So, I was decluttering for a new client, when a book title caught my attention: Is There Life After Housework? I thought it was an empty-nester, reinventing-your-life-post-kids type instruction book. It's not. It's so much more.
Don Aslett had a rude awakening when he gifted his wife with an out-of-town trip, and she went, leaving him with their six small children. He had it all planned out! He was going to finally show her how to do the housework and care for the kids PROPERLY. He was going to get their home shipshape, and show her how a true expert does it! He was going to make the home as efficient as his business!
You can imagine how well that went. He mentioned that he had "bedded down 600 head of cattle easier and faster than those six kids." It's just gets better from there.
Don had a cleaning business and worked to make it as efficient as possible, and in writing this book, he wanted to teach others what he had learned, taking into account "the hundreds of other jobs the homemaker must perform simultaneously with housecleaning. Laundry, shopping, cooking, mending, and errands ad infinitum will always be required. Though housework can be shortened, and there is life after housework, life during housework must also go on."
I opened up the book and started reading a section about junk, and I want to share what I found. (If you want to read more, here's the book: the edition I decluttered & the newest edition.)
Junk Makes Every Job Take Longer
Don Aslett says it well, so let's read his words this time instead of mine. An excerpt from the book:
"Clutter is one of the greatest enemies of efficiency and stealers of time--and that includes yours.
"For every chore tackled, the average person spends more time getting ready--hunting for a place, the tools, a reason to do it, etc.--than actually doing it. It takes only six seconds to drive a nail, often ten minutes to find the nails and hammer.
"Junk makes every job harder and makes cleaning take forever. Any project we tackle, from building to disassembling, will be slowed, dampened and diluted if we constantly have to fight our way to it in the midst of clutter.
"If junk is taking up your storage space, it means you have to reach farther and dig deeper to get the tool, book, suitcase, shirt, etc., you need. "Getting something out," instead of being a few-second job, often ends up a twenty-minute search-and-rescue mission.
"If you'll just de-junk your home, the time you'll have left over in the course of a year will be enough to complete and pay for three credit hours in that night class you've always wanted to take. (When I say "de-junk," I don't mean sort your four cubbyholes of worthless stuff into three cubbyholes of worthless stuff--or I'll tell on you!)
"Now don't say, "Oh, I know my junk has got to go, and one of these days, I'm going to...." There are more reasons than housecleaning to de-junk your house (and your life).
"This might surprise you, but it's a reality: many people are buried so deep in junk that their mates can't navigate the clutter to get to them. Your spouse can't give you attention and affection until he or she can find you. I've cleaned (or tried to clean) hundreds of homes where lonely, frustrated men and women, buried in junk, can't understand why they and their families aren't closer. Junk is the barrier! Junk (and junk projects and activities) prevents you from being free, available for affection or opportunity. Too often the things we save and store--for sentiment's sake or because they might be valuable some day--end up as tombstones for us. Boxes of mummified prom corsages and piles of corroded hubcaps will bury you[...].
"To start your de-junking program, begin with yourself! At an all-day seminar once I convinced the entire audience that junk is a universal problem, not the "other guy's." I gave every member of the audience two minutes to gather just the junk they were carrying with them (in pockets, purses, briefcases), offering a prize for the most unique collection of junk (they initialed it for proper identification).
"My son passed around a large drawer and in minutes it overflowed. What did I get, you wonder? (We all love other people's junk, don't we!) It was hilarious. It was all junk! Used flashbulbs, a ten-year-old calendar, old speeding tickets, partly eaten chocolate-covered peanuts, half a hacksaw blade, two-year-old food coupons, rocks and pebbles, expired membership cards, half a pair of pantyhose, old Christmas lists, broken compacts, and empty lipstick containers, plus some censored items--and I suspect they held back plenty on me! The winner had a whole bulging hankyful...and he was the best-dressed person there! Junk is a reality.
"If having piles, rooms or buildings full of junk (even labeled "antique") is worth all those hours to shuffle it and all that mental energy to keep track of it, then unfortunately you value junk more than your time and freedom. (So much for those fantasies of being a happy, carefree vagabond.) If having a closet full of gleaming silver is worth hours of polishing time a month, you enjoy impressing people more than you value your time and your freedom. The storage strategy message is simple: Nothing exists in and of itself. Everything has a cost to acquire and to maintain. The majority of the cost you pay with your time and energy. Eliminate the junk around your house. It's one of the easiest ways to free yourself from household imprisonment."
What do you think? Does anything ring true? Does this make you think differently about some of the things you've been holding onto? Think on it, and let me know.
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I'm Jen, a professional organizer ready to help you take charge of your space, free up your time, and lead a more organized life! (Read more about me here)