Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Clutter and Habit

There's a good post on Leo Babauta's zenhabits about clutter. I like that sort of thing, though you wouldn't know from looking at our house or even my office. I find clutter bearable but annoying and often complain about it.

I carried four boxes of my teaching stuff from school to school. Trying to weed through, I got only as far as the second folder in the first box. Then I had a thought: What's the downside to pitching the whole lot? I smiled and dumped it all. What a relief!

That's easy at work. No one cares what I save or throw away. At home, I live with three people who have the right to live as they please. They are more comfortable hanging on while I would rather let it go.

Clutter make me anxious and distracts me. I would just as soon throw away half of our stuff and see what that's like, but I'm not the only person in the house.

Babauta's post wisely suggests small acts and talking with the family. I've long thought it was a case of either/or: either we eliminate the clutter completely or we become hoarders. The reality lies between. Begin small. Take one shelf, cabinet, or drawer and remove everything on or in it. Put back only those things you must have. Deal with it now. Finish this one small thing.

I chose one kitchen drawer. A tiny thing crammed full. An out of sight space that nonetheless gets on my nerves. I pulled everything out and put back only what we need. I dealt with everything but my wife's old iPod which we no longer need. There's no resale value, but throwing it away seems wrong. If you can make use of an 8GB, 3rd generation iPod, let me know.

There's room in the drawer now and, like white-space on a page, it pleases me to have it and to have created it. It's a habit I want to have.

July is my month of small decluttering projects, each day making one thing a bit clearer, making decisions about keeping and letting go, learning the lessons of decluttering, doing to the house and my mind what I do with my words as I revise from 750 down to 400 words, creating room in my mind to always write on.