Need to declutter your mind? Here’s how…
A few weeks ago, I lost the plot. Like completely. There was shouting, tears – the whole production. The event that triggered this incident was someone – who I didn’t know – coming around to my house to collect something…and the house was a MESS. I’m not talking just a little bit untidy – I’m talking epic mess. If someone broke in when we weren’t home they’d be disappointed, thinking someone else had beaten them to it.
There were dishes still on the table from breakfast (and possibly dinner the night before), because my kids are incapable of putting anything in the dishwasher, no matter how much I nag. Anyone that worked in OH&S would deem our house a liability with the amount of trip hazards on the floor. In fact, whilst I was sure I could smell dog poo somewhere (thanks to our four-month-old puppy), there was no chance of finding it under toys and kid’s shoes strewn about the house. Some days, all I feel I do is nag people to pick things up – I’m sure most other mums can relate to this.
At this stage of life, I have become accustomed to living in squalor because no one picks their stuff up…until I lose the plot, as I had done on this particular occasion. This usually happens when other people (especially folk I don’t know) come to visit. Most of my friends have children of a similar age to mine, so are empathetic to the struggle, and don’t judge. But I fear people I don’t know will brand me as “The Chick with the House that’s been Burgled”. And let’s face it, if I don’t know them, and have no intention of getting to know them better, why should I care, right? I know, I know. But I still do.
The problem lies with my own expectations of myself, and also how I function. I have always been a pretty neat and tidy person. In fact, I feel a bit stressed when things are out of place, like when a cupboard door is left open, or there are clothes on the floor or rubbish on the bench. For me, outer order equates to inner calm. As much as I wish I could change this aspect of myself, frustratingly, I think it is just part of my personality. I have accepted that if I can do my best to keep my things tidy, hopefully my kids will follow my example. However, I’m still waiting for this theory to work…
Following my melt-down, I had a good hard look at what was upsetting me the most, and realised it was simply the sheer volume of stuff in our house. Five years ago, we moved out of a large four-bedroom house with storage for days, into a smaller four-bedroom house with no pantry and wardrobes half the size of what we were accustomed to. We adapted, and lots of belongs were shed prior to our move, but five years on, the clutter has returned.
Five years is probably the longest I’ve lived in any one place in my adult life, and I’ve come to realise that five years is probably a sensible period of time to consider a serious clear-out. I’m not talking about removing a few things from your wardrobe. I’m talking about pulling everything out of every cupboard and having a good hard look about what should stay and go, as you do when moving house.
A lot happens in five years. For example, in this period of time, the children have gone from being four and two-years-old to ten and eight-years old. Their interests have changed completed, and (sadly) they are more interested in spending time on devices than they are playing with toys. My interests have changed too – books that I read and enjoyed five years ago are no longer relevant to me, fashions have changed – heck we don’t even watch DVDs anymore thanks to the plethora of steaming services available! So that pile of 50+ DVDs taking up precious space in the drawer had become redundant. There was only one thing to do…
Light a match!
Nah, just kidding. Enter my saviour…Facebook Marketplace!
I have used Marketplace and Gumtree to buy and sell things before. In fact, I go through periods where I stalk Marketplace until I find a particular item I’m after, and I have also sold a couple of large pieces of furniture on there before, with minimum hassle. Before our trip away, my husband joked that I was planning on selling the entire contents of our home…it was tempting!
Our house may as well have been a bus stop with the number of people coming and going to collect stuff I had listed on Marketplace. The concept is simple, and quite magical:
1. List stuff you don’t want for a price
2. Person who wants stuff comes to your home, gives you money, and then takes stuff away. I didn’t even have to take it to an op shop, or even walk to the bin, for that matter!
PLUS, I had a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling that some of the sentimental stuff (like the kid’s toys) were going to a loving new home. Some items sold quickly (damn, I knew I should have listed them for a higher price!) and other stuff took longer, but I have now sold most of the things that I listed a few weeks ago. It’s also amazing the things that sell. One man’s trash certainly is another’s treasure.
I did put a few rules in place, to avoid the dreaded “time-wasters” which included:
1. Not selling anything for less than $10. Listing items under this price was not a good use of my time, and often attracted people that would muck me around. Anything worth less than $10 was donated if it was in good condition, or binned if it wasn’t.
2. Not selling anything damaged, or if the damage was only minor, clearly calling this out in the description and photos. I didn’t want to rip anyone of by misrepresenting an item – that’s not my style.
3. First in best dressed. However, I would hold items for people who couldn’t come and pick them up straight away due to work and family commitments. This was because I had the luxury of time. Many people only list stuff when they are moving and desperately need to get rid of it. This often means you list if for a cheaper price to sell quickly, when if you had sold it sooner you could afford to wait for someone to pay the price you’re asking. Another reason why it’s good to keep on top of decluttering!
So, how does this all relate to decluttering the mind? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I personally feel more uptight and distracted when I’m surrounded by physical clutter and chaos at home. Cleaning was also taking up too much of my precious time, as I was constantly having to move things to vacuum, mop and dust. I’m pretty sure others can relate to this too.
In the same way a cluttered house can make us feel overwhelmed, so too can a cluttered mind. You know the drill – an endless To-Do list that’s constantly on loop in your mind, whilst you continue to worry about challenges that might pop up during the day ahead.
In the same way Facebook Marketplace came to my rescue with my physical clutter, so too does my journal for my mental clutter. In fact, I have a couple of journals to combat different types of mental clutter. Firstly, I have a journal with my To-Do list where I jot down everything I need to get done each day, week and month. I also have a personal journal where I write about my day, identify my goals and dreams, as well as track my habits and record moments of gratitude. And finally – a new one I have just added to my tool kit – is my Morning Pages journal.
I have just finished reading The Artist’s Way by Julian Cameron and can’t recommend this book highly enough! The Morning Pages are essentially three pages of ‘brain junk’ you unload every morning (or whatever time of day works for you). Julia explains that the “Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included…If you can’t think of anything to write, then write, ‘I can’t think of anything to write…’ Do this until you have filled three pages. Do anything until you have filled three pages.”
If you too would like to declutter your brain, and learn more about my journaling strategies in each of these areas, you are in luck! My life-changing journaling course, Joyful Journaling Journey opens for enrolments next month.
This unique course is jam-packed with strategies that will help newbie and seasoned journalers alike by establishing a regular journaling practice, as well as taking your existing practice to the next level so you can journal your way to a life of clarity, intention and purpose. You can learn more about the course here, or drop me an email at email@example.com if you have any questions.
AND, if you want some inspiring journaling prompts to kick-start your journaling practice, you can grab my free Journaling Guide with 100 prompts, as well as some super helpful info on the benefits of journaling, along with tips on how to establish a consistent journaling practice right here.
How do you declutter your home, and your mind? I’d love your thoughts – please drop a comment below…