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Living Life in Excess

Is your excess time or material possessions?

At its core, the word excess means an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable. Where we go off the rails in terms of organizing is that we lose focus and attention and structure toward just how much of something we have/own/possess/accumulate.

“Having too much of anything results in chaos, confusion and clutter.” Geralin Thomas, Decluttering Your Home: Tips, Techniques and Trade Secrets

The fear that exists inside of the things we keep an abundance of, is that 1) we will need this someday and 2) who am I without enough of these. If you find that you organize an area but not much during the organizing process produces an exit of excess, all you really did was move items around and relocate them. Excess produces:

1- Nothing for anyone in your household and accomplishes nothing on its own.

2- No benefit to the world at large unless you are truly eliminating the excess and finding it a new home or a new purpose.

3- The desire to always accumulate more.

4- Less value to those items or collections we say we value but do not pay real attention to.

5- Little in the way of encouraging and celebrating change and growth.

According to co-author, Randy O. Frost, a psychology professor at Smith College, people hold on to objects for 3 basic reasons:

A) Sentiment: The item is a reminder of a person, place or time or was a gift from someone special.

B) Utility: The tendency to hold on to something because it might come in handy one day

C) Aesthetics: Frost says, “people who can organize objects and information may become collectors or artists, but accumulating things we think are beautiful without that accompanying organizational ability or desire can merely create clutter.”

In all iterations of organizing and decluttering we all deal with the issue of detachment. Some things might be easier to detach from than other things but throughout our lifetimes we will acquire and detach hundreds of times before our lives are said and done. If you find that you need a little more time with something, that you are not quite ready to let go, that is ok. Hold on but not at the expense of other people or your own growth and happiness. When you get a sense that holding on is becoming a burden it is a good indication to explore the letting go.

Here are a few ways to get purposeful about organizing and decluttering that produce an excess of positive results and an excess of space:

1-Use your smart phone and take a picture of the items or the room that you want to pare down or declutter completely. You will be amazed at the difference in your before and after pictures.

2- Be sure you have supplies ready to go: large trash bag, storage bags, donation box, tape, marker, labels, post it notes.

3- Music or your favorite podcast or whatever helps keep you up and motivated.

4- Because this is YOUR journey, pick the space that speaks loudest to you. If the kitchen is your gremlin then off to the kitchen you go. Start with one side at a time, or one drawer, or one cabinet. Why are you here in this space? What were you hoping to downsize, eliminate, rehome, repurpose, or remove?

If it helps, set a timer to give yourself even amounts of time throughout the kitchen. Take small breaks to take care of the details whether it be labeling or moving an item to a better location. Drink plenty of water throughout your journey. Staying hydrated is key.

The other bit of information that will be helpful in eliminating excess is to try to stay current and present when decluttering and wanting to organize. Yes you are taking a trip to the past but your energy needs to stay grounded in the here and now.

Always keep these questions near you during ANY declutter/organizing journey. There will be no excess of wandering and wondering if you stay focused on the purpose.

1-Am I ready to let this go?

2-Do I use this regularly or only a couple of times per year?

3-Does this item serve my needs anymore?

4-How many of these do I have and how many do I really need?

The most important question I have found in helping with organizing and decluttering is this:

If I saw this at the store today would I buy it?

Thoughts: Maxwell Ryan, co-founder of Apartment Therapy, says,

“Your space is a home because of your deep connection to it and what is in it. Because you are so personally invested in your possessions, sudden change, even for good, is like surgery. You can cut quickly, but recovery can be very painful.”

By tackling the clutter regularly, progressively and with good to use tools like the donation box by your side,

“you can pace the process of decluttering, the internal change is the pace, and the detachment happens because you set the pace and pare down the excess.”

The change has a chance to stick when you go slow and steady and determinedly.

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