Project Declutter

By | Blog, Productivity, Today I Threw Out, Uncategorized

Okay. Here’s the thing. I’m a hoarder and a pontificator who talks about things – starting projects, starting blog posts… and some things happen – leaving my job, starting a business, a mobile film festival, a music and film night, a website, a video podcast. All these things have happened through drive and commitment, but I realise the inbuilt me creates more work and more mind clutter for myself, which is inevitably exacerbated by the collected ephemera from my 44 years. It feels there maybe a natural connection between my mindset (constant spaghetti junction) and the physical and mental clutter that has been building ever since I had my own income to spend on music, magazines and odd bits of ‘cool’ junk which in turn has become outdated and irrelevant to my daily life – with our family of three, imminently moving from London To Hove in the hope that life is better on the other side. Our London has changed and we’re kind of done with it for a while. Our six-year old daughter is at a good age to adapt, so why not try ‘Life: Part 2’.
The realisation that my clutter addiction is exactly that has come to the fore over the past year, as I’ve been striving for ‘self improvement’. I’ve read books on Stuffocation and Getting Things Done, listened to entrepreneurs tell me through earphones to ‘Just Start’ and heard about countless ways people are working less and living more – the honest ones referencing Tim Ferris and The Four Hour Work Week.

But now, right now, I revisited a book I picked up at a Beauty sale back in my old life in magazines – when the beauty department would flog quality goods to the highest bidder (usually one of the cleaners keen to resell on the still-novel ebay. The book is called Goodbye Clutter – published in 2000 and aquired by me in the same year. 16 years ago I knew I had a problem, but the irony of that book simply adding to my already growing library of film books and magazines from across the publishing spectrum is not lost on me now.

I realise my hoarding is due to a state of mind which I feel like I am shackled to. A weight of ‘stuff’ which feels more powerful than my own will. It creates heaviness both mentally and physically (when moving flat or house or office, which I’ve done countless times in London). I don’t switch off so my mental projects get broader and more numerous while I can’t keep up with the rate they appear. It’s internal but it’s external too – in the shape of those books and magazines, CDs (and yes, cassettes), super 8 films, photographs, drawings, polaroids, retro 90s clothes, bits and bobs, cameras and even old iMac packaging from 2003.

While I write these words part of my brain thinks about how I tackle this problem (through ANOTHER project I tell myself), while the other part feels an ‘uncomfortability’ in my stomach pit. ‘But I’m attached to these objects… how could I let them go?’.
These projects are part of the problem. Years ago I carried around a Polaroid camera everywhere I went, simply to capture one image of that day. It was before digital photography and the ability to stop-motion or Hyperlapse your whole life into 1 minute.

I carried that Polaroid camera from pubs to clubs, festivals to photoshoots, weddings to funerals and in 2001 I recorded Polaroid of the Day for a while year. It was expensive but I was doing it for the sake of memory, preserving moments which when sandwiched together became narratives of a life no one will see.

My obsession with recording memory is ongoing, although I think the roots go deeper…

I remember when I was around my daughter’s age (5 or 6) saying to my dad something like ‘I see things when I go to sleep, like I’m falling through shapes and colours’. It was a strange feeling like I wanted to write down everything I knew or had learned, but I hadn’t learned it yet. I just knew one day I would write down every thought I ever had in a big book or something. In 1978 the internet was merely a glint in Tim Berners Lee’s milkman’s eye but the internet is that book – and this blog is about as close as I can get to actualising those thoughts.

Give myself more clutter to deal with, why not?

Well, maybe not this time. Maybe I use it to get rid of that clutter.

I thought about a way I could deal with things – by keeping the memory in a photograph. a couple of years back my hashtag was #todayithrewout and I got as far as around 6 posts. The idea was there and should work to psychologically rid myself of physical transferring it to virtual. But I gave up only to hoard more.

Then earlier this year, with my company Swhype, I filmed an interview with a diminutive Japanese decluttering expert named Marie Kondo. She was apparently big news around the world and all she did was throw stuff away. The practice of KonMari is to pick something up and ask yourself ‘does it ‘spark joy’. If it does keep it, if not, put it in one of the piles you’ve made of stuff that you’re ‘just not that into’ anymore. Hmmm. Sounds simple and it is… for junk mail, a catalogue from 2013, Mr T in your pocket (joy, of course), design books, books I’ve never read, banana skins etc. But then the thoughts creep in and I’m all ‘I’ll come back to this later’.
So now I’m thinking, how should I go about this to thoroughly change myself and perhaps the entire catalyst for the way I live my life. I need to de-stuff my stuff so I can move to Hove with a new set of principals which are about what’s next, not what’s gone.
I need to do the right thing though. Recycle where I can. Charity shop when possible. eBay, Gumtree, Chuck when necessary.
My goal? Ouch it gives me palpitations to think about time-based decluttering goals. How about… declutter your life in 30 days. A gauntlet, a challenge, a scary prospect for a hoarder.
Starting when? December 1st? Now?

I’ll have to edit this blog post first so…

Maybe declutter your life in 30 days whilst moving house and running a business. Less catchy but more difficult. We’ll see.
Back to the book then. Still in print? kindle? I’ll share any tips along the way.

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