We all own too much stuff. Some of it's useful, most of it is not, and it's holding us back from reaching our Zen spot.
To reach your Zen spot you need to clear your mind, to clear your mind, you need to clear your space.The more material baggage you carry around, the more mental energy you waste thinking about it. Should mere things really occupy so much of the limited storage space in our brains, as they're already doing in our physical spaces? We ask ourselves in relation to these things: 'where is it?' 'Does this still work?', 'Is this mine, or did I borrow it?' 'Do I still need this?' Really! Is it worth the energy?
Of course, we all need a few things. Utilitarian items, like pots and pans and clothes, things for entertainment, like a bike and a smartphone, and even a few sentimental items to remind us of important events in our lives. Oh, and don't forget to feed the soul with some art.
I think, however, that most North Americans aren't very good at distinguishing between what are the necessary items in their lives and what are the items that are cluttering and distracting them from more important thoughts and deeds.
Here is a starters guide to regaining control of your living space, your mental space, and moving towards your Zen spot.
- The Move
The perfect time to begin uncluttering is when moving from one living space to the next. As you start to pack boxes you should separate your stuff into categorized piles. Of course you will have standard categories such as 'kitchen', bathroom', etc, but you should also have categories for the things that will not be making the trip to your new apartment or house. Try these: 'Donate', 'Recycle', 'Return to Owner', 'Sell', and, of course – 'GARBAGE'. (Actually, try to limit the amount that goes into garbage, the other options are far more environmentally responsible, and can be rewarding in a self-satisfying way.)So now you are lighter. Hopefully by a significant, not token amount.
- The Move (Unpacking)
You've now fed pizza and beer to the people that moved your boxes from A to B. Great, good job. But you're now surrounded by boxes and eager to get stuff put away so you can get on with more pleasant activities. Don't think of unpacking as a chore, think of it as a challenge, a challenge to get your important items put into spots that will make your daily activities between those four walls, both efficient and enjoyable.
Plan where things will go. Don't go at it all random-like. Think, 'when I need the clothes washing detergent, will it be more convenient if it's stored under the kitchen sink, with other cleaning supplies, or should it be in the hall closet by the door that I'll pass on my way to the laundry room?'. Bathrooms and clutter seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly on bread. Try only putting the stuff you use daily on the exposed bathroom shelving, and putting the occasional use stuff in a closet out-of-sight. Visual clutter is, well, clutter.
Make these kind of decisions in every room for all of your items. You'll be impressed by how neat your place looks, and equally as important, so will your 'visitors'
- Golden Rule #1
Put your sh*t back in its designated spot as soon as you're done with it. That takes a second of your time. Otherwise, if you leave stuff around for a week, your Saturday cleaning chores will eat up valuable weekend playtime.
- Junk Drawer
Go ahead, have one of those. Pretty much, we all do. But only have ONE, not one-and-a-half or two, just one. The reason to have a junk drawer is not to fill it up, the reason to have it is for those desperation moments when something new enters your apartment and you don't know what to do with it. You may not have planned a spot for Widget X and have no time to deal with it, so get it into the junk drawer and deal with it later.
Here's the catch. Junk drawers don't empty themselves, so when item-creep happens and you can no longer close said drawer, then it's time to deal with the junk. So do that, and begin the cycle anew.
- Golden Rule #2
Deal with sh*t immediately. Contrary to the junk drawer solution, the better solution is to deal with new items that come into your possession ASAP. Get it put into its proper place right away, or create a reasonable space. Procrastination wears very heavily on Zen'ness.
One of the biggest clutter culprits are clothes. First, get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit. By the time you can fit into it again (as you've promised yourself over the years), the style will be in your rearview mirror anyways.
Hang, fold, put away the clean stuff. Keep your dirty laundry where it belongs, in the closet, in a container. And for those items that are worn but not laundry worthy, have a special spot in your closet for those items. 3 categories, easy.
Finish your meal, sit back and digest and then turn on some music or the TV and just get the damn dishes washed or into the dishwasher. 5 day old KD sitting in a bowl becomes cement – and should never be considered an 'ornament'. What it is, is a bug picnic waiting to happen and will taunt you each time you glimpse at it. That is neither cool nor Zen.
- Golden Rule #3
Vacuum, sweep, dust, wipe-down frequently (note: bi-annually does not qualify as 'frequent').
- Words to Live By
Your living space is a much more pleasant space to occupy if you stay organized and micro-clean daily, as opposed to letting it turn into a random mash-up that documents your every move over the past month.
Take these steps, become an anti-collector, stay organized, and reach your Zen spot. Good luck!
Mainstreet Equity Corp. is a publicly traded (TSX: MEQ) residential real estate company in Canada. Mainstreet currently owns and operates properties in Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Calgary, AB; Cochrane, AB; Lethbridge, AB; Edmonton, AB; Fort Saskatchewan, AB; and Saskatoon, SK.
Mainstreet provides affordable, renovated apartment suites to Canadians, and is committed to creating real value without diluting shareholder interests.