minimalism

The reality of trying to declutter

I admit I embrace the notion of minimalism wholeheartedly. I have KonMari'd myself to a better underwear drawer. I hold to the William Morris tenant "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful". 

I'm here to reveal the dirty underbelly of de-cluttering. It creates an unholy mess! Unless you just chuck everything into the bin and say I'm done with it, you have to figure out what to do with all the stuff you have just cleared out of your beautiful closet. 

I've been doing minsgame on and off for the last year. It has really helped me clear out a ton of stuff. You commit to a month of clearing away and on day 1 you get rid of 1 item, day 2 you get rid of 2 all the way on to day 31 and 31 things. 

A few tips I've learned from The Minimalists and Marie Kondo

  • If it does not strike joy and you do not love it then get rid of it
  • If it was a gift and you do not like it or you do not like that person get rid of it
  • If it costs less then $20 and can easily be replaced then get rid of it
  • If you have not used it in over a year then let it go
  • If it is broken, out of date, ripped or torn and you will not use it or fix it then get rid of it. 

The next step, which is a little challenging is to figure out what to do with it. Here is a little flow chart that can help you decide if you are going to sell, donate or toss it. 

Decluttering can lead to a lot of fabulous things. For me it's made me reexamine and slow down on buying new stuff, it clears away a lot of my emotional clutter, and it has made me invest time into making my home feel clean and beautiful. 

If you still aren't sure where to start I help people clear away the clutter.  Drop me a line and I can help you develop a plan for clearing out your home.

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Depression fighting alternatives that don't involve going for a walk

I'm not sure which came first the clutter or the depression, but I do know that they are inextricably linked. The problem is when my depression kicks in daily tasks become challenging. Some days it is enough just to make it to work and home. Thankfully, not every day, but it does happen sometimes that I only have enough energy to come home, scramble some eggs for dinner and lay on the couch. 

It's frustrating because there is so much I want to be doing in my life and in my business, but I've learned that fighting those days is much more exhausting then just embracing my brain's need to check out for the day. 

I've found a few ways to keep the clutter at bay because once the clutter creeps in and becomes chaos then I don't want to do anything because the whole situation is just too overwhelming. 

Doing the #minsgame each month has been extremely helpful (I did take a few months off because of holidays and winter malaise). Clearing out the unnecessary and unwanted items decreases visual clutter and makes room for me to put things in their proper place. 

I've also tried to create 'getting home' systems. My keys, coat and bag go in the same place each day and I don't set the mail on the counter. It either gets taken care of immediately, or more likely it's junk mail and it gets recycled. 

A place for everything and everything in it's place makes it easier to put things away. When there is space for those items I feel capable of emptying the dishwasher and clearing up. If there isn't space and I start to pile things up then it just creates chaos in my cabinets and drawers and I don't feel like putting away the dishes or the laundry. 

It's ok to let things slide for a day or so. Don't beat yourself up if the house doesn't look perfect or guest worthy. That does not help at all when you are having a hard time. 

To summarize:

  • Embrace your version of minimalism. I wrote a post about finding my path to minimalism because it doesn't look the same for everyone. If you do need help decluttering or want to learn more about minimalism then join the Minimalism Challenge Support Group. You'll get the help you need. You can also follow me along on my decluttering adventures on Instagram.
  • Create a landing zone. Mine is tiny because I live in an apartment and I don't have an entryway, but I've still managed to find a place to put my everyday items. 
  • Make sure everything in your home has its own spot. If it doesn't, then you may need to think about getting rid of it! 
  • Wallow for a day. I find if I give myself permission to not have to adult that I usually chill out for a couple of hours and then find the energy to clean up. Sometimes, not always. Depression can be a fickle master. 

 

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Saving

I remember devouring as many words as I could by Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs and the 'beat generation' when I was in my early twenties. Their writing tore through me, echoing through the chambers in my heart and they found a certain resonance within me. 

How could their writing not impact me when I was trying to find an escape of my own. 

In college my boyfriend and I would often go to the local coffee shop where we would browse books, study and browse some more. That bookstore guided my literary education. It saddened me when I returned to town to find it had closed and was now a tea shop. Where were the misfits like me to find a haven?

I remember finding a copy of Howl by Allen Ginsberg sitting on the shelf next to the table I was whiling away my time at. If you'd like you can go read it....I'll wait.

This copy though wasn't just of the poem. It was Ginsberg's edits. It was his original draft with his edits, then a copy of the next draft with words crossed out and notes in the margin, another draft and another until finally the poem was deemed complete.

It was thrilling to get a glimpse into Ginsberg's process. A peek at the way his mind worked and how he would choose and discard words until finding the right fit. 

Then it struck me that someone saved this. This pile of papers that many people would look at and throw away managed to be saved and had enough value that someone published it so I could hold it in my hands and wonder. 

I think this is why I hold on to things because I'm holding on to a historical record of my life. It's part of my story.My journals reveal my innermost thoughts and my day to day. My love letters that I keep in a box from my very first boyfriend are a record of his life. Those are even harder to get rid of because he died ten years ago. Old photos and concert stubs provide a patchwork quilt of my interests. 

I'm not sure if I can let these things go. 

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Where does it all go?

Photo by Kristofer Johnsson via  Nordic Design

Photo by Kristofer Johnsson via Nordic Design

The photo above is part of the inspiration for the redesign of my office. I've been sharing pictures of the process over on instagram.

While I love the colors in my inspiration space, I was also drawn to how clutter free this space is. Part of my redesign involved getting rid of things. 

Once I cleared out the space I was left with a pile of stuff. I didn't want to just throw it away and so I am trying to sell, donate or give away as much as I can.  

So, what do you do with all of the stuff that you have decided to let go of? First congratulate yourself on making space in your life. Second sort the stuff into piles. 

The first question to ask is 'Does it have monetary value'?

The second question is 'Is it vintage?' I use the Etsy guidelines and say that Vintage is an object that is at least 20 years old. 

The third question is 'Is it usable'? 

Use these questions to help you sort things. 

I'm lucky because I already have a vintage Etsy shop and I can just list items in the shop. Since most people do not have their own vintage shop I recommend using either Ebay, Krrb, or Chairish. Higher end items would probably do well on Krrb and Chairish but the rest I would list on Ebay. You can also list vintage goods on Craigslist, but keep in mind people are usually looking for deals on Craigslist. 

If it is not vintage I would recommend using Craigslist. You may not recoup the original value of the item. Be grateful for the use that you got out of the item and let it go. Here is a pretty good post about how to sell items on Craigslist. I would reiterate that you should only accept cash (note that in your posting) and keep safety in mind. 

There is a cool exchange community called Yerdle. You don't actually get money. Instead you get points for something you may need. They also have an Unshopping Challenge that looks kind of cool. 

If it is not worth any money, but it is still usable, then think about who could use it. For example, if you have art and craft supplies think about donating them to a school. Used cell phones can be recycled and used by a domestic violence shelter. Leave your books in one of the super cool Little Free Library kiosks (check out the website for a library near you). 

I will often post on facebook the item I am trying to get rid of and let people call dibs. I will also set things out by the dumpster in my alley with a note that says free. It's usually gone in a couple of hours. 

The third question was 'Is it still usable?'. If it is broken, dirty, worn or plain old crappy then please don't donate it. Nobody wants your shirt with stains and holes! In this instance if it cannot be recyled or upcycled then it probably should go in the trash. 

How do you get rid of your stuff?

 

 

 

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Holy Cow

I thought I had posted a before picture of my small room in the basement (no it's not a dungeon!) and then I found the picture below and my jaw dropped. 

No wonder why I avoided that room. It was crazy!! 

Now everything is in it's place and there is empty space on the shelves and in some of the small bins (which are semi-transparent). 

One thing I would recommend when you have a storage space is to not put everything in big storage bins. I had no idea what was actually in the room and the towering bins made it impossible to find anything. 

Every day I just cleared something out of this room. A lot of things went to charity or to be sold. I started in one corner and just worked my way around the room because when I looked at it as a whole I was paralyzed with indecision. 

I hope this inspires you to venture into the spaces you have forgotten and clear them out!

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