Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Living a simplified, uncluttered life.

The idea of living with less stuff sounds really appealing to me. By owning fewer possessions, I have less to clean, less to store, less stress. but I swear the stuff in my home has a life of its own. I do try to keep my apartment mess-free, but no sooner than I give away or throw out some possessions, they all start piling up again. Every time that happens, the thought of decluttering feels overwhelming and I feel defeated even before I start to clean out stuff.

Just a small section of my dining table
My dining table, which also doubles up as my workspace, is a perpetual mess. I just cleaned up days ago but already it holds a hodgepodge of mail, documents, bills, checkbooks, work references and newspapers. Even my laptop is a good indication of the clutter in my life. There are files and folders randomly strewn all over my desktop that I hardly use and probably don't need.

My pantry cupboard is bursting at the seams with cans of stuff that are way past their expiry dates and some other food items that I don't even remember buying, much less using. In other drawers and shelves, there are plastic containers that have lost their lids, plastic bags of every shape and size, mismatched utensils and gadgets that don't work. In my fridge, there are petrified meats, vegetables and fruits, plus some unidentifiable objects.

Right after I renovated my home, about three years ago, I was very good about keeping stuff at bay. I cleared off anything that was on the floors and other flat surfaces. I managed to keep things out of sight in drawers, cabinets and closets. But like I said,  the clutter inevitably creeps back. The sight of it makes me feel overwhelmed and depressed. I know I 'm nowhere as bad as some of the people I watch on reality shows that have tons of stuff spilling out of their homes and garages, but still, stuff defeats me.

My friends and family know me well enough by now to stop giving me presents that I can't consume or use on a regular basis. Items of food and drink are always welcome but I dread receiving things that require my displaying them or putting them away. I used to be a collector, of kitchenware, chinaware, even ornamental pigs because they were so cute. After most of my collection was stolen (the mind boggles at who would want a pig collection!), I stopped collecting useless items like that. After getting my Kindle, I now rarely buy physical copies of books, and have given away most of what I had in my library, freeing up huge amounts of storage space.

I am still guilty of buying too many clothes although I now draw the line at shoes. The simplest way I have of avoiding buying things is not to go shopping, because once I see stuff in the stores, I covet them and end up with clothes I don't wear and skincare items I don't use. I can't resist kitchenware shops though, wherever I travel. Unfortunately, I can't remember what I have, and so end up with more than one of the same item, like microplanes and lemon squeezers.

I met a young woman recently who only allows herself 17 outfits at any one time. When she buys a new item of clothing, she has to sell off another item to maintain the total number at 17. She does admit to being somewhat ocd, and the last I checked, she said she was up to 21 and getting antsy. But I admire such discipline and clarity of purpose because I would never be able to do it. I just bought two dresses I know I won't wear that often because I basically live in t-shirts and gym pants. I also purchased two pieces of formal wear because, well, they were so pretty and irresistibly affordable.

I'm no lifestyle guru but I do know there's no other way to keep clutter in check. I just have to be vigilant about weeding it out on a regular basis before it takes over my life. I keep putting things off for another day but I know I have to deal with things immediately. Maybe five items a day, to either put away, give away or throw away. That's doable right? Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me tired. I need a nap.

There are so many websites to go to for tips on decluttering. My problem is that I'd much rather read them than put them into practise! Here's one for starters:

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