Fighting Clutter: A personal victory

Decluttering seems to be the big hype right now. I read about it on facebook. Google the word “Decluttering” and you will find well over 6.6 million entries. And if you look up “declutter” in Google trends, you see a steadily upward trend (with a spike around New Years’ every year). So this is not just a oneday-fly thing. And if the online stats wouldn’t convince me that this is actually a “thing”, looking around would. I have so many friends who have made a U-turn from “buying more stuff” to “getting rid of things”, it is quite astonishingly. Today, I gained ground in the ongoing battle against clutter!


Google reports that more and more searches are done on “declutter” (Graph: Trends.google.com)

What’s the point of decluttering?

There are many reasons why you’d declutter. One is that you can sell stuff you don’t need. But apart from that economical perspective, all the other reasons come down to one thing: inner peace. Having less stuff means spending less time trying to find something (saving time). Some people say they declutter because they are afraid to invite people to their home because it is a mess (social anxiety, and decluttering boosts relationships). Others think less stuff means less dust collecting on items. So you have cleaner air AND spend less time cleaning around the house (less work).

Improve your sexlife

There is even a hypothesis that decluttering leads to a better sexlife. Why? Well, according to GoodHousekeeping: “when your relationships are strained due to arguments over lost items, missed appointments, forgotten errands, cluttered spaces, disorganization is affecting your life more than it should. These conflicts may even affect your sex life.” So basically, having less stuff means less fighting and more loving. Sounds plausible…


Image: “Geralt” (Pixabay)

Clutter sucks energy

Basically, all the reasons above come down to “Energy management”. Whether it is stress and disagreements caused by clutter (costing energy) or not boosting energy by having “fun times together”, clutter is a drain on energy. Or to put it less spiritually and more in normal-people-speak: clutter makes unhappy.

With that idea in mind, I’ve been trying to declutter for a while now. I’ve sold some items which I once bought and stopped using. I’ve given away some stuff to friends or Charity stores and, not unimportant, I’ve been less tempted to buy new crap.

Getting harder

However, the longer you are walking the path of decluttering, the harder it gets. I mean, the first time you decide to throw something out, it is easy. You have a lot of stuff, so it is easy to find something. But the more you throw away, the less remains. So it gets harder and harder to find stuff you can say goodbye to. You are left with items you think may become useful in the future. Or stuff which you have some form of emotional attachement too.


Clutter (Photo: Hans, Pixabay)

My victory

Today, I managed to gain a huge personal victory. I managed to throw away something which I’ve been dragging along for ages, but which has absolutely no objective value. I am talking about my working documents from my final thesis.

You see, a long time ago, I had stopped working to return to university to obtain a masters’ degree. I was studying the field of corporate finance and was working on a study where I tried to figure out the relation between share prices and global events (on a sidenote: I was trying to prove an obvious connection, but found that the available data did not support the common-sense thing financial markets operate on). For my research, I was reading a lot of peer-reviewed study reports, articles, workingpapers and proposals. I was working on my research plan, data analysis and so much more. And I kept track of everything I did.

The final result was me going home with a nice degree.
And a load of printouts, carefully stored in two ordners.

This is now well over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve moved to another house twice (or three times even? I can’t  remember). And all this paperwork went along with me.

So how many times did I actually look at it since I graduated? Twice. Both times because I was putting it in a box while moving to my new home (so it could be three times). So pointless. I have been wasting energy and space since graduating to keep something I wasn’t using, and probably will never use.

Good thing it’s only been…oh… about 15 years.


And still… it is so difficult to say away to these documents. They clearly are clutter. But it is clutter that cost me a lot of effort to obtain, and understand. For some reason, it feels like saying goodbye to this means saying goodbye to the knowledge I gained through these documents. Utter bullshit, of course, but on an emotional level there seems to be a connection. I’m emotionally invested to these documents, as if part of my identity comes from having read these documents (which is probably true in a way). So dumping these papers would be dumping part of my personality (which is probably not true).

In earlier rounds of removing clutter, I thought about finding these papers and getting rid of them. But I didn’t. I went for something else. Something which was easier to “let go”.

But today…


I removed the documents, and dumped them in a cardboard box, ready to be dumped in the paperban.

So how do I feel?

Considering the difficulty of this step, it might be interesting to ask how I feel. What does this huge step for me impact me? How does it affect me emotionally?

Well, in all honesty…. I am not noticing a difference.
And that proves the utter uselessness of hanging on to these 5 lbs of dead trees. Do I feel like I’ve lost part of my identity? Of course not? Have a lost knowledge? Well, no… probably because I forgot most of the details anyway (resisting urge to dig up the articles and read them).

The only thing different is that I have two items less in my office space, giving me more room. More space. More rest.

I won 🙂



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