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How far should you go in de-cluttering

Garage-cleaning-2-062312

Yesterday, while throngs of South Floridians were at the beach or enjoying the cool indoor a/c, I was in my hot garage cleaning out the junk. It's amazing how much clutter a family can accumulate from one summer to the next. 

Our garage has become the entry to our home. So every time I come in and out of it, I feel cluttered. As much as I tried to pretend otherwise, seeing clutter around me -- in the car, garage,  desk -- affects my psyche. Having clutter around me makes work life balance seem more elusive.

Cleaning the garage was a process. Not only did I weed out what I considered junk, but I had to get my husband and kids to be part of the de-cluttering. When I tried to toss my hubby's deflated basketball, he agreed only if I agreed to toss my yellowed newspaper collection.

At the end, I felt like the process of de-cluttering was as important as the results. First, I went through the  internal struggle of what can I purge from my life. Next, I survived the external struggle of negotiation with my family members.

This morning, I walked out of my home through my garage to walk my dog. I felt lighter, happier, more in balance. Over the years, I found summer is a great time to de-clutter my life. Now, I'm looking at all the responsibilities on my plate. For the last few years, I have become involved in several organizations that I had considered of high value. If I want to de-clutter my calendar, I have to ask myself whether being involved still brings value to my life.

Last week, I was at an event where a young attorney talked excitedly about how much she enjoys being involved in the local minority bar association. Her enthusiasm was overwhelming and made me think about whether I feel as excited as she does about the things I'm involved in that consume my time. Just like I did in my garage, I'm asking myself what I need to keep and what has become clutter.

But how far do I go in purging?  I still regret throwing away a box of Nancy Drew books that has enchanted me as a young girl. I wish I had saved them for my daughter. 

When you're peering over piles, mounds and stacks of stuff, it's hard to know where to begin and what to do in order to de-clutter and with the new push toward minimalism, I'm worried I will go too far.

I recently read a blog post about the powerful difference between organizing and de-cluttering. "Decluttering—or, just getting rid of stuff, is permanent. It leaves your four walls, and immediately you have more visual and physical space." 

So, I'm carefully looking at my clean garage and my cluttered calendar and making tough choices about what stays and what goes.  As the Art of Simple blogger notes: De-cluttering leads to freedom --  Freedom to live with more clarity, freedom to pursue work and hobbies we truly love, and freedom to spend more time with people instead of taking care of our things."

Who wouldn't want that?

 

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