Here is a guest post from July 2013 by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org that I thought was worth repeating for the lessons it contains. Enjoy!
So I tend to bite off more than I can chew. A few months ago the opportunity to have everyone out of the house for a weekend seemed like the perfect time to do some major cleaning up. I had high hopes. I was going to tackle the worst room in the house. It was filled floor to ceiling with boxes from the move and just had enough floor space to walk a thin path around it. Since the move had taken place some five years before I had the brilliant idea that it would be no sweat to clear out that area.
But where to start? I mean of course you wanted to start near the door so you could make sure you had room to actually get things in and out but What then? Well, I started out at the door. To the right of the door was a large bookshelf filled with odds and ends and stacked on top of the shelf were old boxes. I managed to get a step ladder and started from the top. The boxes were very heavy and I barely made it safely to the floor with them. I imagined they were books or something equally as hefty. As I opened them I discovered they were VHS tapes. Boxes and boxes of VHS tapes.
The hoarder in me wanted to save them as I had invested a lot of money completing my collection but I was reminded of my vow to stop collecting things. Things are not important. People and memories are. If I really wanted to remember a particular video I could just take a photo of it and remind myself to look it up later. I did, however, go through the boxes and take out the recordings of my family. I did not want to toss out memories, just junk. That took me some time and I hauled the boxes down the stairs and out to the street.
Moving on, I went through the rest of the bookshelf. I had three boxes with me. One was marked Goodwill, one was Trash and the last, smallest box was Keep. I went through those shelves ruthlessly tossing almost all of the junk into the goodwill pile. Broken dishes, bits of paper and so on went into the trash. That went quickly and I was relieved. Beyond the bookshelf was a walk in closet. It wasn’t the biggest closet, about the size of a twin bed. However it was packed with old clothes and more boxes, big ones.
I got the boxes down one by one. The first few largest ones were filled with blankets. Twin, King, Queen, quilts and throws and everything in between. Some I recognized as belonging to my great-grandmother and I set them aside. Others were down and were perfect for winter. The rest I threw in the Goodwill box. Although it is good to have extra blankets on hand I though three large boxes full was going a bit overboard. Especially when we had not used them in five years. Throw pillows, stuffed animals and other small soft things were in the next box. Then I got to the hard part. Boxes of photos and papers.
The photos had to be kept, of course, although I was not going to volunteer to sort through them and create an album. The papers were old enough that they could be tossed safely and I tossed as quickly as I could. A box of my old things from college was next and I couldn’t help but hold on to a relic or two. A small box of old comics went into a pile for eBay along with a few collectable toys.
All the dust was really starting to make my eyes water and I dragged some things downstairs for a break. Gathering a mask and washing my hands I ventured back into the never ending closet. The clothes were next on my list. I brought up trash bags and just started to go through the clothes one by one. Easter dresses, graduation gowns, old sweaters, Halloween costumes and anything else you probably would not miss packed the closet. The packed bags filled the floor of the closet and I was forced to drag everything out to my car before continuing. Exhausted and only halfway through with the closet I called it a night.
The next day I started up again. I finished the clothing leaving only a few outfits to decorate the bare walls. Before I could move on however I had to address the growing pile of bags and boxes in my living room. Far more than could fit in the trunk of my car I had to figure out a way to get them to Goodwill. I finally got my neighbor to drive a load up in the back of his pickup and we managed to get the whole thing done in one go.
When I returned to finish up the room I felt defeated. I had barely scratched the surface in a day and a half of steady work. On top of that the break from the family had been cut short and they were due back any minute. I forced myself to straighten up and make sure the walking path was navigable again. Thoroughly disgusted I felt like I had wasted my time. But then I thought about how much I had gotten rid of. Hundreds of pounds of junk was no longer in my house. Even though it might not look like much, it was that much less I would have to deal with in the future.
The experience also inspired me to tackle my own closet. It was much smaller and less daunting then the one I had already done. With only an hour or two of work I was able to get my closet in great shape and feel like I had accomplished something.
Beyond just cleaning up that closet I also learned a valuable lesson. Even good stuff that is stored away becomes bad stuff eventually. There is no sense in keeping things you are not going to use. It only makes it that much harder on you later. Now I have started to just throw/give away things that do not have to be kept. I try to get at least one bag a week in my trunk and off to Goodwill. This helps me to keep the clutter from building up again. Hopefully one day I can get the clutter in my home under control, but until that point I will try my best to not add to it.
I have started to think of clutter like the chains in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Every day we build a new link in the chains that bind us when we continue to let junk build up in our lives. The only way to break free is to stop building the chains and start working to undo them.
This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter an item of costume jewellery.
Eco Tip for the Day
Take a few lesson on sewing and/or simple handyman tasks. This way you can repair things rather than throwing them out and buying a new one. My local hardware store give free lessons or repairing and repurposing, maybe yours does too.
For a full list of my eco tips so far click here
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow