What am I supposed to do with all these baskets? I donated some. Dozens still linger in my basement. Much like the CD racks, if you don’t have stuff, what good are storage staples like baskets, shelves and containers?
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.
- Goodbye — Applies to things that I donate or throw away.
- 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.
- 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.
- Office Supply (paper clips, stapler, pens)
- Papers/Files (anything paper-clutter related, junk mail, stationery)
- Clothing (shoes, shirts, jackets)
- Decor (picture frames, wall art, candles)
- Furniture (chairs, shelves, side tables)
- Trinket/Small item (knick-knack, fridge magnet, party favor)
- Kitchen Item (spatula, timer, plates)
- Pantry/Food (stale crackers, expired canned goods, empty tea boxes)
- Toy (lone Barbie roller skate, doll missing an arm, deck of cards)
- Holiday/Special Occassion (ornaments, party hats, paper table cloth)
- Hardware/Tools (packs of screws that come with everything, and I never use)
- Electronic (clock radio, document scanner, printer)
- Organizing (jars, baskets, file box)
- Linens (bedding, towels, dishrags)
- Craft/Art Supply (buttons, glue, glitter, paint)
- 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)
- Freebie/Swag (anything that comes home with you because it was free).
- Needed saving (anything that inspired you, but needed work to be useful)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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)
- Gift (a thoughtful person gave you something)
- Gift requested (acknowledges that registries don’t always mean you get what you need)
- Emotional/Impulse (if you feel an impulse to buy something, it’s often coming from some place of emotion)
- Emotional/Sentimental (anything you brought home because it sparked warm memories of your Nana, and for no other reason other than that)
- Don’t know (when you don’t know where that thing came from)
- 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.
- 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).
- Emotional/Justification (just about anything I ever picked out for the cat, and didn’t plan on)
- Came with something else (an extra button or set of extra screws with DIY furniture)
- Felt obligated (charity events with auctions or raffles)
- Something I created (art that was fun to make, but awful to look at)
- Inventory awareness issue (we tend to buy crackers, without checking the pantry first, then they get stale)
- Attempt to solve a problem (for me it’s usually hair products with promises of volume)
- Wanted to try (eye pillow, fancy lotions)
- Wardrobe refresh (when you hate your wardrobe, and you attempt to spruce it up without sticking to the plan)
- 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.
I must have known these meds were in the cabinet. Today is the fourth time (give or take) that I’ve de-stuffed from our big medicine cabinet. Did it take three previous purges to even be able to notice this batch? Seeing with the brain is the name of the minimizing game. It’s all expired. What will I find if I open the cupboard tomorrow?
What I got rid of today
- Expired prescription #1
- Expired prescription #2
- Expired antacid tablets, box #1
- Expired antacid tablets, box #2
- Expired mouthwash
- Expired antacid controller, pills
- Expired Slippery Elm supplement
- Expired Robitussin
The good news is, all this went unused and lurked around because we generally feel well (and almost never go through our med cabinet).
Goodbye unwanted stuff!
Today is day 23 of my November Pact to Purge. Today is also the first day I’ve even touched, or addressed paper. I hate it! Can you relate? I hide it. I typically glance at it, shrug, think I should probably hang on to it, then shove it in a drawer. Last night, right before bed, I emptied (the smallest) drawer I tend to shove stuff into. I left the clutter on the dining table.
The next morning, it was there waiting for me.
Over breakfast, I sorted through this small pile. I focused on my original commitment—just five things. I knew this was simple enough. I used it to motivate me.
Here they are! The five things I got rid of today. Plus, why I hung on to them, and how I’m getting rid of them.
- Feline dental kit. Uh…how is this paper clutter? Yes, yes, good question. I guess I can only respond with a “see! This is exactly how messed up my paper clutter is!” ;) … moving on … I kept this for a while since I thought we’d maybe give this a try. Then I decided not to put our sweet 12-year-old kitty through this. Since it is still sealed, I threw it in our donate pile.
- Feline dental cleanser. (same reason and discard method as above)
- Empty peripheral containers. I find I always hang on to these just in case I need to return. These two things are well beyond that timeframe, therefore tossed in the recycle bin.
- Gift bag. I hung on to as a “what if…” but it’s probably been in that drawer for over a year. It’s still useful, therefore added to our donation pile.
- Pile of papers! All the papers went one of three ways (recycle, shred, or file). I recycle things like assembly instructions for a coat rack I put together almost two years ago. I shred anything that has my personal info on it (like packing slip from an old delivery). I file anything I want to keep (like the owner’s manual for our dishwasher).
I’m so glad I did this today! Papers are always on the back of my mind. Also, for me, starting off small is the key. If I went any more ambitious with the size of my pile, I’m pretty sure I would’ve just watched TV instead. Now, I feel so good that I think I’m ready to tackle a second—mini—pile!
Until tomorrow . . .
It went pretty well at the consignment shop this morning. They took seven things plus a ton of jewelry.
November 10 — Five things I got rid of today (and why)
- Two sweaters
- Two scarves
- One jeans
- One shoes
- One belt
- A ton of my mom’s jewelry (not shown). She’s minimizing too!
What’s this all about? Check out my November pact to purge
November 21 — Five things I got rid of today (and why)
- Shower cap (Never knew I had this! Too bad, I ended up buying a few as a result. They’re handy for containing shoes in your suitcase. I already have enough for that, so goodbye to this one)
- Sponge holder thingy (Broken. Saving because it could be fixed. But will I? I don’t need to, I have other dish sponges. It’s clutter)
- Soap dish
- Soap dish
- Soap dish
What’s this all about? Check out my November pact to purge
I’m not a scientist, but I did enjoy Jr. High physics class. It’s the first time I heard “matter is neither created nor destroyed”. It feels that way at home now. All the time I’ve invested in removing excessive things from my home, is coming back to me. For more than two weeks, I’ve been going through daily clutter purges. I did not lose, or waste, that time at all. It just shifted. Removing stuff means you’re removing choices. Fewer choices means fewer decisions. I’m talking about trivial choices and decisions. Ones that don’t matter one bit. For example, should I moisturize with coconut oil today or sesame? Who cares!!! right? This is exactly the type of choice that brings a false sense of freedom. I removed it, therefore I have more freedom. I have more time. I have more square footage in my house! Look at these piles I dropped off at Salvation Army yesterday (batch one above, batch two below). Does it seem like an insignificant volume? It is the size of a small hall closet. I just increased the size of my living space and removed brain tax. Ahhh! Hello Sunday!
Since yesterday, I have said . . .
- Goodbye Marimekko paper placematts that I forgot I had
- Goodbye THREE decks of cards. Because the two decks my husband added weren’t enough . . .
- Goodbye six bath and body products that I never liked using (Moroccan hair oil scent goes from lovely to OMG WTF really really fast)
- Goodbye umpteenth med item that expired in 2010
- Goodbye unneeded tablecloth that I always idealized for being classic white, but ultimately was also too fearful to use
Here they are, forever in photography…and thankfully no longer in my home.