I love reading and writing about getting rid of clutter and becoming more of a minimal type of guy. No matter how many of those articles I find, I always walk away feeling like I’ve not really committed to decluttering in a long time and it rejuvenates my energy to do so. Every single time when I’m coming to the end of an article I think to myself “This new perspective is really going to make a difference in my environment and in my work.” It never works out like that. I may feel better from having a cleaner environment, but that lasts a day a the most.
In more and more places I look at this pattern: In design, in writing, coding, and even in things like “unclutter your bookshelf.. your suitcase.. your desk”, all of those articles seem end before the most important part, what’s left. What I’ve found out though is that the real improvements don’t come from the decluttering. The real improvements come understanding what’s uncovered.
The whole process starts off by removing the extra, the unnecessary, and the other things that you added that weren’t needed. Eventually you get rid of all of that stuff, the stuff that was easy to get rid of, and then come across the items you need to think about. Those are the things you have to think about.
It’s at this point where the real change and the real improvement begins.
These remaining items are going to reveal what you were really thinking about when you started. They are going to reveal the thought process that formed your decisions. They’ll answer questions like what you were anticipating or planning for, and what your goals were.
The stuff that was easy to remove and that makes your space more beautiful, will just come back. The only reason it was there in the first place was because it’s the sort of stuff that’s easy.
The process of decluttering gets harder with the important things. Once you find those key items, it’s no longer enough just to get rid of them, or to find another way to arrange them all. You have to critically evaluate your relationship to each of them. You have to evaluate each one and its relationship to your goals, and to how they they impact to your work.