Former procrastinators, the drivers in one country where we lived followed this policy: “If space exists, fill it.” Lane lines were ignored so eight cars traveled abreast instead of five. Moving cars filled the shoulders of the road. No wonder there was stress and gridlock! No respect of boundaries and no margin.
We can do the same thing with physical stuff in our homes – no respect of boundaries and no margin. That stressful situation encourages procrastination.
Our house was built before storage was a consideration in home design. So I need to maximize the space we have (ex: storing items under skirted beds and tables). But if we can’t walk around the bed without stubbing a toe on a box, or we find ourselves stacking books on top of those in the shelves, we’re running five cars across three lanes.
I’d like to function well with what we own, enjoy it, and be available to the Lord and people. All of those are hindered by too much stuff. Just as our schedules and minds need margin, so do our homes. Space gives relief and peace.
How can we avoid acquisition overload? Even without being rigid, these ideas can ease the gridlock:
- Slow down the acquisition! Become “acquisition averse.” Allow fewer items to enter the house in the first place whether it’s unneeded receipts, junk mail, or fabric bolts.
- Enter stores or websites only when we actually need something. A friend seemed incredulous that I didn’t go to a nearby store each time I bought groceries. “You don’t even GO IN there?” Nope. Online there’s always a deal – that can be on your doorstep this afternoon. Nope.
- Purchase only items that will serve us well and can occupy an appropriate space.
- No matter how cheap, it’s not a deal if we don’t wear that color or eat that flavor. Resist!
- Declare a moratorium on buying for a month, or on certain items.
- Here are four biggies at our house and alternative ideas to acquiring more:
- Books – Read what we have before buying more. Give away non keepers. Use the library! Use an electronic reader. Subscribe to magazines online.
- Clothes – Elizabeth Elliot was the first person I heard say, “If I bring something new into my closet, I take something out and pass it to someone else.” Consider that sales, consignment stores, and thrift shops do not justify buying more but enable spending less. Rent special occasion one-time outfits. A satisfied friend suggests Rent the Runway; there are others.
- Household/yard items – Consider what to remove when the new item comes in. Check the library; many loan out lovely paintings and posters. Rental stores can supply tablecloths, china, coffee urns, chain saws, wheel chairs, etc – no storage.
- Office supplies – Check our stash before buying duplicates. Split packages with a friend to avoid being stuck with unwanted extras.
How can you restore boundaries and margin in your home with your stuff?