Progress to Date — 1,881 items purged.

 

1,881 items have been removed from my life!

It can be a challenge to actually stop the purging and share the count. The next milestone always feels so close! 2k for example. I’m so close to 2k! However, I’m long overdue from commenting upon 1,500 so here I am.

Today is April 28, 2016. I began my minimizing project 1.5 years ago (October 2014).

I’ve tracked (almost) everything I’ve purged. Why?

The short version

  • Awareness—Which is paramount to habit breaking. Awareness for what I had, why I acquired it, why I got rid of it. What types of things do I tend to accumulate and why?
  • Taxes/Donated Goods—Not a good enough reason. Won’t be doing this again. Filling out the forms added a ton of work to the inherent joy of donating. In my case, the monetary gain did not offset the effort (most stuff I let go of was only worth 50cents-$2 at best…that included brand new beautiful clothes that were in great shape, but too far off trend for the local consignment shop to want them).
  • Sense of accomplishment—I’ve been minimizing since October 2014. After a while I started to lose sight on my progress. Was it so bad before? Have I really changed much? As soon as I access my database of the 1,800+ and growing tally of purged items, I start to remember again. It’s pretty exciting! Recently I modified it so I can start tracking purchases too.

 

The long story

Do you avoid your basement because it’s too full of junk? Do you wonder why you never just own up to the mess and clean it? Have years gone by living this way? Do you make frequent (and justifiable) purchases from Amazon? Do you shove all the empty boxes into your garage, (instead of diligently break them down to recycle)? When your house gets messy, do you intend to make cleaning a priority, but instead you go shopping for organizational or cleaning supplies (supplies you don’t really need)?  Do you buy new clothes every time you have a special appointment, or maybe just because you feel blue?

I did. I did all these things. For years. I spent way too much money on stuff. I wanted to stop. I didn’t know how. I knew I had to stop, save my money, and to get rid of things that I didn’t love. However, I was apprehensive because I’d gotten rid of things before, only to acquire them again. It usually only takes me four to five years before I’m back in the mess I vowed to tackle.

This time I knew I needed to bring in a new technique that would get deeper into my psyche. I decided to track everything I donated or discarded. I reflected on two important dimensions; Why did I acquire this thing, and why am I letting it go? Doing these two things really allowed me to connect with what was going on inside of me, so I could examine my life and my behavior from a more meaningful perspective.

 

What else did I track?

Basically, anything that seems to help keep me motivated. Here’s a few of the key areas:

I gave every item a status: Every thing I get rid of is flagged as a Goodbye or as Store/Decide Later. Anything that I acquire (a purchase or a gift I keep) is a Hello.

  1. Goodbye — Applies to things that I donate or throw away.
  2. Store (decide Later) — Applies to things that I want out of my living space, but am not ready to make a permanent decision on where it goes.
  3. Hello — Any thing I bring into my life. I’ve made so much purging progress, that I fear sliding backwards (I’ve done it before). So now I’m tracking my purchases. I don’t track food or consumables like soap or paper towels. I just track the things that could easily become clutter in a year or more.

I categorized all the items: A way of thinking about the types of things I tend to accumulate.

  1. Office Supply (paper clips, stapler, pens)
  2. Papers/Files (anything paper-clutter related, junk mail, stationery)
  3. Clothing (shoes, shirts, jackets)
  4. Decor (picture frames, wall art, candles)
  5. Furniture (chairs, shelves, side tables)
  6. Trinket/Small item (knick-knack, fridge magnet, party favor)
  7. Kitchen Item (spatula, timer, plates)
  8. Pantry/Food (stale crackers, expired canned goods, empty tea boxes)
  9. Toy (lone Barbie roller skate, doll missing an arm, deck of cards)
  10. Holiday/Special Occassion (ornaments, party hats, paper table cloth)
  11. Hardware/Tools (packs of screws that come with everything, and I never use)
  12. Electronic (clock radio, document scanner, printer)
  13. Organizing (jars, baskets, file box)
  14. Linens (bedding, towels, dishrags)
  15. Craft/Art Supply (buttons, glue, glitter, paint)
  16. Books/Media (Books, Manuals, CDs, DVDs)

I documented the reasons the item was acquired: Helps with “facing the music” and being honest with how the clutter is getting created. (Numbers 8 & 9 stole the show)

  1. Freebie/Swag (anything that comes home with you because it was free).
  2. Needed saving (anything that inspired you, but needed work to be useful)
  3. Imagined different priorities (I had all kinds of handbag-buckles, handles, snaps and straps because I thought I was going to be a purse maker. That was years ago! I loved it for a month. I no longer have that dream).
  4. Deal/on sale (anything you buy because it made you say “only $5!!!”). You could even add another category related to this—Couponing. If you have a stock pile of stuff you don’t need because you had a coupon for it, acknowledge that.
  5. Determined to buy something (when you can’t leave the store because you came for something, and your brain keeps telling you that this means you need to leave with something)
  6. Gift (a thoughtful person gave you something)
  7. Gift requested (acknowledges that registries don’t always mean you get what you need)
  8. Emotional/Impulse (if you feel an impulse to buy something, it’s often coming from some place of emotion)
  9. Emotional/Sentimental (anything you brought home because it sparked warm memories of your Nana, and for no other reason other than that)
  10. Don’t know (when you don’t know where that thing came from)
  11. Spouse (things that came with anyone you merge homes with). Note: This is used only if that person decided to get rid of something. No getting rid of other people’s things! That’s a rule.
  12. Needed at the time (exhausted and purchase a neck pillow at the airport…this could also go in the next category, it’s all how you think about things, and how you felt in the moment that thing came into your life).
  13. Emotional/Justification (just about anything I ever picked out for the cat, and didn’t plan on)
  14. Came with something else (an extra button or set of extra screws with DIY furniture)
  15. Felt obligated (charity events with auctions or raffles)
  16. Something I created (art that was fun to make, but awful to look at)
  17. Inventory awareness issue (we tend to buy crackers, without checking the pantry first, then they get stale)
  18. Attempt to solve a problem (for me it’s usually hair products with promises of volume)
  19. Wanted to try (eye pillow, fancy lotions)
  20. Wardrobe refresh (when you hate your wardrobe, and you attempt to spruce it up without sticking to the plan)
  21. Loved (anything you buy because you can’t bear to put it down!)

And finally, I track the reason I’ve purged an item. This helps me bring my thoughts full circle.

If I acquired something because I loved it, and I purged something because I no longer liked it…what was going on here? It’s helpful to evaluate my thoughts around stuff so I don’t keep repeating the same disruptive patterns.

 

 

This post was originally created Oct 2015… above is updated.

 

Purge your cleaning supplies!

I just rounded up a house’s worth of cleaning supplies. At least 35 different products here! Overwhelming. Is this volume normal? It’s nuts! I bet my grandma would’ve had just 3 products, (and a much cleaner house).

I discarded 1/3 of this mess, and you can too! Here’s how…

First, round up all your cleaning supplies. Scour your house for all items in this category (thank you Marie Kondo). I rounded up supplies from the bathroom, the laundry room and a hall closet.

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Next, group all your cleaning supplies by subcategory (gloves, sponges, soap, oven cleaner…etc). This is to help you better understand what you have. Now, you can make informed choices about what to let go of.

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Then, get some focus, pare down and purge! I used this cleaning mag to focus my needs (remember, minimizing is all about working to disassociate need from want). Don’t have a mag? You could search online for a good list of basics. You could also sit, and visualize your cleaning rituals then list out all the products you use.

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Lastly, put it all back. Be proud! Enjoy the thrill of being able to find things. Enjoy being able to grab (one handed) what you need. Enjoy having nothing topple over!

See, cleaning is really all about strategizing so you don’t have to actually clean or pick up so much.

Ta da! Everything I kept, put back. FullSizeRender (1)

I did end up buying some baskets. IMG_0235These fit the space well and I can slide them out easily. I also use binder clips and clothes pins to hang items, such as the rubber gloves.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if this helps you out. Post any comments/questions below.

 

1 Month of Daily Minimizing—The Results!

During the month of November 2014 I got rid of 662 items from my home. 411 donated, 244 trashed (they deserved it), 7 consigned. This does not include the 136 items I put in my basement for storage. I still have these, but now they’re out of my everyday space, and part of an ongoing what-do-I-actually-need experiment. I will revisit these items after the holiday season (February).

 

Here’s an image of what 30-days of minimizing looks looks like:

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For feel-good donations (things I gave to Somerville Homeless Coalition, to help set up apartments for families) the benefit was incomparable! All those donations made me feel great. I’d do it all over again.

For laundry, I got so rid of so much excess clothing and linens that I can easily get by only doing one load of laundry per week. Minimizing means I spend almost zero time sorting. I’ve also removed all the pile-up potential. Liberating!

For tax deductible donations I estimate $236 (Not bad considering almost nothing was of any real monetary value.

Update: For consigned items, $196.80.

What a wonderful month! It really did get easier. It also paved room for me to get creative with some Christmas decor. The last few days of the month were focused on junk mail and paper purging, so it seemed wonderfully appropriate that my creative outlet was all about paper! I’m working on a wall tree made entirely of scrap paper.

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Here’s a pic of my final drop off at Salvation Army this month! It’s always thrilling to see what is no longer in my living space.

And for the final daily purge of the month, I got rid of…

Five junk mailings & six Christmas ornaments

Thanks so much for reading!

 

MP3s Don’t Need Shelves

I did get rid of my standard five+ items today (blah blah blah)…

  1. 10 pieces of mail
  2. two old dining chairs
  3. a plant-hook stand
  4. a lampshade
  5. an old fireplace log holder… that was appraised and not worth anything

BUT, the real HOLY SMOKES award goes to my husband who consolidated the volume of his entire CD collection

from this…

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Shown above: 15 bags FILLED with unwanted CD jewel cases, and the shelves they once lived on.

… to this!!!!

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Shown above: FIVE books. Each filled at 75% capacity, to provide room to grow. This is some dramatic space reduction!!!

I want to linger on this point a little while. Look at that purged pile of shelves and jewel cases again. See how much space that is!!! This is the size of a beautiful big closet. I can’t get away from this thought. I feel like we just paid for an addition to our home. I feel like a carpenter was interviewed, hired, here and gone. Leaving in his wake one big closet, freshly built!!! But, it’s dreamlike because all this extra space cost only $150 (five big cd cases at $30 each), didn’t require any labor research or disruption in daily life. It required several hours on the couch, transferring CDs while watching House Hunters and other TV favorites. It can be kind of therapeutic to do this sort of sorting (I didn’t do any of it, I’m just thinking back to the last time I did anything like this, which was possibly about twelve years ago).

The shelves, we no longer need, are awesome. They seem super useful. I thought of keeping them to store my tchotchkes (oh wait, I got rid of most of those) or some toiletry products (ug! got rid of those too)… ok, ok, I’m illustrating a point in a rather goofy format. These shelves are great! But, shelves are for shelving things. If you don’t got much in the way of things, what good are shelves?

Happy November 29, Everyone! I’ll see you tomorrow for the final day of my November Pact to Purge. WOW! Really? Just for your info, I do keep checking the calendar to confirm November does only go up to 30!!!! HAHHA, this is how psyched I am.

Shopping While Minimizing

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Now that I’ve been unlcuttering for 27+ consecutive days, shopping is somewhat bizarre. Especially Whole Foods—masters of merchandising.

On the one hand I felt my head was going to explode surrounded by all the options. But, not like I was tempted, more like I was from another time and observing American culture.

Then, on the other hand I felt happy about my list (a few simple things so I could make what you see in the photo. Cranberry Pear Sauce.)

Before long I found myself staring at all the beautiful seasonal and holiday specialties like mini purple brussels sprouts and fancy mushrooms! Every thing that spoke to me, I caught myself writing a story for … “oh that would be so good roasted!” or “if I bought stroop waffles we could enjoy them with …”. That really woke me up. I was not there to fulfill a multitude of food fantasies, I was there to get the stuff to make Cranberry Sauce. I stuck with that. I left the store feeling proud. (Not to mention in an amazingly short amount of time).

Since minimizing I make sure I know why I go into a store. I feel more honest about this (that’s another challenging part of it. No emotional justifying). Shopping is fast and deliberate. It is also a bit exhausting (because I do lose focus around beautifully well-done merchandising). It feels a bit like I dropped something valuable in a lake and I have to hold my breath and go under super fast to try and find it. This is the part that worries me, although I’m proud of my project, is it sustainable long term? I believe it is, but how can I keep focus? I’m hoping that with practice and reminding myself of the value (which is so obvious and everyday. My husband and I are so much happier, for example…that’s another topic, but it is very powerful how my tackling clutter turned into our tackling clutter, and I’m thankful for that).

Oh, and today I got rid of five things from my paper drawer (most of which were pieces or mail from 2010!!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Unclutter Mail, Part 2

FullSizeRenderGrabbed a handful of papers from the “I’ll get to that at some point” pile by the front door Left: 29 pieces in today’s unclutter pile.

Weeded out the junk. Felt manipulated by some charity freebies (a calendar, some Christmas cards). Really don’t like this, or how it makes me feel. I put those things in my goods-to-donate pile. Not good to have this vibe living in ones home. It’s out!

Poured a cup of coffee (Barrington Roasting, really been enjoying their beans)

Sorted through the important stuff. Paid two bills! A great reinforcer to the necessity of clearing the clutter.

I couldn’t tackle as big a pile as I set out. I finally decided this was ok since my objective is to address the paper clutter. As long as I make progress and do at least five pieces/day. This is what I’ll commit to. I’ve exceed that.

I got rid of 22 pieces of mail today!!!

Thanks for your support. See you tomorrow!