Today, as I was looking through some previous blog posts I've written, I came across this one, The Complications of Simplicity from 2012. That was probably the last time I did a major purge to declutter the house. It started with my office and moved outward. Since then I've done smaller purges of areas of the house, but I haven't done a major purge. Yet, as I read the blog post, I realized I still have some of those same feelings about how things have accumulated again. I also realized I only recently, like less than a month ago, finished the shredding that I mentioned in that post. Shredding the last sheet of paper from that box felt like such a liberation even though I knew that part of the reason I hadn't finished it was that I kept adding to it over the years, adding more than I removed most of the time.
I have reasons, real reasons... and some excuses, but the reality is I find it easy to put off certain purge activities, like the shredding I just mentioned. I'm creating a new habit around that though that doesn't allow for accumulation. Process and shred whenever possible instead of letting papers that serve no purpose linger.
|When you have to ask|
"When was the last time I used this?" or
"I still have this?",
it might be time to let it go...
Lifestyle changes have meant that some things we used to use all the time no longer get used anymore. A part of me clung to these things because we might need them someday even though I can't imagine what for.
I've started cleaning out things again. Cabinets and closets and drawers and shelves. This time I'm taking my time spending just a few minutes each day on one cabinet or drawer or shelf.
|A few of the items ready to find|
a new home.
As I've purged the clutter, I've also created clutter, but it's temporary clutter. A box here and a bag there to put things in. A table or two filled with items to box or make a decision about. I try to keep them somewhat unobtrusive but still easily accessible. As they fill up, I can take them to charity, or at least move them to the garage until I have a trunk load.
I've filled up the recycling can and the trash can multiple times, probably surprising the garbage man since we usually only put out our trash once every 3-4 weeks. Purging does that. You have to throw things away. And I realized there are pockets of things in the house I haven't discarded because I can't give them away or recycle them, and the only alternative is to throw them away adding to to the pollution of the Earth. But, is keeping them in my house, really any better? Sighs!
Purging also lead me to getting the tailoring done that I'd been procrastinating for a couple of years. Now, I can wear those clothes comfortably instead of making them work the best I could or avoiding them altogether.
In addition, purging forced me to look at my shopping habits. I buy far more stuff than I need.
I have far more pairs of shoes than I'm likely to ever wear. I have a closet bulging with clothes, some of which I'm positive no longer fit me. I've bought hair accessories because I want to try this updo or that one but never quite manage to make the accessories work.
I've bought numerous kitchen appliances and specialty items for recipes I planned to make or create, some of which were used once or twice, but some of which were never used.
I have things I bought for projects I really want to do but haven't made the time for. Picture frames to capture memories. Shadow boxes for the memorabilia that I'd actually like to display in my office. Now I need to either schedule those projects or get rid of the stuff I bought to do them.
I've cleaned out a few select areas and have gotten rid of more than I anticipated from some areas and less from others. Given the size of our home, the amount of stuff we have, and the limited time I have to dedicate to decluttering, this is likely to take a while, but I'm okay with that. In some ways, I think it might even be the best way to do it. Clearing out small areas might just create a habit that will allow me to better purge on an ongoing basis or perhaps to not letter clutter accumulate to begin with.
Let me be clear, I'm not planning to become a minimalist, at least not any time soon. I think it's great that people pare their lives down to those necessities, but I can't imagine paring down that far. I enjoy my variety of clothes and my shelves of books. I like cooking far too much to not have what I need to cook a variety of meals. I have my sentimental things that remind me of people I love and the moments we've shared. All that said, I really do like the idea of simplifying things, of getting rid of things that take up space for no discernible reason.
Many of the videos I've watched have sparked various emotions in me. Some made me relieved that my clutter isn't that bad - after all it, for the most part, fits inside cabinets and closets. Some struck me as too rigid as people get rid of things just to pare down just meet a numerical goal. One had me laughing as the hostess poked fun at herself for getting rid of her winter coats during the summer only to find herself with no winter coats when winter came because she followed something called the "two-month rule" that said if you hadn't used it in two months, you should discard it... Sighs! There are a variety of these videos out there following different methods for decluttering or minimalizing. I found many of them inspiring and some were even thought-provoking, but, at the end of the day, decluttering is about getting rid of clutter. It's about getting rid of that which no longer serves.