Out With The Unused and Don’t Buy it New

It’s out with the unused. It was on our annual family holiday that my mindset changed around clutter. I had quickly unpacked our suitcases of clothes into drawers and wardrobes and the food into kitchen cupboards and the fridge in a quality beachfront holiday unit overlooking the ocean on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. I was standing in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. As my eyes scanned the clean neat living area, I breathe a relaxing sigh of satisfaction. “This is how I want my home to make me feel.

I was intrigued. “What was it about holiday units that clicked me into this relaxed state of mind.” I opened the kitchen draw and there right in front of me was the utensils I needed to make lunch. I didn’t have to spend minutes shuffling through a draw full of noisy kitchen utensils to find the peeler. I opened another cupboard which I didn’t have to half-empty to find the cheese grater. I made ham and salad sandwiches for lunch without adding a source of frustration. Delicious!

The first job I did when I got back home was to declutter my kitchen cupboards. Then I worked my way through all the other draws and cupboards throughout our home. I wanted my home to reward me with the same relaxed satisfied feeling that the holiday units gave me. Even though the lounge room floor at home would be a play zone for my young daughters during the day, I had devised a quick and easy method for us to tidy it all away when their busy little minds had moved on to some other adventure.

Since then, I have sorted through my cupboards each year and given away or boxed up anything I have not used over the past twelve months and stored them out of sight inside cupboards, draws or wardrobes. The next year, if I haven’t used what I had stored in the boxes the previous year, I recycle those items by giving them to secondhand shops. Charitable organisations continually need stock, to sell and raise money to fund their community services. Why Recycle? Because it’s a win-win situation. Both parties benefit. The organisation benefits financially and I benefit emotionally because I made a contribution to my local community.

Clearing out unused belongings allow room for change. A change in your style of clothes. A closet crammed full with tired old clothes does not invite change. A house overflowing with odds and ends and tidbits you’ve held on to because of the mindset that ‘someday I might need this’ wastes time and energy. Time and energy trying to find what you need right now.

As we age we change. Shifts in taste and perception accompany shifts in how we see ourselves and therefore how we present ourselves to others, in what we wear and in our environment. One of the clearest signals that change is afoot is the desire to weed out, sort through, and discard old clothes, papers, and belongings. I want to change.”

You might be thinking ‘I don’t care about decluttering my life. I’m too busy. I work full time. I’ve got better thing to do with my time…” I have several family members and friends who hold proudly to this mindset. I watch them waste precious time. A minute here, a minute there looking for things they want to use that they cannot find in their own home. ‘I know I have one of them somewhere.” they say as they shuffle through draws and cupboards. The minutes add up. Minutes become hours, hours become days, days weeks, weeks months, months years, years decades, decades make up a lifespan. We don’t get to reuse time.

It’s not about the act of doing it, it’s all about the result. It’s a change in mindset. I want my environment to operate smoothly and efficiently both in time, energy and emotion. When I cook, I want to enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking when I can find what I need without having to waste time, energy and emotion looking for things. When I want to cook a meal, I want to be able to do that task from the get-go. Not have to clean up the previous mess on the kitchen bench before I can even start to do what I want to do. The same goes for a workspace.

My biggest motivational drive to change my mindset was to conserve energy. I had always struggled with low energy. Over the decades of my life, I have made big changes to my diet, exercise and mindset to gain high energy levels that many people around me took for granted. Every day I safeguard my energy so that I am not too tired to apply myself to the many tasks I want to do to achieve my goals in life.

In a cluttered environment, whether at home or work, you have to de-clutter before you can start a task. Tick tock tick tock. It’s the stop-start, stop-start of mind flow that’s the problem. It’s like bumping into brick walls all day long which interrupts and slows down your progress. Why cause unnecessary added stress to your day? What is the benefit of that? To me, it doesn’t make sense to add unnecessary obstacles in your way?

Reducing the level of stress in my daily life was the other big motivating drive for me to declutter my environment and my mind, which, in the long run, did help to reduce my level of stress. When I am in a cluttered environment or when I am with a stressful person, I feel my stress level increase. So now I take care of who and where I spend my time.

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way saysWhen the search-and-discard impulse seizes you, two crosscurrents are at work: the old you is leaving and grieving, while the new you celebrate and grows strong. As with any rupture, there is both tension and relief. Think of yourself as an accident victim walking away from the crash: your old life has crashed and burned, your new life isn’t apparent yet.”  

Some areas of your life that you were previously comfortable with, may now feel uncomfortable. Your style of clothes, home decor, diet, your taste in music. Your new preferences, tastes and judgements begin to show through. Over time our likes and dislikes change.

Each of us is a unique, creative individual. But we often blur our uniqueness with too much sugar, alcohol, drugs, overwork, underplay, bad relationships, TV and not enough sleep, to name a few enemies. It is the many small changes we make over time that add up to big changes that work together to improve our individual lives.

I don’t agree with the saying ‘Out with the old to make room for the new.’ Decluttering is about reducing. Reducing clutter in your home. So that when you open your cupboard doors you can see everything in the cupboard and everything that is there is being used. Some of your old things might still be of value to you. You may still use them regularly. You might be in the habit of buying new things that you never use. They just sit in the cupboard taking up valuable space.

I live by my saying ‘Out with the unusable and don’t buy new unless you are going to use it.’ Throw away, sell or give away the things that you don’t use. What is no longer of value to you may be of value to someone else. Only buy new things if you know you are going to use them. To open a can of soup you only need one can opener. To cut up food, you only need one sharp set of knives, not three blunt sets. The same applies in a work scene. When a pen runs out of ink, don’t put it back in the draw, throw it out or buy a refill.

Life is too short to waste your precious money, time and energy. Reduce the stress in your life caused by clutter. There are more important and enjoyable things to do with your time and energy than waste time feeling frustrated trying to find what you need, and what you know you have, but you can’t find it.

Beverley Joy © 2022 of Simply Create 2 Share

You may also enjoy my poem about time titled A Scribble In Time at Simply Story Poetry

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