De-cluttering – One Way to Focus a Messy Mind

With my newly developed mission to retire to Thailand in 5 years, I was sitting in my lounge contemplating how I will achieve this. While trying to think, I was constantly distracted by the things around me. There were half completed projects, cleaning, an excess of furniture and décor items and many other things that made it difficult to focus on my goal. 

I did manage to come to one focussed thought and that was that I have too many unnecessary distractions and I had to clean house, initially literally, to achieve a mentally clean house.

First step – Assess the mess

I simply looked around me. I started to list items as follows:

  • What items have a functional use
  • What items make me happy
  • What items haven’t I used in 6 months and have no immediate plan to.

I approached this process to my immediate surrounds as I sat in the lounge. The post photo is just a few of the items that immediately jumped out at me. As my living area is not that large, I had obviously accumulated far too much crap. The process defined what to keep and what needed to go.

Second step – Complete projects

I determined to finish projects before I started anything new. I have so many projects that are half done. Some furniture restoration, landscaping and home renovation. I get started on one and get half way, get distracted by something new and shiny change and start something else. I started to list projects that I had outstanding and prioritised for completion. I decided my first project would be the landscaping, which I ended up completely within only a few hours. One off the list, which gave me a sense of accomplishment and reduced one item from my mind clutter. I will note here that I haven’t had a kitchen sink for 3 months, so maybe that should be pretty high up the list to get sorted out!

Third step – Clean up the crap!

I had to clean up. This is perhaps that simplest step and the one that will have the most immediate impact. I have a terrible tendency to pile things onto counter tops, table tops…really any flattish surface. It obviously looks messy and annoys me and does nothing to keep my mind at ease. I started with the kitchen. A packed things away, threw out things that were inexplicably just sitting there and tidied up surfaces.

Fourth step – One step at a time

I decided that I shouldn’t try to do everything at once. I know this is what has caused me to fail before and probably will again. I get all hyped up and start cleaning, start gardening, start doing this and that. In the end, I only touch the surface of the problem and see no real progress and get overwhelmed. I just end up adding to my list of unfinished projects. Focussing on one thing at a time will get a task completed and show a positive result. A structured way to approach this is to create a task list and prioritise. Ticking off items on completion will give a tangible visual that things are getting done.

Fifth Step – The purpose for the surplus

This is an extension of the First Step. After I determined what bits and pieces that I no longer needed, I had to decide what their next purpose would be. Options were as follows:

  • Sell stuff that I considered had potential to make money. I have listed items on eBay and Gumtree and hopefully will make some money to contribute to the goal. Once everything has been sold, I will blog the final amount.
  • Give to charity. This applies mostly to my clothes. I have clothes that have travelled with me across 3 states over 8 years and still haven’t worn. Time to let go for someone that may need it and doesn’t have the means.
  • Recycle. There are recycle centres that are available that let me dump certain items for free.
  • Dump the rest. Smaller items I will dump in the bin and the medium sized items I will throw in the back of the ute and take to the tip. As tipping fees apply to the rubbish weight, I will save some of the bigger items for a council kerbside clean up next month. The pick up is limited to a trailer size equivalent but as people tend to ‘shop’ the kerbside, items are usually taken to allow me more room for something else.

Well, that’s the plan for now. I may tweek it as I progress to include more de-cluttering ideas but this is the start.


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