I’ve been thinking about clutter lately.
I am a hoarder by nature. I like stuff. I like things. I grew up in the country, on a property with lots of random things. If we wanted to build anything, no trip to the store was necessary: wire and timber and bricks abounded.
The last few years I’ve been pretty tough on my clutter, though. I still have lots of stuff, as the people who helped me move can attest. And I am still absent minded and sloppy, I forget to put things away and I lose things. But I put the effort in and although I slip every day, I manage to maintain it at a reasonable level. Even when the house is, as it was recently, in a state of disarray, making me cranky and restless, it usually only takes a half a day or so to set it to rights. I am much more organised about it, even when it doesn’t look like it, and I am getting better and better at parting with things, even things I love. I’m working on William Morris’ precept – ‘have nothing in your home that you don’t know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. With the added caveat that it needs to be accessable (not burried under a pile of other useful, beautiful, things) and actually used!
Like is said in this post, stuff is a part of who you are. You buy things or accept them into your home, because of how they make you feel about yourself. Because you want to be the person who owns that item. But is it the me I am now? Or some hypothetical Kate who doesn’t have to live in my house, or clean it?
Anyone know what type of bird this is? There are two that hang around the backyard and they are beautiful.
For a while I followed Merlin Mann at 43 folders (he’s still one of my favourite content providers – he is hilarious, check out You Look Nice Today, and he has possibly the cutest daughter in the whole entire universe). One of the first things he said that stuck with me was that it doesn’t matter whether you remember that it’s there or not. Your stuff weighs you down. Ever felt that lightening of being you get when you get rid of superfluous things? And it’s nto about mass, either. I have far far too much stuff to pick up and leave tomorrow. But I don’t feel like I’m hauling too much that isn’t used or appreciated.
The thing is, clutter can’t be organised. It can only be hidden. Because what clutter is is not about the neatness or otherwise of your space (although – yeesh!) It’s about the utility or otherwise of said item. It’s about how you use it, if you need it. It’s about how well it fits into your life – if you used to use it all the time, but your routine has changed, if you want to use it, but just can’t seem to fit it in to your life, if you thought it would be the most useful thing ever, but it just languishes in your cupboard…. then it’s clutter.
Part of this is about using what you have – don’t store the good china, use it. Now it’s not clutter and you get to justify keeping it! Don’t buy three different kitchen gadgets when one will do – or if you can just use a knife! Can you make thing useful and beautiful? Ornament and function? Repaint or mend, don’t replace.
From that point of view, I feel like my stash is cluttered. Things that don’t hae a use, or are neglected. I want to change that. Since I don’t want to get rid of anything, that means using it, baby!
But clutter doesn’t have to be physical. I read this post some time last week, and I’ve been mulling it over since. I’m already on the do not call register. I just bought a no junk mail sign. But what else in my life is cluttered?
I feel like my house is much more a place I want to be. Not just be in, but be. On the weekend, I spent a good amount of time sitting, knitting, listening to podcasts and looking at the things that make me happy about my house (many of which are new! More on that later… when there is light enough for photographs.) Or in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning, listening to music I love and just hanging out.
I feel like I don’t make good choices about my free time. I know I’ve mentioned that here before. At the moment, it’s taking its toll. I feel drained – there’s not enough time in the week for work, socialising, the chores I feel are necessary to enable me to enjoy my life, and relaxing.
I spend my whole day on my bum looking at a computer screen. Why would I chose to do that when I get home?
A lot of is the amount of time I spend on the computer – I often log on in the evenings, intending just to check my email, only to fritter away three hours chatting to people I see all the time and playing a game I’m not really interested in. Only to go to bed far to late, and wake up cranky and more drained! Then the next day, everythign seems like too much effort, so I log on to the computer…. etc etc.
Part of this is because of the light. It’s too dark to go outside when I get home, and sunset leaves me feeling sleepy and insular. The computer screen is welcoming and soothing…. up to a point. I recently had a little back and forth with Janet, over this photo. I realised that I do a very bad job of regulating myself. Of making choices that go beyond the two-year-old ‘but I wanna!’
But I also want to get away from the hum of machinery, and from always being stimulated. I need to give my mind time to rest. To be calm and still. In the moment. I go to bed at night with my head full and spinning. I have, comparatively, many many hours of free time, to do whatever I like with. That is such a luxury, and I am wasting it!
So in an attempt to declutter my life again, I am going to try to be more conscious about my free time. Instead of hopping online, I will knit. Or read a book (hey! I remember when I did that!). Or do the dishes. I give myself a half an hour each night, and then I need to evaluate what I am doing, and if there is something I’d rather be doing.
Isn’t this a much nicer place to sit?
Here’s to a less cluttered life.