For example; there used to be a built-in bed in the third bedroom. Underneath was a large storage space with cupboard doors on the front. I had squeezed three large storage boxes underneath it, with various other bits and pieces stored on top of them, and a few other bits and pieces jammed in the sides. I knew exactly what was in each of the boxes (spare bedding, out of season clothes and fabric that I would someday make into something) but to get to any of them, I had to pull everything out first. Every time I did so, I would think,'ah, look at all that fabric, I should really do something with it' or 'it's no good having the duvet in there, it takes up too much space, I'll exchange it for all the towels, and put the duvet somewhere else.
What I didn't realise:
- I was feeling guilty about not doing a hobby I had moved away from
- I was constantly reorganising in an effort to better use the inadequate space
- Most of these things never got used, or very rarely, they just sat there accumulating dust, so
- I had to routinely get everything out and clean it
I was wasting precious time, mental energy and emotional investment. How much of these things do we all waste on possessions that we don't need? That just get in the way of us actually living our lives?
Now I have only the clothes I can fit in my wardrobe, and I don't miss any of the items I have got rid of - I wasn't wearing them anyway. We have only enough guest bedding for what we will use (we were keeping several sets of sheets for only one bed - madness!) and I have only a tiny fraction of the fabric I used to have; I gave away lots to a friend who still regularly sews, and donated a large amount to a charity who were making quilts to raise money.
I honestly don't miss, and couldn't actually even bring to mind most of the possessions I have got rid of out of those boxes - I clearly didn't need them, although I'd been hanging on to them for a long time. I love my third bedroom now - it no longer has the bed, or the storage, and I have turned it into a laundry room - a much more useful space that I enjoy (!) ironing in.
Getting rid of these possessions (and lots of others) was the only way to both keep my house tidy and organised, and the only way to finding peace of mind. If you don't believe me, here's a link to Leo Babauta's excellent mnmlist blog post on the subject - http://mnmlist.com/minimalism-is-the-end-of-organizing/
Next time, how to begin decluttering - where do you start?