Keeping clutter at the door

Our week’s holiday – out of the house, the street and the city I live in – was great. Spending that holiday living out of a backpack was even better.

The only problem is, I came home to a house filled with STUFF. Oh, how I hate coming home to a house filled with STUFF.

Because I had a day off work today, I took the opportunity to get rid of some STUFF that had accumulated. Out went a dress and a top that I was given and didn’t like. Out went some old teaching resources I had been hoarding ‘just because’.

I also took the time to organise the STUFF that came into our house after our holiday. Namely, the five Christmas presents we bought for this coming Christmas went into the gift box, and those names were crossed off the ‘to buy for’ list. The Christmas decoration we bought went into the Christmas box, and the shoes, bracelet and necklace I bought were put away in the closet.

I was pleased to realise, while putting things away today, that I didn’t bring home anywhere near as much STUFF as I would have one, two or ten years ago. I don’t need brochures and receipts and lots of souvenirs to remind me of where I’ve been. Instead, I have lots of great memories, a good suntan and 400 digital photos that I’ve already copied off the memory card and into my digital library.

I realised today that half the battle of decluttering is over when we don’t allow the STUFF to cross over the threshold in the first place. How much happier would we be, and how much better would our society be, if we didn’t accept freebies at conferences and seminars and at the local mall?

Case in point: before Christmas I was invited to a party run by a friend. She had organised enough free gifts (through her business) so that almost every person at the party would get one. After being there for a couple of hours, I had run out of people to talk to, and had another party that was starting shortly, so contemplated leaving. Immediately, my brain said “if you leave now, you won’t get your free gift!” I stopped, and thought, and then immediately realised: as much as a free gift would be nice, chances are it probably won’t make me happier if I get it. And then, I have to store it, and look after it, and find an occasion to use it.

So, I left without my free gift. I don’t feel any worse off for not having one, and I’ve stopped something coming in my front door that I would have to deal with later on.

Challenge: next time you’re offered a free gift, think: do I really need this item?

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