Another speech which I gave at my Toastmasters club.

This is for Speech 6: Vocal Variety.  In retrospect the topic didn’t really suit the vocal variety goals I was meant to aim for, but I think I did succeed in slowing down, speaking louder, two things I have been trying to improve on.


Clutter.  Mess.  Stuff.  Junk.

Chair, fellow Toastmasters, guests – have you ever gone looking for the spare batteries in a drawer somewhere and found that it was crammed full of junk?  Stuff that you sort of, kind of want to have around, but you haven’t actually used in the last ten years?

I have.  Now I don’t consider myself a packrat, but up until a few weeks ago, you could open a drawer or a cupboard in any part of my house and find a surprisingly large quantity of … stuff.

Stuff like old torches that don’t go.  The pizza cutter that you’ve never used.  A broken fridge magnet that you keep meaning to glue back together.  Books that you don’t really plan to read.

And I eventually realised that it was weighing me down.  It takes up space.  When you move you have to pack it up and carry it.  It needs a place to go, like a drawer or a cupboard.  You need a bigger house to have everything in.

You know they say, “use it or lose it”.  If you don’t use something, it decays.  All this junk just sits there and it gets dusty or rusty or eaten by moths.

Someone once said that there should only be two kinds of thing in your house.  Useful things, that you use often, like your computer or your bath towel.  And beautiful things, like the paintings in your lounge or books by your favourite author.

Everything else should go.

I read that and I thought – Yeah.  Yeah.  So I decided to do it.  I was going to declutter.  One drawer and one shelf at a time, I sorted my Stuff into two piles:

  • Keep
  • Get rid of

It is surprisingly easy to get rid of things.  A whole bunch of stuff just went in the recycling bin.  A lot of stuff went in the rubbish, like the broken torch and the old packaging that I will never need again.

Another pile of stuff went to the Salvation Army store, old clothes, books that I’ve never read, old schoolbags.

And I even managed to make some money selling stuff on Trademe.  There was the spare iron.  Who needs a spare iron?  $16 plus postage.  The tiny sewing machine which was really cool but I never used.  Someone bought it for more than I paid for it!

I found that I had five whole boxes of old university notes and phone bills. I was able to get rid of almost all of it because I really don’t think I need my old exam notes about how the liver works or the power bill from 2002.

Actually – I’m not going to lie to you folks.  I got a bit emotional going through all that paperwork.  Some of it is little memories, good memories and bad.  And you know, the thing is with those bad memories – you can just throw that bit of paper away.  It felt great.

At the end of all the decluttering, I realised that there was some things in my house that don’t actually work very well.  For example, I realised that I was using a dining room chair as my bedside table, and a horrible old set of drawers that was half empty because the drawers didn’t slide in and out properly.

It was just ridiculous.  So I got a really good deal on matching bedside drawers on Trademe.  The dining chair went back where it belongs, and the old set of drawers can go to the Sallies.  Now that part of my house just works that much better.  Wonderful.

Overall, my house is tidier and less crowded.  If we have to move again, it will be that much easier.

And you know, I really enjoyed the process of getting rid of most of my junk.  There’s still more to get rid of it, but the thought of getting rid of stuff isn’t scary anymore.  When it comes to your possessions, I reckon less is more.

I highly recommend decluttering.  Its so easy.  You go through one shelf or drawer at a time, sorting stuff into two piles:  Keep and Get Rid Of.  You recycle or trash the real junk, donate the unwanted goods to the Sallies and sell anything worth money on Trademe.

And then, go ahead and change things that aren’t working.  Do you really need that wobbly coffee table?  Fix it, or get a better one.

Getting of your old junk leaves more room in your house and your life for the things you really want.  Go for it.

4 Responses to “Clutter, Junk, Stuff (Toastmasters Speech)”

Great speech Luke! Great action too.
Come down with a trailer and sort my shed out, why don’t you?

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Ha, that’s what the people at Toastmasters said! They suggested a business where I go to peoples houses and tidy up all their stuff.

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Brilliant!
As a natural horder of useless crap I feel inspired.

When I clean I like having 3 piles
YES
NO
MAYBE
Once you’re done sorting the YES and throwing out the NO you then sort through your MAYBE pile.

I don’t think I’ll be as brave as you! – What if I might need it? :-)

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The advice I was following also suggested the yes/no/maybe piles, I didn’t include it in my speech because I found that I really didn’t end up using the ‘maybe’ pile at all.

It was suggested that you put the ‘maybe’ stuff in a labelled box, put it aside for 6 months, and then decide whether to get rid of it … in the meantime you will discover if you actually need any of the stuff in the Maybe box.

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