Giving Up Clutter for Lent

Giving Up Clutter for Lent

Right now with Brandi Leos, City of Tigard, Oregon

What I’m listening to: Whatever my kids are listening to; this weekend it was Beastie Boys Radio on Pandora which was full of 90s hip hop and rock.  Proud mama moment!

What I’m reading: Nothing right now but just ordered Building a Winning Culture in Government

What I’m watching: Last Week Tonight because HBO is free right now on DirecTV


As a Catholic, I recognize Lent as a preparation time for Easter. We are taught to give something up, to sacrifice, during this time. I usually do something like give up drinking, or a particular food, I gave up swearing once (that was harder than you might think).

Another option is to adding something into your life – something good for you and your soul, maybe going to the gym or calling your grandma every week. My life is too crazy right now to consider giving up drinking and I see grandma every week. So, in February, I was on a mission to think of something meaningful that I could give up for Lent and I came up with clutter, yes clutter. I have this oddly shaped office with a bookshelf full of my predecessor’s stuff and it just stares at me. I knew I needed to tackle the clutter and Lent was the perfect time to try.

There’s that shelf andits junk staring at me every day. We’re talking books about “what is the internet” and “running a modern personnel office.”  Files full of research on harassment training from 2005. And a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t need or at least don’t need to look at. During Lent, I got rid of that shelf and traded it in for a smaller file cabinet. I got rid of those books (recycled, because not even Goodwill shoppers need a book telling them about the internet), purged as many files as I could, and hid the rest. The shelf found a new home in Kent’s old office along with the books I couldn’t justify tossing but don’t need in my office. Getting that shelf out of my office was such a relief.

Another clutter issue I tackled at work was unsubscribing from email. Every day I unsubscribe from at least one email list. It’s such a pain, but over the course of Lent, I unsubscribed from about 40 lists. I did this at home, too. Goodbye electronic clutter!

The last major clutter culprit in my life has been plastic bags. I have my reusable bags but I always seem to forget them. During Lent, I made a conscious effort to reduce my plastic bag consumption (perfect timing for Earth Day yesterday). I took my bags to the recycle bin at my local grocery store and vowed not to collect any more during Lent. This is probably my best accomplishment this year; I was really good at it! I got these awesome fold-up bags made from recycled water bottles and have been better at keeping my bags in my car, purse, desk, laptop bag – you name it.  When I didn’t have a bag with me and was just buying a couple of things, I would ask the checker to not give me a bag at all. I can’t say that my house is bag free because it’s hard to get five people on the same page, but I didn’t bring any of them in and I’m in a much better bring-my-bag habit.

Am I totally clutter free?  No, I’m in the middle of a kitchen reno, but I’m better and my mind is getting more clear.