Stop Managing a Messy Life

I work a fast-paced day job as a metaphorical fruit ninja. It’s a ton of fun, but when a metaphorical fruitstorm comes flying my way, my entire life goes on hold. Time to shampoo? NO WAY! Throw that bedhead in a sock bun and run, don’t walk, out the front door. Just got home after a 10-hour day? Better leave those black leggings on the floor where ya took ‘em off, ‘cause you know they’re going back on again tomorrow with a different top! By the end of a week like this, my apartment looks like it’s been trampled by a cat 3 hurricane and I’m left spending precious free time picking up the pieces of my life. It’s ex.haust.ing.

A big part of this chaotic cycle comes from my perfectionist tendencies—if I can’t get the whole damn place clean, I don’t want to bother cleaning at all. The other issue here is the sheer magnitude of crap that I hold onto. If I had less of it, there’d be less of a mess to clean up each week, right? It’s not like we’re talking rocket science here.

 
Giuls’ and my dorm room circa 2010, in case anyone was wondering how extreme of a pendulum our relationship with perfectionism is.

Giuls’ and my dorm room circa 2010, in case anyone was wondering how extreme of a pendulum our relationship with perfectionism is.

 

So recently, with my twenty-mlehmleh-th birthday rapidly approaching, I made a radical decision to hurdle over my perfectionism paralysis* and just. get rid. of everything. We’re talking Marie Kondo-level purging. Because hey! When you have depressive episodes on the reg and pent up perfectionism bursting at the seams, there’s no time like the present to start undertaking a massive project. Wanna know how I did it?

  • I set a goal to throw away, donate or remove 27 items from my life each day.

  • Every item counts, no matter if it’s a piece of mail or a bobby pin or a large dead plant on the patio.

  • If I skip a day, I must do double duty the next day.

  • If I get on a roll, the number of things I throw away over 27 in one day DO NOT contribute toward the next day’s count.

Y’all. You would be horribly surprised how easy it is to get rid of 27 things in a day. The best part about this experiment is that I am noticing a difference. My living space seems less cluttered because there’s literally less stuff to look at, and I feel much less overwhelmed as a result. I’m following through with more promises to go to the post office or donation center. I’m parting with clothes I’ve stared at with pity for years. I’m letting go of ‘maybe this will be usefuls’, old coupons, junk mail, and unread magazines. I am carefully and methodically choosing what gets to stay in my life.

It would be easy to wrap all this up with a nice bow of “and that’s how I got my life together!” but it wouldn’t be honest. I recognize that my junk mail will PROBABLY (scratch that—definitely) pile up again at least once in the next year. I might leave a Lush hair mask in a mug in the fridge for nine months (an improvement on twelve). And there are still going to be times when I can’t see my floor for the clothes. But if I can stay out of the red zones of perfectionism a little better, maybe I can live with a bit more peace of mind in 2019. Doesn’t that sound nice?

If all that fails, at least I will have removed over 1,000 things from my life (HOW DO I STILL HAVE SO MUCH STUFF??).

*note: I understand this is ableist language and I am so sorry; I just don’t know how else to describe this inability to take action.