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.

 

Tossing Basement Junk (Legally)

Sometimes we let garbage live in our homes, because we don’t know what else to do with it.

IMG_9913Today our Department of Public Works hosted Oil and Latex Paint collection. This was hugely motivating! I discovered nine containers of old old paint. NINE! It was just hiding out in the basement. Luckily I’m somewhat organized, and although the basement is a bit of a disaster, like items have been grouped together (that’s a good starter tip).

This is the type of thing so many of us hang onto because we don’t know what to do with it.  If you have things like this, find your town website. Look up the DPW (Department of Public Works) or similar. Find days with special waste-removal events (toxic waste, computer monitors, recycling, large trash items). Mark the days on your calendar. Block off time at least 1 week before to ensure that you’re prioritizing any time required for pre-work. (This morning I almost missed my drop off window because I didn’t give myself a comfy-cushion of time). Follow through with whatever process is needed. You’ll learn a little bit more about the workings of your town, and you’ll get rid of junk!

Best of luck, everyone!

Lisa

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!

 

 

The home stretch! (and it’s paved in paper)

The most positive thing I can do for myself (today and for the rest of the month) is to purge the paper. After 24 consecutive days of uncluttering  (kitchen things, linens, trinkets, clothes, etc) it is now the paper that is causing me the most mental unrest.

Let’s tackle this!

IMG_6381

To ensure follow through, I started off simple. I went to our mail caddy (upper left). I did a quick sort of mine vs. husband’s. I found a great coupon (upper right). I felt a little sad for having missed this, but reminded myself that staying away from stores when I just don’t feel the need to shop, saves me more money than any coupon ever could.

I got rid of 13 pieces of mail today!!!

Yup, proud.

Thanks for your support. See you tomorrow!

Lisa

 

Minimizing. Day 17—discovering a smarter laundry strategy.

That’s what lazy people do, right? We sit around and think about different ways to do things.

All of today’s items are duplicates. Regarding the two little towels, I have this idea that if I reduce my volume of clothes and linens, I won’t need to do so much sorting and thinking. That is the part of laundry I hate the most! Who wants to think about details of laundry? Yuck! Just do it. Shove all the towels in one load and be done with it. If I edit my collection to be one load/week and only things that can all go in one load together (same temp, same color) then that sounds pretty sweet to me!

FullSizeRender

Today’s purged five are (it’s Monday, I went easy, just five items).

  1. Broken cooking thermometer
  2. Duplicate steak thermometer #1
  3. Duplicate steak thermometer #2
  4. Face cloth
  5. Hand towl

I rest my case (Ughhh! Not for 18 more days.)

Today marks day 12 of my November pact to minimize. Basically it sucks! And, it is amazing. But, it really does pretty much suck and I can’t wait to push through this. To date I’ve gotten rid of 430+ items (just this month).

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Every day I feel free and accomplished and motivated. Then I get home and suddenly I’m grumpy. The second I decide I’m going to cop out I miraculously get hit with a eureka moment and find something else I’m willing to get rid of. Then I feel guilty and doubtful. Then I remind myself I don’t need 20 blankets or 30 pillowcases. I move forth with my choice to liberate and I feel free. I feel like I’m in control and my newly edited house of things is here to serve me. That’s when the jaw drop happens. At this moment I realize most of what I’ve been struggling with is the feeling of obligation. Getting rid of things doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate things. It took me a while to grasp that. What I’m feeling is that I do greatly appreciate things. I’m just not putting things on a pedestal. Me, my husband, our cat, our friends. Me having a space to get arty. Us having room to get comfy and relax together. It’s pretty cool to be here.

5 things I got rid of today, Nov 12 

  1. Waffled and piped pillowcase
  2. Flannel pillowcase
  3. Home made pillowcase
  4. Quilted sham
  5. Pair of squiggle-flower Euro-shams