Shelley Bassett



A pile of junk heaped in the middle of a room

The Simple Art of Being a Mess

March 30, 2018

I'm not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination. But this week I've discovered just how much of a mess I can be...

This past week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Surgery to remove my wisdom teeth left me really ill and with a number of not-fun side effects (but that’s a story for another day). The result of this, is that I haven’t been able to properly care for myself (or Chester, poor cat). But what has this got to do with me being a mess? Well, between drug-fulled naps, binges on Grand Designs and other lifestyle shows, odd little conversations with my very minimalist boyfriend and needing my mum to do simple things like vacuum my floors, it became glaringly obvious that something needs to change. And that something is probably me.

What does this actually mean though? Fear not, I’m not losing my mind or having a change of personality. I’m not even planning to overhaul my life. I just want to make things simpler, so that when an illness strikes again, I have some chance of dealing with it by myself. I no longer want to be surrounded by my own mess, clutter or filth. And reducing the cat fur collecting on the floorboards would be nice too. I’m not saying that I’ll bombard you with home makeover blogs…. But maybe brace yourself for the odd before-and-after!

“Design your life” and “the life-changing magic of tidying up”

Two books that have inspired me to undertake this journey

There have been two books that have really influenced the decision here, as well as the how. The first is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. You might have heard of this book. She’s the lady that pioneered the idea that we should throw out any item we own that does not bring us joy. It’s a really interesting read, and I would recommend it to anyone who needs inspiration to start. The other is Design Your Life by Vince Frost. Rather than being about cleaning or organising, this book is about living. As a designer, this book made me realise that I have amazing skills that I don’t apply to my day-to-day.

What I’m NOT doing

Rushing in headfirst

The plan is for this to be a slow process. I need this change to stick. Marie Kondo suggests that once I begin I shouldn’t stop. But she also says that the entire process can take 6 months. While I think the KonMari method is unique and impactful, I don’t know how well it will apply to me personally. There are absolutely things in the book I agree with and intend to take on board. But I want it to work for me. So while I will likely organise my home in the order she suggests, I don’t know that throwing out most of my possessions is the right answer.

Causing a Depression Spiral

Yes. I know that cleaning things out, giving things away, and making life-altering decisions can be attributed to a depressive episode. But I’m not ending my life, or even a chapter of my life. All that is happening is a little bit of a re-design to make things easier and more pleasant for both me and my partner. And probably Chester. He likes to shed on clean surfaces. He’ll love a cleaner house.

Chester the ginger cat looking very contented in my messy house

Chester the ginger cat looking very contented in my messy house

Buying more stuff

This is the big one, isn’t it. Once I’ve created some space, the challenge will be not to refill it. And I honestly think this is achievable. My greatest expenses last year were things for my home like couches and appliances. Over the last few months I’ve been getting better at saving my pennies. And while I fully expect to find things on this journey that need replacing, I have no intentions to purchase stuff just for the sake of going shopping. With the exception of maybe plants. That’s still the best hobby I’ve ever started.

What I AM doing

Throwing out Rubbish

While I’m not comfortable with having a totally minimalist space, I will acknowledge that I lot of the crap I have lying around is just that, crap. Before I even start de-cluttering, I’m going to clear my home of anything that is broken, outdated, unused or just literal rubbish. Just this morning I threw out a pile of envelopes that my bills had arrived in. What possible purpose could these serve in my life?!

Setting Goals

Both books I mentioned earlier have parts dedicated to discovering who you want to be. And not just in terms of a career or hobby. Both authors took time to look at what they had achieved thus far, and where they wanted to go. I’ve been known to change my dreams every few months. But the last few years have had goals that align together. The goalposts might occasionally shift, but I’m still heading in the same direction. This indicates that it’s finally time for me to dig a little deeper and determine how those goals will align with my life, and conversely, how my life will align with these goals.

Donating, Gifting, Selling

The whole garbage bag part of de-cluttering seems really wasteful to me, so I’m combating it the only way I know how. eBay. And donation bins. Anything to avoid actual garbage. Yes, I realise that some of my crap is literal rubbish, and I promise not to try and palm that off onto you. But there is also a lot of good quality, barely used stuff in my house, that will be far better off being love by someone else.

A pile of junk heaped in the middle of a room

The before mess of my study/studio. Don’t judge!!

Changing from a mess

Being a mess has always been a state of being for me. I’m renowned for being lazy, and will even develop systems that get things done efficiently to allow for maximum lazy time. And honestly, with any luck, this will be one of them. I’d love a clean desk, clean kitchen benches, clean floor. I’d love to not be surrounded by a mess of my own creation. It’ll be slow going. I have a whole house to work through. But it’s definitely time to clean up the space around me. For good.

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