I grew up with a hoarder's mentality. De-cluttering did not come easily to me. It's only now, at the age of 25, that I can safely say I am relentless in my pursuit of ordered and minimalist spaces. At the same time I have matured, and become relatively calm and happy.
I came across a website yesterday called 'unfuckyourhabitat' and honestly, I felt relief while scrolling through it. I'm not alone! In fact I'm really really really not alone! On the Tumblr page people post pictures of their before and afters. Relief. Sheer relief. We are not alone.
People let their personal spaces get in such a bad state, it's no wonder they're associating their emotions with how their rooms look, the room become a manifestation of their inner anguish. Mens sana in corpore sano should really be in bedroome sano. How I keep my homes and personal spaces affects my mood, energy levels and happiness, and I never want to go back to the clutter.
Living in a minimalist space with clean surfaces, clear walls and carefully organised storage space that hides all my sins from general consumption (I do not want to see my folded clothes or toiletries, towels or shoes, no matter how tidily organised they are) has helped me so much in focussing and ordering my thoughts.
UFYH have a handy list of everyday tips to help messy minds. Go take a look! Here's some of my own tips:
Post: Sort through it immediately! Luckily I love getting the post, and will check the postbox numerous times a day if I can. Yay, post! I can't stand letters or envelopes lying around, so once they're opened they're either stuck up on the magnetic board (bills) or in the recycling (nonsense). I (sad sad) rarely get cards or letters these days, but generally when I do I leave them somewhere noticeable where I will remember to reply with 3 or 4 days, and then I store them in a scrapbook or diary. If it's a very nice card, it might get stuck on the wall, especially if it's one Leo's mom made.
People should send more recreational post, it's a wonderful thing. If anyone wants a card, give me your address!
Storage: I love the kind of storage space that has lots of shelves, drawers, hanging space and cubby holes, and that allows you to put EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, out of sight. I put things away in a fairly orderly fashion (not obsessive, just so I know where each item is), know they're out of sight and not a mess, and enjoy my clean space. We are lucky enough to have a basement crawl space and all our DIY stuff; drills, woodworking things, suitcases, paint etc, live there.
Minimalism minimalism minimalism: It's no trick of fate that we live in Scandinavia. Both the Scandinavian and Japanese styles of architecture and home decoration appeal to me enormously and being here, having access to all the delicious furniture and designy-things, is heaven. Minimalism, to me, is a hugely important style and concept. Flowing and uninterupted clean lines, bare floors, multi-functional spaces and tools, all encourage free thinking, an uncluttered mind, creativity.
I try to avoid making any space overly-intimate or personalised. Very few personal pictures, a bedroom that is just a bed and a chair, a bathroom with only shampoo and soap left on the sink on a regular basis. Having a small home is a blessing in disguise.
Cultivate good habits: In London, we lived with an elderly Pakistani lady named Jamal, who is both my cooking and cleanliness inspiration. She is such a wonderful woman, so full of folk wisdom and good advice for healthy eating and tidy hom-ing. She simply will not tolerate mess or clutter. Because of her I wash the dishes as I go when cooking, clean everything in the kitchen away before bed, do my washing very regularly, and make the bed and straighten the bedroom every morning. I also understand the importance of using fridge leftovers before they go off.
Be relentless in striving for a clean space: I love to wash out jars after I finish them and put them in the cupboard, same with boxes, plastic bags for shopping, yada yada the beat goes on. But a lot of the time cupboards get filled, things go unused, and the clutter takes over. Realistically, be it cosmetics, clothes or cooking utensils, we only ever use a small subsection of the crap we fill our homes with. And that's the truth.
I do not buy new cosmetics on a whim, instead find a good brand I love and buy giant versions of that (Urtekram organic shampoo, 1 litre for 90kr, thank you Danish supermarket gods). When I travel, 100ml travel bottles from IKEA filled with my favourites. Discourage people from giving scented hand lotions or shower gel gifts. Nobody needs 5 lavender scented foot scrubs they'll never use.
Recycle your junk. Take entire bags of unused clothes, bedding, towels to the charity shop or clothes recycling facility. Sell the unused tools, the excess furniture. Get all your clutter together and sell it at a flea market too. Go through the boxes and boxes of papers you keep, scan and upload important things, keep the true essentials (birth certificate and the like), and chuck those payslips from 2008.
It's your space, they're your things, but remember they are just things. You are not defined by your stuff, unless you want to be, and I think that's a bit sad. Get rid of your junk, enjoy your home, spend time outdoors, enjoy coming home.
And for goodness sake, take the bin out as soon as it gets full!