50, 365, whatever, just clear the clutter out
Several people have asked me what I think of Gail Blanke’s new Throw Out 50 Things book. I actually read an article by Blanke in “Real Simple” about the benefits of getting rid of 50 things sometime in 2007, in the middle of my grand 365 Things Decluttering, so I wasn’t really surprised when her new book came out. Part of me does feel like, “But mine is 315 better!” but mostly I think that anything that helps me move the junk out is great.
I read an article by Blanke in “Body + Soul” on Sunday, and then went for a long run, and the article plus the run had me so inspired that I kept right on running upstairs (ok, I did stop to shower and change) with garbage bags in hand. All I could think about during my run were things in my closet and dresser that I wasn’t wearing. In about an hour, from an area about 4 square feet, I unloaded at least 60 things. Though, honestly, a lot of that was jewelry I was no longer wearing (lots of hippie stuff from high school — remember those anklets with bells on them, Sarah?). If I count all the jewelry as one “thing” then I probably got rid of 25 things. A bunch was also outgrown Zuzu clothes, but they’d been sitting in a pile in her closet, so I freed up a lot of space just by transferring that pile into the Goodwill bag.
The funny thing about “50 things” is that I can almost guarantee that 50 morphs into 100 into 200 before you even know it. As soon as you start decluttering, you feel buoyant and floating and as you watch the albatross fly away you start looking around your house for what else you can get rid of. The thing about clutter is that it weighs you down, physically and mentally. You know there are things you want to be doing with your life, and I’m willing to bet that dusting tchotchkes is not one of your life ambitions. Once you clear out the stuff, you suddenly have time to write that book, plant that garden, paint the dining room orange, or suddenly find out that you’re pregnant with a baby girl. Ok, that last one might only have happened to me, but I really do think that my massive decluttering was saying to the universe, “Ok, I made this space, what should I fill it with?” (answer: Zuzu).
If you’re anything like me, you can start almost anywhere in your house and find an area to clear. Stand somewhere in your house and look around. Do you see something you’ve been meaning to put in a different spot, or get rid of entirely? Do it! Do you see more? Get a bag, grab it all, move it out! (My next area to tackle is under the bathroom sink.)
Need more inspiration? Get Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston, a book which totally changed the way I look at Stuff. You can read an article in The Sentry and another in The Portland Press Herald about my own project. It’s impossible to be totally clutter free when you have kids; they bring in a crazy amount of stuff every day (the acorns, sticks, and rocks alone just about do me in). But you can seriously and constantly and regularly edit and get rid of all that crap that’s hiding in the closet of your house and therefore weighing on the closet of your mind (ok, I promise I’m going to stop being so new agey right this minute).