What started out as a cleaning and tidying up of the garage has morphed into culling unused items from the house.
How is it that a garage is a catch-all for not only cars but unused, unwanted, and broken things? What to do with the old light fixture? Put it in the garage. Where shall the old leaky basketballs go? In the garage until it can be determined if they are they are patchable. How do we store the cooler with the broken water spout on the shelf with no room left? Not sure, just put it along the side garage wall, on the floor, until a place is found for it. The list goes on and on and on. An epiphany came to me one day as I had to shimmy my way out of the car, along the wall of the garage to the back door, all while trying not to trip over things. Enough was enough!
It was finally relatively cooler, in the low 90F, and I decided to clean out the garage. I usually doo this once a year but the last year had gotten away from me. It was either too hot with over 100F days, or too cold with under 32F days, or I was too busy. When I had to hurdle over, duck under, or slide around stuff in the garage just to get to my car or the back door, I knew the time had come. In my defense my garage was not as bad as I depicted, but I have taken artistic license to set the dramatic stage. I declared that this was the week to clean out the garage. But first, a cup of tea.
The working theory of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing” is to start any organization project by discarding items. She explains that in throwing away, or donating items, space will become available for storing only the items that bring joy. I am not sure if anything in my garage brings me joy but I agree that I need to throw things out that are broken, and give things away that I have not used in a long time.
Marie Kondo emphasizes the reason for failed attempts at tidyingidyin up is due to the inefficient notion of getting rid of one item a day, or de-cluttering a little bit each day. The Japanese term Ikki Ni, meaning “in one go”, is the philosophy behind her tidying up concepts. Letting go of clutter and unused items completely “in one go” can aid in changing behaviors. When closets, garages, and yards are deftly eradicated of unwanted items and clutter, people will be more apt to keep things clutter free. “If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely, within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after“ explains Marie.
But What About….?
In my heart I really do want to subscribe to a swift and decisive purging of unwanted, unused itmes that just clutter up my life. But…There are so many back end statements that run through my head as a rebuttal to clearing all clutter. My first response is the often used phrase “what if I need it in the future?” Or this one: “But so and so gave it to me, it has sentimental meaning.” The response I use most frequently is a reaction phrase rooted in a feeling of being overwhelmed. My thinking goes something like this “I don’t know where to begin, there is too much to think about.” According to research affiliated with the National Association of Productivity and Organization (NAPO) 32% of people polled referenced being too tired and 29% of people nationally polled stated lack of motivation were reasons from completing daily living tasks tasks.
There have been multiple times that I have started an organizing and decluttering campaign at my house, only to become worn out after the first hour of activity. Evidently part of my inertia is related to feeling overwhelmed because of too many items that I need to find storage locations. Marie is adamant about discarding items, not just organizing and putting things away. She states “We must exercise self-control and resist storing our belongings until we have finished identifying what we really want and need to keep.” Sounds like I need to get tough with myself and decide what I really want to keep. This will be hard for me.
My End Goal
The goal I have in tidying up, letting go of things, or de-cluttering is so that I can have serenity in using only what speaks to me. Several other goals include: having my house look pulled together and refreshed, decreasing the stress of maintaining all the items, have accessible and user-friendly cabinets that are not crammed full of items, and to bless others with items that could be useful (clothing, kitchen and garage items in particular). Lastly, I want to travel light. I would like to do more sailing and camping and that requires getting used to traveling with less stuff. I am up for the challenge of letting go of the maintenance and storage of things that are superfluous. “Simplicity of living requires the courage to discard or give away broken or unused things,” Marie illustrates.
Determination And Letting Go
Now that the garage is completely cleaned out, decluttered, and reorganized, it has given me a future vision of spaciousness and freedom from clutter. In her book Marie definedefines that it is more efficient to organize by category rather than location. She further explains that moving things around and putting things away is not decluttering; it is just shuffling things from one place to another. When clearing out clutter, putting all like items together gives a new perspective on how many like items one really has. For example,when I take all my towels out of the cabinets, and place them together, I get an exact idea of how many towels I really have. I can then make a better decision about letting go of towels I don’t use, or need, or towels that need to be discarded. I am determined to let go of extra towels and any extra items that I may have.
Decluttering by Category
To be honest, if I am going to declutter my possessions in my house, I will need to attack my tea cabinet. Taking the suggestion from Marie Kondo that decluttering is done by category, I head over to the tea cabinet. Yikes! I have written about the lovely tea that I do use and how how the tea brings me joy. So… the tea stays. However, I do have numerous tea accoutrements that I don’t use anymore anymore, or are missing parts, and are broken. I can bless people with items that I am not using. I am bracing myself, steeling myself, and building up courage to go through my collection of tea equipment. Not to postpone the inevitable, but first I need to make a cup of tea for comfort as I go through my tea cabinet.
Whew, cleaning the tea cabinet was harder for me than I thought. I was much more emotionally tied to the items in the tea cabinet than the items in the garage. I had to be brave in letting go of items. I kept telling myself that this item could bless someone else. I also had to remind myself that if I wanted the peace, serenity, freedom and space that comes with less items in my house, then sometimes tough choices will have to be made.
I took the time to reminisce and even take pictures of items that I placed in the repurpose pile. I also discarded chipped, and broken items, along with items that had missing parts. When I became overwhelmed, I would go take a break outside to clear my head and then come back to the tea cabinet. I would come back to another cup of tea, more sorting, and more reminiscing. I found that sorting through and letting go of things that I haven’t used in several years, yet have sentimental value, is difficult. I would like to say that I have completely paired down to just one tea cup and one mug, but I am not there yet.
Sometimes just starting is the first step in culling items from overflowing cabinets and cupboards from overflowing cabinets and cupboards. Pick a category of items, and pare down. In her book, Marie Kondo suggests to start with items that do not hold sentimental value. Her recommended order of decluttering is to start with clothes and then books. File cabinet papers and similar papers next, and then miscellaneous items. She recommends decluttering mementos last.
I am jumping around a bit on the recommended order of decluttering. My next category of items that I am going to go through are books. I have a lot of books including including numerous tea reference reference books. I am hesitant and anxious regarding hesitant and regarding letting go of books,, but I am on a roll now. Tea cabinet today, books tomorrow!
While culling and reorganizing your space, be sure to include a comforting tea in the process. Every emotionally heavy task, or overwhelming task, may be made lighter and easier with a cup of tea.
Kondo, Marie. The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing. Ten Speed Press, 2014.
Woodruff, Lisa K. The State Of Housework And Home Organization In The United States. Organize 365, 2021. HTTPS://organize365.com/research
National Association Of Productivity & Organization. www.NAPO.net
About The Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!