I’ve recently had the opportunity to go through two major rounds of de-cluttering in my life. The first was two months ago, when I cleaned out my office of 18 years as they refurbished it. That place was pretty much my second apartment/home and had more junk and decorations than I care to admit.
The second has taken place over the course of August, as my wife and I prepared to move to a new house. We’ve lived in this home for a decade with four kids, and while none of us are excessively messy or hoarders, you can imagine that stuff piles up.
Our moving strategy was to cut clutter to the bone — we gutted rooms, packing only what we really wanted to keep and donating/selling/trashing the rest. We cleaned out areas that hadn’t been touched since we moved in. We got rid of half-used paint cans, dug through a mess of outdoors stuff in the shed, and sold more than half of our furniture through Facebook groups. I found myself going through boxes of stuff that I had been lugging around since college and chucking most of it (I kept only things that I would want to share or give to the kids some day). I shed myself of about ten boxes of books that I’d packed up once I got a Kindle.
The thing was, the more we did this — both in my office and at home — the more we started to like our environment. When it came time to move back into my office, I didn’t want to unpack that much because I liked how clean and modern it looked. And we kept remarking how open and clean our house looked without all of the stuff that had been taking up space here and there. It wasn’t that we wanted to live an ascetic life, it’s just that somewhere along the line, we had gotten used to a certain level of clutter and stopped seeing it around us. Once it was gone, the house felt refreshing and new.
I’ve certainly experienced this on a smaller scale by “de-cluttering” parts of my life. Maybe I was too busy in one area or too disorganized in another, and I fixed that. Often it was straightening up my work space or coming up with a storage system that kept the clutter firmly under control.
As I head to a new house and new office this week, I’m hoping that we can take this newfound appreciation for a clutter-free space and try to carry it forward. I think that electronics have helped to consolidate some of the entertainment/work clutter of the past, but there’s always kids’ toys, kitchen goods, and the million other things that we lugged along with us on this journey.