Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space
© 2015 Kathi Lipp
“Enough is a beautiful thing.”
Reading books about decluttering is much easier than actually doing it, which is probably why I’ve read so many over the years. Despite its brevity, it’s one of the more useful books on minimalism, simple living, etc that I’ve read because of Lipp’s emphasis on habits that enable clutter to build up and overtake our lives. Clutter, as defined by Lipp, is anything in our homes that we do not love or use. Part of Lipp’s intent is for the reader to evaluate their lives and the items they live with and decide what really matters. Letting go of items also means letting go of misguided attachments to the past; items purchased in the pursuit of a new hobby five years ago, for instance, but never touched. People don’t like to admit their own mistakes, or to let go of the people they thought they were, or might become. In addition to tactical counters to clutter — designating definite Places for items to go, and creating a daily routine for keeping things in their place — Lipp encourages the reader to look beyond cleaning and to think about their lifestyles, too. She’s close friends with several women in her neighborhood, and in the interests of frugality they’ve taken to lending each other tools and supplies so that each of them has access to a greater pool of resources. I appreciated Lipp’s emphasis on the spirit-taxing effects of clutter, the constant stress that a life beset with mess creates.
When you save everything, you can find nothing.
Organizational systems are to cluttered homes what credit cards are to debt. Credit cards tell you there is still more money, even though your bank account says no. Organizational systems tell us there is still more space, when our house cries “No!”
But another thing we must recognize about clutter is that it’s active. Even if it’s just sitting there on a shelf or buried in a box, clutter is actively working in our lives. It makes us feel unsettled. Clutter never lets you rest. It is constantly talking to you and letting you know that things are wrong and there will be no peace until you tend to the mess. You cannot enjoy any activity—time with your family and friends, reading, exercising, anything, because clutter is telling you, “Pay attention to me!”
You can spend a lot of money, time, and energy on something, and it can still be OK to admit that it’s over.
I needed a better set of clutter questions to help me get unburied from the piles of stuff that were taking over my home. Better questions like these: 1. Do I currently use it? 2. Do I really love it? 3. Would I buy it again? These three questions? They have become the clarifying lenses I see all my possessions through, and they help me quickly and unemotionally clear the clutter from my life.
I’ve just got rid of my entire music cassette collection – like I’m EVER going to listen to them again! It’s amazing what you find when you start looking…. [lol]
The only tapes I’ve held on to are those which I suspect hold unique recordings — tapes of local storytellers, for instance, or the aforementioned radio broadcasts. I’m halfway curious about finding some way to copy their audio onto my computer and upload them for future generations, as I know I enjoy listening to broadcasts of yesteryear which have been uploaded.
One of the things that surprised me about the cassettes was how little my music tastes had changed over the last 25-30 years. Either the same artists or even the same ‘album’ showed up time and again to match my CD collection…. Except maybe Kiss…. and Paula Abdul…. [lol]
It probably helps that you acquired those as an adult? My music collection during the cassette years was limited to 19th century folk music, country, southern gospel, and 50s/60s pop & rock. Now my music consists of seemingly everything except Chinese opera and hip-hop…
Oh, and on the subject of finding things — when I was removing books I discovered my first cell phone, an itty bitty Nokia. I don’t even recognize its power port, so despite my interest in turning it on to see what it might contain, it may be just let go. I’m curious, but not $5 + $5 S&H curious, you know?
i think there’s a philosophical depth to this subject that i haven’t plumbed… i have a lot of trouble getting rid of stuff. the thought that i might need it some time is overwhelming… i’ve still got a collection of forty or so classical LP’s from the fifties that stick to me like glue… help… the worst of it is, old stuff brings back memories that in most cases i don’t want to remember anyway… sigh…
LPs are undertandable…they’re still popular. Even contemporary releases are sometimes put out on vinyl for quality and publicity purposes. But if it brings back bad memories, I’d want to let it go — I threw away several things recently that were bittersweet at best, and mostly bitter. No use crying over spilled milk, but no use keeping spoiled milk in the fridge, either.
tx… you’re right about that!