People, upon learning what I do for a living, often exclaim: “wow, your house must be really organized.” And you know what? It is. Yet I have a confession to make… I used to be a pack rat- yes, me, Karin Stewart, Daily Master – and my “thing” of choice was books.
I had rows and rows and rows of books in my home. I’ve always loved reading and learning, and loved having my own books, so I bought quite a few, and once they were in my house, I simply could not part with them: “I might read this again”, “I might need to refer to that later”, “what if my (then non-existent) nieces and nephews come over”, etc. Oh, they were all in bookshelves and organized, but I had enough of them that I probably could have opened a library just with what I owned. I loved my books, and could not imagine parting with any of them.
Then came my decision to move from my birth country of Switzerland to the US.
There was absolutely no way I could ship all my books across the Atlantic on my academic researcher salary, so I had to make hard choices. At first, it felt completely impossible to cull my collection. After much hand-wringing (I really tried to come up with every way I could think of to keep my books, believe me!) I eventually got started, and something fascinating happened: I realized that most of my treasured books were actually just clutter in my home.
This was such a freeing realization! Suddenly, it was ok for me to let go of them. Not only was it ok, it was easy. And I ended up coming to the US with 40 or so treasured books, leaving the rest to live their lives in my hometown’s library. To this day, I still have most of the books that crossed the Atlantic with me, and I go back to them regularly, with joy. Those were the real treasure, not the hundreds I left behind.
That’s what your stuff – even your papers – should be: something you go back to regularly, either because you love it, or because you actually use it. The rest is just clutter.
This is one of the first things my clients and I talk about: that it’s ok to let go, that letting go has a very specific process you can follow, and how easy it is, so that you too can have your own aha! moment and be free of all this stuff you’ve been accumulating and that’s choking your space and your life.