My friend, Karen Borrusch, is a woman I have grown to respect and love quickly through our church family. Karen is many things- sincere, committed, honest. And she approaches life with a spirit of order, so that she is best able to serve those around her. Karen’s primary passion is assisting women in de-cluttering their lives through stream-lining their homes, so that they are better able to pursue knowing God and loving those around them.
I asked Karen if she would be willing to contribute an article for us about how we can attain living with less. What does un-cluttering look like practically? She has offered some excellent advice in this post, so please read through to the end. Following the article, I have included a photo of my response to the challenge she offers.
The Distraction of Stuff
Two years ago, I began to understand the distraction of owning stuff. Stuff pulls my time and attention away from the very things that bring my life meaning. A good deal of our time is caught up in acquiring and owning possessions. First we research which brand, size, color to buy. Then we look for the best deal, coupon or location to buy it from. Then is the time spent shopping to acquire it. Time spent earning the money we spend on it. And once we bring it home, cleaning, organizing, sometimes folding, and putting it away multiple times. During all of that time, we are being pulled away from the very things that should be consuming our minds. Time is taken from our families, our friends, ourselves and most importantly, from worshiping God.
Since beginning my journey of living with less, countless people have asked me how to go about it. There are three places I tell them to start. And one place not to start. Begin somewhere that will keep you motivated.
1. You could begin in the place that drives you the most crazy. Do you have a closet full of clothes? So many, that it is hard to squeeze them in? Or maybe a kitchen/ junk drawer. You toss everything in there. When you open it to retrieve something, do you have to dig around to look for it? Begin there. Then every time you get something out of that area, and see that your life has been made simpler, it will motivate you to continue un-cluttering.
2. You could begin in an area that would be easy to accomplish. Do you have 50 t-shirts and only have 10 that fit? Do you have 50 mugs, but don’t drink coffee? When you have an over abundance or excess of something, it doesn’t feel as sacrificial to donate it. Starting in an easy area like this will give you that satisfied feeling that will motivate you to continue un-cluttering.
3. You could begin in the first area that you see when you walk into your home. Is it the mudroom? The kitchen? The family room? If #1 and #2 don’t appeal to you, begin here. Every time you walk into your home you will notice the change. It will motivate you to continue un-cluttering.
Really you just need to start somewhere. Anywhere. Pick a number for each week and stick to it. Maybe the number is 10. Get rid of 10 things every week. After you have been doing it for about a month,you should see and feel a change. Things will be easier to tidy up. Things won’t be as hard to find. Once you start to see and feel some of the benefits, you will be motivated to continue. Also once you see that you don’t actually miss anything you got rid of, it will be easier to part with more and more things.
Let me tell you where not to start. Strangely, when people begin the process, they go right to the thing that will be hardest to purge. They come to me and say, I love my deceased grandma’s pitcher. I don’t think I could get rid of it. Uh, I don’t think you should get rid of it. Start with the easy stuff: t-shirts,notebooks, mugs. We will get to the “hard” stuff later. I love my husband’s grandmother’s pitcher.It reminds me of her. And it actually fits into my style. I won’t be purging it. If you start with the hard stuff, you will never really get going.
Find motivation. Then get started and the motivation will continue to come. As you reap benefits of your work, you will see how much simpler and more peaceful your home can be. Then we will talk about that pitcher.
Due to the trash collection Monday, my throw-away pile was somewhat meager Tuesday. However, I was somewhat amazed that with just 5 minutes, I was able to collect 10 items to be thrown away (and I could have found more had I searched longer!)
In my pile were:
1 empty Lysol wipes in the cabinet
1 empty Pantene shampoo in the shower, also empty
1 curtain rod finial
3 plastic stencils
1 pair of outgrown pants
1 stash of expired coupons
2 non-working batteries
Just for honesty and humor’s sake, I thought about beginning in my closet.
But then, a few seconds later, I thought better of it. I would rather pare down their closets than pare down my own :).
Baby steps, baby steps.
Could you walk through your house right now and find 10 items to throw away? If you feel overwhelmed by clutter, begin by parting with 10 items. And do so tomorrow, or maybe for the next week. And see if you feel less distracted by a house full of “stuff”.