• The Simple Life: Decluttering

    Collecting Clutter

    Have you ever noticed that we as humans, like to collect things? Whatever it may be, each of us has a collection of SOMETHING. Most of us, especially if you live in a Sri Lankan (or almost any type of Asian) household, have collections of many things. For example, in my house, we have a drawer full of cables, mostly old ones that were used to power ancient computers and TVs. We have another drawer full of plastic bags in the kitchen. Then there are the cupboards full of old school books, kindergarten all the way up to graduation. Each room has a bookshelf filled with books and ornaments of unknown origin. There are more drawers filled with wrapping paper from gifts we don’t remember, but we’ll never throw away ‘cause maybe we could reuse it one day’. And if you dig deeper, there are more drawers filled with files, bills and medical reports from the last 20 years plus about 200 DVDs that we’re never going to watch again.

    Right now, from where I’m sitting, I can see a corner of old shoe boxes stacked on top of each other. There’s nothing inside them. They have been… collected. I’m also guilty of sticking every receipt I ever get into my wallet and then never clearing my wallet out. The last time I cleaned my wallet out, I stuck all the receipts into yet another box that I had stored away in yet another drawer. So, you get my point. Everything is cluttered.

    As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m an avid reader. I have been from a very young age. This is something I inherited from my mum. Some of my fondest memories growing up include my dad coming home from work some days with a new book for me. Those days were always good days. I’d practically eat up any book he would bring for me. I used to get scolded for reading in the dark as a kid when I was supposed to be sleeping and my parents hadn’t gone to bed yet. For a long time, one of my greatest accomplishments was the fact that I stayed home ‘sick’ from school the day I managed to get my hands on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and then finished it that same day. I have many, many fond memories with my collection of books.

    Anyway, the point of the above anecdote is that it is just that, something I’ve loved to do my whole life has led me to amas another collection of something. A treasured collection, but a collection nonetheless. I will always have the memories of the stories I’ve read, but now it’s breaking my heart to have to decide what to do with them with all my books when I move. 

    What I’m getting at with all this rambling is the fact that our lives are full of things we don’t need. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are all hoarders, but we all definitely have too many things and we don’t realise it. I travel a bit due to family commitments and I always have to choose which things of my collections are the most important to me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to ‘pack my whole life’ into a suitcase and being able to jump between one country and another. However, the only thing that this has resulted in is having two collections of things, in both countries. So there’s my dilemma.

    Decluttering

    During the last five weeks of this curfew, my dad and I decided it’s time to declutter the house and get rid of a bunch of ‘stuff’ from our collections. And while it’s been difficult for me, I know it’s been even harder for my dad. And that’s crazy! Why is it so hard for us to part with items that we will never use again? Or items that have been sitting in cupboards for YEARS without being looked at? Amongst other things, we’ve found piles and piles of magazines from the ’80s and ’90s, 100’s of Readers Digests, about 83465329 CDs and DVDs, tons of old baby clothes that belonged to my brother and me, as well as pictures we drew during kindergarten that obviously, no parent will ever throw away because of their sentimental value.

    See, this is interesting. Most of the time, we don’t get rid of things because of their sentimental value. My dad and I talked about this for a long time. He told me he never threw away old drawings and other stuff like that because perhaps one day I’d like to sit and show it to my kids. This is a wonderful and heartfelt thought, but honestly, would you ever want to sit through a presentation of the pictures your parents drew in 4th grade?

    Does this Spark Joy?

    Low-key Marie Kondo-ing here but the reason I’m writing this post as one of my first blog posts is so that I can hold myself accountable to the decision that I have made to live a simpler and more conscious and decluttered life. Some changes I have made so far:

    1. Switching to a Kindle! This one took a long time to get used to, as nothing will replace the magic of a book in my hand. However, I guarantee you that once you have been converted, there’s no going back. Kindles are easy to use, store and carry around and the best part is that you can have literally 100’s of books with you at once. This has been so helpful for me, especially while moving between countries. I know it’s lovely to have a prominent bookshelf at home, but I’ve made the decision to donate all the books I’ve collected since I was a kid – honestly, because most of them I probably won’t open again. I am keeping about 15 of my all-time faves though (blog post on that incoming!). Also, I like to read in the dark before falling asleep – the kindle is great for this, especially because it has settings that allow you to adjust the brightness to protect your eyes.
    2. Clearing out my closet! If you’re like me, then you’d have about 10 years of accumulated clothes that you haven’t worn or looked at in about the same amount of time. Personally, I have a stack of about 10 outfits that I mix and match to wear daily – this is on top of the mountains and mountains I already have in my closet. So step 1 was to clear out everything and decide which gets donated and which gets thrown away. It was hard because there were many moments of ‘hmm, I might wear that again sometime’ but I got there in the end eventually and my clothes collection is now significantly smaller. In the future, I also plan to be much more careful about clothes purchases, which is probably easier said than done!
    3. Decluttered desks, shelves and drawers! This task was fun because I came across a ton of old things, keepsakes and memorabilia from when I was growing up! Some things I really didn’t want to throw away so I took an old shoebox and told myself I don’t need more than what can fit in here. That worked well! I now have a super clean and decluttered desk that is very pleasant to look at. Some things I threw away included many, many old cables, random CD’s, bangles and accessories, Christmas cards from the ’00s, once started and never finished yearly planners, old ‘friendship’ books, school notebooks and a ton of other junk. It was refreshing!

    That’s pretty much all I’ve done so far but just these few things have already made a huge difference!

    1. One extra bonus point though! DECLUTTERING SOCIAL MEDIA! This will probably take up most of your day if you decide to do this, but honestly, it has helped me and my mental health so much. I’ve deleted people off Facebook, unfollowed the people I don’t want to delete but who post things that don’t interest me, unfollowed tons of pages I liked as a teenager, made a lot of my old photos private, left annoying groups, unfollowed inactive accounts on Instagram, and unfollowed accounts that I was once interested in but now not anymore. It has really made my feeds much cleaner and I’m not randomly annoyed by posts I see on social media. While I’m still trying to immensely cut down on my social media time, decluttering it has definitely helped me improve my behavior and habits on different social media platforms.

    There you have it! I’ve consciously made small changes in my life that have helped me live a little less cluttered. I’m much more conscious of my surroundings, and even though it’s quite cliche to say, having a cleaner surrounding has helped me feel much better overall. I think the clutter around you just subconsciously puts a lot of weight on your mind, so having a cleaner closet, room and workspace definitely keeps me motivated and more cheerful during the day! 

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