Clutter Causes Anxiety
At least for me it did. For two years I had an underlying problem with my garage – a mess like no other. I have always been a bit of a hoarder but moving from large houses to what is in effect a small cabin has meant the garage-cum-workshop has been filled with almost all of our possessions. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, there’s no harm in storing useful items that we don’t have room for right? If only. I should preface the rest of this article with the fact that we had a LOT of stuff, and our ‘garage’ is 5,000sqft!
The real problem wasn’t the fact that I was storing the stuff it was a) the sheer volume of stuff and b) the disorganised state of it. Parts of my stockpile were being damaged by damp the longer I left them unattended, none of it had been sorted and most of it was junk anyway – but despite knowing this I seemed to be powerless to fix it. I would try every week or so to sort it out but would find myself stood staring at the piles instead of proactively sorting. Even though it was driving me mad knowing the problem was there, and going through the myriad of knock on effects it could have I just couldn’t bring myself to sort it.
Creating A Plan
It was clear something needed to happen, and with no money for expensive skip hire, and only a small hatchback car getting rid of stuff was going to prove very difficult indeed. I came up with a plan of attack which I will list below, it wont work for everyone or every situation but sitting down and working out what to do gave me a target, a reason to be out there sorting and an endgame.
Part A : Clear
Day one would be nothing but clearing out rubbish, it had already sort of sorted itself into piles when we moved in. In the end I walked around the large garage with bin bags in hand filling them one after the other. I kept the bags out-of-the-way and felt a great deal of satisfaction watching the pile of bags grow larger. Theres something very cathartic about making the decision to get rid of something that you don’t need. Once the obvious rubbish was out-of-the-way I had some room to breathe.
Part B : Store
With the walkways a little clearer I could start going through the boxes of stuff which had been damaged from storage. I wasn’t that interested in sorting through each individual box – just getting them in one place and safe from the elements. By moving all the boxes of long-term storage stuff into a marquee at one end of the barn I had a clear physical separation between ‘store’ and ‘current use’. It’s amazing how much easier it makes finding stuff now.
Part C : Organise
With long-term storage sorted and the resulting mess cleared all that was left was the things we use everyday. My workshop, complete with tools, a project car, workbenchs etc got a good sort out which took a week and is still in progress if I am honest. Its much more pleasant being out there now that all my tools have a home and when I need a spanner or a 7/18ths socket I know exactly where to look now – priceless.
Part D : Clean
With everything sorted and where it should be all that was left was to clean. I swept up, put a few shelves and hooks up for bits and bobs, wiped over dusty surfaces and got everything looking a little cleaner.
Why de-cluttering helped my anxiety.
So why am I writing about this? Well because the results were fantastic – not just a clean storage space but mentally a new leaf. I had many worries about the items I had in storage and all of them triggered some form of anxiety (often late at night)
- Were are possessions getting damaged in the damp?
- What would the landlord say if he saw the mess?
- What do other people think when they see it?
- Would I be able to find item x or y if I need it?
Once I had actually got the energy, motivation and determination together to sort it those problems disappeared – making the entire exercise worthwhile. Worrying about something everyday for years which can be attacked quickly and relatively easily is pointless, yet we do it anyway. Maybe its the washing up in the kitchen, the ever-growing pile of clothes in the wash basket or the lawn growing wildly out of control. Whatever it is that niggles away at you try to get a plan together for tackling it head on.
I never really coupled the anxiety with the root problem, and whilst its only a small part of what ails me – every little helps.