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The Unreliable Guide to… De-cluttering Your Life

By Nat Shepherd on October 2, 2018 in Other

The Boonara Avenue Markets, by Col Lector

The Unreliable Guide moved house last month and had to sort out ten years worth of accumulated stuff. It turns out I was hoarding a lot of crap. Are you? Apparently about 80 per cent of us find it painful to get rid of stuff, even if it’s not used, wanted or liked. We may not be among the five per cent of clinical hoarders you see on television – like Mrs Bobolas in Bondi, who has had her junk cleared away by Council 15 times at a cost of $350,000 – but it can be hard to get rid of clutter. The Unreliable Guide has some tips and tricks to help you…

Do you have a drawer, a room, a house or a storage facility in which you stash stuff you don’t know what to do with: old magazines, daggy t-shirts and those shoes you never wear because they always give you a blister? Judge everything you own by this simple criteria: Does it bring me joy? If not, let it go. A clutter- free life far outweighs the potential value of any stuff you might be hanging on to ‘just in case’.

Many psychologists suggest that hoarding is on the rise. We live in a society that suggests that acquisition leads to happiness. It doesn’t, it leads to more and more stuff. Ultimately, the stuff takes over and you can’t enjoy your space. If things get really out of hand you’ll have to rent a storage space. Self-storage is one of the most profitable business ventures out there; we pay these people to store our guilt. And then feel guilty about it.

Many of us store guilt-inducing items: expensive clothes we don’t like wearing, worthy books we can’t be bothered to read, fancy exercise equipment we don’t use, broken things we’ll never get round to mending. Worst of all are those unsuitable presents from friends and relatives. It’s hard to throw out something given as a gift, but do any of these items add value to our lives? Nope, they make us feel crap. Take them to the op-shop and ask everyone to give you perishables instead: food, booze or flowers. Better still, ask for a dinner out, or a trip to the theatre. If you avoid keeping the menu or the program their gift will only take up memory space.

Many hoarders hate waste. We believe our unwanted stuff has a monetary value and that it would be stupid (or even immoral) to give or throw it away. But space has value too. The average price per square metre in a Bondi apartment is $15,000. Your fancy cross-trainer may have cost $1000, but every time you look at its dusty, unused shape you are filled with self-loathing and it occupies 3 square metres, or $45,000 worth of space. Let it go.

Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests that if you find it hard to get rid of stuff, don’t invite it into your life in the first place. Instead of spending your free time at the mall, go to the beach, where the only thing you’ll collect is fresh air and some sand in your shoes.