One of the things I am pursuing this year is quiet. And one of the more tangible ways I am pursuing it is by attempting to get rid of much (if not all) of the clutter that seems to scream at me from the moment I wake up. The very first thing I do in the morning is walk downstairs and look into our laundry room. I usually get the laundry started and grab a cup of coffee and head back upstairs to my office.
And my office: what shall I say about my office? It is the opposite of neat and tidy. It is the dumping ground for all those projects to get to, bills I will never look at again, random girls clothing and straight up junk. And what do I do in my office?
I have my quiet time!
Isn’t that so ironic? I sit at the feet of Jesus surrounded by a couple hundred random bits and bobs of junk. I attempt to read His word, meditate on it and pray for the day ahead surrounded by the very stuff that gives me the least peace I can think of. Wow. I am getting really convicted about cleaning up my office, just from writing this! Stay tuned to this journey, as I gather up the courage to show you pictures of the worst clutter spaces in our house (we have 3)!
I am kind of fed up with all the stuff. And I am fed up with how it makes me feel, much less what it says about me. But to be honest, the place I need to start is not my office. I feel I needed to start my fight against clutter in the spaces my family uses together the most. And we got back from a two week trip for the holidays, so it was pretty easy for me to identify the place that needed a clutter clearing the most.
Here’s our laundry room at the beginning of this past week:
I kind of felt overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of stuff I could see; much less the things I couldn’t see because they have the privilege of having special homes inside all those drawers and cabinets. But, as though God was smiling down on my struggles and was providing tools I needed for the fight, I came across a posting on Facebook for Clutter Free (a book about the topic I was needing help with!). And let’s be real, there are a TON of books on the topic of clutter, so it wasn’t the fact that it was about clutter that caught my eye.
It was the sheer quantity of items I was challenged to get rid of that got my attention: 2000!! Two thousand!! That just seems almost impossible – “how in the world could I get rid of 2000 things? Could I get rid of 2000 things? Well let me think…there’s that, and that, and that….” So, I decided to jump in with both feet and encourage others to join me.
I got started in that crazy laundry room. I spent 15 minutes (I set a timer) and took a picture of the progress. It was pretty slow, but it was noticeable to me! I could finally get the washing machine door open and start a load of laundry.
I challenged myself to have the space in front of the dryer clear enough to open the door when the washing machine stopped.
By the end of the day, all the surfaces in the room were clear! But I had only gotten rid of about 20 items. Nonetheless, the progress was palpable and I knew I would be very happy the next morning when I woke up and came downstairs to start laundry.
The next day was so MUCH harder! The next day I started working my way through all the drawers and cabinets. This was the first time I had to make hard decisions. These decisions were informed by an email I got from Kathi Lipp (the author of Clutter Free) talking about not keeping items because they are aspirational – someday items. You know, those things you keep in hopes of one day using them or in case you finally get around to doing that hobby you have never tried.
This space in particular was difficult in light of that email because I am at a completely different stage of life than I was when I got many of the things residing in these drawers and cabinets. And I was concerned I would never get back to that stage in life (making them useless) OR I would get back to that stage of life (and would regret getting rid of them). Before we had our two young girls, I was into baking and cooking. I loved to entertain and set a beautiful and unique table. I accumulated a bunch of things for those pursuits. Then we had girls and at this stage of their lives, I don’t have time to devote to those things. But I may…SOMEDAY. I didn’t want to make my decisions based on my aspirations (either what I used to be or where I might be someday).
As I got started working, I noticed that it wasn’t that difficult to find lots of things to get rid of. Even if I had the future in the back of my mind as I was making decisions on what I needed; I balanced it out by asking myself if I even used these items when I was doing lots of entertaining and cooking. I figured it was a balanced approach that demanded honesty on my part and a willingness to let it go.
Here are some of the conversations I had with myself:
“I don’t need seven vases because we don’t ever buy flowers. You have allergies, remember?”
“Have I EVER used this?”
“Do I have to keep this just because someone in my extended family asked me to promise to use it.”
“Who do I know that could use this?”
“Why do I even have this?”
“How many hours do you think it would take to burn all of these candles?”
“How in the world did we get this many keys? And how would we ever know what they open?”
It was difficult! Yet, by the end of the day I had gotten rid of over 100 items! And what’s more, I was beginning to feel freer! I wanted to actually use my laundry room for what it is intended. It took just a small part of the next day to finish off the laundry room cabinets (and get rid of more clutter!). And I now have a clean slate to finish my laundry room makeover (stay tuned…this one might require a bit of patience). I don’t have the weight of all that STUFF!
OH, goodness that is a bunch of stuff! Look at what it looks like now:
All told, the project probably took 4 hours, worked in chunks while the girls drew on our new chalkboard in the laundry room (I can’t wait to show it to you when we finally get finished with the makeover!) and played close by.
Are you participating in a #ClutterFree challenge this year? How did your week in clutter busting go? Are you just getting started with the journey? Check out Clutter Free from the author of the 2000 things challenge:
NOTE: this post includes affiliate links – meaning you get a great recommendation on a product I love. If you think you might like it too, and you click to purchase; you get the product at no extra cost and I get a small remuneration.
Here’s one last look at the whole thing: