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My enquiries often start off with these or similar words, in my mind’s eye I see toys; Lego, Barbie, soft toys, cars, dolls, puzzles and games marching to the lead of trumpet and drum from all corners of the house. Clothing jumping off the racks in shops and hugging each other closely on the rails and shelves in the cupboards.

Why is it that we don’t realise that these inanimate objects cannot take over our homes and lives, that it is our own doing that we become unstuck?

“Why, oh why, do people keep excess of all kinds of stuff? I realise now that most of it can be attributed to some kind of fear or guilt. If you can overcome that fear and guilt, you are ready to let go of clutter and lead a fuller life!

A couple of weeks ago when I assisted a lady moving into her new home, we placed all her beautiful furniture and started unpacking the boxes and suitcases in the master bedroom and walk-in-closet. She wouldn’t let go of one single item as she loved every single one, no hope of KonMari’s theorie of feeling the joy in each item?! She wanted them all.

After packing and hanging the clothes and organising jewellery and shoes, in excess of what anyone could wear within a year, we tackled the boxes in the garage. Suddenly the domestic stopped and with a heart wrenching: “Madam, just look at this!” She was holding a little black dress… and she continued, “This dress costs R6000. Do you know how many clothes I could buy for my family for that amount?” An indescribable anger rose within me at the thought of all the unused items that where in the cupboards and where lying in the garage and not even one item to be given away.

 When confronting the client on why she needed to have all these clothes, the anger subsided to the realisation that there is more to just having the money to buy the stuff, and was replaced with sadness for her. Her accumulation stemmed from a childhood fear, when she didn’t have clothes like the other children. Now that she can afford it, she fills her life with stuff and clothes to the detriment of herself. On the other hand guilt sets in knowing how much she paid for the stuff, she feels she just can’t get rid of it.

  • This is an issue where you are dealing with emotional clutter and until you deal with the fear of need or want and let go of troublesome times, you will not be able to let go of anything. Believe that times have changed, you have arrived, you can afford whatever or almost what your heart desires, opening yourself for new possibilities.
  • As a crafter you tend to have loads of accessories and tools for different kinds of crafts. Every time you go out you buy something else, but seldom actually use the items. You either can’t find them, as they lie in a shopping bag somewhere in the cluttered craft room or you never make the time to get started. This is physical clutter but sometimes can also be associated with emotional clutter. You are constantly looking for the right accessories, tools and materials to create the perfect item, but you are afraid that you will not be able to get it done to your level of expectation and never push yourself to do it. Believe that you can do it and stop beating yourself up! If you honestly come to the point of realising that you’ll never get it done, free yourself of these items, donate the materials, tools and accessories to someone who will use it.
  • Toys contribute a large amount of physical clutter. It’s a fear of losing the love of your child. Kids are showered with toys to compensate them for not spending enough time with them. Consider that toys don’t buy you special time with your kids, remove the clutter and have time for the things that really matter, having fun instead of the tidying up the toys and putting things away over weekends ending in screaming matches instead of calm time together.
  • Paper clutter contributes to a lot of stress in our lives. I had the funniest incident where a client had a box that was labelled: “Papers I want to keep… but will probably never look at them again”. Question being, “Why keep them?” Paper clutter builds up because you don’t know what papers to keep for tax and other purposes and what you can toss. The fear of needing proof of something and not being able to provide or find it, leads to keeping too much. Very often this is caused by indecisiveness, papers are piled instead of being attended to immediately. There are only three actions you need to take with papers, action them, file them, toss/ recycle them. The solution being, know what to keep and only keep electronic copies or hard copies in clearly labelled files so that you can find what you need.
  • Digital clutter piles up on our computers in all forms, from documents to photos as it is so easy to store and it doesn’t create visual clutter, either on the cloud or your hard disc and there it lies and piles up. The fear being that if it isn’t stored here they might get lost. Organise you digital files as you would do your paper files, your photos in files according to year and occasions and delete them as you would purge physical paper files and last but not least don’t forget to make back-ups!
  • You hold onto boxes of sentimental stuff from vacations and special celebrations because of a fear that you’ll lose the memories of special times and people. If someone or an occasion was memorable you will not need the stuff as you will carry it in your heart and it will not take up any space at all!

Face your fears and address them. What void are you trying to fill with stuff? Are you hanging onto stuff for all the wrong reasons? Does the stuff really bring comfort and security and give you certainty for the future? What would be the worst scenario be should you get rid of them? How will it affect you?

Once you have accepted that your fears are unfounded, you’ll be able to rid yourself of all the excess, declutter and live a happier more fulfilled life. You’ll be able to take care and have better use of your special items and spend less time looking for stuff.

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser