Saturday, April 27, 2013

De-cluttering frenzy.

Because when it hits me, it really hits me. Prompted, in part, by the decision to move when my son graduates from high school in a year, I decided it mad sense to winnow down my belongings now. I've been reading some books on simplifying and getting rid of clutter, and they resonate. One of the books said that we use 20% of what we own 80% of the time. So why do we own the rest of that crap? Following the book's suggestion, I picked a room and started.  In this case, my room. The author said to start by piling everything in that room in a central place and then deciding what went back in. I altered the plan, a little though, starting first with my clothes and then with the rest of the stuff in my room. Here, I've gathered up everything on every flat surface in the room (shelves, dresser tops, bedside tables, the floor). Yikes.
I even culled and organized on the level of the little drawers in my jewelry box. Now there is not an earring or ring, for instance, that I can't find easily. And jewelry I never wear went into the get-rid-of pile. The harder decisions were the knick knacks - after something has sat there for a while you don't even see it anymore. And while I don't really have any collections, I do bring back rocks and shells from places I visit around the world. The problem was that I had completely lost track of where each one came from. So I pulled out my favorites and piled the rest into a bag to be used as vase-filler to hold flowers upright.  Every single item was evaluated and judged harshly and sorted into what would stay and what would go.
The clothes de-cluttering project, I'll admit up front, was a bear. There is nothing quite like seeing all your clothing heaped on the bed and floor and realizing you have waaaaay too many clothes. So I was brutal - out went anything that didn't fit well or that I didn't like or that I just don't wear for reasons I can't even explain. Someone out there could be using those things, so why keep them? Another book I read said you should get rid of all duplicates and have, for instance, only one pair of sneakers. Well, no.  Because I have a couple of pairs of running shoes and a couple of walking shoes, since those are my primary forms of exercise. Add in gore-tex hiking sneakers, and my yard work shoes, plus a pair I wear frequently when I'm not exercising. Dammit, I'm keeping them. But I did get rid of: 9 pairs of jeans (if I ever go back up to size 3, I'll buy more),  ski pants, 12 pairs of sweatpants/pajama pants, 5 pairs shoes/boots, 28 (!) shirts, 8 pairs of shorts/capris, 4 jackets (including a down coat that it never gets cold enough for here), 2 scarves, a purse (I'm down to three now), 4 hats, 8 sweaters, 7 dresses, 5 skirts, and a robe that is so heavy and fluffy it gets on my nerves.
Another suggestion was to only keep what fits you now. The only exception I made was that I have some very nice skirts that needed altering. I wear pants that sit at my hipbones, but skirts are different  Any skirt that fits me in the hips is going to have a huge gap at the waist. I found a tailor in town who is reasonably priced and skilled. It's kind of comical - he is Middle Eastern ( I think), about five feet tall, and has a limited grasp of English. He just says, "You try, yes?" And then as you stand in front of a mirror, he makes a few quick marks with a piece of chalk and he tells you to get the next one.  It seemed so haphazard that I was sure this process could not possibly work, but every skirt I own now fits like it was made for me.  And just look at my supremely organized closet - sorted by type of garment and color and no extra junk stowed away in there.
Cleared of excess, my room is now a thing of serene beauty. Surfaces are clear except for a few items that have meaning to me. A place for everything and everything in its place. And a remarkable amount relegated to the pile of stuff on its way out.
My new rule is that as each room is cleared, there will be no more setting stuff on the floor or dresser or chair to be dealt with later. No more things tossed into a drawer (because every last one was emptied and de-cluttered) and no spilling-over stacks of anything. I have a hard time now not just standing in my room and basking in the clearness of it all. But it's just one room. I'm already plowing my way through the kitchen.

36 comments:

  1. *applause*. I love the lights around your window, brilliant idea!

    I only keep stuff that fits me and am the champion both of downsizing and decluttering. Well, apart from books and movies. That's another story entirely.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. Those lights make me happy. Every other one has a tiny carved gourd cover over the bulb.

      I'm even divesting of many books. I have no movies, so that ones not hard for me.

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  2. You think you've got clutter? You should see our storage unit. I was out rearranging it today, and oh boy, are we going to have one heck of a yard sale this year.

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    1. No, I am aware that I am already ahead of the game. I've been anti-clutter my whole adult life.

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  3. Gosh, doesn't your room look good. Almost good enough to eat! I am convinced that clutter reproduces asexually, as soon as we turn our backs. But I do admire your energy: not just physically but emotionally. Decluttering is very rewarding when finished but I find it very upsetting and tiring emotionally whilst doing it. Well done, hope you are enjoying it:)

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    1. Thank you. I knew this would be a rewarding room to start in. And I AM enjoying the process!

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  4. Nice job. That looks awesome!

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  5. cool...the lights in the window are a great touch...and the winnowing down...very cool...i am about to that point myself...just waiting for school to get out and i will def have at it....

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    1. That's funny - I wanted to do this before school ended and my two tornado boys were here full time.

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  6. I've always been a minimalist. I've never even owned more than 5 pairs of jeans at one time. I think the only thing I've ever held onto is old letters and this year, I'm sending my friends all their letters back to them as a 50th birthday surprise. They've been shocked that I would still have them after 30+ years.

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    1. I had a whole extra set a size up, those are the ones I got rid of. And a couple of pairs that were really too short. I have only a handful of letters that I've kept - I regularly go through and toss the ones that have lost meaning to me.

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  7. "Because when it hits me, it really hits me."

    I am the SAME WAY. When it hits me, it REALLY hits me.

    I live in studio apartment (which I have most of my life), so I've had to learn to be a minimalist because I just don't have the space. I usually do two major "cleaning outs" a year, and even with as minimal as I am, I still find stuff I can pass-on and get rid of.

    LOVE the photos of your bedroom. Love the lights and the window treatments.

    X

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    1. Yes, a studio apartment would be a big incentive to control clutter! I've had periods of my life where I lied in efficiencies and kept very little in them. Then there was marriage and kids.... But I'm working on it.

      And thank you - that room is my oasis.

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  8. what books did you read about de-cluttering?

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    1. I've been reading a blog (http://www.theminimalists.com/) and also some bools by Joshua Milburn who writes that blog. And the book with the step by step plan is "The Joy of Less" (Francine Jay). Oh, I also found "It's ALl Too Much" (Peter Walsh) really helfpul.

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  9. Aha! I'm always reading books about decluttering. What I have found, to my chagrin, is that reading about it doesn't actually get it done! At the moment, in addition to my own stuff, I have things from my recently deceased father-in-law's house which are lying over at my house until we find a way for them to go live with my daughter in Ohio! I envy the great feeling it must give you to have cleared out so much dead wood!

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    1. For me, they keep me on track. I seem to need lots of reinforcement! The part I'm working hardest on is not bringing new stuff into the house.

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  10. That's very determined and organised of you. I'm impressed. Jenny and I are also long-standing anti-clutterers so there's very little in the house that's surplus to requirements. If something hasn't been used for a long while, it won't be long before it leaves the house.

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    1. Children are rally a complicating factor, but I know that I'm closing in on an empty nest so I'm feeling motivated to change soem things.

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  11. I would be completely and totally overwhelmed with that technique. I think I'd have to choose sections of the room at a time or I'd go crazy and/or give up. Your place looks terrific now and I know exactly what you mean about just basking in it! I do that too!

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    1. You can do that. I did my room a section at a time. First the closets, then one drawer at a time, then the flat surfaces. It took me days.

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  12. I do have a rule that is helpful (when I stick to it!)and that is that for every new item I buy, two items have to go!

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    1. That's even better than the one-in, one-out rule!

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  13. can you please come to my house. i've been doing this slowly but i think i need someone to be brutal. it's not like i'm a hoarder. things have just gotten a bit out of hand since i started a job with a long commute and then got sick on top of it all.

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    1. In all seriousness, I think it can be helpful to get an honest friend to come in and help, at least to jump start the process.

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  14. I love that you used the word 'winnow'

    i love your bedroom. so soft in every way.

    and now to the cleaning! seeing your pile made me feel better. next weekend JB and i are having a yard sale (guess where: the side yard!) and i hope i can --er, will, let go of so many things i keep because they are memories.

    i do believe if i could get myself to a consistent weight, my clothes situation would be better and simpler.

    books? i'm not sure i can part with most...

    jewelry: i could...

    please wish me success.

    :^)
    love
    kj

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    1. The bedroom was a result of a post-divorce wish for a toom that was entirely me. While the rest of the house is a little more neutral (still me, but also fit for boys), this room I wanted cozy and peaceful.

      Good luck on letting go! It's a process, I believe, not a one-time thing.

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  15. When you mentioned your clothes, and the amount of things that you started with, it really hit me. I have very few clothes, not much jewelry, and over all not that much stuff that is just mine. What I do have is a lot of paper, files in my home office, old bills, mail, and about 3 estates worth of stuff. My mom's stuff, my in-laws, my granparents, and my in=laws. My husband and I rarely are in "the mood" to organize at the same time. It gets to the point of being so overwhelming.....but we will get there.Slowly, but hopefully before our kids have to clean it out. Love the clean lines of your bedroom.

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    1. Everyone has their own weak areas when it comes to acquiring/hanging on to things. I had a hard time letting go of clothes because it seemed wasteful to do so. But it's more wasteful to keep them when someone else could use them.

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  16. Your room looks wonderful. I got the book It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh for Christmas. I asked for it but haven't done anything about it yet. I will be honest and say that lately I am really close to doing what you have done. It seems to be eating away at me daily and it's time to free myself!

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    1. I found that a helpful book, and did a little work with it when I got it, but just now felt a stronger pull to really tackle everything. So good for you!

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  17. When my kids were small there was lots of necessary clutter. I have become quite a minimalist, but now I live with someone who is a genuine pack rat. Hopefully, we can achieve balance.
    And I agree with all the commenters. Your room is beautiful!

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    1. Yes, children are the bearers of clutter for sure! I've dated packrats and have often wondered how I'd do with living with one.

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  18. You're not even a size three?????? I'm impressed with your decluttering. I can't bear to go through my closet. I always think I'm going to wear something again.

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    1. I've got a very small frame.

      I always think I will, too, so I have to ask very serious questions of myself about exactly WHEN I think I'll wear something.

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