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Declutter Your Life

How Outer Order Leads to Inner Calm

Gill Hasson

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A couple of years ago, we were watching TV when we heard a loud bang. We rushed upstairs expecting to see that a piece of furniture had collapsed and fallen over, but neither my husband nor I could find anything that explained the loud noise.

A few days later, though, I noticed the ceiling was dipping in one corner of our bedroom. We called a builder. When he climbed down from the loft of our three-bedroom semi- detached Victorian house, he told us that a rafter had snapped – that we were lucky the ceiling hadn't fallen in on top of us while we slept. ‘You’ve got so much stuff up there’, he said. ‘Victorian lofts weren't designed to store stuff.’ Of course they weren't. The Victorians didn't have anything to store. We did.

Our sons had grown up and two of them had left home. Amongst other things, one son had put a bike up in the loft (which, when I phoned to ask him about it, he told me he didn't want any more. That I could get rid of it. Not him. Me.) I’d kept two large boxes of Lego, a box of trains and train track, a box of Brio, two large boxes of other toys and children's books, the wooden castle my Dad made for the boys and an inflatable dinghy we bought for a holiday in Devon, which they used once – 10 years ago. Then there was my husband's large vinyl collection, a stereo, twelve boxes of negatives from his career as a freelance photographer, my photo albums, my wedding dress, my university essays, a box of letters, odd bits of furniture, two rugs, lighting, extra glasses and large dishes for parties. We had lots of camping gear and Christmas decorations. And those are just the things I can remember that we brought out of the loft when we had to completely empty it so that the rafter could be fixed and the loft insulated.

We’re not hoarders. We’re just a normal family. We’d lived in the same house for 20 years and brought up three sons. We had all the same type of stuff as any family who have studied, had jobs, been on holidays, camped, gone to festivals, celebrated Christmas, had parties, enjoyed music and books and had a variety of interests.

Once we’d emptied the loft I realized the rest of the house had plenty more things that we’d held onto for whatever reason: in case we needed it, because we hoped we’d need it, because it would feel wrong to chuck it out or because we just couldn't be bothered to clear it out.

Do you also have too much stuff?

Clutter can silently creep up on you and, before you know it, you’ve accumulated a lot of junk and jumble and all sorts of objects and oddments. It becomes overwhelming, but for one reason or another you hang onto it.

What can you do and where do you start? The key to managing clutter is to get to the root of the problem: your own thinking. Declutter Your Life explains how to change your relationship with the things you own and think about your things in a new light; in a way that is constructive, will help you to identify what is and isn't clutter and enable you to let the clutter go.

Most of our things started out as something useful, interesting, attractive. But in time – over the months and years – the things we’ve bought or acquired reach a point where they’re no longer useful or enjoyable. They’re clutter. Instead of hanging on to and being weighed down with objects and possessions that keep you stuck in the past, you can learn to think about your things in a way that's constructive and helpful to you.

There are plenty of tips and techniques and lots of advice in this book to help you. You’ll discover how outer order leads to inner calm; you’ll feel less overwhelmed and stressed, there’ll be less to think about, organize and clean. Instead – as I did – you’ll feel more in control and have more time and energy for what's actually important to you in terms of other people, your work and other interests in your life.

Part 2 of this book goes on to explain how the principles and steps taken to declutter and simplify your living space can improve not just your home but also other aspects of your life: your commitments, your friends, your work and the information you take in.

You’ll discover that, like your possessions, your commitments and friends can also keep you stuck in the past. You’ll learn that if you want to let go of commitments and friendships that no longer fit with your life, you can do so without feeling guilty. Who and what was right for you then is not necessarily right now. Don't let the past dictate the present! What matters is what commitments and friends you choose to keep now.

Whether it's too many commitments, friends you no longer have anything in common with, work that leaves you no time to breathe or a bombardment of information, it's time to declutter; to let go, simplify and make room for the new.

Declutter Your Home

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris