Decluttering Deadlines

Three years of decluttering and all of a sudden I have a deadline. I have a little under four weeks to do my best to ensure that what we own will indeed fit into a much smaller dwelling. Going from a two car lock-up garage to a single car space with no storage cage means we can only keep from the garage what we are willing to fit into the apartment. Aside from that there are a few things we will offload from the inside of our house and that should be all that needs doing to make the move. We may get even more ruthless once we are in, because we don’t want to go from a decluttered house to an over stuffed apartment.

At this point in time I am so glad I started this mission to minimise our belongings well ahead of time with no real deadline. Decluttering with a deadline can potentially be a very stressful responsibility. One never knows in life when such a situation might occur. So there is no time like the present to start this process.

Having executed my mission over a long period of time has given me the freedom to let go when I am ready, take my time to sell what I want to sell and find good homes for all of the wonderful stuff that I knew would not fit my intended lifestyle. Performing the same task quickly has the potential of being not only stressful but also fraught with quick decision making that could prove costly. Either by not having the time for selling or by letting go of things that may need to be replaced.

I have no doubt that slow and steady decluttering is a far more relaxed approach to decluttering. What do you think?

Today’s Mini Mission

Choose an item that you don’t want in your home that isn’t yours and then ask the owner if they are willing to declutter it. Perhaps they don’t care about it either.

Eco Tip for the Day

Save electricity by not turning on electrical appliances, like irons, hair straighteners etc, too long before you use them and by not leaving them on while you decide to take a break during the task.

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


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Owning your life skill ~ By Doodle One of our long time regular readers Doodle has kindly agreed to help out here at 365 by writing a blog post for me every other Wednesday. Today is her first regular post although not the […]
  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Count the Mintues Cindy's Weekly Wisdom Last week, I wrote a post praising the wonderful feeling of getting old to-dos done. As I suspected, I was not alone in 1) having pletny of old to-dos that needed […]
  • Simple Way back in the early days of my decluttering mission I wrote a post about keeping it simple. I stand by those words to this day and have pasted them below for you to study again. Here […]
About Colleen Madsen

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

Comments

  1. Slow and steady wins the race, but I figure you’re such an experienced “runner” by this point that you’ll be able to power through the change with a minimum of hang ups and fuss. Really trimming down the garage can be quite an undertaking though, especially since Steve works on his own motorbike, if I remember correctly. Who wants to store greasy tools in the house? I hope your apartment has a generous mud room or laundry room for the garage stuff you feel you must keep. Or perhaps the decrease on the price of the apartment will be enough that you feel that you can pay someone else to care for the yard and maintain the motorbike.

    I think in the US, we’re of two different minds on self-maintenance. One is that doing the work yourself is a virtue, and something that we *ought* to do. The other is that we don’t have enough time / interest, and therefore we should pay someone to do certain tasks for us. I think a better way of thinking about it is a third choice: We are sharing our money and helping others to support their families when we pay for outside work. When my friend Julia was in the Peace Corps in Africa, it was still expected that she would hire a village woman to do some of her domestic chores. Although the Peace Corps certainly didn’t pay Julia a luxury salary, she had more than others, and it was her social duty to share by hiring a native woman.

    • Cindy – its not so different here in New Zealand in fact a very popular advert on tv for a hardware store chain is “DIY (Do It Yourself) – its in our DNA” and the opposition have an ad showing a ‘real man’ who builds his own, fixes his own standing next to a very uncomfortable looking guy who is ‘the other sort’ who pays someone to do his work.

      Our founding settlers sent from England were all trades people and farmers so its almost compulsary here to have a tool pouch and tool box. As the wife of one of these ‘blokes’ – sometimes I’d rather get someone in to get the job done and dusted but it would cause no end of fuss from Adrian. Like the time he decided to install a car door – he thought it would be easy – but it ended up costing us a pane of glass and someone to install it after he broke the window. Having said that, we have a huge deck area which we couldn’t have afforded if we’d had to factor in a builders cost.

      • Hi Moni, for 26 years of married life we have lived in defence housing and one rented property (while in America). We therefore have never needed to lift a finger when it comes to home maintenance because it wasn’t our responsibility. This makes me wonder sometimes why we have so many tools in the first place. They are mostly use to assemble and break down furniture when we move. We haven’t even used a lawnmower for over thirteen years. We will of course be paying strata fees in our new apartment which covers maintenance of the pool, gym, gardens, lift, common areas etc etc.. I can assure you that Steve has never felt uncomfortable about any of the this. He has always been the guy shaking his head wondering why other men spend their precious down time on weekends working around the house and yard. 😉 I am grateful to have been raised to be a self sufficient fix it type myself and that has saved us much money over the years. But this is retirement that we are arranging and we plan on making the most of it.

        • Colleen – I agree completely, its sounds like a wonderful arrangement having those facilities and no maintenance. Fortunately/unfortunately Adrian has almost nil mechanical ability (he keeps that on the down-low amongst his friends) – despite the fact that both his father and brother are very mechanically minded. Sometimes it is a bit frustrating to always have to take the car to a mechanic and to pay – especially as our kids are slowly moving into their own vehicles – but at least that’s one set of tools we haven’t acquired.

          • Cars aren’t what they used to be either. With all the computer operation systems in them it doesn’t pay to tinker with them too much. I have had a issue with my car recently, actually for almost a year, and even the supposed experts can’t figure it out.

    • Hi Cindy, Steve no longer does any work on his bike, so that isn’t going to be a problem. The garage has been very trimmed. The work bench will go to one of the kids as will one of the shelving units (in has been all but empty for a while anyway). And no more storing empty boxes for transporting electrical goods. The removal company will just have to deal with that in the future. If in fact we ever move again. And yes the apartment does have a generous laundry room. However what doesn’t fit goes. We aren’t only buying an apartment we are buying a new lifestyle and home mechanics, gardening, outside maintenance, renovating, etc are blissfully not a part of that lifestyle. So no need for the equipment required. We will of course keep some tools but only those that we are likely to have a use for. I am looking forward to the challenge because there is plenty of stuff I would still be willing for Steve to part with. 😉

      • Oh how I wish I could go buy an apartment and get rid of all of this outside maintenance. I’m still looking. I am excited for you. You will love it.

  2. Firstly I would like to wish you the best of luck in your new home and with all the packing and various arrangements you’ll be busy with over the next few weeks.

    Secondly, I think its funny that you should mention deadlines – Colleen you have reminded me that slow and steady is the best way to tackle this kind of task and its a reminder I think I need right now. I say this because after being at this for a year and a half almost now I had set myself in mind a deadline to have this finished in 2 months time when I return to my university studies as the final two years are the hardest and count for the most in terms of grades.

    However I think with not all that long left to go until my self-imposed deadline that I am going to have to accept that whilst I have achieved a lot in those 18 months and the room is becoming more and more manageable by the week as things slowly find their way out – in the past 5 months alone I’ve gotten rid of nearly 1100 items – I am not going to be ‘finished’ anytime soon. Perhaps a more realistic goal would be to be finished by the time I have graduated and am looking at homes of my own.

    I think that’s okay though because as Colleen says, when moving does come around I’ll be ready for it, and until then I’ll keep at it with the slow and steady approach I learnt from 365 all those months ago and which has been so invaluable to me ever since.

    • Hi Jane, thank you for the best wishes. I am sure I am up for the challenge. Taking a seven week vacation in between preparing and moving will be a Godsend.

      I think you have the right idea. Don’t get yourself all stressed out ahead of your studies trying to complete a task that really doesn’t have to go any faster than it already is. Take your time and do it at your own relaxed, stress-free pace.

  3. You are so right!

    Congratulations on your move, and good luck with the rest of the decluttering decisions. It’s wonderful to see how your approach paid off for you.

    I really like this week’s mini-missions. They have given me a boost at a time that is busy and stressful for me … and I was stuck on a few things. Now is the time to make those decisions and be done with it.

    • Hi Jo H, and thank you.
      “Now is the time to make those decisions and be done with it.” I like that attitude. I have been making a few of those decisions lately myself and quite frankly it feels good. The bandaid effect is a lot less painful and procrastination anyway. Good luck with those decisions.

  4. Wow! Sounds like a big change but I think you’ll love it. And you’ve been exercising your decision making muscles for a long time now so that will definitely help. I also find it helps to take a break to do something totally different as soon as you realize you are putting everything in either the keep or the get rid of pile. It’s okay to do either, but since I wanted to make sure that I was making sensible decisions, that was my signal to take a break.

    • Hi Sassy. The beauty of this final push is that we will be forced to finally get rid of things I really have been wanting to be rid of anyway. Things that have been kept, not necessarily by me, just because we had the room. What I want is less room which equals less cleaning and I am surely getting that.

  5. Actually, I’m thinking of turning it around: I only want to keep what will fit in my appartment. I’m not taking furniture with me, and my ideal is not much furniture. I’m going to thrift stores fo-r “new” furniture, and I’m thinking that instead of moving, I’m going to “decorate” my new appartment with my stuff, instead of “moving”. Everything for which I like, and has it place, is allowed to go. Everything that doesn’t fit in it, goes.

    • Hi Dymphy, I like my furniture and we don’t have to pay for the removal so I will be keeping what I have. I am sure the furniture will all fit comfortably it is only some of the stuff from linen closets and the like that I am doubtful about. Stuff they I would really have no problem letting go of.

  6. Good luck with your move! I know how stressful it can be as the time gets closer and there seems to be so much to do before the big day.
    We recently moved from a 2000 sq ft home to a 1300 sq ft home built in 1924 (extremely small closets). I am so thankful that I started decluttering a long time ago or we would not fit into our current home. The lesson I am learning from my home in the historic district is that if people in 1924 could live with a lot less stuff, so can I. I do not regret downsizing. I am loving “living cozy” in my little house.

    • Emily – if you don’t mind me asking – shifting to a smaller house, how long did it take you to adapt? I want our next house to be smaller. I realise there is always an adaption period when shifting house, figuring out what works best where, and realising what you took for granted in the old house versus the new house etc. Decluttering prior always is the best option, but what obstacles and challenges did you face?

      • It has not taken long at all, but I was soooo ready to move. What I like best is that I no longer have the responsibility of a huge yard. Some people love gardening; I don’t. It was time to admit that. The challenges have been going from 4 bedrooms to 3. My boys now have to share a room. My oldest leaves for college next month, but his bed will stay in little brother’s room. The other challenge is no pantry in the kitchen. I used to have a big area for storing food. Now, it is just a few cupboards in the kitchen.
        I thought about this move for a long time (a year or so) before we did it. I knew what I was looking for (walkable neighborhood, close to activities, good schools, etc.) Maybe I am so focused on the pros that I am willing to overlook a lot of the cons. Still, there are so many things in life more important than the size of your house (like what happens inside of it!)

        • Hi Emily, so long as those pros are outwieghting the cons you are on a winner I would say. I am not much of a gardener either so I doubt I will miss that. However I will have to have a herb pot though. I like my fresh mint, basil and rosemary. The new place has a pantry but I don’t store much food so it will be used to hold electical appliances. Any leftover space in the kitchen, as I am confident there will be plenty can be used to store other things. Perhaps the drill and our motorcycle helmets for example. I love living outside the box so this should be fun for me.

    • Thanks for that Emily, I feel the same way and am sure I won’t be changing my mind. The apartment has quite small closets too. So anything that doesn’t fit in will either be decluttered or might get tucked out of sight somewhere until something else wears out. My clothes all fit and I like them and wear them all so not much point getting rid of them now only to need to replace the ones I kept in six months or a year. We will see.

  7. I was thinking about you this weekend, Colleen. You know I just got rid of a ton of stuff to charity last weekend and now that I have that space open, my fingers are itching to go through it all again. I’m going to have some free afternoons this week and as it has been raining and I cannot seem to get the exterior painting done but I do have some painting to do in the kitchen and maybe can finally get those things all put back in place. We still have the china hutch in the guest room.

    Regarding going from having a garage to not having a garage: Saturday I borrowed a neighbor’s scaffolding and was able to get one exterior wall done and hubby said that we should get our own. I told him that was crazy since 1) we don’t have a garage for storing it, but two little sheds, 2) the neighbor is happy to loan us his scaffolding in exchange for either a 6-pack of beer or a home-cooked meal, and 3) it’s something along the lines of 5 years between paint jobs! Why not share? Why buy, buy, buy? I am trying to get this all into his head!

    You had once posted about decluttering unnecessary artwork. This morning I pulled out some artwork that had been stacked away and I know hubby will absolutely NOT want them to go. So I cleaned the frames and the glass and thought, “Colleen would think this is silly and to get rid of them.” You pick your battles, I guess. 😉

    Good luck to you in continuing with your inventory and other move preparations. I know you’ll do great!

    • Michelle – I wondered how all the work was going. Adrian (my hubby) has always had this idea that he wants a second set of tools at home. He is self-employed, has a workshop set up with every tool known to mankind, the builders next door reckon they’re not as well set up, so my argument has always been to just bring home what you need. And if he’s being honest, over the last year or so it has only been a battery drill that’s been needed.

    • Hi Michelle, I don’t think that is silly at all. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. I know we are going to have too much art for the walls we have in this new place but I will leave it mostly up to my husband to decide what has to go. I am sure he will choose wisely.

  8. Calico ginger :

    Hi Colleen, I also just have a car space and no cage – you do get very creative where the garage stuff lives! But on the plus side there is nowhere to “just stick” stuff anymore (not that you and Steve would have that attitude). I find I now have just what I need to manage household repairs etc, nothing extra. I would be permitted to install a special kind of mini-shed at the end of the parking space if I requested it but the idea of paying quite a lot of money to buy something to put stuff in sticks in my craw now. However it might be the answer to motor bike accessories etc.

    • I am nothing if not imaginative so I will find a way to make this work. Thanks for the moral support Calico ginger. The bike gear already lives in the house here so hopefully it will fit into the apartment. As for any other useful stuff, we are palming that off to the kids so we can always borrow it back. 😉

  9. I’m with you on slow and steady decluttering. While the instant fix of a quick declutter often looks good, it generally doesn’t work that way. Who hasn’t pulled everything out of a cupboard, only to get sidetracked in reminiscing? Or called away when everything is out, and then come back to the task but the momentum or motivation is gone?

    And I think when you deal with everything at once, you make poor choices. I tend to hang onto too much. It just is too sudden for me to let go of things.

    With the slow approach, I am not just dealing with the stuff, but reflecting on why I bought it, why I hung onto it, and why I feel the way I do about it. Hopefully, I will not repeat my past behaviours. Tossing a whole lot at once means I miss that critical phase of dealing with me, not just dealing with things.

    On today’s mini mission, I returned three items, one a golf umbrella printed with the organisation’s crest, to a previous employer. I originally kept them as momentos of my time there. But I found I could never use them. I could hardly walk into my current workplace with items branded from a competitor down the road. So they hung around my house making me feel guilty at taking them. (I didn’t steal. I asked if I could have them as part of my farewell gift.) I couldn’t throw them in the bin. They are too good to end up in landfill. So I finally returned them. The organisation was happy to have them back as they do not have a lot of funds. They understood why I couldn’t keep the items. And now the items are being used.

    • Hi Lucynda, I agree whole heartedly on your reasons why decluttering slowly and steadily often works better than the slap dash approach. And I am also glad you returned those items to where they will become useful again.

    • Hi Lucinda, yes I have been there too more often than not. It is mainly with my craftroom which is in a constant reorganising , sorting, decluttering. It amazes me how much paper can mount up (just bits of little bits). My last effort was to pull it out and have it around the dining room for two weeks. i did sort heaps & threw or donated heaps but in the end it got put back in there & it still looks messy to me. so I am going to take your advise & do a little at a time when I have the time.

  10. I like deadlines but am really glad we have done so much already.

    I’m happy dancing here today. Mom decided to get rid of several things today–more than 5. AND she told me that if we like this one place I want us to go look at that she is all for moving because then we don’t have the grounds here to take care of etc. Again, we really like our place here but it would be so much better if we didn’t have so much that needs taken care of and we can’t do it. It doesn’t hurt to look.

  11. Good luck with your move Colleen! I agree that it is almost always better to not procrastinate on any chore you want to accomplish because if you do you’ll find yourself having to hurry and rush and maybe not do the chore to the best of your ability. That’s why I’ve started packing already and we haven’t even found a house to buy yet! lol. I figure if I can pack a few boxes a week I can go about it slowly and make sure anything fragile has been packed up correctly. We currently have a 2 car garage right now too and have no idea if we will have a garage at all when we do find a new house. We’ve already gone through a lot of what was in the garage and reduced by quite a bit. Maybe even by half. We could get rid of more though if need be. I decided that if we do not have a garage in the new house that I will keep the cooler in the trunk of my car as it would be useful there when grocery shopping anyhow to keep the cold items cold.

    • Hi Melissa, I am lucky that I don’t have to pack anything because my husbands job pays for that. However I have started boxing up little items, that are usually kept in drawers etc, into tupperware containers. This is for easy of unpacking at the other end as well as not getting lost in between and simplifying the packing process on the day so it goes quicker. Of course I am decluttering as I go. These things might be small but they can still be clutter and the little stuff does add up.

  12. I think the slow and steady pace of decluttering with no deadline is the best way to go. BUT life isn’t that organised , and we can’t expect to travel along putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. There are people who say they thrive on a challenge, that’s good, I used to think I did. I much prefer to be relaxed when I need to do something rather than be stressed out about it. If you don’t have a deadline, pretend to have one.
    I think we all have the ultimate ‘dead’ line. Maybe if we were conscious of it we would spend more time living and not accumulating stuff.
    Cheers

    • Wendy F – exactly! 2-3 years ago it occured to me that my kids would eventually leave home (my son would have been 15 at the time) and that although it was still a way off wouldn’t it be a shame to miss an opportunity for something new and exciting because of tonnes of stuff.
      I love a challenge and especially an organisation challenge, but I’d rather go the path of “wouldn’t it be cool to shift house and be set up again within 4 hours” or something like that. To minimalise the impact of house shifting rather than turn it into a travelling circus or something major that takes days/weeks to recover from.

    • Hi Wendy, going slow and steady sure is a lot quicker than putting the job off altogether. I have had a deadline everyday since I began decluttering. Each day I had the deadline of finding one thing to declutter. Now that was a deadline that wasn’t hard to achieve. But ultimately I did always have a real deadline I didn’t know when it was but it was there looming. Luckily it didn’t arrive until I was just about done.

      As you always say Wendy, the Universe will provide.

  13. Colleen – I’m surprised at how excited I am for you. With this shift, do the military shift you or is this a couple of mates, a trailer and crate of beers type shift? Just wondering if that inventory you have been working on was needed for a cross-town shift.

    If you don’t mind me asking some nosy questions:
    What is the size difference ie floor space between your current house and the apartment?
    Will all your furniture such as dining room table, sofas etc fit in? (one of my work mates always does scale drawings of the rooms and furniture and works out in advance if it will fit and where they will place everything).

    A friend who shifted into an apartment realised after the shifters arrived with everything that her fridge/freezer, washing machine and dryer didn’t fit the spaces in the new apartment and her couch was too big and she had no room around her bed to fit all the drawers and scotch dresser etc. The apartment was very very small but view was amazing. I think she had to put all her stuff into storage while it sold and she initially hired a fridge and a few pieces of furniture while she got past the initial shifting and set up costs, she may have used a laundromat for a while. She was a classic case of see-it-love-it-buy-it while apartment shopping and didn’t think to request the floor plan or take a tape measure. Her new stuff definately suits the apartment better but a shame she didn’t think of it before paying for her old stuff to be shifted to the new apartment and then back out and to a storage lock up.

    • Hi Moni. The move happens like this ~ A team of professionals come to our house one day, wrap and pack everything, that will fit, securely into moving boxes. Every box is marked with its contents and which room it will belong in. Every boxed or large unboxed item gets a number. Those numbers are listed clearly on an office document with about four copies. One for us, one for them and one to be marked off at the other end when the boxes are set down and one just in case. All the items are then picked up the next day, taken to the new location, as each item or box leaves the truck it is marked off (by us) against the manifest from the day before. They are then carried by the team into the dwelling and unpacked by them in the rooms that they belong in. Any breakages or damages are marked down to be claimed on their insurance (every nick every scratch). And we pay nothing for this service as it is payed for by the defence force.

      We have not only taken a tape measure and measured up the fridge and washer spaces. We also have a near-enough floor plan of the apartment. We have used these measurements along with the measurements of our furniture and have determined that there will be no problem with the fit. In fact the master bedroom works better than the one we have now. While the second bedroom with fit a queen bed, bedside tables, a tub chair and my craft furniture. It was obviouse from the first visit that what we have would fit as there was already furniture in there and it was equally if not bigger than ours. As for the size difference ~ the house we have now is about 169m² including the garage while the apartment is 104m² not including the car space.

      • Would love to always have this kind of help for moves. Instead we do all the packing using the same methods of marking. Friends load it and unload it and then we unpack it. It has always gone well for which I am very thankful. Am very thankful for the friends too. I think it is great that you already know things will fit. I can’t wait to see pictures of your new place.

      • Colleen – it sounds very organised. Someone else has already said it but I too am living vicariously thru you on this shift.
        Ironically when Adrian and I first moved to the area with our son (who was a baby) we had a run of bad luck with rentals ie being put on the market and sold, landlords needing back for a son returning to the area, one house had a building issue, etc etc we shifted 5 times in the first year alone. Fortunately we didn’t have a lot of stuff and not much furniture although babies do seem to have a lot of equipment. One shift, the landlord said we could have the house with a first week rent holiday if we could be in by 10 that night as she’d had problems with vandals and squatters. Naturally Adrian agreed to this (I wasn’t with him) and he came in at around 5.30 while I was peeling the potatos and gave me the news. His brother turned up at 6 to help and I was literally dumping things into boxes (I’d collected a few) no wrapping or packaging. Kitchen appliances being dumped on the backseat of my car and clothes straight into the boot of the car. All of my sons stuff was being dumped into the cot and the pantry and fridge goods into the laundry basket and onto the floor of the car. Fortunately Adrian had a work van and his brother brought with him his dad’s trailer. The funniest part was they loaded the slat bed onto the trailer still made up. Lost a couple of decorative pillows on the trip but Adrian was glad to be rid of them. It took several trips back and forth and fortunately it was only about a kilometre away but we were in by 9. Of course, by then we were quite practiced at dismantling the house ie washing machines, dryers etc and it was fortunate that I’d just finished drying and folding the laundry. But jeepers it was a buzz and it was also a bit disconcerting. Fortunately my son wasn’t too upset by the upheaval, I think the cat was more out of sorts. As for the other house, the landlord was happy as his son needed a house and so it worked out well.

  14. Frankly, I feel like we should be so attached to anything that we could give it all up if we had to, except maybe our wedding rings and some family pictures. I was wondering what the size difference will be from your old place to your new place. I agree that slow and steady is the best.

  15. I have been doing this Decluttering Journey since Jan 2012. What has worked for me is a mix of Slow and Steady and Get As Much As I Can Out Now!! I try to do a little each day/week and then about every two-three months I do a large purge(over the course of a week or so). It helps me keep at the clutter with doing something small all the time but the large purge then helps me see more progress when I feel like stuff is getting overwhelming. Latest purge this past week and today was inspired by a friend needing to have a yard sale to raise money for a little boy needing a home. They are adopting from Uganda for the third time and he is ready for them, they just need to raise the funds fast. It inspired me to get a large amount out of the house especially knowing it was going to a great cause.

    • Angel – I too work with a mix of Slow and Steady and Get As Much As I Can Out Now!
      What a great cause! I hope the yard sale raises the funds needed.

    • Hi Angel, I agree, your system would work just as well. Because you are still doing it over a long period the lesson to not reclutter is strong. The inspiration to donate a bunch of stuff to raise funds for the adoption of that little boy is not only commendable but makes it easy to let go. I hope the fundraising goes well and that dear little boy gets the best chance in life.

    • Me too angel- a mix of slow and steady and then full on big sort when the mood takes me.

  16. Colleen, I think I will be living vicariously through your move towards a more efficient space! Even with the deadline ahead, you are reaping the fruit of your past few years’ labor. Thank you for this wonderful place of inspiration. Good wishes for your move and enjoy your vacation!

    • Hi Vicki K, I am glad you are finding the inspiration you need here at 365 Less Things. I am actually beginning to enjoy this last fine tuning purge. Even if the sale fell through we will be set for the next step on our journey.

  17. I would say I’m a natural minimalist and decluttering has never been an issue for me it just happens naturally, however my husband is a pack rat whose parents are hoarders ( the really scary house is a death trap kind) and as a result my husband grew up living in mess and filth. I have had to learn to be extremely patient with him and to be able to see one item out the door at a time as a big victory. My husband was never taught to toss things out if you bought a replacement, he was never taught how to tidy up or put things in order or to put a limit on things. At first I was really impatient because I just didn’t understand his attachment to stuff or why he was so messy and then one day it dawned on me that this was how he’d been raised -to him it was normal to live in a mess and to search through piles to find stuff, he just didn’t see the disorder as a problem in fact he didn’t see it at all! I realised we weren’t going to get any where by fighting over it except perhaps the divorce court. So I changed my approach and tried to be more respectful and encouraging and to look for small victories..That was about six years ago and since then we have made steady progress though I won’t deny there haven’t been a few fights along the way. My husband still has way more stuff than me and that will probably always be the case but I no longer fear him becoming a hoarder like his parents or that clutter will end our marriage. So I would definitely agree that slow and steady is the way to go.

    • Hi Saskia and welcome to 365 Less Things. It must have been and still is frustrating for you at times. Although my husband and I have the same overall decluttering goal, he has a tendency to be more attached to his stuff than I do mine. I find that small difference frustrating, so I can only begin to imagine what your situation has been like. I am guessing that your husband has many other qualities that more than make up for this one less acceptable aspect of his behaviour. Well done both of you for growing closer together on this. Balance is what a successful marriage is all about, as not one of us is perfect for the other.

  18. I think slow and easy is the way to go. I did not get to declutter as much as I wanted with my last move, so it has been my priority since then to rid myself of the things that needed to go. I want to get rid of enough that once my children have begun their own lives, in their own places, that we will look around and know that downsizing is the only way to go. The more that you get rid of, the more that you are able to really think about what is left and the usefulness of those items. The more that one gets rid of, the less that your judgement is clouded by stuff. I know this will be a great move for you and Steve and I wish nothing but the best to come. Enjoy that vacation!

    • Hi Jen, thank you for the well wishes and I have every intention of making the best of our nice long vacation.

      I know people who think that I am odd for wanting to downsize. They have it in their heads that I should have a home big enough for my children to both come home at once if they need to. I would be able to put a roof over their heads but not comfortable enough that they would want to stay after getting back on their feet. We have raised the kids and it is now their job to take care of themselves.

      • My brother and his wife did exactly the same Colleen – downsized to an apartment from a family home once their 2 children had left by 20. It has worked really well for them over the last decade and their children have happily fended for themselves, coming to visit and one staying once for a time limited few months to get back on their feet and off they went again. They much prefer not having a garden to maintain and less to clean etc.
        I’ve got quite a little house, I think of a similar square meterish to your apartment – a very typical British Victorian terraced property (that means built between 1837 and 1901 joined to identical houses either side of me) and I certain have never craved anything bigger.
        We rent our 2nd bedroom to a lodger so make good use of space.

        I love the thought of you downsizing. You’ve got all the skills in place to have the final de-cluttering push. How exciting to be actively choosing each item that goes into your new home as either loving it or needing it and nothing extra.
        Ooh, makes me want to leap into our loft and get rid of the next two things on my list right now – wooden bookshelves and a floor standing fan that someone else could be using. I won’t do it now however, as it’s 10.30 at night and I think my husband would object ,lol.

        • Hi Doodle,
          I look at it this way… I don’t drive a big car because the small one I have is cheaper to run and still does the speed limit. I don’t have a garden where I grow more vegetable than I can eat. So why live in a dwelling that houses more people than is intending to live there full time. It is funny that when a person admits to having there 30+ year old offspring still living with them other people think that is ridiculous. That the 30+ year old needs to grow up. But tell some people that you are moving into a two bedroom apartment they think you are mean that you won’t have space for your grown children to all come home. It is a funny old society that we live in.

          I like the sound of your home. There are several old terrace houses here in newcastle and we have looked at several in our quest to buy. And although we really liked some of them, very few had any sort of car parking arrangement. We aren’t prepared to risk parking on the street as they are usually in areas where there is a lot of night activity, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs etc.

          I agree, digging around in the loft at 10:30 probably isn’t a good idea.

  19. I like a bit of both. Admittedly, lately, because there is no deadline, no urgency, our decluttering has been slowing down of late. There is something motivational about a life change, but I agree it can cause stress.

    I think I can conclude I have no conclusion. Probably caught me on an off day 🙂

    • Hi Mark, I don’t mind a bit of both myself but I still consider it part of the slow and steady process. The stretching out of the overall time promotes a steady learning curve. Where as one quick declutter, like the ones I used to have in the past, just tend to make space for the next round of clutter.

  20. I thought this blog was about how to declutter deadlines not about deadlines for decluttering. 😉

    I am shoving away quite a lot lately again. Although there is no deadline at all. I’m sure it will come in handy though should a deadline come up.
    However, some deadlines for paperwork etc. have become somewhat urgent, so I’m now getting on top of that as well. It’s not all completely done yet, but all in progress, so there is no “should do” looming any longer. I will try to keep it that way from now on.
    Have a nice move, Colleen! I’m sure it won’t be that much a hassle.

    • Hi Sanna, sometimes we just feel the need to off load a little more than usual. I have been doing the same thing now that we will be moving one way or another. Better that it be fine tuning rather than a big panic.