Day 237 Getting carried away

I know I still have a lot of stuff in my home to go through and get rid of. Stuff I have been avoiding to be quite honest because of the degree of difficulty. Now that I am almost into the last third of my year long quest I really am going to have to start to tackle these items but that is not what today’s post is about.

Does anyone think that along the journey of decluttering they started to get a little too intent on just purging and forget to be objective about it. You know, started getting rid of stuff that was really quite functional to them but they had gotten so obsessed with decluttering that they weren’t making rational decisions any more.

If there can be hoarders then there can also be those who get a little obsessive compulsive in the other direction once set on the path. Now I suppose I am getting a little carried away with the degree here but it could easily happen that we do get caught up in the process of decluttering and we become a little too ruthless in our approach.

I know that there has been the odd thing I considered decluttering but my husband said “don’t get too carried away” and I have done the same for him. So it is possible to get caught up in the momentum and get a little reckless. I suppose this falls in the category of  “Decluttering Regrets” that we have discussed before but from a different angle.

I would love to hear if any of you have had any experience with this or know of any such stories from others.

ITEM 237 OF 365 LESS THINGS

This old tattered and torn cloths bag had been hanging over my ball gowns in my closet. When I went through my camphor wood chest recently I found three perfectly good bags going to waste and one was long enough to replace this one. So in the bin it goes and the other has taken its place protecting my (I must admit) only occasionally worn dresses.

Another Suite Bag


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. I think we can all get carried away at times so that it helps to have someone to hold us accountable. But I also think that there are those who go way over the edge when it comes to decluttering. The big thing is do we recognize it and stop. If so then we are just enjoying the freedom and we got a little carried away. the problem comes if we don’t recognize it and argue over it or hide it. That’s again why it is good to have someone to hold us accountable and be on the lookout for any OCD tendencies.

  2. I recently read a post somewhere (I believe it was on Unclutterer.com) about people who have gone completely digital and ditched all material possessions except their electronics – phones, ipods, computers, etc – and a few clothes. Basically these people lived out of backpacks and camped in other people’s homes because they had no permanent residences of their own. Just for the record, this was their daily existence, not a travel adventure. So that said, yes, I think it is very possible to go too far off the deep end of decluttering when you’ve gone so far as to be a burden to others.

    • Donna, As you allude to, those people aren’t living without wordly goods; they’re just living without THEIR OWN worldly goods. A fancy dressing for what is also called freeloading!

    • Hi Donna,
      I can’t even understand why anyone would want to live this kind of lifestyle. The instability would drive me crazy but different strokes for different folks I suppose. That being said, I agree with you, free loading may work for them but I am sure they often outstay their welcome and disrupt other peoples homes.

  3. I now have one decluttering regret in my experience. It happened while I was decluttering with a friend and we were going quickly to try and finish. A couple things got tossed in our excitement of finishing such a big task because we weren’t thinking well. We chucked the plastic lid of a 9×12 pan. It was badly cracked but not yet broken. I miss that thing SO MUCH and am seeking a replacement. Everytime I use that pan now, I have to cover it with foil or Saran. Yuck. While I haven’t gotten carried away overall, that was one time when I did.

    • Hi Cindy,
      it is easy for that to happen when you tackle a lot at once and just want to get finished. That is why I love to do it one day at a time rather than doing bulk decluttering it gives me more time to make good decisions and less mess to deal with in one event.

  4. I’m just going to come out and say it – just as hoarders are classified as obsessive over possessions, some minimalists can be too. I don’t aspire to that kind of minimalism; I aspire to a minimalism that rejects rampant consumerism, makes my life easier, creates mental and physical space, and hopefully humbles me a little bit! I also agree with Cindy, people who are that minimalist are just using OTHER people’s stuff (dishes etc.) I don’t think that’s what counts.

    So far I’ve been pretty careful to not get rid of anything useful, but I’m far from finished and I can get carried away too. Really enjoy your blog!

    • Hello TheSimplePoppy,
      I like your version of minimalism it matches my version to the letter. I had a quick look at your blog and I couldn’t help but get the impression you are feeling a little down at the moment and the decluttering isn’t happening quick enough. Be patients and don’t be hard on yourself I am sure you are doing a great job it just isn’t always easy to see from your own eyes at times. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment here at 365lessthings we enjoy every voice that is added to the group and please drop in as often as you like.

    • Hi TheSimplePoppy,
      I’m with you and Colleen on minimalism. I love reading your blog because you have so much common sense and are so straight forward and courageous in saying what you think. I especially enjoy your post “Counting My Stuff? Huh?”. I LOL every time I read it. There is a quote by William Morris that is floating around the blogosphere that I truly aspire to: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” That’s a good balance.

  5. I know the potential to go overboard is within me. What keeps me from doing that is I share a home with a husband and four children. I have imagined loading up nearly everything and hauling it off because I get so TIRED of dealing with it all. I know that act in itself would not cure my mental clutter and stress but it’s still appealing. Every day life with several family members forces me to keep stuff in my home that I’d prefer to toss.

    As for regrets, I recently posted a wingback chair for sale. A lady asked for photos but never replied. Husband was taking a load to the thrift store so I had him take the chair as I was tired of moving it around and trying to keep it clean and ready to sell. Doncha know, that woman called that very morning and wanted to make an appointment to come see the chair! I lost $50 by not having it here to sell. She admitted she should have gotten her act together and contacted me sooner but still, I regretted sending the chair that day. At least the thrift shop benefitted!

    • Hi Lisa in NM,
      This post seems to have attracted several new commenters who are frustrated with the lack of progress they feel they are making and I sympathise with you all. It is a much easier task the fewer people there are in the household so I can just imagine how frustrating it must be with four children and a husband all with their own accumulation of clutter. You never stop decluttering went your children are growing either because their needs are constantly changing. All you can do is try to stay on top of things and encourage those around you to help out where they can.
      I am sorry that you lost $50 on the wing chair deal I bet you could have just screamed. What’s done is done though and all you can do is be happy it is out of the way. Cheer up and try to focus on the things you can control.

      • Lisa, I sell a lot on Craigslist. Especially furniture, folks will come to your house to look but won’t buy. The color won’t be what they hoped for, or the chair doesn’t fit them well, or between the four they’ve been looking at, they like a different one better. The chair being gone was lost potential, but not necessarily lost cash. : )

        • Once I’ve emailed photos, as I did in the case of the wingback chair, I’ve never had anyone come to see in person that didn’t buy. I’m sure the lady that called was going to buy it, she’d already seen it in photos. Those who don’t like the look of it, tell me via email. I could have waited another day or two letting dh haul it off and made the sale but I was antsy to have more space in our shop/garage. The thrift shop funds a ministry we support so we look at all of our donations to them as donations to the ministry. That’s a good purpose for things we don’t want or need. I’m plenty cheerful as we have sold a lot of stuff this summer, easily and without hassle 🙂
          I’ve been an organizer my entire life, even as a child, but I usually focused on organizing what I had, not looking at what I had and decluttering. To be doing that now is tons of fun for me and I feel less burdened every time I let loose of something I never should have kept. Well organized cabinets and closets can be deceiving because they appear so neat and tidy. But, too much is too much and that is my focus now. Since we’re expecting to downsize to a smaller home in the not-too-distant future, this is all part of that goal.

          • Hi Lisa in NM,
            you are right about how an organised home doesn’t look like a cluttered home even though it is. I have always been organised too and it can be deceptive to outsiders and to yourself. That is why I don’t write about organising in my blog because that is just encouraging clutter in my opinion.

    • Lisa, it’s not like having $50 in your hand, but don’t forget to claim it as a deduction on your tax return. That might help a bit.

  6. I don’t so much overdo it as I forget whether I’ve gotten rid of something or not. I often find myself wondering “do I still own that?” and then wasting time looking for it. This may not be a de-cluttering problem, though; just a middle-age memory-loss problem!

    • Hi Eve,
      I can relate to your “middle-age memory loss” problem. When my family moved back here from 7 years overseas I could have sworn that I never got rid of my pink bicycle before we had left and when it didn’t come out with the items that had been left in storage I was very confused (actually I still am) but it wasn’t on the invertory so I must have sold it or something. Not to worry! 😉

  7. I’ve liberated over 800 items this year and DO NOT MISS A SINGLE ONE! In fact, it feels wonderful. Being a huge bibliophile, I’ve even gotten rid of 2 bookshelves and a couple of hundred books – something I could not have even contemplated a couple of years ago, when I started decluttering. By the way, I am by no means a minimalist 🙂

    • Hi Loretta,
      it doesn’t sound like you have gotten carried away it just sounds like you are being realistic about what you need and what is excess to your needs. You are doing a great job of decluttering and I know that wonderful feeling you speak of.

  8. I definitely have the capability to go overboard in either direction. I tend to be compulsive and addictive and I have to keep a *constant* watch on myself and what I’m doing. Just as my husband helps keep me accountable on getting rid of stuff, he keeps me accountable for keeping it, too! He reminds me I don’t HAVE to get rid of something that means so much to me just because it’s useless, lol.

    • Hi Lynn,
      thank you for being so honest about yourself with us, you may be surprised at how helpful that can be to others in the same situation. You are so lucky to have a husband who is aware of how things are for you and is willing to help keep you on track.

  9. i just have to say how difficult it is to declutter in a big household. getting everyone on board just isn’t easy and i’ve taken some ridicule for my minimalism. it can be frustrating but i just hope my peace of mind, ability to do with less and appreciate what i keep can set an example over time.

    • Hi Albert,
      what a good attitude and I hope your influence does rub off on those around you. I am sure the ridicule is only there to hide their envy.

  10. Hi Colleen,
    Sometimes, I jump on the bandwagon and pursue an idea and want to talk about it all the time. That may be a form of obsession. But my interest in simplicity and minimalism isn’t a fad; it’s been around inside me for most of my adult life. I’ll never go beyond a certain level of minimalism because, well, I like to be comfortable. My friends may think I am going overboard, but I just can’t see keeping things that annoy me by their very presence in my house.

    I agree with you and others that the ultimate minimalists out there may think they have freedom, but it comes at a cost to other people. That’s not freedom; that’s selfishness and self-centeredness.

    • Hi Willow,
      talking about it spreads the word to people who may have had the same feelings but didn’t know how to put them into action, so talk, talk, talk I say.

  11. Calico Ginger :

    Not one single thing have I regretted! I used to live with a clutter-hound and I SO don’t miss the helplessness and suppressed anger I experienced having him dictate to me what “our” space should be used for / how it should look. People can be clutter too – and being back in control of my own environment is great!

    • Hi Calico Ginger,
      it can be hard to get on with another person when you are fundamentally miles apart. I am glad you have your space back to do with what you want.

  12. I think it is possible to get carried away, and especially through inspiration when reading what others are doing. We have to each find a balance that works for us. At the moment everything I own, except my little pick-up truck, a few clothes and things necessary for my dietary needs, grooming items, computer and camera equipment is packed in storage. I know already that some of those things I will definitely use again when I move to my own place, but I also know that much of it I will continue to purge from my life. ♥

    • Hi Betty Jo,
      I agree with you, each of us have a balance that works for us. Your circumstances are a little unique to you and I am sure you know exactly what is right for you especially since you have had a lot of practise at “joy with less” lately.
      I hope no one ever takes things to far because they have taken my advice to extreme which is why I have a disclaimer letting everyone know that I am not a professional at either decluttering or psychology.

    • Hi Betty Jo! Glad you’re back 🙂

  13. After reading through the comments I realize I’m one of those people living with others things at the moment (for a few months waiting for our two-family move). Of course I was invited by my son and family to live with them during our transition, so in a sense I’m just visiting, although I will be helping with utility bills and rent as long as I’m here. It’s the right thing to do. This kind of living is not for me on a long-term basis and it has made me think more about the people in the minimalism world who live this way continuously out of a backpack or whatever. Some who live in teeny houses park the house in the backyard of friends or relatives, then write about how inexpensive it is to live that way without utility bills, etc. That simply seems like irresponsibility to me. I agree with the other comments, when our minimalism becomes a burden on others, then we’re definitely on the wrong track.

  14. Hi Betty Jo,
    there is no way that any of us would every think that you were a freeloader. You are a lovely lady who is just trying to find the right place for your needs at the moment. I hope you have some luck with that soon and get settled. Oh and I have been loving your new photo blog.
    http://bettyjosview.blogspot.com/ for anyone reading this that haven’t checked it out yet.

    • Colleen you’re the best. I’ve learned so much through packing and storing my stuff. Basically, I’ve learned I still have too much! Actually a friend had a spare room that I could temporarily store my stuff, as all the storage rental units use pesticide sprays once per week and I’m so sensitive I can’t put my stuff into them. Thank you so much for your comments about the new blog. Once settled I truly hope to turn my photography into a much needed source of income. ♥

    • Oh! it is just beautiful, just like Betty Jo! Everyone here should check it out.

  15. I helped a friend yesterday who is putting her whole household in storage (two adults, two middle school kids) for a year. What a lot of work…

    • Hi Willow,
      that does sound like a job and a half. I hate having to do my inventry for a removal but I don’t have to do any of the packing so I have been a little spoiled. Maybe if I did have to do the packing I may have downsized years ago.

      • My friend started out decluttering but as moving day approaches she’s now just shoving things in boxes. It always takes much longer to actually pack everything than you think it will. Estimate x 3 = accurate amount of time

        • Funny you say that, Willow. That’s my mother’s phrase: “Everything takes three times longer than you think it will.”

        • Willow this is sooooo true, Estimate x 3 = accurate amount of time. Fortunately I started decluttering months before packing and storing. Even then, when I got down to the end of things, rather than just shoving into boxes, I began throwing/giving/selling more.

          I seem to be growing into minimalism day by day, and have learned so much more about myself and my true needs/comfort level through this process of decluttering, packing, and storing of my belongings. So my only regret is that in the beginning of packing, I didn’t get rid of even more. With each passing day and week I’m more aware of the amount of stuff I’m happy with. So there will be more purging on the other end. It seems to be an ongoing process.

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