If you really knew me you would know that one of my contemplative practices and also a some-times job and an oftentimes service practice for me is organising, clearing, cleaning and simplifying of personal spaces. I read this article in Tricycle magazine and found that 2/3 of his basic principles are central to my approach:

1.  A Home for Everything

2. Like with Like

And the third I must give credit to my sister for:

3. Something In, Something Out

… which she applies to her wardrobe.

Alot of people I know don’t actually have too much stuff, they just think they do because their stuff doesn’t have a home and its all mixed up. (Hello Kate) And yes, I am aware that many many people have way too much stuff, but these principles apply regardless.

Inspired by Walt Disney’s Sunday night TV show (which I never watched as a child, I’m more interested in taxonomy than fantasy) I designate Lands, i.e. this goes in Stationery Land. People (Hello Carolyn) seem to like this idea applied to their spaces: everything has a home and that home can even have a name.

Mellen also acknowledges that the things we have have stories:

Once you have some practice at recognizing the stories that you’ve created for your objects, you’ll be able to examine the items surrounding you with some energy and a fresh vision. You’ll be free to evaluate each item and understand your relationship to it while asking yourself if this object currently satisfies any of the following:

• Is it beautiful?
• Is it practical?
• Does it offer you comfort?
• Does it offer you convenience?
• Do I already own something similar that either works better or I prefer?

If the answer to the first four questions is no, or the answer to the fifth is yes, then objectively there isn’t any reason to hold onto it.

At the end he offers a 5 step process for working through your stuff. My approach is very similar although I dont necessarily clear off an entire space first (like a desk) coz it freaks people out 🙂 Bu the end result is the same if you do it in parts thoroughly. If you are doing it yourself you can do it however feels most comfortable. The advantage to clearing the whole desk is that you basically cannot get away with not finishing. I dont have that problem when I’m doing it for someone else.

Here is Andrew Mellen’s article. I recommend you read it because he organises his thoughts and writes very well. I really like it and have been giving it to people to inspire them:

PS the pictures of the bookcases in here are quite interesting too. My friends, Chris & Sara have arranged theirs by colour and it looks fantastic! Way less contrived than these ones. I’m not sure if its because they used their real book collection or because they weren’t deliberately making a piece of art. But it is beautiful. I will try to get a photo of theirs but in the meantime, here’s one (multi-coloured) from the artist. In the article there is a black, a white and a red one (monochrome) as well. I have done this with a visible clothes rack in my bedroom at Bondi Beach. It was so pleasant to look at all my clothes in colour blocks on a single rack. But dust can be a problem.

Artwork by Helga Steppan

Here is the full article by Andrew Mellen: UnStuff Your Life | Tricycle.