Get out of my way, clutter!

I moved into my flat only two years ago and I already have too much stuff: piles of papers I’ll never attend to, old magazines I’ll never read, clothes and jewelry I’ll never wear. I’m not a hoarder, I often enter give-away/throw-away sprees and I try to consume reasonably. But I still have too much stuff and I feel like I could move faster in my life if I didn’t.

Jewelry and hair accessories I never wear. Time to let it go.

Get out of my closet

I got a kick to start de-cluttering my closet after reading The Cost of Clutter on the excellent blog Truth and Cake. The author Rian explains how a strong emotional memory may be attached to this old top you still have in your wardrobe but never wear. All these little things you keep are emotional baggage weighing on your life. She gives an example:

I looked at a polka dot shirt that I had been holding onto and realized why I hated it so much: it was a shirt I bought one day towards the end of my real estate career. Exhausted, fed up, and stressed beyond belief, I spent all of my money on clothes and facials, anything for a little endorphin kick between the never-ending phone calls and showings. The shirt looked perfectly fine, but it reminded me of that stressful time, of my ultimate inability to cope, of a completely different version of myself. No wonder I never wanted to wear it.

Reading this, it hit me how much emotional baggage I was carrying. Why was I keeping these pyjama my mum had bought for me while I was in the hospital? And these earrings my ex-boyfriend had given me? I started going through my mess and got 4 bags full of stuff to give away. They all carried some significance. Whether good or bad, I didn’t want it to be part of my life anymore.

Get out of my work

I felt so much lighter after de-cluttering my closet that I decided to tidy up other parts of my life. Work came first. I have a class that makes me feel defeated every week. The students are not motivated and don’t seem to care much about learning French. Every week I am unhappy before and after going there and bored while teaching. However much money I can make from it, it isn’t worth it anymore. So I decided to quit teaching this class and make room for new motivated students instead. How light and relieved I felt after sending my letter of resignation!

Get out of my diet

My diet also became cluttered recently. My brain refuses to switch to spring mode when it comes to food. It wants to keep on eating like it was minus ten degrees outside. And it also wants lots of comfort food. Hence the almost daily Starbucks stop, the piece of chocolate with afternoon coffee and a piece of candy in the evening. It all weighs a ton on my body, my wallet and my well-being. Time to get rid of my Starbucks addiction, to replace my daily ration of chocolate with fruits and evening snacks with cucumber and carrots slices.

Get out of my mental space

The way I spend my time could also use a little de-cluttering. More specifically, a part of the time I spend in front of my computer or my iphone needs to be replaced by creating something, going outside biking, climbing or just reading a book in the sun. I don’t feel mentally healthy when I check Facebook several times an hour. It adds the clutter from other people’s lives to mine, which is already important enough. Passive consumption of information through the internet eventually makes my head spin. Creating something of my own makes me feel much more connected to the world than spending time on Facebook anyway.

With all this new space in my closet, my schedule, my stomach and my head, I can see things clearly and fill-in the space with fresh ideas.

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23 thoughts on “Get out of my way, clutter!

  1. Pingback: The Move – Slate-Cleaning | Standrewslynx's Blog

  2. Pingback: Cleaning out my closet « The Lion's Den

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  4. That’s very brave of you. I don’t like to get rid of stuff and I often don’t. I think I just like to hang on to stuff that means something, or that I might like again at some future date, when I’m the ‘future’ me.

    • Once you get started, it becomes easier and easier to just let go… Give it a try, it’s very liberating and empowering to get rid of stuff that belong to the past.

  5. I love your take on this, Cécile! I’ve also noticed that de-cluttering my “stuff” has spilled over into other parts of my life. It’s almost like making physical space has created more mental space to tackle the really important things I’ve been avoiding. Cool post, thanks for sharing!

    • Yaaay! I’m pleased you like it, you’re one of my favourite bloggers and I found so much inspiration in your posts :-)
      De-cluttering is still in my mind, I feel like it’s a process that goes far beyond getting rid of stuff. I get more and more interested in minimalism for example since I started making more space in my life.

  6. I read and enjoyed that very same Truth & Cake post, too! I’m probably going to have a good clear-out (a) when my internship in Switzerland finishes and I have to go back to the UK (b) when I’m back in the family home where all my university clutter is stored and which my father keeps reminding me about. I’ve got clutter all the way back to my time in secondary school, so evidently some emotional baggage to get rid of. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Aren’t we all Truth and Cake fans? I also have a huge pile of papers, books, souvenirs coming all the way from high school stored at my mum’s place in Nice where I’m from. I’ll have to sort it all out one day but it’ll be a tough one.

  7. Pingback: Cleaning out my closet « 26datesin2012

  8. Gotferdom, that is so true. This post talks about me really, I am just at the beginning of a three day long week end without my boyfriend, just me, Paris, the sun, and a lot of stuff to write/clean/draw ! GO

  9. J’adore cet article, il faudra qu’on en parle autour d’un café. Trop de choses à dire dans un petit commentaire et clairement tout plein d’idées et de liens à échanger…

  10. Being a ‘career expat’, I used to move country every two years, which is a brilliant way to declutter. Now, I’ve been in the same house for five years and the mess is chronic. Somehow, the presence of all that old tat devalues nice new things, especially in the wardrobe department. I wish I was brave enough to chuck everything out at the end of each season, and start again with just a FEW outfits that I love and wear a lot. Your Facebook point is interesting too: people even clutter friends…

    • You’re right, moving often is the best way to get rid of old things. Clutter in the wardrobe is the most obvious but it’s incredible how many other areas of our lives can become unclear with all the random thoughts, food, people and obligation we accumulate…

  11. Cécile, this is a great post. I read Rian’s piece about de-cluttering, too {}. As much as I enjoyed reading it, it didn’t inspire me to de-clutter though, as I am a de-cluttering maniac. At least when it comes to tangible stuff. It’s almost an obsession of mine to go through my closet and throw out old stuff and I do the same with paperwork, magazines etc. Only books and CDs never go. I think books CANNOT be tossed in the bin. That would be rude.

    What I did earlier this year, much like the last paragraph of your post, I tried to de-clutter my mind, which is much harder work than
    a) my closet
    b) I thought.
    I have this huge mind map hanging on my living room wall now with things highlighted in blue (stuff I need to remember doing), yellow (things that are new to me, but easy enough) and red (things that are new AND scary or not new but still scary). While drawing this mind map, I realized that I needed more courage and that I was being a coward in many a situation. So now I’m trying to push myself to be more courageous.

    … and to stay away from Facebook… which isn’t exactly working…

    Keeping my fingers crossed for yoour de-cluttering.

    • I like your mind map idea! My flat often gets very messy when my ideas are unclear or when I’m trying to solve a problem in my head. It’s quite therapeutic to tidy up the mess but drawing it all up on paper is something I definitely need to try! That would be a great topic for a post, you could show us your mind map and how you made it ;-)

      • Forget about me saying I was good at de-cluttering anyway and did that all the time.
        Your post was stuck in my head all weekend and on Saturday evening, I went through my closet again and pulled out every piece that I never really enjoy wearing or that has bad memories attached to it. I came out with two large waste disposal bags full of stuff! They’re now sitting in the basement, waiting for further treatment and I have LOTS of space to fill with brand new, wonderful clothes.
        Who’s up for shopping?! :-)

        • I’m pleased my post gave you the kick to start serious de-cluttering. Everything feels lighter afterwards :-). Thanks for the pingback to my post!

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