Are you buried in stuff?
Life is messy, and when we are under stress, we seem to stop culling our stuff, and start storing it. Six month (or six years) later, we are buried by so many things we lose energy. We stop paying attention to our surroundings, and just focus on surviving.
So, three years ago, we combined 3 households. My sister in law, and both of my inlaws died in a short period of time. We purged a ton of stuff, but with four teens and what was left over from moving into the family home, we were still carrying around way too much. Recently, I got bit by the downsizing bug. It wasn’t like I never downsized before, I actually go through the house ever six month. However, this time I have new eyes:
What can I do without?
So, here are my tips to discovering more freedom in your both your physical and mental space:
- Get rid of knickknacks. You *will* collect more, so get rid of the ones you’ve been staring at so long you forgot why you loved them.
- Books: – get rid of all the fiction books you’ve read (you can find them at the library if you really want to read them again, but since there are now billions of options for fiction books, you really don’t need to keep old ones.) Get rid of all non-fiction books that you don’t need for research. You can probably find an article online that will give you the same information.
- Linens: Purge those sheets you hate. You haven’t used them in two or three years anyway. Get rid of old blankets that you are keeping in case you have a really cold winter – you can buy more at garage sales this summer if you really need them – and these ones will be nice!
- Projects: This is where I go from preaching to meddling, but know that I am speaking to myself as well. Before I went through my craft closet yesterday, I had about 10 partial balls of yarn – that I might use…someday. Now, if you are only a weekender on projects, you know that you buy what you need, then you create your project. You know you could use the leftovers for things, so you store them…but unless you do lots of projects in the same genre, you rarely use your leftovers. Instead, you store them for “someday”. GET RID OF THEM. They are taking up space and sapping your creative energy. Instead, move on and enjoy creating new, beautiful things.
- Appliances: Does anyone else keep extra appliances in case something breaks? Unless you use the appliance every day, the storage space you are using is cluttering your home and sapping your creative energy. Goodwill will take old TV’s and computers, or you might find an appliance recycler in your neighborhood.
- Medicines: If it is out of date, toss it. You won’t use it when you need it anyway, you will be afraid it might be too old. Get rid of it! (These should be disposed of at appropriate spots, not flushed down the toilet).
The bottom line with stuff is: know why you have what you have. If you don’t know why you have it, get rid of it.
- Television: Recently, we made a switch – we cancelled cable and went to internet TV only. We discovered something important: everyone in the house is calmer! We even listened to music for an hour yesterday instead of mind-numbing drama. We do serial watch (watching a series from beginning to end instead of in dribs and drabs), and still have a few shows we watch weekly on hulu. The only show I’ve missed is Person of Interest. I’ll wait for it to show up on netflix. I love watching my shows when I want, and not being tied to their timeframe (I was a fan of DVR as well.) Extra bonus: all three kids voluntarily worked on their rooms this week. They are starting to notice their surroundings!
- Email: – I sign up for lots of emails. When I was looking for a good present around Christmas, I signed up for six or so “deal” sites. When I was investigating internet marketing, I got on another dozen lists. Every topic I research, I discover a “must watch” website that I sign up for. Then, after 2 months or so, I’ve read them enough that they become background noise and I stop listening. I click “delete” about 40 times every morning. Now, I am on a crusade to narrow my intake. Every day, I’ve taken time to get rid of 3-5 emails by opening them and clicking on “unsubscribe”. (Pet peeve: when I unsubscribe from you, I don’t want you to send me yet another email to tell me I unsubscribed…please just reroute me to a “goodbye” page and we will be good.)
- Paper: Paper works in both mental and physical space, but we keep paper because we might need the information someday. This is my next big obstacle. As I go through files, I am going to scan all of my old class notes. I will keep all papers that seem relevant – but scan them instead of keeping them. I will keep any copies of contracts and life insurance policies, etc – in the safe, and will keep only one type of paper: Kid’s stuff. I have files of stuff the kids made. I might even get organized enough to sort all that into four boxes, and then when they have their kids, I will ship it to them. I discovered – because my mom brought out some of my old stuff – that my kids LOVED seeing the stuff I did when I was a kid. Don’t give your kids the pictures they drew in kindergarten – they won’t care. Save it for your grandkids. 🙂
In my aggressive culling, I discovered 3 back-scratchers. Why do I have 3? I kept losing them, and buying more. So, decluttering will save me not only mental and creative energy, but also time and money. Funny thing though, I am attached to the 3 back-scratchers, and discovered a recalcitrance in myself – I am afraid to get rid of 2 of them because I might need them. Really? I thought we just went through this! Guess this culling thing is an ever-ending process. What I don’t get rid of today, I can always give away in six months.