Declutter the House then the Mind

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My house is starting to feel clean again, I’ve been decluttering.

I had all these intentions of taking care of financial “stuff” while I was off, but, for the last few weeks I’ve mostly been hanging out with the family… AND cleaning!

So, like any normal person, after having worked on cleaning and decluttering for the week, I’m spending my exciting Friday evening writing a blog post after my family went to sleep.  Earlier I spent time reading up on roth IRAs (again) and trying to initiate a couple rollovers to Vanguard.

But let’s talk about one of my insanities.

I can’t think when there is clutter.

Ok, so, my definition of clutter and your definition of clutter probably vary.  I’m certainly no minimalist.  I’d like to be, but it’s unlikely to happen.

Even so, I still like things to be nice and tidy and in order.  I like to organize.  I like boxes to put things in.  I like boxes to put my boxes of things in.  It drives my husband bonkers.

In a throwback to my pharmacy school years, I was reminded how hard it is for me to concentrate when my house is a mess.  This only seems to become an issue for me during times of some sort of stress though.  That’s the weird part.

Whenever I had an exam to study for, or especially during finals, my house was spotless.  Everything was organized.

My mind could not settle to focus on the most important task until those things that I had been ignoring for a while were completed.  Writing about it, it sounds borderline obsessive compulsive.  Maybe I’m crazy.

This isn’t unique to my homelife either.  At work, the more stressed I get, the more busy I get, the more imperative it is that I am working in a tidy and organized setting.

Well, my house is clean now.

Ok, only kind of.  But, I need my husband to decide he’s onboard before I get any further.

For the last two weeks, when I haven’t been out and about taking advantage of my time off, I’ve been trying to tackle one cleaning task per day.

I like to think of my cleaning style like Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball.  I attack the most achievable task first.

I started with the living room and dusting.  I knew there was little to actually get rid of here, it just needed a good clean.  Because I have a bit of problem getting rid of things, this was the least stressful.  I did things like pulling out the stereo components and the tv and dusting well.  I flipped up the throw rugs and swept and vacuumed all of last years accumulations, etc.

Next I tackled the pantry, putting away odds and ends from vacation and things that got piled there.  Followed that up with a good “deep clean” of the kitchen surfaces (minus the stove and the microwave, I’ll leave that one to hubby).  I even pulled everything out of the refrigerator, shelves and drawers included and washed it all.

I moved one to my kids bedroom.  Tidied up, rearranged and moved a few baby books to the “sell” pile.  Next I tackled one of our bathrooms (the one a guest would use).  Last.. my office.

The office was hard because I mostly feel like I’m just rearranging piles of stuff.  It’s where I have the items that need to be sold or passed on to friends stored.  That piles up quick when you have a baby around.

It’s also where things that were in the guest bedroom got migrated to when it got converted to a child room.  My poor little office doesn’t have much space for me.

All this, plus multiple loads of laundry and multiple rounds of sweeping and vacuum… and I’m finally feeling my brain getting to a point where I can focus on mental tasks.

This doesn’t mean my toddler (or husband) is on board though.

So I’ll do what I can when I can.  But hopefully I’ve at least got the house into a maintenance mode.

I’m also hoping that without so much daily tidying to keep up on, I can focus a bit more on trying to get rid of some things.  This could be slow going as it seems I need my husbands input on most of the boxes in the garage.

I’ve already been yelled at for cleaning up the “messy desk” of crap that accumulates on the kitchen table where my husband does his computer work.  We only have the one office, and, as he’s been retired for nearly 6 years, his computer activities are home project research, YouTube and Facebook and so on.

Husband does most everything at the dining table.  It’s his desk and dumping area for toothpicks, screws and nails, ear plugs, wallet, parts catalogs and old receipts.  I can’t stand it.  Over many years I have tried many solutions for trying to keep him organized and he won’t have anything to do with it… I wonder how many shoe boxes he has filled from when I demand he clean up his clutter and he sweeps it in a shoebox and makes it disappear to his shop, never to be looked at again.  Not my shop, not my problem, right?  That’s what I try to tell myself.

Maybe it’s not all about the clutter?

In this case, maybe it’s a measure of my stress too?  I mean, obviously the clutter and need to clean does stress me out, but, maybe the need to declutter was also in part a symptom of my stress over the unsure work situation?  It’s hard to say.

Either way, I’m hoping to keep it up for the time being while I’m home.  The amount of tidiness that I require when I am spending the bulk of my days at home is significantly more when I have to stare at it all day than when I come home tired from work and just want to go to bed.

Do you have any similar experiences?  How do you declutter your mind?




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Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.

3 thoughts on “Declutter the House then the Mind”

  1. I totally get this! I’m recently purging a closet that has my “collectibles” and putting a lot of stuff on Ebay. It’s really been a chore and a slow going process. I think a lot of times, we have unrealistic expectations about how fast something should happen. So when someone swoops in and says…”let’s purge all of this, now”, it can create a lot of anxiousness. That was the feeling that I had when we were watching an episode of hoarders and the woman was trying to pull stuff back out of the garbage. Each thing is a decision. Coming to some kind of resolution in our minds is helpful. I’m not saying that this is your problem, just that I agree in that I have trouble focusing when there is clutter all around. I did a post on “how my life became curated” and that was all part of this process. First my DVDs, then the books, then financial paper work. It feels so amazing to have fewer things. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

    1. I like the idea of curating. I think this is kind of what I am personally aiming for. I’ll have to check out the post. I think my husband has the issue about not doing it on his time.. it’s when I get a bug to purge. Problem is.. he’s never ready. Or, be has a shop just goes to stash things in and I’m trying to get it all out of my house. He just moves his hoard elsewhere. I’m considering jokingly telling him to label his boxes “good stuff” and “toss when I die” (for the junk that means nothing but to him).

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