Clearing out the Clutter

A few days before Christmas I visited the Design Museum to see the Paul Smith exhibition.  Thank goodness for my Art fund pass which afforded me entry for half price, so that I felt underwhelmed, rather than actively cheated, by the show.

Paul Smith is evidently a collector, and keeper, of all manner of stuff; stuff that accumulates in his office and studio, and which may or may not influence his clothes designs.  He has lent some of this stuff to the Design Museum for the show.  In one area the stuff is arranged in a replica of one of his early studio/offices, in another area, his first collection of clothes is laid out in a cardboard replica of the Paris hotel room in which he showed it.

I suppose my lack of interest in claustrophobic accumulations of random stuff is a barrier to full enjoyment of the exhibition.   I left the building with renewed resolve to come home and clear out all the unnecessary stuff in my own home.

In the week before I went away for the holiday season I shredded five large bin bags of papers – early drafts of novels, my own and other people’s, ten year old bank statements, tax returns and insurance certificates, those things that are important to keep, but not necessarily forever.  I eliminated piles of papers that I had moved off the dining table when I had visitors; I knew what was in them, I just needed to empty a few folders before I could file them in a more appropriate place than under the bed.

I allowed myself to do it one little bit at a time.  I promised myself I only had to do an hour a day, and that when the hour elapsed and I wanted to stop, I could.  I didn’t have to make everything tidy, I could walk away no matter what the room looked like.  It worked.  It removed that barrier, the thought that there was so much to do I would never be able to finish it.  That no longer mattered, because I didn’t have to finish it if I didn’t want to.

I was pleased with the result. I did feel lighter and more organised.  Even if, to the untrained eye, the flat looks unchanged, and as full of things as it always has, I know that there is less stuff bearing down on me, and there is space to put things in the filing cabinet and in the desk drawer.

The project is a continuing one; in fact it may never end, but I am reconciled to that, as it only takes a few minutes a day.

Leave a comment


  1. I’m an obsessive de-clutterer, but it’s not a chore because I enjoy it. Stuff somehow manages to weigh on your mind even when it’s out of sight and you feel so much lighter when you clear it out. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks. I do find it a chore, but you’re right, everything feels much lighter when things get cleared away and out of the flat. I’m still going, but very slowly!


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