By Erica Sofrina, Author of Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World
“If ever you hear yourself say this seemingly innocent little sentence, alarm bells need to go off. The ‘I’ll put it here’ part is fine. It’s the ‘just’ and ‘for now’ bits that give the game away. It usually means you’re about to create clutter!” writes clutter-clearing guru Karen Kingston, author of the best selling book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.
Karen goes on to say, “‘Just’ is excusing yourself, and attempting to minimalize what you are doing.”
“‘For now’ is usually a bare-faced lie. What most people really mean is, ‘I’ll just put this here for the next ten years or so.’”
“Of course there are some situations where ‘for now’ may actually mean what it says.”
“One is when you bring an item into your home that needs to be fitted, installed or have something more complicated done to it than simply being given a place where it belongs. Providing this fabulous improvement really does happen within a reasonable timescale, ‘for now’ is not an excuse but a necessary part of the process.”
“Another is when you’re about to take something out of your home, so you put it somewhere where you’ll see it and remember to take it. And see it you do. Today. Tomorrow. And all the following days after, glimpsed out of the corner of your eye. If it’s still sitting there a week later, it will have silently mutated into clutter.”
“Then, of course, there are the times when you’re in full-scale clutter clearing mode, and you diligently go around your home at the end of your session, using the Transit Box method I describe in my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book, relocating things to where they belong. But if they belong in an area you haven’t yet clutter cleared, what can you do? There may not be space for them yet, so you can only put them somewhere close by ‘for now.’ In this situation, it’s the best you can do. Just make sure ‘for now’ doesn’t turn out to be ‘forever.’”
“There are many short ‘for nows in daily life that are perfectly fine, such as the toothpaste cap you leave on one side while brushing your teeth, or the cooking pots you leave to wash until after you’ve eaten your meal. The ones to watch for are the long-term ‘for nows’: The mirrors or pictures leaning against the wall, waiting for years to be hung. The things you throw in your cupboards, drawers, junk room, attic or the garage, to get them out of the way. You may fully intend to do something about them one day, but it may also be statistically more likely that pigs will fly.”
“The four categories of clutter are:
- Things you do not use or love
- Things that are untidy or disorganized
- Too many things in too small a space
- Anything unfinished
“The problem with infinitely extended ‘for nows’ is that they usually fall into one of these categories:
- Things you do not use or love (they are just sitting there, doing nothing)
- Things that are untidy or disorganized (they aren’t where they are supposed to be)
- Anything unfinished (they are waiting for you to put them in the right place)
“So clutter of this type stagnates the energy of your home and clutters your psyche as well, because it is a job nagging away at the back of your mind to be done.”
“The remedy is so easy and simple. When you find yourself about to put something somewhere ‘just for now,’ take the extra few seconds to put it where it really belongs. Your home will be less cluttered and you’ll feel better too, because you won’t be adding to your burden of things to do.
Mark Twain’s “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow” may make you smile, but he was making fun of procrastinators rather than encouraging them. He also famously said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
It’s the things you put off doing “just for now” that become your frogs of tomorrow.” by Karen Kingston
Another thing I would add to Karen’s words of wisdom is that clutter tends to have babies. Do you notice when you put something down on the floor, it becomes the official site of everything that has no place to go? Nip it in the bud, categorize the things that are there, and give them an official “home.”
You might get a large bin and put all wrapping paper, ribbon, and cards in it. Label it in large letters, list everything that is inside on the outside label, and find an official place for it. I get the long low plastic ones with a lid, and slip them under the bed. Another bin might say: all misc. objects that don’t have a home. In this case, if you have decided it is a must-keep, put everything in this category in one bin. You will always know where to go for all of the odd bits of things that you still need to keep. Make sure to go through this on a regular basis and purge. You will most likely find it was not necessary to keep after all.
I took several Space Clearing seminars with Karen and her insights about the deeper meanings of clutter were transformational. I have gone from being a clutter-aholic to living a much more zen existence.
The ah-ha came from understanding what was behind my need to accumulate. For me it was the poverty consciousness I inherited from my Depression-era parents. I got messages around scarcity and a belief that we should keep everything just in case. Sort of like the squirrels storing up nuts for the winter. In nature, however, you will observe that they only do this during the winter. The rest of the year they trust that they will find the food they need, when they need it. Once I understood where it came from, I could consciously choose a different system of beliefs embracing flow, abundance, synchronicity and being in the moment rather than worrying about the future.
My own journey has been gradual and incremental, but as I look back over the past 12 years when I had the big clutter ah-ha, I see that I am a completely different person. I feel much better about myself, my life, and the lighter imprint I am making on the planet. I have downsized my life, moving from a large four-bedroom house to a cute little cottage by the sea. In doing so, everything else feels much more manageable in my life as well.
Follow Karen’s newsletters at www.spaceclearing.com. Printed by permission from Karen Kingston