Take back your space, your time and your mind to live your authentic life. You have too many commitments in your life and too much stuff in your home. It's no wonder you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. You don't need to just throw out a few bits and bobs; you need to de-clutter your life! Our homes and workspace are a mirror of what's happening inside us, De-Clutter Your Life explains how you can change your relationship with the things you own. Instead of being weighed down with objects and possessions that keeps you stuck in the past, you can learn to think about your things in a new light; in a way that's constructive and helpful to you. There are plenty of ideas, advice, tips and techniques to help you. You'll discover how outer order leads to inner calm. De-Clutter Your Life explains how the principles and steps taken to clear and simplify your living space can improve not just your home but also other aspects of your life; your work, relationships and general wellbeing. An ordered environment leads to ordered thinking. When you stop allowing your life to revolve around things that don't matter, you instantly gain the time, space and energy to focus on the things that do. De-Clutter Your Life will help you to: * Let go of guilt and get rid of the emotional baggage that keeps you stuck in the past * Feel less overwhelmed and stressed * Clear out your unnecessary commitments * Simplify and improve your work life * De-clutter your relationships Simple living doesn't end at home. De-Clutter Your Life shows you how to reclaim your space, your time and your mind to achieve the life you want to live.
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This edition first published 2018
© 2018 Gill Hasson
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Hasson, Gill, author.Title: Declutter your life : how outer order leads to inner calm / Gill Hasson.Description: Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom : Wiley, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. |Identifiers: LCCN 2017044532 (print) | ISBN 9780857087379 (pbk.)Subjects: LCSH: Storage in the home. | Orderliness. | Time management. | House cleaning.Classification: LCC TX309 .H37 2018 (print) | DDC 648/.8–dc23LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017044532A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978-0-857-08737-9 (pbk) ISBN 978-0-857-08738-6 (ebk)ISBN 978-0-857-08736-2 (ebk)
Cover design/image: Wiley
Part 1: Declutter Your Home
1 How Do You Accumulate So Much?
How do we accumulate so much stuff?
Why do we acquire more than we need?
The stress of it all
In a nutshell
2 Why Can't You Clear It All Out?
Can't get on top of it
Hopes and fears
Holding onto the past
In a nutshell
3 Think Differently
Changing your mind
What if I do need this some day?
Focus on the benefits
In a nutshell
4 Declutter Your Home
Think it through
Make decision making easier
Beginner's mind and acceptance and commitment
Set yourself up for success
Start with the easy stuff
The first step
What's the difference between hoarding and collecting?
Clearing out other people's things
Ten more things to clear out of your home
What to do with it all
In a nutshell
5 Keep Your Home Free Of Clutter
Surf the urge to buy
Borrow, hire and rent
In a nutshell
Part 2: Declutter Your Life
6 Declutter Your Commitments
How have you accumulated so many commitments?
Why can't you let go?
Benefits of decluttering your commitments
Identify your commitments
Identify your values
Identify what to let go of
Ditch the guilt
In a nutshell
7 Declutter Your Friendships
Why we hold on
Who to keep
Who to let go
Benefits of letting go
How to end a friendship
In a nutshell
8 Declutter Your Work
Optimize your time
Cut down on meetings
Give it away: delegate
In a nutshell
9 Declutter Information
Find other ways to spend your time
Positive news and information
In a nutshell
About the Author
Table of Contents
A couple of years ago, we were watching TV when we heard a loud bang. We rushed upstairs expecting to see that a piece of furniture had collapsed and fallen over, but neither my husband nor I could find anything that explained the loud noise.
A few days later, though, I noticed the ceiling was dipping in one corner of our bedroom. We called a builder. When he climbed down from the loft of our three-bedroom semi- detached Victorian house, he told us that a rafter had snapped – that we were lucky the ceiling hadn't fallen in on top of us while we slept. ‘You’ve got so much stuff up there’, he said. ‘Victorian lofts weren't designed to store stuff.’ Of course they weren't. The Victorians didn't have anything to store. We did.
Our sons had grown up and two of them had left home. Amongst other things, one son had put a bike up in the loft (which, when I phoned to ask him about it, he told me he didn't want any more. That I could get rid of it. Not him. Me.) I’d kept two large boxes of Lego, a box of trains and train track, a box of Brio, two large boxes of other toys and children's books, the wooden castle my Dad made for the boys and an inflatable dinghy we bought for a holiday in Devon, which they used once – 10 years ago. Then there was my husband's large vinyl collection, a stereo, twelve boxes of negatives from his career as a freelance photographer, my photo albums, my wedding dress, my university essays, a box of letters, odd bits of furniture, two rugs, lighting, extra glasses and large dishes for parties. We had lots of camping gear and Christmas decorations. And those are just the things I can remember that we brought out of the loft when we had to completely empty it so that the rafter could be fixed and the loft insulated.
We’re not hoarders. We’re just a normal family. We’d lived in the same house for 20 years and brought up three sons. We had all the same type of stuff as any family who have studied, had jobs, been on holidays, camped, gone to festivals, celebrated Christmas, had parties, enjoyed music and books and had a variety of interests.
Once we’d emptied the loft I realized the rest of the house had plenty more things that we’d held onto for whatever reason: in case we needed it, because we hoped we’d need it, because it would feel wrong to chuck it out or because we just couldn't be bothered to clear it out.
Do you also have too much stuff?
Clutter can silently creep up on you and, before you know it, you’ve accumulated a lot of junk and jumble and all sorts of objects and oddments. It becomes overwhelming, but for one reason or another you hang onto it.
What can you do and where do you start? The key to managing clutter is to get to the root of the problem: your own thinking. DeclutterYour Life explains how to change your relationship with the things you own and think about your things in a new light; in a way that is constructive, will help you to identify what is and isn't clutter and enable you to let the clutter go.
Most of our things started out as something useful, interesting, attractive. But in time – over the months and years – the things we’ve bought or acquired reach a point where they’re no longer useful or enjoyable. They’re clutter. Instead of hanging on to and being weighed down with objects and possessions that keep you stuck in the past, you can learn to think about your things in a way that's constructive and helpful to you.
There are plenty of tips and techniques and lots of advice in this book to help you. You’ll discover how outer order leads to inner calm; you’ll feel less overwhelmed and stressed, there’ll be less to think about, organize and clean. Instead – as I did – you’ll feel more in control and have more time and energy for what's actually important to you in terms of other people, your work and other interests in your life.
Part 2 of this book goes on to explain how the principles and steps taken to declutter and simplify your living space can improve not just your home but also other aspects of your life: your commitments, your friends, your work and the information you take in.
You’ll discover that, like your possessions, your commitments and friends can also keep you stuck in the past. You’ll learn that if you want to let go of commitments and friendships that no longer fit with your life, you can do so without feeling guilty. Who and what was right for you then is not necessarily right now. Don't let the past dictate the present! What matters is what commitments and friends you choose to keep now.
Whether it's too many commitments, friends you no longer have anything in common with, work that leaves you no time to breathe or a bombardment of information, it's time to declutter; to let go, simplify and make room for the new.
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; – Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
‘The world is too much with us.’ It certainly is. So many of us have more things than we could ever need: clothes we’ve never worn or haven't worn in ages; CDs, cassette tapes, records, games, consoles, phones and miscellaneous cords to tech devices; books we’ve read and won't read again; magazines with articles we’re going to read but actually never get round to; trinkets, ornaments and family heirlooms left behind by past generations; gifts you’ve never liked, board games you no longer play; things that need cleaning or repair before you can use them again; pots, pans, utensils, kit and equipment you just don't use.
You’re not a hoarder – you’re just a normal person with lots of stuff.
Maybe you’ve a stockpile of cleaning and food supplies: cans, jars and packets of food? A freezer jammed full with most of the food staying there week after week, month after month? And in the bathroom – a test lab worth of potions and lotions? Stuff just seems to be piling up: old letters and bills, children's toys, arts and crafts – all on tables and worktops and shoved inside cupboards, wardrobes, sheds and shelves.
Do you think your home is too small or you need more storage space? It's unlikely. What's more likely is that you just have too much stuff. A bigger home and more storage space – cupboards, wardrobes, chests, storage boxes etc – would just give you more reasons to accumulate and keep stuff.
Get stuff. Buy stuff. Keep it. Get more of it. Keep that, too. When did this become normal?
In the past, it appears that most people lived their lives with scarcity. Material goods – clothes, furniture, books, toys etc. – were not only hard to come by, they were expensive. If you could acquire something, you got it and kept hold of it.
But now, in Western countries especially, we live in abundance: things are relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire. Not only do we have a plentiful supply of the things we need and want, we have an unlimited supply and we’re keeping it all; filling our homes and lives. We seem to have dramatically increased the amount of things we own, without really noticing that it was happening.
Having too much stuff is the new normal.
‘Contemporary U.S. households have more possessions per household than any society in global history’, explains Jeanne E. Arnold, Professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2012, Professor Arnold and a team of sociologists and anthropologists published their book, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, based on a four-year study of 32 middle-class, dual-income families in Los Angeles.
Three-quarters of the families had stopped using their garages to park their cars. They had too much stuff crammed in ‘to make way for rejected furniture and cascading bins and boxes of mostly forgotten household goods’. The families had enough food to survive all manner of disasters; 47% had second fridges. A few of the families had more TVs than people.
The families gained 30% more possessions with the arrival of each child. But instead of bringing satisfaction and contentment and making the world better, those who regarded their homes as ‘cluttered’ reported feeling stressed by it all. These people weren't on a TV show about hoarding. They were just ‘average’ families.
Yes, all the families were in the US. But is it really that much different in the UK or any other Western country? Back in 2010, British toy manufacturer Dream Town commissioned research to discover what toys children own and regularly play with.
The study found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but parents estimated that their children play with just 12 ‘favourites’ – 5% – on a daily basis. The study of 3000 parents also revealed that more than half thought their children ended up playing with the same toys day in and day out because they had too many to choose from.
They have too much stuff! We have too much stuff! Stuff that takes up space, thought, energy and time or money without providing any real benefit.
A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.
Sometimes, it feels like the items on our shelves, in our cupboards, in sheds, lofts and garages manage to reproduce and multiply when our backs are turned.
Is your kitchen so cluttered there's no room to cook? Is the lack of storage in your bathroom driving you crazy? Is your wardrobe bursting at the seams? You think that it's because your home is too small or you don't have enough storage space. Maybe you’ve never once blamed having too much stuff as being the problem.
So how do we manage to accumulate so much stuff? Through shopping trips, markets and car boot sales; with online shopping on Amazon, Gumtree and eBay etc. Then there are Christmas and birthday gifts, things we inherit and souvenirs we pick up from our holidays.
Most of our clutter doesn't actually begin its existence as clutter; pretty much all of it started out as something useful, interesting, attractive, enjoyable.
But in time – over the months and years – the things we’ve bought or acquired reach a point where they’re no longer useful, enjoyable etc. Instead of recognizing that we no longer need or like so many of these things, we build and buy more storage – wardrobes, cupboards and shelves, chests and boxes – to store more and more possessions. As someone once said, ‘We’re lost in the noise of our own consumption.’
There are several reasons why we acquire more than we think we need to:
For future use; just in case. Even if we don't need it now, many of us buy and keep hold of things thinking, ‘I might need this some day.’
To improve our lives. We believe that if we buy this, that or the other, we’ll have more fun and be more fun, we’ll know more, be better entertained, look better, feel better and so on.
As mementos and souvenirs. We buy small and relatively inexpensive things; reminders of a place visited, an occasion, an achievement.
We think we need it.
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