How To Control Your Life

Part 68

When we move house, it’s a chance to start again. It’s an opportunity to clear everything out, decide what you need and what you don’t. It’s a break for you (you can get rid of all those ghastly mistake purchases with the excuse that “It won’t really go in the new house”). It’s a time for making a new start, without clutter.

That’s in an ideal world; things can be rather different in the real one.

The truth is that if you’re moving from an over-stuffed home which is bursting at the seams with clutter then it will drag along with you like tin cans at the back of a wedding car. Moving house takes a lot of time in itself - you’re not likely to have the surplus vastness it’s going to take to clear the jumble and muddle accumulated over previous years.

So don’t wait until you move house - or until next Spring and the Great Spring Clean, or when the children move out, or when the moon turns blue - to get organised in your home; do it now.

And the immediate responses which pop up in your mind are:

I haven’t got the time at the moment. I’m really bogged down with…

I’m definitely going to get it all sorted - I’ll do it after…

I need to be in the right frame of mind; I’m too frazzled right now…

When everything at work quietens down a bit…

I know I should, but…

When I’m at home I just need to relax, chill out, not do more work

It’s a hell of a lot of time to spend - I just don’t think I can justify it

We’re actually back to that famous marshmallow thing - the Stanford experiment on delayed gratification for greater future reward performed on young children ( - and the truth is that the rewards for forfeiting your leisure time now, ‘making time’, will go on and on just like they did for those children who were able to delay eating the marshmallow.

So what are the rewards you will reap in the future for giving up your time now so as to reorganise your home?

♦ You will save TIME

♦ You will save MONEY

♦ You will reduce STRESS

♦ You will be HEALTHIER and SAFER

♦ You will save SPACE

♦ You will SAVE FACE

Those are quite some benefits. They are actually key motivators, quite apart from anything else.

This is how these benefits come about:


If your home is organised:

♦ You will spend far less time doing mundane things like shopping and cleaning (you will only have to necessity-shop fewer times and for shorter periods; cleaning will be quicker and easier, more focused)

♦ The biggest waster of time in life is searching for things (this is a practical, not a philosophical, statement…); if you’re organised, you will save all that wasted time

♦ If things are where you expect them to be you can get any job done in half the time (getting dressed, changing a lightbulb, filling in official forms and/or writing letters, mending things around the home)


♦ You’ve probably bought lots of household and leisure items on the basis of their long guarantees - do you know where the documents are that remind you how long the guarantee is and how to claim on it?

♦ You’ve probably bought at least a couple of things twice over because you forgot you had it already and/or you don’t know where you’ve put it (that includes food items)

♦ If your paperwork in the home is organised you won’t ever incur a penalty for late payment

♦ If your paperwork is in order you won’t continue paying standing orders and direct debits once payments aren’t due any more

♦ You won’t incur incidental - and high - expenses for things like missed trains and buses, or buying expensive food on the go rather than taking food with you, or re-buying things you’ve left at home

♦ When money-saving tips come up (someone tells you they’re using a cheaper fuel provider, or telephone call router, or buying a particular grocery from somewhere interesting) you can easily find out how the price compares to what you’re paying. It’s also easier to see just where your money is leaching out

♦ You can sell things easily: you’re probably sitting on a lot of money in unused or unwanted items for which other people will bite your arm off, but do you know where they are, where the bits and pieces that go with them are, and where the box, the user manual, the guarantee and everything else that will make them sellable has been put?


♦ Most arguments in the home are about things being misplaced or lost, or things not being done - and about who was responsible; it doesn’t have to be like this

♦ One common thread running through ‘sanity-saving’ advice from conventional psychotherapy and rehabilitation to Feng Shui is decluttering; it has a direct impact on your sanity and your feeling of being in control of your life

♦ If you know you’re not going to be able to find whatever you need to get something done, instead of doing it you procrastinate - and the job becomes yet something else sitting blackly in the back of your mind, making you feel feeble, inadequate and out of control; it could be a source of achievement and satisfaction

♦ If everyone in the home takes some responsibility for keeping the home organised, clean and clear of clutter, they will feel calmer and individually more part of the home. This means that the main person responsible for the organising/work is less stressed. This means the household functions as a mutually-supportive team rather than individuals skiving off (“I’m going over to Kim’s - Mum’s looking for someone to empty the dishwasher”). Even young children can take part in the running of the household, and they can learn vital life skills along the way. Delegate to children in an age-appropriate way and you will be doing them a huge favour (a list of age-appropriate household tasks can be downloaded from Molly Maids:

Healthier and Safer

♦ Food: no out-of-date stuff; no accidental mixing up of food ingredients (and no very odd substitutions…)

♦ Fewer accidents: if things are properly stored in cupboards etc. and are easy to find without extensive rummaging, there will be no sudden cascades

♦ If medicines are in-date, relevant and - again - stored safely and at the right temperature, they will be more likely to do good rather than harm

♦ If all necessary information is at hand in an emergency, treatment can be swift and potentially life-saving

♦ It’s easier to maintain an organised home to good hygiene standards (no pathogens breeding riotously behind the cooker, at the back of food cupboards, fridges and freezers for example)

♦ Vital maintenance jobs done as they arise rather than being left until they cause the inevitable accident


♦ When things are organised neatly they take up far less room than when they’re just thrown into cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, sheds, lofts, etc.

♦ If everything has a place you can easily see what you’re not using and get rid of it (either immediately, or try the ‘abeyance system’ where you put it into storage in a loft or suchlike for a year and, if it hasn’t been used by then, get rid of it)

♦ You can see duplicates and get rid of them (sell them before they become obsolete, out of fashion, past their guarantee period etc.)


♦ You know that people judge you on the state of your home (as you judge others on theirs…). However much we might like to be more politically neutral here, it’s natural and fundamental (“People just have to take me as I am” is an excuse, not hippily laid-back, and you know this at heart)

♦ Welcoming friends and other visitors to a home that looks like a home and not a particularly badly-run station waiting room is a boost to your self-esteem in many subtle ways - and a compliment to expected guests

♦ If you’re being judged by officialdom (for custody, adoption, fitness for office, etc.), having a clean and presentable home could make the difference of a lifetime to your future

♦ If someone you dislike and/or who is always trying to get the upper hand on you for some reason calls round unexpectedly, do you really want to be at a huge disadvantage? Naturally not…

Home should be a place where you can relax and enjoy being with the people to whom you’re closest (or at least very good friends) - and you can’t do that in a cluttered environment where even the simplest task is a problem, a point of stress, and possibly disharmony, because of the disorganisation.

Isn’t it worth deferring watching the next episode of something, or playing that recording or video game (or whatever is your particular marshmallow) to reap such benefits?

Twitter: Maryon Jeane

Part 1 —
Part 2 —
Part 3 — 
Part 4 —
Part 5 —
Part 6 —
Part 7 — 
Part 8 —
Part 9 — 
Part 10 —
Part 11 —
Part 12 —
Part 13 —
Part 14-
Part 15 —
Part 16 —
Part 17 —
Part 18 —
Part 19 —
Part 20 —
Part 21 —
Part 22 —
Part 23 —
Part 24 —
Part 25 —
Part 26 —
Part 27 —
Part 28 —
Part 29 —
Part 30 — 
Part 31 —
Part 32 —
Part 33 —
Part 34 —
Part 35 —
Part 36 —
Part 37 —
Part 38 —
Part 39 —
Part 40 —
Part 41 —
Part 42 —
Part 43 —
Part 44 —
Part 45 —
Part 46 — 
Part 47 —
Part 48 —
Part 49 —
Part 50 —
Part 51 —
Part 52 —
Part 53 —
Part 54 —
Part 55 —
Part 56 —
Part 57 —
Part 58 —
Part 59 —
Part 60 —
Part 61 —
Part 62 —
Part 63 —
Part 64 — 
Part 65 —
Part 66 —
Part 67 —