March 22, 2015

March of Trash, day 22

“I’m sick of looking at my stuff,” Brett writes. “Sometimes I think it would simpler to just throw it all away and start over.”

If you’ve been following along in March of Trash from the start and taking a critical look at your stuff every day, it’s understandable if you’ve reached the point where you just want to get away from it — to “throw it all away,” as Brett suggested, or perhaps to run screaming out of the house to a place that isn’t so cluttered.

It’s understandable if you feel that way — but please don’t actually do that.

You see, this feeling of needing to escape is only an emotion — and it is not one of the emotions that can serve as a guide to action. Escapism is not a strategy except in those rare instances where you find yourself in the presence of disaster. Escapism doesn’t help you learn anything except how to escape again.

Escapism is, often, a part of the cause of clutter. People who go shopping to get away from the distress of their lives just keep the cycle going if they then throw nearly all of their purchases away to make room for more. It’s better to find some way to interrupt a cycle like this than to simply coast down the other side of it.

There are times, though, when you really do need to get away from the clutter, especially after you have been working at it for a while. One trick is to take a box of stuff outside, maybe just out to the front porch, and go through it there. You don’t have to be surrounded by clutter to take a look at it, and it’s harder to take on a fantasy view of your stuff when you take it away from the place where you usually expect to see it. With the weather warming up for many of us, it is easier and more pleasant to sift through stuff outdoors.

Sometimes I actually stand between the trash can, the compost bucket, and the recycling bucket as I sort out a box of miscellaneous things. It isn’t necessarily so pleasant to be hanging out with the trash can, but it helps me get through a box of clutter quickly.

Try taking things outside to sort them out, and see how you do. Even if it doesn’t speed up your clutter-busting effort, I think you’ll find it can be a pleasant change of pace.

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