“At some stage, I realized that I wasn’t organizing my life; I was organizing my clutter. That’s when I changed strategies; I went from world-class organiser to world-class declutterer. Instead of arranging and containing things, I got rid of them.Instead of shuffling them around my house, I escorted them out of my house” (Francine Jay)
A couple of months ago in 2020, when literally the whole world was sent home to sit out the first waves of Coronavirus, there was frenzied activity in suburban homes. Mom was home and she was going to “sort this house out once and for all”. Cupboards were unpacked, garages moved out onto the driveway to be sorted, bags of clothing were donated, so much ‘stuff’ was posted on 2nd Hand Goods sites. Husbands ‘overslept’ until late morning and children sneaked off to their rooms to hide behind their screens - the world had truly gone mad! And then, when all the cleaning and re-arranging was finished, we baked banana bread. What a time to be alive.
In these complicated and challenging times, perhaps the answer lies in clearing space, not just to tidy up or have perceived control over our lives - but to create space for something new. To create empty spaces and opportunity for the new to come in, to eliminate the distractions that keep us unfocused. This process takes a bit more thought and a deeper look than merely throwing out the pile of old magazines.
What no longer serves you? These are a few trigger questions, obviously this personal to each one of you and the best way to do this de-cluttering is to make a cup of tea, sit down with a journal and a pen in a quiet place and write down 10 of your very own.
Once they are on paper and acknowledged you can find your way to let go.
Saying “yes” too much, even when it does not suit you or it places strain on other relationships
Old goals and unrealistic dreams, expectations
Comparisons and other peoples opinions
Memories can land up being an oversize shopping bag full of photographs stuck in the top of a cupboard. Next to that empty scrapbook and the bag of pricey scrapbooking paraphernalia. Its time to make space and its time to let it go!
Books that you have never read or have already read
Photo’s that are bad quality, blurry or remind you of an unhappy time
Children’s artwork, only keep your absolute favourites and frame them
Old bills and statements and those mountains of till slips - its time to go digital
Feel Bad Stuff
Yes, we all have it and look at it every day or perhaps its shoved into the garage. Let it go, even if you fought over it, especially if you fought over it.
That dress you paid too much for and never wear
Old journals from a bad time in your life
Presents from an ex
Inherited items that remind you of a bad time or person
The ‘just in case’ stuff...I want you to look at your lifestyle and ask yourself how much you really need. Many of the ‘extras’ have an uncanny way of just multiplying over the years.
Make sure to ask, “Do I need it and do I love it?”
Coffee cups somehow multiply into a collection of random styles, some chipped, others with cheesy sayings or a ceramic fly in the bottom of the cup. Do you love them? No? Into the donation box they go.
Plastic yoghurt containers and sauce bottles, the dark side of recycling. Keep a few, the rest go into a box for the local playschool. And keep an eye on these.
Wooden spoons, whisks, measuring cups, spatula’s - you really only ever need one of each
Handbags, well we do love them but take a long critical look at your collection and let go of the old, scrappy, torn and seriously outdated. Keep the best quality, most stylish.
Maybe one day
Maybe one day is just not happening! Let go and make space for something new and fresh.
Clear out the old makeup and beauty supplies
Shoes that are too big, too small, too old
That exercise equipment gathering dust in the garage or has towels draped over it in the bedroom
Clothes that no longer fit your body or your lifestyle
Spices and sauces that you never use
Anything and everything that is broken, if it hasn’t been fixed by now, its never getting fixed
What we watch and read every day has a big impact on our lives as do people we interact with.
Sit down and tidy up your phone and computer. Its a re-set.
Clear out podcasts and music you don't enjoy
Clear out old emails that you don't need
Unsubscribe to the newsletters that clog up your mail daily
Leave social groups that drain your energy or you no longer engage with
Close down your least used social media account
So there it is, bagged and boxed but before you send it all off, please wash any clothes or linen that you are donating and check that the items are wearable. If they are torn, zips broken or buttons missing, rather cut it up for rags, bin it or burn it.
Many charity shops will collect donated furniture and goods.
Charity SA has a list, by province, of many charity shops.
Goedgedacht supports rural families in the Western Cape
Sungardens provide professional care to terminally ill patients
For Good will link your specific donation items to their lists of charities
For a complete list of what can be recycled, where to drop off our have your recyclables collected have a look at these sites
National Recycling Forum - what and how to recycle
Remade for bulk recycling, offices and events
Pikitup will collect your recycling in Johannesburg
Recycle1st will collect from your house in Cape Town
Want to read more about creating a positive mindset and ideas for self care?
Check out this inspiring article