Back in November I was watching a marathon of Hoarders online. I started thinking about some of the random little things I had kicking around that I didn't really need or want any more. I thought I would set myself a goal like my friend Estelle had done a few years ago. She was going through her things and getting rid of one thing everyday. I loved the idea. As of November 25th I started with the plan of having 30 days of giving things away. I hadn't even really thought about the Christmas aspect. I told myself that if I filled a bag with enough nice things for kids in good condition then I would make a donation.
Eliminating clutter from my life stemmed from a vague notion that if I was going to move countries or even cities I
was going need to have a more manageable set of possessions. Generally,
I like the feeling and look of having a more sparse lifestyle, so it
was going to be a double win. But life has a way of speeding up time
tables on me. Since starting my project I was told that by January 31st I need to be
out of my place... well crap. Looks like it is going to be a lot more than one thing a day to get rid of.
When I had started brainstorming things to give away I had only really thought of about 10 things. I thought that by this point in my declutter process that I would be finding it hard to find something everyday. But now that I'm actually through the things I was originally thinking about giving away I have gone full blown in really thinking about what it means to have less. I had filled a box with things to give away by December 1st. It was actually incredibly helpful to have the list because it got me into action of actually giving things away.
I decided to keep going with the declutter plan.
For me, the biggest source of mess always seems to be paper related. Papers are constantly coming into my life. After a short while they start to add up. Before I had a weekly pile that started slowly growing on Monday and would expand to a few different surfaces by the end of the week. With constantly working and running out the door, I always used to think I didn't have time so it could wait till the weekend. Then there would be the mountain to go through. It always got done but it did take way more time than it needed to.
I've been taking care of this with filing as soon as it comes through the door. Each time I grab the mail I stand by my recycling box and my accordion file. I leave all junk and envelopes in the box and file the bills. With my wonderful hand crank shredder sensitive information can be recycled with peace of mind. I've put the three in a more readily accessible spot by the door where most of the papers got caught coming in in the first place.
I love the concept of putting things where they will be used not where you want them to be. It takes a lot less time and stress to just get to work on something rather than having to make a big production of gathering what you need. Keeping all my important documents in one place is also going to be essential when I move.
In the case of my books (another form of paper clutter) I've been reading more of the ones that I was on the fence about. While I read I actively think about if I really am going to read it again. Do I need it on my shelf or will getting it from the library work for me in the future? There are a lot of "take a book, leave a book" homes popping up on front lawns around the city, I try to make it a point of leaving one in each whenever I can. Additionally If I'm reading a book and think my friend would really love it I put their name with a sticky note inside it and either loan it or give it to them. (I have pretty different tastes in books compared to my friends so that doesn't happen very often).
This is where moving is streamlining my decision making. I will be moving back in with my parents for a few months to make some solid choices about where I want to go in life. I'm putting into a storage unit all the things that I will definitely want in my future home but for sure wont fit in a bedroom. Couches, table and chairs, book shelves and all the other little house things that add up (pots and pans, vacuum, ironing board, towels, dishes, etc). The first thing I did when packing up was take all of my favourite books and put them in a container for storage. I don't need them with me at my parents' place but they will be essential for making any future place I live a home. I filled half a box. The rest of my books will come with me to be read over time and given away. At the end of the reading and sorting I think I'm going to limit myself to just being able to keep enough books to fill the rest of the box.
My goal now is to have my place ready to move by December 31st. This way it will keep me hugely motivated to keep thinking in terms of "This needs to get done now!" rather than letting myself get complacent and procrastinating.
What do you do to eliminate clutter? What is your biggest challenge?
Want to join me in giving away stuff? Let me know in the comments what donations you are making.