Taking Back My Space for Increased Productivity & Mental Clarity
I have a lot of stuff.
Everywhere I turn, there is stuff. Old receipts, notebooks, paper, plastic bags, pens, clothes, laundry and a hundred million other things that I don’t use or immediately need.
In short, my spaces has fallen into an state of never ending chaos.
Recently, I’ve committed to finding balance for myself — physically, mentally and financially. Whilst I’m actively working on the financial part, the physical spaces I live, work, breathe and generally inhabit is a mental hazard.
Last year, I tried to declutter and invested in Kon Mari’s Spark Joy hard cover book. It was a cool book to have but I don’t think I made it past the first few pages. Not because it didn’t provide value but because the book was telling me what I already knew I had to do.
Somewhere in my mind, I made the mental leap that if I had a book on organization and cleaning, I will instantly become a neat and tidy person with a minimalist home.
While bingeing on YouTubers and vicariously living through the house and room tours of those that applied the Kon Mari method, nothing much changed for me. Maybe I would get a spur of the moment kind of inspiration and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do something about it.
There is a scientific link between clutter and depression. A study by UCLA found that there is a link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels, especially among females, when there high household objects density in a given space. Men on the other hand, are not mentally bothered by mess and clutter.
While I do try and make my home livable by putting things away, clutter has a way of creeping in. Some days, there’s so much physical stuff that no amount of motivational YouTubing can get me moving. There’s just so much that I become emotionally paralyzed to do anything in particular.
And that’s where I’m going wrong. I’m putting too much emotion and attachment to things that doesn’t deserve it. It feels like I’m going through the same mental breakthrough when I decided to stop carrying around a wallet or handbag.
There is just too much going on and the worst part is, the mental stress is not caused by any other person but inanimate objects that surrounds me.
I began to re-examine the reasons why I failed at decluttering. A part of me wants to go minimalist — it worked for my wallet, why not for the rest of the house?
The problem is that many decluttering advice often starts with get rid of the things that you don’t need. Then when I start sorting through my stuff, the sentimental feelings towards certain objects and memories starts to flood back. As I sit there and reminisce about it, time trickles by and I end up with more mess than what I started with.
Then there’s the advice that tells me to do one area at a time. The same thing happens and nothing much gets done.
What I need is clean and clear spaces with nothing but the essentials and I need it now.
Perhaps this is the impatient me and my brain telling me to hurry up and get myself sorted. But I don’t just want to throw everything away either. So I’m taking a slightly different route. It’s a 3 Step process I’ve decided for myself.
Step 1 — House Purge and Displacement
The issue with Kon Mari and other popular advice out there is that I don’t get to see instant results. I’m drowning in my own stuff and I simply don’t have the time or mental capacity to decide if there is sentimental value or if something makes me happy.
Everything in my house eventually makes me happy. But it also causes me stress because I’m running out of space and I don’t like it.
So I’m taking a different route and purging everything by displacing them to the garage. Even if I didn’t have a garage, it would probably end up in a single room or corner of the house.
The aim is to get instant space by moving everything I don’t immediately use. I’m doing this to make sure that I truly don’t need it and also giving myself time to detach any emotional connection from it. The aim is to make it easier and faster to get rid of the items when the time comes.
So far, I’ve got a free room again and a kitchen bench. The instant space create already feels like pounds lifted from my shoulders.
Step 2 — Ruthlessly sell, donate or throw
I’ve allotted a week for step 1 and will most likely have a week or two in between before I start on step 2.
For step 2, I aim to ruthlessly sell, donate or throw the items that are in the garage. My mentality going in is that if I haven’t used it, then I don’t need it.
The hardest items will most likely be things like photos pre-digital camera days. My plan for that is to put it aside for a little while and work on digitizing them.
I think mindset will be the most important thing when it comes the time to finally getting rid of the items. There will be items that I spent quite a bit of money on but don’t use, then there are things like gifts that I never use.
Nevertheless, ruthless is the key word to this step. While the Kon Mari takes a gentler approach with if it makes me happy, then I should keep it, I’ve decided that I want mental clarity and space more than I want things.
Step 3 — Replace and Re-personalization
When there is nothing left in the house that I absolutely need, then it’s time to replace and re-personalize.
In the past, I find that when I’m on an attempt to get organized or try to create some sort of cohesive look and feel to my spaces, I just end up buying more stuff that I don’t actually need or use.
I want my spaces to reflect my personality and create a mood that I want to maintain. However, I can’t do this if the new look and feel is competing with what’s already existing — hence the struggle each time I try.
I was adding to my spaces as much as I was taking away from them. This time, I’m focusing on one task and one task only at a time.
I’ve decided that before I even dare think of adding more things to the house, I need a proper blank canvas to work with. I want to be able to experience what it feels like to have a truly empty home.
This is probably the 8th time I’ve tried to declutter and after doing the same things over and over again and knowing that it doesn’t work, I’m taking a different approach with extreme measures.
I’m currently day 2 into step 1 and have 5 more days to go. The garage is packed filled with stuff but at least I’ve got one of my rooms back.