The Hiding Places

Your office, parent’s or friend’s home, your car(s), storage unit, a second home- these are the hiding places. You have many mechanisms of possession distribution which makes it easier to not quite identify all the stuff you have to your name. We tend to consider what we own to only be the stuff we hold in our living spaces. This is only part of the story. Without acknowledging (or possibly remembering) the reach of our stuff tentacles, we can’t fully address the complex issues, underlining stories, and tendencies, in order to make more efficient and appropriate choices.

Our homes hold hiding places too. Occasionally we can bury something so deeply: into a crawl space, an attic, or a completely out of reach corner of a closet. The rationale is that we forgot. But if we wanted to remember, we would have made a different choice about where to put these items or address them head on instead. It’s typically the addressing part that we attempt to avoid. Minimalism and downsizing are about no longer avoiding, about being clear and deliberate.

As you attempt to downsize or pursue a more minimalist lifestyle, ignoring the hiding places will become a hindrance. We need all the facts to correctly solve a problem. Having too much and in the wrong places, and all the stuff in between, makes your life less simple. Time to investigate.

When I walk through my organizing process with clients, after defining the problem and re-visioning their space based on goals and priorities, we conduct a cursory inventory. This is not meant to catalog each item but to more accurately define the breadth of stuff. We tend to tell others only half the story. Never intentionally, but merely because things are often “out of sight, out of mind.” That’s why this step is necessary.

The resolution is two-fold: (1) make every effort possible to eliminate these hiding places and;  (2) for those extra spaces that are necessary, include them in your stuff story and as part of your cursory inventory when beginning to downsize. Something should only exist outside of your home if it has a purpose in that specific place. For example, in your car you may need a phone charger, quarters, and jumper cables. You don’t need camping gear, old flyers, or jackets. In your office you may need relevant subject matter books and some inspiration, like photos. But probably not a collection of shoes or an array of tchotchkes. Storage units occasionally are needed for something very specific, like an artist’s inventory, but not overflow or “I might need  this one day when I have a bigger place” stuff. Keep clear on your intentions.

Unearth the hiding places to be more honest with yourself and welcome greater freedom. When we don’t acknowledge something, it is still there and still has an affect, even though we convince ourselves it doesn’t. No more hiding.