Finding Colleen’s web site really was an eye-opener for me as I did feel overwhelmed by stuff at the time but didn’t really know where to start. I just moved in with my boyfriend and we both had lived in shared flats before, so we had a mixed jumble of furniture and household goods and got help and cast-offs from many relatives as well. So I was in that new apartment surrounded by lots of stuff that didn’t really match and didn’t really fit either. Moreover as he liked his stuff and I liked mine, of course we didn’t want to give away our own stuff but would have preferred the other’s to be sold, donated or trashed. You know how it’s always easier to point out other people’s trash, as you have no sentimental feelings about it and it might also not suit your taste as well as things chosen by you. As there was not much money to spend on this project and we both have a “no-waste”-mentality, so trashing wouldn’t have come easy anyway, I was so glad to find Colleen’s website and her slow-and-steady approach. From the first day, I stuck to it and it really wasn’t hard to find one thing a day to give away or recycle. I also tried to implement the “one place for everything”- strategy soon, which meant that we joined all our office supplies, tools etc. and started using them up instead of bringing new things in due to not knowing that we already owned something like that.
However over the time, mostly happily hauling small or big bags of stuff to the thrift store every other week, I hit frustration a couple of times. Even after months our apartment wasn’t near to a minimalistic state, we still own quite a lot which isn’t really necessary, just because we or one of us doesn’t want to let it go.
We didn’t drastically reduce our space or furniture and it still seems to be rather well filled. So I asked myself more than once: What did I do all this time? Is there progress at all?
Last september I took a few photos of parts of our apartment, namely shelving units etc.
Here you see our bookcase in the living room then and now. Can you spot the difference? (I can’t help that the after picture is darker, this is due to our winter weather)
Oh yes, it is still full, but note that all that left this bookcase, left for good, while many other things that cluttered other parts of the apartment have found their way in: This suitcase (which holds our yarn stash and knitting needles) had no home before – it was somewhere underneath the sofa or somewhere else on the floor. Same goes for the basket which is now next to my sewing machine – it holds sewing/mending work in progress and was underneath the sofa as well. Also, our bookcase now holds the wrapping paper, my clarinet and three unused canvases that had no real home either.
Mostly books and CDs have been decluttered, but also a few other things, like two vases that went to the thrift store, the little black laquer tray I gave to a friend or the pin cushion which now fits in my sewing kit.
So, yes, although we still have a full bookcase, although there are still many purely sentimental items in it, I can spot a difference in the before and after photos and I know that this means one less moving box for books, which shows to me that I am, after all, making progress, as slow as it may be.
Since Sanna first sent me this post she has decluttered even more. Proof that, over time, one is prepared to relinquish more and more items that once they thought they never would. A job well done I’d say. Below is a very current photo of the decluttered shelves and below that a collage of the Before After and Now shots just so you can compare the difference. As Sanna said when she sent me the new photo this week….
“I just looked at the “before” picture myself for the first time in a couple of months. Wow. I’m amazed by the difference! Taking pictures really does help to see the progress. I wouldn’t have remembered how cluttered it was.”
Today’s Mini Missions
Last but not least I am once again going to harp on about those tchotchkes collecting dust around the home. They have to be cleaned, they have to be housed and they take up valuable space that could be used for something useful. I am not saying get rid of them all, I certainly won’t be. Just do yourself a favour and lighten your space and your work load. Declutter a few more this week.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast