Friday, November 18, 2011

The ten commandments as a guide for organizing and decluttering

2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3)
From the perspective of trying to get organized and de-cluttered, these verses can give us both hope and direction.

If you feel like you’re drowning in your stuff, then you know you have a “house of bondage.” Verse 2 above gives us hope to know that if we succeed in getting organized and de-cluttered, it is the Lord that has brought us out of our “house of bondage.” It takes a miracle, but the Lord can do miracles.

Verse 3 can give us excellent direction. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is a simple statement about what our top priority should be. If you are determined to keep the Lord as your top priority, then your stuff is a lower priority and you will be able to conquer it.

Ultimately, keeping priorities straight is KEY to conquering clutter. In terms of organizing, priorities are the little invisible rules we have at the back of our minds by which we determine what stuff we buy, what we let go of, what goes where, and more.

Needs are higher priorities than wants. For instance, food, clothing, and shelter are higher priorities than decorations, conveniences, pleasures, or tools. That is pretty well understood, but when it gets down to specifics, it gets trickier. Sometimes the only way we can discover what our priorities really are is to compare them.

What gets higher priority in your house—decorations or tools you use often?
What gets higher priority—the tools you use often or the tools you might use someday?
What gets higher priority—your memories of the past or the things you are involved in now?

Let me give you an example of something I’ve had trouble letting go of. I’ve been hanging on to my college textbooks for years.
  • As books, they are low on my priority list of things to read; I prefer reading other books more.
  • As sources of knowledge, they are also low on my priority list because lately I go to the internet first when I have questions.
  • If I’ve been keeping them because they represent a memory of who I am and what I did, they are also rather low priorities because my journals—I am a copious journal writer—are a much better store of my memory and identity.
Someday I will figure out the priority that is out-of-whack with those textbooks so I can let go of them.

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