Volunteering at a charity bookshop during lockdown afforded numerous opportunities to go through the books that are donated. One, in particular, caught my eye, “The life-changing magic of tidying” by Marie Kondo.

We had been paring down for some time, donating stuff to charity shops or even selling more valuable items. But I felt we need to take it to the next level.

The book sets out to teach you the steps in the decluttering process in an orderly fashion rather than just randomly selecting items to get rid of.

When in hard lockdown we used the time productively. It was a great way to remain focused and keep busy. It has now become a way of life. Feeling organised is like a breath of fresh air. We now set time aside to continue the process.

Getting into the flow energises you. As we make decisions regarding organising things we go into an “action” mode and start enjoying the process. You feel good when you finish.

One advantage is that of finding lost “treasures” as you sort through stuff. I have found pens, pocket knives and various gadgets that I thought were gone. And many had sentimental value!

Humans inherently like order and when things get messy we get anxious. The process of restoring order leads to a sense of calmness. In this way, we obtain mental clarity. To me, it’s a form of cleansing. I know where things are. There is less stress in my life!

There is an element of problem-solving involved as well, you sort through stuff and group similar things. Then you look at available space. Finally, you look at what you will discard rationally;

  • When last did I use it?
  • Do I still need it?
  • Is it a duplicate?
  • Can I gift, donate or repurpose it?

Once you have done this a few times you will feel confident in your problem-solving abilities.

When you set out to declutter it can be overwhelming especially if the whole house is involved. So focus on a few areas, you have time. In fact, you can set aside an hour every weekend to focus on one particular area.

In my case, I started with a cupboard where we keep books and bits and pieces. The first thing was to take a picture to show how it looked. I will follow up once I had finished and achieved something. A good deal of the books read are already at the charity shop.

I also looked at my knives, torches and assorted small tools. Later I would move on to my recovery equipment. After all how many shackles does one need? Remember to let it go if you are not using it.

With regards to torches, duplicates went to the charity shop as well as those that did not use rechargeable batteries. That is an effort to be environmentally friendly.

Don’t panic though, if you feel fretful put the item aside, but not back with similar items. You can make a decision later, but don’t procrastinate. If you don’t look for it or use it, let it go. Once you start you will soon find that you are comfortable and able to let go.

The process will become much easier. If worried ask yourself;

  • Do I need it?
  • How often will I use it?
  • Will my life change without it?

Weigh items up, do they give you a spark of “joy” or sentimental feelings, then keep them.

Begin making piles of items that must go;

  • Items to sell via social media.
  • Items to donate to charity.
  • Items to give away.
  • Damaged items that are beyond repair could be recyclable or repurposed.
  • Items that can be repaired and reused,( this could be a pocket knife or small tool that needs sharpening or cleaning, or even a torch that needs a replacement globe).

Lastly the pile of items you absolutely want to keep. this also represents an opportunity to get creative with storage space. Group similar items and store them in a suitable container. They will be easily accessible when you need them. And you will know where they are.

You will be far happier with the end result and will want to move on, perhaps even to the garage.

I have given some guidelines but you can make your own as well. Always consider why you are attached to “clutter” to begin with. In the process, you will find that you make your needs less as your wants become fewer. This will save you money as well. I find in my journey that it was rather overwhelming when I first donated a large quantity of stuff to charity. It is now easier to do it on a bi-monthly basis. This will keep you on top of the clutter.

Use simple labels, this assists in identifying the contents of containers. Never forget to repurpose items, I use clay flowerpots to store nozzles and sprinklers. An industrial lamp was mounted to a piece of teak and is now my bedside lamp. Repurposing is cleansing and it saves money.

So get on with it, give it a try, pare down your outdoor gear. Lighten the load, you will be amazed at the results.

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