Clutter: Can a Maximalist turn Minimalist?
“The first step in crafting a life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”– Joshua Becker
I’ve always liked having things, but after reading the shocking statistic that the average American home has 300,000 objects, I thought, “That is ridiculous!”
Is it all just clutter? Clearly, having 300,000 objects is too much stuff to easily maintain and store let alone use. Years ago I read a book called Clutter Control. The book states that, “every object we own, whether we are aware of it from moment to moment or not, takes up a corresponding amount of psychological space.” Will I feel more mentally focused if I reduce the sheer quantity of clutter in my home? The answer seems to be a resounding yes.
So why is it so darn hard for me to let go of stuff?
For me, it feels wasteful to throw things out. I don’t like feeling wasteful. And, my default question when considering whether to keep or toss an item, has always been, “Could this be useful some day?” Which is a most unhelpful question because the answer is always going to be yes and I get no further forward.
So then I tried Marie Kondo’s method. I only keep that which gives me joy. Depending on my mood, I find that either nothing gives me joy or it all gives me joy. I might be tempted to toss an item, but upon closer inspection when I hold it lovingly in my two hands and ask, “Does this give me joy?”, the answer is often yes! I’d be better off not thinking about it so much.
Then, I found a happy solution for me. It was Dana White’s method. She says the first step is to realize that your home is a container and in that container, you need to fit your family and possessions in comfortably. There are real limits on the size of that container that need to be respected. And there are containers within the container that is one’s house –a bookcase is a container for books; a kitchen cabinet is a container for dry goods, a medicine cabinet is a container for medicines and toiletries.
Her reasonable and happy solution is this: you can keep what comfortably fits in the container. She’d clear out her bookcase by keeping the favorites that comfortably fit, leaving some room for new books.
I like the idea of limits. Now, let’s say books are your passion. You might then turn a guest room into a library and line the walls floor to ceiling with bookshelves and fill them with books. Fine. But now that library is your limit for books.
Somewhere we have to draw a line and set a limit.
This is also quite freeing. You can have whatever you want that fits comfortably and easily into that space. By assigning numeric limits to things, it keeps things from taking over.
One of my clients lives alone and has an entire walk-in closet with more dresses than she can wear in a year, but all of them are tidy, easy to see and give her joy. No issue there. For another person, 500 dresses might take over the whole house creating clutter.
Read more about clearing clutter here.