I have too much stuff. You probably have too much stuff, too. And she does…and he does. You know that people in this country have a problem accumulating too many things when we have TV shows like HOARDERS, HOARDING: BURIED ALIVE, STORAGE WARS, STORAGE HUNTERS, AMERICAN PICKERS, PAWN STARS, HARDCORE PAWN, COMBAT PAWN, PAWN KING, PAWN QUEENS, AUCTION HUNTERS, AUCTION KINGS, AUCTION PACKED, AUCTION HOUSE, AUCTION MAN, AUCTION SQUAD, GARAGE SALE, GARAGE SALE KINGS, CELEBRITY GARAGE SALE…you get the gist. We now have so much stuff, we’re entertained by watching how other people store and sell all their stuff. And we tell ourselves “I’m not so bad…I still have a path to my refrigerator.” or “Those people collect junk—I, on the other hand, collect valuables.”
Okay, so things around my place aren’t piled so high that I can’t get to the refrigerator—if that were the case, I wouldn’t have to worry about going to the gym—BUT I’m appalled at the way things around me seem to multiply when I’m not looking, how every nook and cranny seems suddenly to be full, how I tend to hang on to things that I will probably never need, and if I do need them, I won’t be able to find them!
When I got out of college, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment. I was just starting out, so I didn’t own enough things for it to be junky. But then my hobbies started to take over: books, canvasses and painting supplies, sewing notions and fabric. And for people like me who always want to be prepared, it was comforting to have things that might come in handy in an emergency, or if a neighbor rang my doorbell. It was worth the time and trouble of stockpiling useful things in order to triumphantly say, “Yes, I do have an extra 9-volt battery!”
I moved from my one-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom townhome with a one-car garage, and quickly expanded into it. (More furniture, clothes, hobbies.) From there I moved into a 4-bedroom home with a basement and a two-car garage and (you guessed it) filled it up. Fast forward several years, and I was tired of maintaining a big house, so I moved into two-bedroom condo and “downsized.” Luckily, my sister was moving into her first house at the same time, so I gave her all my extra stuff and she was happy to have it. Years later, I’m still content in my yard-less condo, but one day I looked up and realized “creep” had set in: my lower level, which is my guest room and my office, resembled a warehouse from the boxes of books that arrived and I hadn’t made time to sort through and dispense. My upper level was constantly cluttered because I brought work there more and more since writing downstairs in my chaotic office was impossible.
Something had to give. So even though I couldn’t spare the time from my writing schedule, I took the time to coordinate an office renovation I’d been putting off, and to go through every inch of my living space to unclutter and streamline. Lots of bags went to Goodwill, more went into the Dumpster. Once I got over my initial inertia, the process was liberating. My new office is wonderful—I’m hoping (praying) my productivity will soar to make up for lost time. Meanwhile, I’m implementing a new code: when something comes in, something has to go out! And no more stockpiling “useful” items—in the event of an unlikely emergency, Walgreen’s is open 24/7. 🙂
What room/area of your living space is driving YOU most crazy with clutter?