Now that spring is just around the corner, I’m feeling a bout of spring cleaning coming on.
As confirmation, I grabbed a stack of magazines to go through, and what should I find but a 2010 issue of Ladies Home Journal with an article titled “Decluttering Your Life.” And that’s all I needed: a sign that it was indeed time to launch Spring Cleaning 2021.
I have long been a student of “organize your life,” which is a corollary to decluttering. I would say that I don’t have a lot of clutter, but what little I have, I want organized.
To wit, I’ve never met a storage tub that I didn’t like. These days, I can find any size and shape – and now color – for storing my stuff. Thankfully, the merchants who carry that sort of thing tend to carry lots of it. Add a label in neat penmanship, or print one from the computer, and I’m happy.
This is precisely the point of the LHJ article. Once we declutter, we also destress, and that feels really good.
Evidently, though, many of us are clutching clutter for three reasons, according to that LHJ article: passivity, procrastination and perfectionism.
Passivity is thinking that something outside my control will make the clutter go away. For example, a service organization planning a yard sale might advertise, “We’ll even pick up your clutter.”
It could happen, couldn’t it?
More likely, though, passivity sets in when the decluttering simply seems like too big of a job for a Saturday morning. “It’ll have to wait until I have more time”… and wait… and wait.
Procrastination is the second barrier to decluttering, and when we see all that filing or a basket of mail, we also have “clutter guilt.” “Eventually, the effort to avoid a task becomes greater than the effort to do it,” says Sunny Schlenger who wrote Organizing for the Spirit.
The last obstacle is perfectionism – the idea that I’ll find the perfect person who could use my stuff. That leads to the idea that I can’t part with a magazine until I’ve read every word, scanned for recipes or cut out any articles that might interest family or friends.
I might save juice cans because I know for certain that as soon as I throw them away, a kids group will need all the juice cans they can get for a craft project.
Naturally, this leads to not only to a stockpile of juice cans, but egg cartons, potato chip cans and toilet paper rolls.
I’d add one more reason that clutter accumulates: It might be valuable someday. Given the popularity of eBay, Craig’s List and the like – and the thousands of things that folks sell each day online – it’s totally possible that I could make some dough from my clutter. It’s basically a matter of waiting until market conditions are exactly right.
Of course, these anti-clutter folks have some strategies to make the clutter go away. If it’s broken, pitch it. If it hasn’t been used or worn in the last year, pitch it. If it’s valuable, give it to charity for fundraising.
My theory, however, is that if these folks had plenty of storage tubs and lots of markers, they wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.