I am a Ladybug and morphing from clutter collector to official Decluttering Expert – although I don’t have my badge yet.
Hope for uncluttered clarity
But before I explain, a bit of background.
Some years ago when I was in the drawn-out process of burning out completely, yet still functioning on a surface level and doing everything I was ‘supposed’ to be doing, I happened upon a ‘Decluttering special’ of Psychologies magazine. Every article seemed to have been written for me.
In some strange way it felt like a relief even to just read about off-loading clutter. I guess that’s always been the attraction of magazines to me. Bite-sized feel-good pieces about how life ‘could’ be. But it also outlined in black and white the huge challenges that lay ahead if I wanted peace of mind through clearing my clutter. It all felt so out of reach.
Life becomes cluttered
We had moved house, in fact, we’d moved country. Our new home and garden had ‘a lot of potential’, and anyone who has heard that said of their property after months of building work has already taken place, will know how frustrating those words can sound.
We had a toddler and I was pregnant. Scraggy stray cats kept scratching at the door just to add to the amount of mouths to feed, wounds to clean, poo, pee and puke to clean up, not to mention all the hair that looks so beautiful on moggies but pretty rubbish when it’s scattered all around the house. I’d also returned to work full time – which meant a three-hour round trip, added to the eight hours spent working, of course, every day. Oh, and my partner was starting a business and I lent a hand whenever I could.
Since moving in, the clutter had been building up at about the same rate as my stress levels. As exhaustion and busyness were growing, the clutter was one of the many vicious circles whose circumference was expanding as energy was depleting and my batteries were flattening frighteningly fast.
To add to the mess, my partner is a hoarder (I’m a Horder, but he’s definitely the Hoarder).
The Life-Changing Magic of discovering the inspirational Marie Kondo
I discovered Marie Kondo in one of the articles in Psychologies, and a year or so later I read her Kindle book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever in half a day – something unheard of for me (how could I justify spending that amount of time simply… reading?). And again, just reading about decluttering brought me into a place of calm. And I began, very slowly, to make molehills out of mountains (thanks for that one, sis 😉 )
Kondo has been huge news for a while now, and I’m sure you know her drill. Simplistically put, you pick up everything you own, and ask yourself, ‘does this spark joy?’ If the answer is ‘no’, you chuck it. Well actually, you thank your possession first and then ceremoniously bid it farewell.
William Morris said it best:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
Clutterbug – The Bee’s Knees
But my best decluttering discovery so far has been… Clutterbug. I’ve become a, perhaps unlikely, huge fan of Cassandra Aarssen the founder of the Clutterbug channel, and author of three books about… decluttering.
She basically divides people into four ‘bug’ types. You can take the free test here. I’ve taken it twice, and both results say I’m a Ladybug (or Ladybird, if you’re my side of the Atlantic) although I actually feel much more like a frustrated Cricket. (Don’t ask… Just do the test 😉 )
Her theory goes that what bug you are dictates your organising style, whether you love visual simplicity, need to be able to see your stuff, are a macro- or micro-organiser at heart, and so much more.
She is really easy to listen to, seems unselfconscious and shares a lot about herself. Unlike many ‘clutter queens’, the fact that Cass (see, so relatable I even call her ‘Cass’!) admits she’s a ‘hot mess’ herself makes the whole decluttering thing seem possible to mere mortals like me. Her motivation is to set up systems to make our lives easier.
And my life has become easier since tuning in to Clutterbug. She also never fails to bring a smile to my face with her anecdotes about how she used to be ‘craptacular’ at cleaning, that it’s ‘crazypants’ how her systems work, and, my personal favourite, how her followers are ‘amazeballs’.
In the Crazypants Clutterbug Club
I was so motivated by her videos that I even joined her ‘How to Become an Organizing Expert’ online course. Not that I want to organise other people’s homes, as most people on the course do, but it also offers more videos, a Facebook group and deeper insights into the whole Clutterbug way. I haven’t yet completed the course (or, as I mentioned, got my badge), but the fact that I’ve even begun to clear up my mess – physically – has left room in my life to get on with the important things.
Not so Crazypants after all?
I am wholly convinced that if I hadn’t made a start to clear my surrounding space, there is no way I could have found the head space to start a blog.
Underneath Cass’s crazypants surface, she gets down to some deep psychological stuff, with insightful life lessons. Yup! She talks about mental health and the links between clutter and your state of mind, addressing the psychology of the reasons we accumulate clutter.
Why do you keep buying shoes? Understanding that could be a huge step (get it?) towards sorting out your home.
The real ‘aha’ moment for me, was that you declutter and clean for yourself. It felt like I was being given permission to clear, clean and declutter, just because I deserve to be in a pleasing environment.
Done today is better than perfect tomorrow!I heard this first from Cassandra Mallett – I’m not sure if it’s ‘hers’ originally, but from whomever it comes, it’s brilliant!
Even though my house is far from being clutter free, and I’m not pretending it’s anywhere near Pinterest worthy, it is a whole lot better than it used to be.
So, I’m off to do some decluttering. It’s good for my mental health. And if I carry on at this rate, I might even get my badge.
Could clutter be taking up your headspace in the place of more important things in life… 🙂