The winner of today’s photography challenge—is the following book that I managed to finish about two weeks ago: “Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to make more room for happiness” by Gretchen Rubin. This is the second book by Gretchen Rubin that I’ve read over the past year (the other was The Four Tendencies).
This particular book deals with the issue of getting rid of excess belongings and organizing what you keep in a manner that makes you happy (and others living with you). Society as a whole owns way to much stuff—and there are people who rent storage units to store the excess that they can’t fit in their houses. Now I’m currently renting a storage unit, but that is because when I moved home—my room had been converted into a guest room (and I had only planned on being a guest for a few years tops). So my bed, a large bookcase, some other furniture and other belongings (dishes and such) have been sitting in a storage unit for six years.
I’d realized out in Boston that I had too much stuff, and got rid of some of it before moving back (in hopes of savings some money), but I still have too much stuff—especially if I add in what is in my bedroom to what I have in my storage unit. I’m going to slowly be going through things and paring down on what I have (as I realize I probably don’t need forty different t-shirts). That way if I do head back to Boston and have a smallish apartment—I can fit everything into it, without being overwhelmed.
So the book has five chapters, each covering a specific point/topic in the path of creating outer order, and hopefully inner calm.
The first chapter basically lays out the facts that you have to make choices on what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to be getting rid of; also when you’re getting rid of something you shouldn’t feel guilty about the fact that the item no longer has a place in your home (as the author points out—you can out grow things, or just decide that it isn’t necessary to keep a gift just to keep someone happy (who may or may not remember giving it to you).
The second chapter talks about creating order, and just lays out some simple guidelines that once can follow: such as if you can’t retrieve an item you probably won’t use it—which makes sense, we have one cupboard over the fridge that I forget what is stored in it (obviously we aren’t using the items, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to get rid of the items). Another guideline is to avoid buying souvenirs, or if you are going to buy souvenirs one should go with ones that are small and easy to display.
This is one area I will have to deal with once I’m settled (as I don’t plan on really unpacking all the boxes in my storage unit & repacking them)—I have a lot of little knickknacks that I’d bought over the years; I do have a small number that I’ve bought since I’ve moved home—but for the most part they’re packed in my storage unit.
I think I’ve come up with an idea on how to display them nicely—making use of my large bookcase, but at the same time I will probably try to sell some of them depending on how I can display them. Having little things showing your personality is good—you just need to be able to take care of them (such as dusting)—and if you have too many of them, you might fall down on that task.
The third chapter talks about knowing yourself and others. Basically—know what you consider to be clutter, what others consider to be clutter and if they don’t agree find some type of middle ground. The fourth chapter talks about cultivating helpful habits (such as tossing junk mail right away, making your bed in the morning, putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher, and so forth) to help keep the clutter down to a minimum.
The fifth chapter talks about adding beauty to the spaces. This can include adding a signature color (or pattern) to the rooms, arranging the displays on a tray, having a theme for the picture frames and so forth.
Basically the book walks you through the steps/thoughts of starting to declutter your home and/or workspace. Decluttering isn’t for everyone—you actually want to be doing it, or if you start you might find yourself with even more stuff (as you feel guilty for getting rid of things, you end up bringing in more to make up for it); also it doesn’t have to happen overnight. I’ve been slowly (and I stress the word slowly) working decluttering my life for the past year—I’ve gotten rid of some stuff, but I also know that I have a lot more that I can get rid of and still be happy. How I’m going about it: I’m asking myself—does this have more than one use? If I find myself in an studio apartment—things will need to be multi-functional (and maybe even multi-storage). Having multiple collections as a teenager or young adult is fine—but now I have to ask the question: do they have a place in the life/home of someone who will be hitting their fourth decade next year?
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is thinking of embarking on the journey of decluttering.