Well, it’s January 3rd, how are your New Year’s resolutions going? I haven’t broken one, mostly because I didn’t make any this year. I have been down that road of over-inflated expectations with a quick ending of, “oh well, there’s always next year” once or twice. No, over time I have learned that the new year does not bring a magic pill that suddenly lets you get all the stuff done that you’ve been avoiding. You just need to try to do a little better at anything you can, day by day, to see results. For many, de-cluttering their homes is high on the list of hopeful accomplishments in the new year, and as someone who cannot function in chaos, I can relate. I’ve discovered I am a minimalist, partly because I can’t afford to buy anything but also because “things” stress me out. I need my home and work environment to be tidy and organized or my brain goes bonkers. And I know I’m not alone. It’s easy to spot kindred spirits who cherish the Gods of organization and cleanliness.
Psychology Today cites a study by University of New Mexico’s Catherine Roster which shows how closely our everyday actions and inactions and our cluttered environment align. “The underlying premise of the study was that because many people identify so closely with their home environments, the extent to which it’s cluttered can interfere with the pleasure they experience when being in that environment.” This explains why so many of us simply cannot function when things are out of place. If you find yourself having to clear off your dining room table before you eat or are stepping over boxes full of papers you’ve been meaning to get to, you might want to consider the “six-month rule.” This one generally applies to clothing, where if you haven’t worn something in six months, donate or trash the item. I say apply this time limit to any clutter that is impeding a clean home environment, including too-full linen closets, bathroom vanities and overflowing pantries. It’s an easy method to use for people who cringe at the thought of tossing anything out.
I enact the “five-minute cleanup” when my family is having a particularly crazy week. When mounds of laundry, piles of dishes, and a blanket of dog hair overwhelm me, I power pickup for five minutes. Of course, I must do this several times, but it allows me to get back to writing or whatever I may be doing for a short time while seeing progress around me. The other thing I’ve learned to do is ask more of my family! Sounds simple, but how many of you are doing everything yourself? Now that the kids are growing, it is amazing the chores they can do and it’s good for them to learn to be a productive member of the team. Plus, as an aside, they are starting to enjoy having their rooms tidy, especially the messy one, so win-win.
The last thing I often do is “sell, donate, or trash.” With for sale forums specifically dedicated to peddling your junk, it’s a no brainer to snap a few pictures and post your stuff online. Pawn shops and consignment stores will pay you cash for the right items in person or you could utilize eBay, Craigslist, or several similar sites to turn your stash into cash. There are charities, churches, and shelters who will gladly take your old clothes and household items, even cars and boats which you can use as a tax write-off. I like to support smaller charitable groups where I know my items are going to good use and I’m not necessarily padding some CEO’s pension with my pennies, but it’s all up to you where you donate. Don’t forget animal shelters for old items like sheets and blankets which are always appreciated. I’ve recently discovered GameStop Is a great alternative for trading in or selling gaming items, and have found that Target and Apple will either pay cash or give you a credit toward purchase of another product, if you have old electronics that need not be working. Have broken gold and silver chains lying around? They can easily be sold for their weight at most jewelers, and the same goes for certain trophies and medals. And, lastly, just throw the remaining odds and ends away, okay? All the good stuff lives on in your memories and experiences anyhow. Decluttering your space of “stuff” might nudge your calm and creative side to blossom this new year.
Photos courtesy of Clutter Free Living Facebook page