Monthly Archives: September 2020

Letting go of the perpetual box(es) of unsorted clutter

Ever since I was a child I have had a box (which later developed into boxes) of unsorted clutter. I now have way more than 10 of these boxes.  These are not boxes of books or boxes of paperwork. These are boxes of unsorted random items that you wonder how on earth they ended in a box together.

This is what happens….

A room or rooms in the house become messy and a visitor is due so in a panic I go round with a bag and collect up all the items that do not belong. At this point I fully intend to put the items away at a later date but somehow the bags get stuffed somewhere out of sight.

Over the next few days/weeks/months I might retrieve a couple of items from said bag once I realise they are in there, but eventually the bag gets tipped into a box along with the contents of several other bags and shoved in the loft. I get a happy feeling that the space previously occupied by the boxes is clear whilst my loft groans with the weight of another box of crap.

For me this habit started in childhood and the boxes all contained useful items such as pencils, paperclips, hair ties, Sindy doll shoes, game pieces, souvenirs like badges or tickets, erasers, marbles, used postage stamps etc, etc. All of these items valuable enough to be retained but not unique enough to merit me going looking for them.

Forty years later the habit is still there and remarkably the box contents haven’t changed that much. I can pretty much guarantee that every box will still contain stationery items such as paper clips, pens etc, hair ties, used postage stamps and some kind of souvenir such as a ticket stub. The dolls shoes and game pieces might not be there but there will be other items like coins, silica gel packets, clothing tags, ribbons, buttons, receipts and other random bits and bobs. Most of these items have homes. I have a little stationery drawer set for paperclips, rubber bands, pens etc. I have envelopes to put receipts, used stamps for charity in, craft boxes for ribbons and buttons etc. So why do these boxes of miscellaneous items get put in the loft instead of being put away????

I have no idea.

I talk to friends and it appears that I am not alone with these habits. For years I’ve blamed my behaviour on the fact that I am too busy or too tired.

That doesn’t wash any more. I’ve had more spare time at home over the last six months than I’ve had for years. Yes I’ve still been fortunate to keep my job and have been working full-time from home but pretty much all social activities have been cancelled and my home is messier than ever.

Perhaps the truth is I just don’t like tidying up and I’m a little lazy when it comes to housework. Maybe I’m just densensitised to the mess and the knowledge that no visitors would be coming anytime soon has helped lessen any housework priorities.

The bad weather in August prevented me from outside work so I finally decided to tackle my clutter. I removed a box that has not been looked in for over a decade and was horrified at myself. There were a few objects that went straight in the bin. Paracetamols, old lip balms etc but a few items found their way onto eBay and have surprisingly sold. Turns out if you hold onto your rubbish for more than 20 years it can be labelled “vintage” and people buy it. Who would have thought that some of my childhood badges and old computer software disks could be in demand.

This is going to be a long process for me. As a hoarder I struggle to throw things out, but by putting things up for sale it is helping me to let go. I am not going to get rich doing this – paper round would probably pay better, but it certainly feels like a giant step in the right direction. In just one month I have come to realise that I don’t actually want at least 75% of my possessions but I need to know they are going to someone else that does want them.

I have sold or given away around 25 items now and I feel a real buzz about it. Most of the items were small and came out of the loft so am not yet feeling the benefits of having decluttered them but I feel that I am definitely on the beginning of a new journey.