Unexpected side-effects of de-cluttering

A friend once told me that de-cluttering clears her mind. The analogy intrigued me, for I had been doing this activity ever since I had a room of my own (at eight or nine) and had never realized that’s what I was trying to achieve at the end of it; a clarity, peace, the feeling of freshness after a cold shower. But when I look back, I wasn’t good at carrying that feeling through, especially in teenage years. Over months and study holidays, I would let the place get chaotic, pretty much reflecting the state of my mind. And after the last exam day, I wouldn’t stop for treats or frivolities but rush home and spend many hours putting the room in order; cleaning, organizing, throwing, donating. It calmed my nerves to get a fresh start.

It wasn’t however until recently, that I have come to realize I have extended this habit completely wrong into adult life. Now that my space extends beyond “my room” to the whole house, when I am de-cluttering per room, I was simply finding a new space for the clutter, most of the time.

What began as ‘nesting-instinct’ upon falling pregnant nearly 18 months ago is finally culminating to a point, when I am not exaggerating when I say that, I have hit a phase that has been life-changing. Something akin to what taking up running did to me few years back. Somewhere along the way, I discovered kon-mari too and marrying the methods into my project has pretty much been life-saving.

My goal was primarily clarity when I began; have a clear understanding of what-is-where. And believe me in a house bigger than what you may need, plus add kids into the mix, that clarity can slip very, very fast. So what have I learnt and uncovered unexpectedly along the way? Here goes –

  1. Indulgence/hoarding is on a good and steady decline/balance. And it feels wonderful. I recently gave away the old blender for a more efficient one. Before the decluttering drive, I would have continued holding on to the old working one, for a just-in-case.
  2. Donating/giving to charity has transcended to be an easy choice. We finally conceded on “no-gifts” policy since my son’s second birthday party and plan to continue the same.
  3. We are making a gentle progression to try and make greener choices, without burning the pocket. Shoe boxes/cereal boxes are my best friends for organizing now and my first choice before jumping to buy a plastic bin. We are doing our best to stick to toys with recyclable parts. Our toddler is also in on our recycle drive at home. We have been talking about composting. We didn’t have much luck the last time we tried. Hopefully this summer we will make the plunge!
  4. For the first time in my life, I have clothes that are not overflowing into suitcases for lack of closet space and I don’t feel the “I don’t have enough to wear”. I feel oddly at peace and content to own less! Same with shoes!
  5. After a long time, there are no black box areas in the house, those mystery messy untouched areas which no one knows what they house! Everything has a spot and space. There can be only couple of places a certain thing is and we are not brining the roof down searching for something without a clue where it could be. That has reduced so much stress, I cant begin to appreciate!
  6. We completely stopped making purchases based on the because-it-is-a-good-deal rule. I started by asking the “need vs want” question before making a any purchase and now it just comes naturally. N is not fully in with me on this. But we are working towards it.
  7. Now we have more time and space on our hands. It has been rather useful to get efficient on all other personal areas in life, because the chaos and din all the unnecessary clutter was causing has pretty much exited!
  8. I have come to fully comprehend “reading-experience” vs “buying/owning books” which I have been practicing for a while, but now giving away 80% of my overcrowded book shelf was absolutely liberating!
  9. I managed to do a lot of online purging as well. It wasnt on my agenda at all. Deleting ancient emails, finding efficient ways to manage personal email clutter, deleting accounts I no longer use, apps purging.We don’t own/use tablets, so thankfully thats one less gadget!
  10. Lastly, this has been a complete surprise — it has helped me let go. Let go of built up inhibitions, built up anger and regrets, all the unwanted nostalgia I was holding on to! And thus the process even taught me lots of patience to deal with situations I don’t like being in.

I will do an update post on how we are doing with maintain this near-zen situation we have created with this decluttering/cleaning drive. We still have a few areas left like the garage. We are waiting for a warmer day. I will do update posts to track us!

Have you decluttered recently? Has it helped you? Did you fall back? Would love to hear other experiences. Please share!


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