cause any mental distress in looking upon them – I can live with that!
2. Bit by bit: Something I always fail to appreciate is that all this mess was accumulated bit by bit, little by little. When I am trying to declutter I always try to do a whole load at once, then get overwhelmed by all the stuff. But now I am seeing that just as I accumulated it all bit by bit, so I will need to de-accumulate or dispose of it bit by bit. From experience, trying to do too much at once will confuse, overwhelm and ultimately frustrate me. I guess another way of looking at it is this: it is the small things that you do every day that make the difference. Just like in a marriage. I’ve definitely made that point before in HW terms. Previously the little things I did here and there, combined with my general cluelessness about this, all contributed to a mass cluttering, now with a little bit of knowledge, and determination to work on it every day, by the grace of God this will now go in the opposite direction, to mass de-cluttering; it is all about acting with intent.
3. One in, one out: This has certainly occurred to me before, not actually my own original idea but from articles I have read previously, but in the context of all this it has struck me anew with so much force that I have got to stop bringing things into this house! I have actually asked people to stop buying me gifts as I am already trying to get rid of so much of the stuff here already! So when an area has been thoroughly cleared out, like my bookshelf, and I have pared down my book collection to fit the available space, if ever I bring in a new book, I must ditch another existing book to make room for it. However this only works for an area that has already been adequately dealt with: decluttered, tidied up, pared down to fit the available space. For every other area or collection of possessions, like my wardrobe or my jewellery collection, the safest thing is simply not to buy anything at all until I am sure that the available physical area has been dealt with
4. Getting rid of things: I must admit that I have struggled quite a lot with getting rid of things over the years, as I get attached to things very easily. However I have come to understand that where I do find the strength to throw things away, I forget about them very quickly, sentimental or not! So now I know I can throw things away. But another complication is this: when I am cleaning up a space that has random things from other spaces, I never know whether I can dispose a book, for instance, as I don’t know whether I would prefer it to other books that might currently be lurking in my bookshelf. So this tends to mean that I don’t throw away anything, “just in case” But it suddenly occurred to me that when tidying up a small area, I can just assign everything to their correct areas, then for instance evaluate all the books in my bookshelf at once. If my bookshelf has already been tidied and pared down and I find another book randomly somewhere else in the house, then I can ask myself whether I prefer that new book to the ones on my bookshelf, and then proceed accordingly, using the one in, one out mentality.
If this sounds complicated, I can only agree – it is this that has stopped me from feeling able to declutter for so long!
5. Easy versus hard
I thought it might help for me to sit down and work out which techniques I find easy to apply, versus the ones I struggle with. Then I could work out how to maximise the easy techniques in my day to day life, then carve out special times to focus on the harder techniques
So those are a few thoughts that occur to me just now.
If I were to turn this into a blog, I’m trying to think what kind of ongoing format would work/that I could commit to. For instance, the very first idea that occurred to me is that I could simply take pictures of sentimental items before ditching them, telling the story for each item, in the hope that keeping a photo record of them here on my blog would ease the sentimental distress of getting rid of them? Perhaps also keeping a diary of each area that I clear out. Man, I never thought that I could be neat! But that is the same way I also never thought that I could be good with money, which by the grace of God is now something I take for granted. My prayer is that in a very short space of time, as it was with money so it will also be with neatness and tidiness!
Something else that has occurred to me while typing this post is as follows: For HW I sit here and blog about deeply personal issues about relationships. I tell the whole world about my various emotional needs, spelling each thing out in such detail that you would think I was completely shameless. As it happens, I’m not completely shameless about HW issues; I sometimes have to dare myself to discuss difficult or particularly embarrassing issues. And yet I have so much more shame about tidiness. Perhaps I have to learn to dare myself to discuss these issues too!
Maybe I’ll post some “after” pictures. I know that if I tried to post “before” pictures, I would be tempted to neaten things up a little to make it all look a little more palatable!!! If I take after pictures for eg a month, then hopefully I will be able to pick myself up in those little habits that might contribute to a re-cluttering, sooner rather than later
Methodical? As old as I am, I have still not learned to be methodical, and to follow things through right to the end, and put things away after they have been used. So what I will tend to do is start something, then while I am in the middle of that, I will get distracted, and move on to the next thing, and everything from the first process will just be left where it is. in mid-use = which all equates, obviously, to things getting very messy, very quickly. I have to learn to be methodical. However, being methodical is also a consequence of having set and reliable fixed underlying processes in my life, which have often been lacking (Huggie-Wuggie the blog has also chronically suffered from this lack of reliable underlying processes). Systematically putting things away indicates a set process for using each thing, which is often built on stability. By the grace of God, I am hoping that I will be able to foster more stability in my work life over the coming weeks and months than I have been experiencing recently!