D for Decluttering

The Topic:


Those of you that know me, understand that decluttering is a continuous practice for me. I was raised by 'waste-not-want-not'ers'

“this is the true nature of home…the place of peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division” John Ruskin (1819-1900)


The Intention:

Accumulation of things is said to create chaos and difficulties for a person, both physical and mental. Aparigraha is a yogic term used to encompass the art of having just what is needed.

A while back on a family trip, I said something when we were out, I can’t actually remember what it was over, but when we were out I said that ‘I need that’, my daughter picked me up on it… “do you actually NEED it?”. Of course, we all found it funny as whatever said item was, I clearly didn’t need and that led to me considering why I wanted it and felt I needed it. For the life of me I cannot recall what it even was – so perhaps that is an answer in itself!

I think this is also a good example of how we use our language, what we communicate and why we should consider it the words we use with care. I recall saying “I am starving” on a road trip with my husband and he probingly said “are you actually starving?”…which clearly I was not, but I don’t think I have said it since. Sometimes I am hungry, sometimes I am very hungry, perhaps feeling really ready to eat, but definitely not starving. I feel using terms that exaggerate my own position serves as a disregard to those that are in fact starving…anyway I digress (that is another topic to be covered)…let’s get back to decluttering for now….


The Evidence:

The term decluttering is widely used to describe how we clear out mess, mayhem, and difficulties that can result from a build-up of things. Now this build-up need not be material items, it extends to thoughts and feelings.

The importance of your space in terms of health and wellbeing has been discussed frequently, with little argument over the physical and mental benefits of doing so. Decluttering your space both mental and physical can help you feel in order and tidy. What this in turn has been said to do, is allow room for creativity, motivation, a sense of lightening and freedom (1, 2, 3).

Our environment, looks, bodies are some of the simplest things to declutter and which produce incredible outcomes and sense of wellbeing (2).


Now, real life:

As I practice yoga daily, I make time to consider where aparigraha fits in for me. What is it that I truly need, how does keeping those jeans I bought when I was 25 actually make me feel, and what am I holding on to?

Am I hoarding clothes; most likely, attaching who I am now with my younger self; quite likely. Is that useful; unlikely.

Do I need to keep every card my children and husband have written me? Why do I feel I need this? Well, perhaps because I can feel afraid I may forget. That if I don’t keep these reminders, my brain won’t find them and allow me to enjoy them again (OK – so I keep some of the cards, they bring joy after all!).

These questions are worth asking yourself when you are keeping things. Why are you really keeping it? Can you let it go?

Do you want to try? Let’s have a go!

There are certain processes and steps that can be utilised to help you declutter anything and everything, from a drawer, to an entire house, to an overwhelmed mind.

First of all, you need to be honest with yourself. Many experts in this area say that you need to be ruthless, in some ways this can be true. However, rather than approaching your decluttering experience with hardheartedness, I encourage you to do it with kindness and compassion – it can prove to be an emotional experience! You just need to be honest. You will know what you really need.

Based on research and evidence I have read, I have put together three things that you could consider when decluttering – they correspond to the initials of my business: E.O.W.

E: Essential.

Is the item/thing used frequently? As in weekly, monthly? If so, is it in the best spot for ease of use? You may feel something is essential for sentimental reasons and that is ok, you know what fills you with joy! Decide where you will keep such items, limit the number of things and appreciate them fully before displaying/storing them.

O: Out.

If it is of no use to anyone, then you can let it go! If you haven’t used it for a long while and are unlikely to use it in the foreseeable future, let it go!

W: Want:

So, now you have the items that you feel you want and need. Great! House them where it is they ought to be and enjoy how they add value to your life!

Some examples of things I (try to) do that make sense in my world and routines:

- My dental care is in the downstairs utility, because I know that I am often in a rush in the morning, and whilst I like using the stairs to keep my heart strong, it is easier for my oral care to be right by where I eat and leave the house!

- I used to keep everything my children made and drew. It was ridiculous. Even when they’d come home from pre-school having drawn a squiggle on about 30 sheets of A4 - I would keep them all. Just the thought of their little hand clasping on the a felt tip and connecting it with a marvellous resource produced by a tree filled me with so much emotion. But, it had to stop! As a compromise, I invested in an accordion type folder and kept only a small number of things (1-2) from each academic year. And don’t worry, it becomes much less as they get older! Less stuff comes home, you feel you have less idea what they are even doing at school, you may even question did they even go?! I am kidding, but you do seem to have less come home from school and are just pleased that it isn’t a detention and they are back safe and happy!

Enjoy decluttering my friends, and remember, just give it a go! If it is a real challenge, perhaps call on your very dear friend/s to come and help you. Decluttering with people that love and care about you can be a truly wonderful and rewarding experience – in fact they may even need something that you don’t any longer – so win, win!

Let me know how you get on and feel free to share your tips, we all need a hand!

(1) Cherrier, H., & Belk, R. (2015). Decluttering. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies, 1-2.

(2) Foster, H. (2001). Dejunk your life. Time Life Books: London.

(3) Winston, R., & Hill, D. (2004). Human Mind. Transworld Publishers Limited.

Images, if not personal and taken by Amberlea White, are used with sincere thanks to: Unsplash


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