clear the clutter, clear your mind

I gave up perfection a couple of years ago -now I just try to be myself. Being myself does not include a perfectly clean house or matching stemware. When I got married, I registered for a full set of china, beautiful crystal and a silver pattern. A couple of years ago I realized that I needed a butler just to keep up with the lifestyle to which I was aspiring based on the contents of my china cabinet. Downton Abbey taught me that.

I’m not sure I would have come to that conclusion, if I hadn’t gotten overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to acquire and maintain all my “stuff” and fed up with having to keep up with it all. That’s when I gave up trying. I realized that I was never going to have a butler and I didn’t even really want one. Even with all the money in the world, I would not choose that lifestyle – or staff. Maybe it’s a lack of imagination or maybe I’m just no longer interested in impressing strangers.

When you have “too much” stuff, on the counters, table, in the cupboards, on the bookshelf, in the linen closet, attic and basement, you cannot think clearly. All of that stuff is unconsciously asking for your attention, especially when it’s spilling out of its containers. A pile of magazines and books on the counter beg you to read them and makes you feels guilty when you don’t. A stack of filing nags you every time you walk by. The problem with these unresolved items is that when you postpone dealing with this stuff, a part of your brain is still working other problem of your piles in the background. This is why you get overwhelmed- trying to consciously work on one problem while this other problem works on your piles. A famous colleague of mine, Barbara Hemphill said that “clutter is postponed decisions.” So you can see how it takes up some of your cognitive processing and space in your brain. I can no longer afford to rent my brain like that. I want to leave plenty of room for the things that bring me joy.

Given that you have a choice as to how you want to live your life, I encourage you to take a look at what you have and think about how it does or does not contribute to the life you want. A good example of this is books. I LOVE to read. However at this point, I will NOT reread all the books I have and I want to leave enough room in my home to allow other books to come into my life. That means that I try to keep my collection down to 100 books. I figured that is enough for the rest of my life and enough to dust – especially if it’s me, not my butler doing the dusting. By limiting myself to a number which works for me, I have freed myself to find new books in my life and not get bogged down by my history.

As for the friends I want to impress? Frankly, they don’t care about my fancy china. They just want to know if I have a clean glass for the great cheap wine they just found in Wine Spectator and I agree. Salut!

Strategies for Getting Organized:

  • Make time to get organized and start small
  • Weed out what no longer serves you
  • Recycle if you can / donate if you have time
  • Contain what you keep and give it a home
  • Repeat on a regular basis

If all else fails, call in a professional – friends and relatives are too harsh.

Andrea Deinstadt

Andrea Deinstadt

As the owner of a professional organizing business in Westchester County NY, Andrea Deinstadt works with people to create order in their homes and lives.She serves on the board on The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and her local business associations. When not organizing clients, she’s organizing her husband and sons and when that fails- going out to lunch with friends!
Andrea Deinstadt

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