#2. Reduce clutter.

By Mike Aux-Tinee…

The next item on my happiness project list I am going to tackle is clutter. I have two types of clutter in my life, physical and mental. I know you read the second point and are wondering about my mental state, but give me a minute before you make that call to my therapist!

Physical clutter is easier to deal with, you just toss what you have lying around, stuffed in the closet or in storage. Mental clutter is more difficult to address and requires you to identify internal and external sources that are causing you stress.  

There are a number of approaches to dealing with physical clutter and to keep this project moving forward, I am going to incorporate the one year rule. If I have not used the item within one year it is going to be sent packing. Unless of course, it is a family heir loom.

This way, I will ward off  procrastination and not allow myself to sleep on it. If I hold off, I will come up with a reason as to why it should be kept. This is a problem with physical clutter, we assign or attach emotions to an item and doing so will keep it around much longer.

There are several places I have in mind for my unwanted items. I am going to try to sell everything I can. What I can not sell, I am going to either recycle or wash and donate to a church or Goodwill. Everything will find a new home and not end up in the land fill.

Here is what I have gotten rid of to date and what I did with them:

  • records – sold
  • college papers – recycled
  • posters – recycled
  • clothing that does not fit – washed & donated to a church
  • bill stubs et al.. – shredded and recycled
  • high school year books – recycled
  • books that I did not like when I read them – sold some/recycled
  • old sheets and towels – my friend who just got divorced
  • extra kitchen items – Goodwill & friend who just got divorced

I have also called the magazine companies and cancelled my subscriptions, used the opt out number to reduce credit card solicitations and organized the kitchen closet. I was rather shocked at how many things I was lugging around and how much space they took up.

The goal now, is to not fill up the newly emptied space with more things.

A good de-cluttering process takes a lot of time, especially if you have more things or a large place. One piece of advice, go through in stages over the course of several weeks instead of all at once.

While I am working on eliminating my physical clutter, I am going to start working on my clearing out my mental clutter too.

Mental clutter is anything that occupies your thoughts while you are doing something else.

Here is what happens to me, a to do list is generated and I feel pressure to get it all done it one day. While I am crossing off one item on the list, I am thinking about how I can get the next one done, how long it will take and if I will have enough time to get to the rest of the list.

I mentally tire myself out and when I do get home, I do not feel like doing much. Then I miss out on doing other things. I get aggravated by the littlest of things that would not normally bother me.

Trying to deal with this type of clutter is going to take more thought and planning. Also, there is no special place for it to be shuttled off to, which makes it even harder.

Here is what I am going to do to address this problem:

Remind myself to relax, chill out and not worry if something does not get done. There are seven days in the week, today is not the last one.  

I am going to create smaller lists. Also on that list, I am going to schedule a personal interest such as going to the park, cycling or visiting with friends and family. I think, if I have something positive to look forward to, that should help reduce my stress.

I am also going to look at the list and determine if I really need the things on the list in the first place. I could combine trips or eliminate somethings all together. This part will take more time than working on the physical clutter.

As I am going through this process of de-cluttering my life, I have felt much better. I have not filled in the newly created open spaces. A plan is in the works about what area I want to de-clutter next. I have also put some money back into my pocket, helped out a friend in a rough spot and kept the land fill from getting bigger.

It will take me some time and practice to keep the mental part from crowding back in… see there was no need for you to call my therapist!

Peace Dudes!

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