The question that helps you clear clutter

The question that helps you clear clutter

​The final push to begin our home remodel project we’ve been planning, and I’ve been talking about for way too long, is here. My sweet husband spent 10+ hours over the weekend drawing up the structural plans for the remodel and I started packing up the house.

Packing up my house of 10 years is not something that I want to do over night. So in addition to cleaning out my own stuff,  I’ve been helping my kids purge and clean over the last couple months and they’ve blown me away at how willingly they’ve let go of things. Of course they’re keeping the special stuffed animals and all the legos, but the bottle top collection, the variety of art experiments from hot glue and many toys are being recycled, donated or (sadly) trashed. I could write about the environmental issues that come up for me and I probably will in the future, but what I sat down to write today was about the right question to ask when downsizing, purging and cleaning out.

Marie Kondo has gotten the world to ask, “Does it bring you joy?” when deciding to keep or toss something, and that question has helped thousands of people and I see the power of this question. Yet, there are individuals who love many things, or someone like me, who enjoys everything in my space but isn’t sure if my things will bring me joy while sitting in storage for months. For that reason I’m asking myself a different question. I’m asking, “Will I be excited to unpack this?” This question is another version of the joy question, but it’s about the future, about my feelings for these items as each comes back into my life and my fixed up home. Since I’ve got to store almost everything for half a year, it feels so different than when I’ve packed and moved into a new place. I feel I’ll be developing a different relationship with objects, since I won’t have much at my fingertips. And those thoughts are what prompted me to create this new question for myself and my family.

And because I’ve been asking “Will I be excited to unpack this?”, I’ve cleaned out and given away more of my artwork in the last week than I could have imagined. It feels good. When I was creating the artwork, I created the art for others, or as practice for learning, or as experiments that led to other creations. I didn’t create art to sit in boxes and sadly, that’s what some of it has done for the last few years. I want the art to have a new life because I know I won’t be excited to unpack it because I would just have to store it again. I feel blessed that friends took most of the art and it will now adorn their homes and offices. I also donated some of it and I recycled a few things too. Looking through stacks of drawings I could feel the energy I’d put into them and at the same time the energy felt faded, time to let it go. I only kept one drawing I will enjoy hanging in my new space and snapped a couple photos of the self portrait that sort of looks like me from 20 years ago. I happily let them go, enjoying the time I took looking through them and remembering all that I’d learned as an art student.

You’re probably not going to store your items for 6 months but you might want less clutter or just more space in your home.  Coming up with the right question to ask yourself maybe the biggest organizing trick Marie Kondo has taught the world. For example, one client I was working with last week, is filled with joy about most things in her space (I can actually see her light up- it’s real joy.) Yet, she in lives in a small space in San Francisco and wants less clutter. So how does she learn to discern levels of joy? How does she decide what to keep? I offered her the question, “Does this make my heart explode?” This question might be the trick for her to decide between the many things that make her happy. I can ask other clients of mine, “Do you want this?” and they know right away, yes or no. Other times there’s different questions for different types of items that help clients make these tough choices. 

I believe that everyone’s got a question. A question that’s going to help them decide what treasures are worth the space. Each person has a specific perspective through which to look at their possessions.

So I’m curious, what’s your question? 

What’s going to help you clear out when it’s time to move, or time to make space in your home and office? I’m sure you’ve got one (or maybe more). Please share it with me if you discover it.​