“Clear the Clutter” seems to be the slogan you see in stores or hear on the radio. I walked into one of the Big hardware stores looking for a durable outdoor coffee table. To my surprise, the outdoor section had been replaced by storage containers of every size! Although this might feel like the newest trend, you and I know that it should be considered more than a marketing fad geared at selling plastic boxes. The challenge is this; although you might feel that containers hold the solution to accumulated belongings and it will help you create the perfect organizational look found in magazines, it often creates the reverse effect and only adds to the chaos of clutter. Without a clear plan of action the clutter only moves locations. Let’s look at how to tame the tower of belonging-buildup and create the look and feel of a harmonious space that is clutter free!
It has been an interesting 6-months in the O’Leary household. As I have alluded to in previous posts, our home sustained significant damage because of ice dams and snow load. The insurance company has been quick to demo 90% of the walls but less than enthusiastic to put a plan in place to re-build. Because of their “hesitation” to take decisive action to fortify the structure, the compromised roof could not sustain any rain. (Mind you, we realized that the roof had issues in February and we are now in the middle of July.) So, you can only imagine the amount of spring rain that has poured through the roof up until now. I tell you this for a specific reason. Although I would consider myself highly organized and void of ample clutter, this experience has given me new insight on what clutter is and how much we really have. It always amazes me how the Universe gives us exactly what we need to learn and grow. Every experience is truly a learning experience if we are open to the lesson.
In June, we packed our belongings for our move to temporary housing. We moved items in four different directions to accommodate for the demolition of our water drenched home. One group went into long-term storage, things like beds or dressers we wouldn’t use. The next group was “short-term” storage made up of items we would need access to in the next 3 or 4 months. Things like sweaters and school supplies. The 3rd group went with us to our temporary home. And, the last group we put in our unfinished basement that was deemed dry and safe by the company doing the demolition and remediation work. Organizing these groups was a tall task! In some ways it was great to go through and realize that there were items in the back of closets that were never used and it was time to donate or toss. This mandatory exercise in clutter clearing rendered great results and also exposed where unneeded items were stored and how many of them actually existed in our home! This brings me to an important point that I will make by asking you 3 questions. If you had to go through this experience:
What would you find hiding in your closets?
What would you toss?
Do you have a buildup of belongings that you could get rid of before pushing them in a pretty plastic crate?
Well, unfortunately that was not the end of the learning curve. A week ago the skies opened up and rain poured from the heavens. Everything, or most things, in the basement storage got wet. Yes, cardboard boxes of art collapsed with water soaked edges or crates filled with water covering Schonbek Chandeliers. The movers were called once again. This time things would either get tossed, go to dry storage or a wet storage unit to be catalogued for insurance on another day. Again, as we went through items, I was amazed at how many items we could part with. Items that had made the original cut were now ok to toss. There were many items that held sentimental connections, like family portraits, that were sad to lose. My work computer and paper files were other items that would pose a logistical headache. But, once the initial shock had settled in and time for reflection was had, I realized how many “essential” items in our lives are superfluous or supplementary. It makes me pose two questions:
Can you look at each item in your home and take stock of what you truly need verses what is surplus?
Is it a good idea to buy extra containers for the excess?
In this weeks post my hope is to share insight into this turbulent experience that has unfolded in our life so that you can gain the golden nuggets of awareness into your own home without actually experiencing the tumultuous journey. Before purchasing the next box to calm the clutter chaos: First, ask yourself:
Do you really need to store items that can potentially create belonging-buildup?
Will these items turn into an accumulation of clutter even if it is organized in pretty containers?
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Image Credit: Home Depot