Too Much Stuff
Welcome to Issue #8
Dear All -
Welcome to spring! Saturday marked the vernal equinox, the point in which day and night were the same lengths. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night) and in many cultures, it represents the start of a new year including the start of the astrological calendar and Iranian calendar. Understandably so, the change in seasons and feeling of spring emerging has an effect on us all - it’s a new day, a fresh beginning.
This season Spring Cleaning takes on a new meaning. For the past year, our homes have served more purposes than ever - office, gym, classroom, studio, etc. We’ve had to use our spaces in multifunctional ways and find creative ways to store things. Now is the optimal time to rethink and revisit what you use, need, and more importantly - what you don’t.
Getting more control of our stuff makes us feel more in control of our lives. Don’t believe me? Here are some of the health benefits of decluttering:
Decluttering creates a sense of confidence and self-efficacy. It utilizes your decision-making and problem-solving skills because you’ve got Y amount of space and X amount of stuff.
Decluttering is energizing!
Cleaning and organizing reduces anxiety
Decluttering allows the mind to wander and (sometimes) involves physical activity
Decluttering can reduce relationship and family tension
When you declutter, you often find lost treasures! These finds can create a sense of serendipity that boosts your mood and increases your energy for tackling bigger tasks on your to-do list.
A little-known fact about me, I LOVE organizing. So much so that after I took the California Bar, I played around with pursuing it professionally. Among this group of readers, I’ve organized multiple people’s homes and used to reorganize my sister’s closet every summer while growing up - lucky Julie. In this context, being the Chief of Stuff takes on an entirely different meaning!
I’ve heard many people say, but “I need to get organized first.” No, you don’t! Your first instinct should be to get rid of stuff you don’t need. If you don’t keep it, you don’t have to organize it. 🙂 “But Sarah I need to order some storage containers” Stop! If you get rid of the things you don’t need, you won’t need any fancy containers or you’ll find new uses for the ones you have (I repurpose things often). Not to mention, storage containers are a sneaky way to move clutter around without actually solving the problem.
It’s natural for stuff to accumulate and oftentimes just the thought of organizing is too overwhelming to know where to begin. There are small things you can do that help keep things tidy over time. Here are some of my tricks that will help you get a grip on your stuff:
“Find a better place for this” was a game we played growing up. My mom would put things in a pile and we would see who could put them back to their original homes the fastest. It’s easy to play and everyone’s a winner - just set aside 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the day to put stray items away. It also makes it easier if you designate an exact place for certain items so you can always find them. My keys have a spot by the front door, the scissors are in the second drawer in the kitchen, bandaids are on the top shelf in the hall cupboard, etc. Giving things a specific home means you don’t have to spend unnecessary time and mental energy looking for them later.
Start with a clean slate. A messy desk can make your brain less effective at processing information and harder for you to concentrate. I always take a couple of minutes to tidy up before diving into my work. I cleared away three cups, a random pile of papers, and replaced the water for my flowers on my desk before I sat down to write this. It makes a world of difference.
Organize your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Get rid of anything past its prime, re-organize the bottles jammed into the door, arrange things neatly, wipe off the shelves. Put healthier foods closer to the front and less healthy foods in more inconvenient places so you’re less tempted. I did this over the weekend and discovered we have 5 lbs of lentils, 3 unopened bags of flax seeds, and six different varieties of pasta, but no sauce - hmm! Now that I have an inventory of what we have versus don’t, it’s easier to prioritize my grocery list. Looks like I’ll be testing lentil dishes so if you have any favorite recipes, please send them my way!
Rotate your closet with the seasons. First start with your core items - jeans, basics, workout clothes, PJs, etc. Those are staples that always stay in your closet, then divide the remaining items by season - color, fabric, style. Determine if anything needs to be donated, tailored, replaced, consigned, or thrown away. I do this every time I rotate a season into my closet. If I’m not sure, I keep it and when I’m rotating out I take stock again and ask “why didn’t I wear this?” I find creating “capsule” collections for myself allows me to focus on wearing the most relevant items in my closet versus reaching for the same thing over again. I also know exactly what I should shop for and I have fun creating new outfits and combinations with what I already own. If this process sounds like too much, just start by editing a few things out. Remove 4-5 items to be thrown away or donated and see how you feel afterward.
It’s important to note that I’m not advocating for you to get rid of all of your stuff. I don’t subscribe to the current school of luxury minimalism. In fact, I think you should hold onto things that are useful, nostalgic, and “bring you joy.” Just be honest with what you actually need and decide if your lifestyle matches the things you own. Those five fondue pots, twelve brandy glasses, that box of random cords, law school books, high school yearbooks - do you benefit from keeping those things? If you’re unsure, put a reminder in your calendar for 3 months’ time and revisit it then. Maybe your feelings will change. Below I’ve compiled a list of helpful resources so you can easily donate or sell your things.
Lastly, I think it’s important to not feel the pressure of having a perfectly organized home. It can be hard when you see pictures of pristine pantries with row after row of labeled bins and rainbow bookshelves. Not surprising that organizing gurus like Marie Kondo and the gals from the Home Edit are behind a flourishing multimillion-dollar industry. Before you spend hundreds on bins, boxes, and storage solutions - cut the clutter and see what you’re left with. And if you feel like you need more help, message me and we can come up with a plan. In the end, I promise you’ll feel better, lighter, and happier.