Getting rid of garden chemicals

Garden clutter can manifest as towers of plastic/terracotta pots, dead plants, unused tools, old bags of coal, left over wood, a broken fridge and dead plants. What stops us from creating space and calm in our gardens? We promise ourselves to take the old chemicals/broken bike/wire/fridge to the recycling centre tomorrow, but we don’t. Because it’s a hassle. What if we took one category of stuff to the recycling centre each week? One category could be chemicals we no longer use (pond cleaner, glue, weed killer, oil, insect killer). It might take an hour to drive to a recycling centre, drop off the chemicals and get back home again. Dealing with our stuff one category at a time is easier than dealing with a mishmash of stuff.

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Sentimental art

After my mum died in 2014, I discovered among her possessions a suitcase stuffed full of my artwork from when I was little. The artwork smelt of mould, the paper was damaged and discoloured. After days of ruminating over what to do with it all, I photographed each picture and put it on the cloud.

For me to be able to move on from the past (and because there was no way I was going to store a huge pile of mouldy pictures in my home), I held a burning ceremony and burnt each piece of artwork except one.

The picture I kept is called ‘Peacock’ which I painted when I was eight. It’s a childlike watercolour that I framed and put on my wall. It reminds me of a phoenix – rising above adversity – and makes me feel happy when I look at it.

I wish my mum had kept five carefully curated and stored pieces of non-mouldy artwork, rather than a huge mouldering pile. Her hoard became my responsibility, and I spent days working out how to emotionally and physically process it all.

When we don’t know what to do with sentimental things, we can ask ourselves: what’s the purpose of the sentimental things stored in our attic, drawer, under the stairs, garage? How will we ensure sentimental things bring value – not a burden – to our kids, grandkids or other family members?

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Red flags to watch out for

Some of us are so used to living in homes full of excess stuff we can’t see it anymore.

Some red flags that tell us we have too much stuff…

We spend too long tidying up before guests arrive

A horrible feeling of shame when someone visits us unexpectedly

In a desperate attempt to clear up, we shove everything in a cupboard

If we are lucky enough to have cleaners we spend hours picking up before they arrive

We postpone cleaning our home because the thought of shifting piles of stuff leaves us feeling mentally drained

To see the excess stuff objectively it helps to take photos of the rooms. Then, go to a coffee shop and while sipping a cappuccino, peruse those photos. They can provide insight into how our possessions became a burden and where we can lighten the load.

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How to stop junk mail

I stop my junk mail by registering with the Mailing Preference Service. It’s a free and confidential service. Once you’ve registered it takes 2-4 months to take effect. You will then see a reduction in the amount of junk mail you get. You can sign up online:

https://www.mpsonline.org.uk

I also refuse store cards, VIP cards and any other cards offered to me when I buy stuff. If the sales assistant asks me for my postcode, email address or any other details I say “I’d prefer not to give my details.” If you do give your details you will be sent mail or emails. Even if they promise not to send you advertising, they will!

Junk mail sucks up our valuable time and energy because we have to…

Collect piles of unwanted post from the doormat each morning

Waste mental energy each time we look at the pile of junk mail and promise ourselves to ‘read it later’ (which of course we never do)

Unwrap the cellophane covered catalogues, brochures or other advertising

Work out which bits of the junk mail can be recycled or binned. Is cellophane recyclable? Is metal coated paper recyclable? Is shiny paper recyclable? Can I recycle paper with staples in it?

Preventing junk mail is far easier than having to process it.

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How to make more time

A new year begins! My new year’s resolution is to make more time. More time to follow my passions, connect with people and create. Less time cleaning, putting stuff away and fitting stuff into storage. I must eliminate time sucks (an inefficient or unproductive activity or process) by getting rid of my excess stuff. I borrow from The Minimalists who explain that owning things can suck up valuable time because we have to…

Store the thing

Clean the thing

Think about the thing

Worry about the thing

Protect the thing

Replace the thing

Mend the thing

Refil the thing

Shop to find the refils

Find space for the thing

Move the thing

Pack the thing when moving home

All the above takes up a lot of TIME.

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