Wendy B, one of our 365ers,Â suggested I ask my readers the following question…
…”What made you decide â€˜Enough! Itâ€™s time to get rid of this stuff!?â€
So here is my story although most of you must know it well by now. My family and I moved back to Australia from the USA into a much smaller home in 2007. Our stuff wouldn’t fit so I eliminated the things that I couldn’t find a space for or didn’t want to keep. Â I thought I would be dissatisfied with this much smaller home but I soon realised it was much easier to care for and decided I never wanted to clean a big home again. By this time the house didn’t look cluttered but all the storage spaces certainly were. Then after discussing retirement options with my husband many times we came to the conclusion that we would downsize homes again when or Â maybe evenÂ before that occasion arose. Needless to say that in order for that to work we would have to eliminate more stuff from our lives. So due to a sudden brainwave on the third of January 2010 I decidedÂ that I would begin a belated new years resolution to declutter one thing a day from my home for an entire year. This challenge was spurred on by a desire to beat the odds that most people never see their resolutions through. Not only did I beat the odds and declutter a thing a day for that year but after two years, four months and fifteen days I have decluttered far more than I ever expected I would. But then I have never been one to do anything half heartedly.
So now the question is…”What made you decide â€˜Enough! Itâ€™s time to get rid of this stuff!?â€ Share your stories with us in 200 words or less including what strategy you used to kick start your mission.
And I have another question for those who are struggling with committing themselves to the challenge to declutter…
“Why is it then that you still canâ€™t seem to get started?”
I encounter this problem from time to time where people really are tired of the clutter but their fear of dealing with it overrides their ability to do anything about it. The problem usually is that they can’t see past the enormity of the task. But the reality is that the task is only as big a one thing. One thing today, one things tomorrow, one thing the next day… Just five minutes choosing something to set aside to find a new home for. It is easier to begin with decluttering things you will be happy to donate to the thrift store or things that are rubbish and need throwing away. These two categories are easy to get rid of quickly. The rubbish things can go straight in the bin and the thrift store items can be set aside until you have a load worth going out of your way to drop off. Some charities even pick up so use that option to make it even easer if available.
If anyone is reading this who is having troubles getting started please feel free to send me a message using my contact formÂ or leave a comment and I will be happy to try to give you advice on where and how to begin. Just always remember one thing a day may not sound like much but it is more than nothing each day. Keep it simple and keep it going and before you know it you will start to see the progress both in your home and in your mind. Then momentum will keep you moving forward.
Today’s Mini Mission
Quickly spy and declutter something small.
Today’s Declutter Item
This cute little teapot was a gift from a friend twoÂ ChristmasesÂ ago but it has a habit of dribbling the tea down its spouts and onto the counter every time I use it. I don’t have the patience for things that don’t work properly so it has to go.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
I got a hug from my 20 year old son for mothers day. That is a rare and precious thing. The photo below is more in keeping with his usual ways of showing affection towards me.
“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
What a question! I have gone on periodic rampages of getting rid of stuff over the last ten years — generally started when I tripped over something or couldn’t find something without a 45 minute search. But what really kicked things into high gear this year was the realization that this summer we were moving back to the Bay Area/San Francisco. No way could we afford the 4800 square feet we have here — the only way to make a place the quarter of this size bearable (even though I was more than ready for less space to clean and maintain) was to get rid of stuff.
My eldest started things by wiping out the furniture in his room for his college apartment…we added some dishes and pans to his stuff. Then in January we kicked it into high gear: got rid of about 1/3 of our Christmas decorations and agreed to a charity pick up from our front porch. Over the next two months we had another pick up; made six trips to various thrift stores; took two SUVs full of “building materials” to a charity store; and arranged for an auction house to come in and pack and take a bunch of stuff, including furniture (I would have packed but ended up with a funeral to attend out of state the week of the pick up). We’ve sold an antique hall bench, given away two dressers, four book cases, a bunch of magnalite cookware and other loaf pans and such, a large old TV, an antique desk and more. I have a cabinet in my craft room (that room is something I will miss) that has things for me to try to sell on eBay. So we know we know we have not made the money we’ve been told we could have, but the stuff is out of the house.
A recent prospective buyer commented on how roomy and organized things were — it’s a lot easier to organize and clean if there’s not a lot of stuff. And really, I sometimes get a pang about some of the stuff we’ve gotten rid of, but it passes quickly.
Oh, and in preparation for putting the house on the market we have a 5x7x7 foot storage crate offsite. Our agent so believes in decluttering before putting a house on the market that she provides multiple crates to her clients. She was stunned when she found out we did not fill five of them — she saw how full our house was before we started the process — and it wasn’t cluttered on the surface — just in the closets and cupboards. But we have high hopes that we will sell this house, get the stored stuff back and decide that we haven’t missed most of it so we can just get rid of it then (probably the auction house — not as much money, but very quick).
Oh (gosh, I guess I really wanted to talk about this process) — I’ve emptied two four drawer filing cabinets into bankers boxes (they are on the shelves of the formerly full of toys closet) — my son does not have a job this summer so I’m paying him to scan most of it so we can shred them and be done. He’s done one box that I simply have to verify came through okay and then the box goes off to be shred.
When I start holding onto to too many things, I read blogs like this one for inspiration — sometimes I laugh at what you are “finally” getting rid of and then realize I have much sillier stuff.
I’ve known for a couple of years we would likely end up in the Bay Area but it took a deadline for getting the house on the market to make me really move on clearing space. And we’re actually starting to enjoy going through rooms and pointing out stuff to each other that we are only keeping to have this house looking good during the selling period.
Thanks for letting me clear my head on this one.
Deb J says
Good job Sabrina. Glad the thought of moving lit the fire but you kept it burning.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Sabrina, I look forward to hearing about how you go adjusting to a smaller home. Being that it will be in the Bay Area, San Francisco the advantages ought to outweigh any disadvantages you will encounter. What an exciting place to live. I wouldn’t mind a couple of years there.
I love the way your story ended ~ “…weâ€™re actually starting to enjoy going through rooms and pointing out stuff to each other that we are only keeping to have this house looking good during the selling period.” ~ This is how it often happens, we start out with a reason to declutter and end up just wanting to declutter more and more.
And congratulations on moving to the bay area. It’s so beautiful there I am sure you won’t miss your surplus stuff anymore then.
Wow! Quite the story Sabrina!
What made me decide “enough”? I think I did not even decide that in the beginning. I set out to become more organized, not necessarily decluttered. Highschool, university, worklife: As life was getting more complicated with time moving on, the old strategies (or non-strategies) didn’t work out anymore. Being so overwhelmed already without kids, pets, spouse or a house thrown in I knew that though things looked fine from the outside I was steering towards desaster in the long run if I didn’t change my ways. On my journey I wasted lots of time organizing things I really didn’t need and with every hour I spent rummaging through my stuff and with books and blogs and conversations about the topic of too much stuff/too little time it slowly dawned on me. When I fully decided for decluttering, a little more than a year ago and very much with assistance of this blog, I started to make great progress and had little epiphanies along the way. But in the beginning all I wanted was time and peace and a nice and easy to care for home. I am even a little happy about NOT knowing in the beginning what I was going for. I was a well trained packrat back in those days and would have been scared to death! Aiming low (at least low in retrospect) was my way to go.
Of course for all the people meeting here not calling decluttering by it’s name would be strange. But for people untouched by the thought of decluttering it can do wonders to rather talk about cleaning, organizing or sorting than about getting rid of things in the beginning. It’ll eventually boils down to that anyway.
Colleen Madsen says
What an interesting story Ideealistin, you started out looking for one thing and then realised your solution was elsewhere yet related. I was almost the opposite, my goal was to declutter but was pleasantly surprised by the advantages of having less stuff.
I loved this quote from your story ~ “Aiming low (at least low in retrospect) was my way to go.” ~ That also sums up the thing-a-day approach. Aim small and the task won’t seem so daunting.
which is why I am glad I still have 16 days to get it done.
Big sale at my apartment on Fri/Sat should help!
Thank you for the encouraging comments – I am referring to all comments, as they truly are helping tremendously!
Ingrid, What is that thing in your pricture? I can’t make it bigger, and I can’t make it out. Inquiring minds want to know!
It looks like kissing bunny rabbits to me!
Oh, and thinking about it: I didn’t know the word “declutter” before I startet doing my research on organizing. I think we don’t have very good, poignant words neither for clutter nor for getting rid of it in German. It’s funny how putting a name on it can really help you grasp a whole concept. I guess I don’t have to emphazise, how happy I am that I stumbled about “decluttering” (and this blog) to get my act together.
same here! I love the word clutter too. it just sounds right for what it is. unnecessary, impractical, pointless, ridiculously cheap and crappy stuff.
(notice for the german readers: I would always use the word “klimbim” when referring to clutter, but thats somehow a bit too cute and superficial).
Colleen Madsen says
Actually I don’t think decluttering is a legitimate word. It usually comes up as a spelling error on the computer but thats fine by me. I am sure the board that sits to decide what new words should be included as regular words in the English dictionary will include it soon enough. I am glad you stumbled upon it and that you found us here at 365 it has been a pleasure having you on board.
Deb J says
To make this quick let me say first that I have always been a neat, organized person and have not liked clutter. But I have had my little “favorites” that I would stock up on–mostly papergoods. The problem for me was my pack rat parents and culling things out after my father died and my mom moved in with me. In the 19 years we have been roomies we have moved from 3600 sq ft (their house when Dad died) to 1248 (present). Over that time we have also decluttered 4800 sq ft of STUFF. We have a ways to go but we are much better off than we were.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Deb J,
your situation is certainly unique among us. How difficult it must have been at times but you have come so far. Even since June of 2010 when you first started commenting here at 365 the progress has been obvious. Well done Deb and keep at it.
Wow — you’ve done what we are trying to do — way to go! I lucked out — when my father had to go into a nursing home, Mom cleared out the house to put it on the market. She knew where she was ultimately going to live and was great at getting rid of things. She offered a lot to us but I live 1200 miles away so I have only a couple of things that were very important to me. My sisters were nearby, took a lot more and are now planning a massive yard sale. In the meantime, my mother’s small apartment is a showcase — she has exactly what she needs and want and room to move (unlike a number of her neighbors who couldn’t let go). She set a good example — now I just have to follow it.
my story is quickly told: I was living in denmark for a year in a 8 square meter room. a desk, a bed a night stand and a built in wardrobe (which was big). I came there with a backpack and a suitcase and I had a fantastic year. A good friend of mine always got the itches when he saw my room, because it was so full of crap and messy. although it was really empty in the beginning, I filled it up quickly enough. and I manage to leave there with at least 3 times the amount of stuff. I had to leave some back because I couldnt carry it in the train home. So I figured that if I can bring out 6 big filled suitcases out of a 8mÂ² room, I dont have problems organizing my things, I have a problem owning too much. said friend gave me hints after hints, he sent me links on minimalism and declutter blogs, I think 365lessthings was also one of his tips to read. and once I started reading intensly, I got hooked.
I had a brain wash since then. I started with CDs (ongoing project). I moved into my first own flat and saw how quickly it gets out of sight and out of mind. My aim changed from finally throwing out old school folders to living a less consumerist lifestyle. I mean I was already no girl you could go shopping with, but I never made it a conscious decision. I got fascinated by tiny houses, by project 333, by this guy who started to count his disposable items a week to reduce the amount of plastic, all those really interesting people out there who are on the same search for answers… and I am with this blog since then. I think its almost a year soon, and I am very very happy I found colleen and you ladies here who are encouraging, bringing ideas, solving problems and giving tips. without you I wouldnt be making such a good progress. I changed so many big and little things about my way of thinking and about my habits, because of this journey that started with only one item a day.
I’d love the link to the guy who counts his disposable items, it’s something I flirt with…
what I remember is that he made up a weekly point system. and for every disposable item you get (plastic bags, coffe cups, lids, straws, napkins, candy, freebies, etc…) you get also a point. I started counting on a normal day and soon decided to get myself a thermoscan for uni so that I wont be using plastic cups for the coffe at the library. just reading about it changed a lot in my life, and I became aware of how many disposable things one gets over the day. I also started to save up the paper bags that I use for getting my fruits in. my local organic supermarket is offering paper bags and plastic bags (how happy I was when I saw that) and of course I went for paper, but it seems silly to not use them more than once, so there I am reusing paper bags.
if you want to give it a go, just have it in your mind every day to not accept the plastic/disposable item that comes along and start carrying bags with you when you go shopping… I tried to google it, but I wasnt successful without knowing the name of the website anymore. maybe he was in one of the fridays fav five links. I will have a look again.
Thanks for the follow up. I almost only allow myself take out coffee with my BYO Keep Cup. At work I use ceramic. Otherwise, Tuesday nights are my worst night, I always go via a new grocery store (well new as in, not the normal one), and get ‘convenience’ foods – like sushi (lovely but disposable trays), single serve soups/risottos – things I could and should be making! I really am aiming for a zero waste home, and this waste watching is a great start!
hey snosie, I get it, the disposables of take away food are horrible. I am so short on money that I dont allow that often, and if I try to go out and eat there. only thing that is coming in once in a while are pizza boxes. but maybe if you already plan ahead and bring your tupperware or whatever dishes from home, they would actually do you the favour and serve it in there?
I still buy food that is in plastic or tetrapak, but I switched for some things to glass, joghurt, honey, mustard, some veggies, etc.
one of my biggest achievements is my intense research on a permanent coffee filter, as I dont have a automat, or a coffe machine but a hand filter, and I am drinking at least 2 cups a day, so I was using at least 2 paper filter a day. it took me some weeks to find it, countless trips to shops with “excuse me do you know where I can find a permanent coffe filter?” – “a what?”. argh. I found a company that was selling a plastic coffee filter. it doesnt look pretty anymore, but I use it daily and it saves me money and waste.
I dont aim for a zero waste home, because I really think that it must be a tough lifestyle to always plan ahead and ask shops etc. But its interesting where you can save trash already if you start thinking about it…
Colleen Madsen says
It is amazing how it accumulates without us even noticing. What amazes me too is that sometimes we don’t even think we buy much but the stuff just seems to miraculously appear.
I am glad you found us too Lena and isn’t it nice when you commit to doing something and learn so much more from the experience which leads to improving not only your life but the life of the planet we all inhabit. Well done you!
foreign currency seems always better… I dont know why, but it is so much easier to spend money in a currency that is not euro. strangest thing ever. would love to know why that is. maybe because you think its not real money or so. or because you are in a holiday mood. I bought things there that I would have never allowed myself when in euro. scary when I think about it.
you know I had a little epiphany today. I realized that everytime I get excited and happy reading something, like today in the train when I thought about my future life and how minimalistic I will be and how much money I will safe and how many things I will accomplish in my life, I am actually inspired. I never really thought much about “inspiration” because I never really considered it something relevant for me. Also the german sound of this word puts it for me into the religious corner, and I am nowhere near there… But inspiration is what I feel when I get excited and happy and optimistic. thanks colleen.
Grace from Brazil says
I live overseas but every two years I travel to the U.S. for about 6 months. Our home in Brazil has to be packed up. While we are in the U.S. we usually live out of our van, staying in temporary housing. I got so tired of stuff, but I didnâ€™t know how to change. I trimmed down only to have it replaced by different stuff. It was a constant burden. When my sister told me about 365 Less Things, it offered a needed change of perspective. Cultivating a habit of eliminating, instead of accumulating, began to turn the ship in a new direction. I craved a simpler life, unencumbered by stuff and this was it. Returning to Brazil we moved from a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house to a 2 Â½ bedroom, one bathroom house. I was excited. I love living in a smaller space. I have not missed anything about the bigger house and all the stuff I had. One of my favorite strategies, to fuel my new hobby, is when Fridayâ€™s Favorites comes out. I sit down with a hot drink and get inspired. After that I usually get right to work on an area that came to mind.
Colleen Madsen says
Good for you Grace. My ship is on a whole new course too and it feels good. I like the idea of your 2 1/2 bedroom, one bathroom house. I am searching for one of those myself. Isn’t it amazing how completely we can change our mind set and sometimes even when we aren’t expecting it. I am glad your sister sent you to us. Thank her for me.
Oh my gosh Grace, I LOVE this story.
When did I say enough? I can’t really pinpoint a moment as for me it was more of a progress. Like ideealistin I started by wanting to be more organized. That took me some time and then we decided to sell our house as I was going to graduate that year. The house market here in west europe had just crashed and I started looking for selling tips on the internet. One I saw everywhere is: less stuff equals more house to sell. so we started going trough our stuff. Recycling, donating and back then storing it of site in a rented storage facility. (yes, shame on me!) We managed to sell the house in just 9 months. And I started packing our stuff. We needed 138 moving boxes (out of a 50 m2 house) and several suitcases to pack our stuff and three movers with a van to get it from one place to one another. After the move I was out of work for a few months and I kind of felt disappointed that I had only managed to pare the stuff down to over a 100 boxes of stuff. So I started slowly to declutter and during that time I found this blog. Last year May we bought a new appartment for ourself and I decided that when we move (from the rental) we had to have at least 10 boxes less than the first time. I managed 11 boxes less. Our appartment now is approx 60 m2 and we do have a small basement and a shed, but by now I just don’t want to live with stuff. Not with the guilt-, aspirational-, unused-, unloved-, etc, clutter. We are also expecting an addition to our family this autumn, and I want to set a better example of lifestile than my keeper-gatherer parents did for me.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Hunter_xs, yours is a similar example of starting off with one intention and accidentally changing your lifestyle. Good for you. Ours stories are not so different. I only wish I had come to this realisation before my children came along although I was always a little thrifty so they did have the chance to learn from that.
I am eager to see how many boxes it takes for my next move but I know for sure already that it is going to be a whole lot less than the last time.
Still remember me? Lol – lately I have been busy with school (and an even more busier period coming up). Usually I read but not comment. However, I would like to share my story.
When I was younger, I was a packrat and selfish. I had a sister and every time someone got something, the other got something as well. And yes, I was jealous of my sister’s stuff. I always thought that she got the nicer stuff.
I wasn’t spoiled, but we got quite a lot of stuff. Clothes, books, knick-knacks… And I didn’t tossed anything of it. Sometimes, when I was fed up with the stuff, I declutter some of my school tests. And that was it.
I don’t remember why I started decluttering – perhaps I stumbled across some minimalistic sites, or it happened to be after the so-many-eth chaos that came tumbling down when I opened a closet door. I finally had enough and decided to do a massive clearing. However, I’m pretty bad at finishing things. So halfway I stopped. Tried it again. Stopped again.
Then I stumbled at this blog and the idea of decluttering one item a day. And it is do-able. Instead of massive clearings (which, didn’t work), I set up my station (a bag that had to go; like a beachbag that I didn’t use, a canvas bag) and if I spotted something that I didn’t like, it went in the bag. When the bag is overflowing I take it to the trift store. Clothes get donated to the salvation army. Only very old items or ones that are not in good shape will be put in the trash.
While I’m not decluttering every day (far to busy for that), I do make a trip to the thrift store about once a month.
Funny thing is, although I’m decluttering for a while and donated few loads (ok, I own a Fiat Cinquecento – my car is not that big, but perfect for me) my closets are still full. I’m aspiring to have a very minimalistic house; besides from a bed (I think I opt for a plain mattres or mat on the ground – that would certainly benefit my back), a chest to put all of my belongings in (which, won’t be much), and some cutlery. I have no idea what else I might long for, because posessions are just posessions.
I’m still far from it; but I’m happy to reduce my belongings gradually, so it will be easier for me. Luckily, I’m past the mourning feeling that I had for donating my stuffed bunny.
Colleen Madsen says
of course I remember you. Having your declutter station is a good idea especially if it is within sight everyday. Finding something to declutter and transferring it to the station until you next trip to the thrift store is a smart move. I am sure one day you will have the minimalist lifestyle you aspire too. All in good time.
Ah, well, I think I have about a year untill graduation – I think that is a nice date to work to, to reduce my belongings with another 50%.
Colleen Madsen says
Good for you Nurchamiel. I bet you will be glad when I reach graduation and can take a big sight of relief.
Iâ€™ve been occassionally dropping of things at flea markets or the thrift store as long as I can think. However, I aquired much more than I got rid of nonetheless. So my belongings first filled two suitcases, then a room of 15 square metres and a few years after that a room of 25 square metres. That was when I went to Japan for three months. I was back at one suitcase again and felt that wonderful relief of a neat, easy to handle home. I aquired some things there, necessities and a few things I just wanted to have, but I managed to only send one parcel back besides my suitcase. When I came home to my belongings again, I realized, I had forgotten about half of them, but I still had enough room for them and didnâ€™t feel the urge to get rid of them. A few months later my boyfriend and I moved in together. Additionally we inherited a lot of household items from his grand-parents. Even though the new flat was large compared to how we lived before, it was full in a second. And not only full, but full of duplicates. We had two sofas, two complete sets of dishes, myriards of office and craft supplies. It was just too much. Thatâ€™s when I started googling â€ždeclutteringâ€œ and â€žminimalismâ€œ and dropping by the thrift store on a regular basis â€“ about once a week. It took a while to get a hang on not aquiring more things in the first place, but I really love the space we have now and the simplicity of having only as much as we need. Weâ€™re not there in every area, but weâ€™re on a good way and Iâ€™d never go back.
Colleen Madsen says
it seems you have always been somewhat aware of the idea of living with less. Combining two households can put a bit of a spanner in the works though. You soon started doing something to rectify that situation once it arrives. So I would say yes you may not be there in every area but you sure are on the way.
I was in my 50s, living in South Africa in a flat. It was full of inherited furniture and stuff from my mother and my late husband. In 2002 I read “Clear your clutter with feng shui” by Karen Kingston. Totally inspired, I was like a tornado and went through every inch and got rid of loads and loads. I gave away most of the inherited furniture to my boys.
Then we went on a 26 month journey house sitting around the world until we could get into New Zealand. We put our stuff in storage. We left with 2 suitcases and 2 carry on bags and then lived with other people’s stuff!
When we finally settled here it was very exciting unpacking our household boxes as before I couldn’t remember more than about 10%! I immediately realised there was lots I could get rid of so I continued with TradeMe and opshops.
We built a lovely house, just me and my husband, two bedrooms, one sewing room, 2 bathrooms, one office, double garage. But I am still getting rid of stuff and sometimes I dream of a smaller place. I have one completely empty shelf and aim for more. I do have things I would like to get rid of but, usual story, they cost money and my husband says but you might need them and they don’t take up much room.
My friends think I live in an “immaculate, minimal home”! It’s certainly not true but something to go for!
I love your site Colleen was was inspired to start a list of 365 days on 25 March 2010 – well, I don’t enter every day but I am up to 96 days of entries and 650 items (including bags of stuff sometimes). I cannot think of anything I miss and can barely remember the things that have gone. A wonderful way to live, thank you!
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Janetta, you have certainly lived an adventurous life. Good for you. I think the travelling lifestyle makes one reassess their dependence on stuff and think more about always being more mobile. Or at least own little enough that you could store it and up and go whenever the whim takes you.
My friends also think I live in an “immaculate, minimal home” but like you I still have a ways to go but am happy with how far I have come.
Ha! I left my husband in 2010. He did not want the “stuff” as he called everything in the house, so I ‘salvaged’ most of it by bringing it with me into a 1-bedroom-apartment. (The house is 1200 sq-ft) –
I lived in clutter for 18 months…. (yes, I was probably a borderline hoarder – or simply mentally to exhausted and in such pain from Fibromyalgia) that i did not do much. The proximity of the neighbor’s bedroom to mine had me fleeing to the living room and that was then my bedroom for the remainder of my stay there – on the couch.
Then I almost moved – so started packing, but that fell apart and I procrastinated some more – and the rumors started about the upcoming rent increase…..
Another female neighbor lost her room mate and we decided to share her place.
I am SO fortunate that I have an entire month TO move, not just a weekend – as I could not do much inside my place, there was hardly space to turn around – it is now the 14th – and the furniture has been moved – now I only have a see of papers and books to deal with.
I have to remind myself several times a day that I still have 17 days to do this, and yet anxiety creeps in when looking and the overwhelming mass of stuff! Did I mention I have a bad back? *takes a deep breath, mouthing Ommmmmm*
This blog gives me moral support – so keep decluttering, ok?
And send some good thoughts to Oregon USA – where I am drowning – but I will prevail! (I have no choice, can’t pay the rent for 2 places lol)
You can do it Ingrid, you’ve already made some good progress!
Ingrid, HANG IN THERE!!!! KEEP going!!! One thing at a time. Baby steps. You can do this!
It’s a huge task and you most likely won’t get everything decluttered in the 17 days you have left. But don’t let that bring you down, no real decluttering is done such a short time. However you will be very happy about everything you have cleared by then so hang in there and be strong! You’ll feel so happy and proud afterwards even if you’ll be super exhausted. Promise 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
you are certainly in the thick of it. You are not our only 365er dealing with illness while trying to declutter. It certainly adds a level of difficulty to the situation. Look at this move as an opportunity to finally get rid of those things you just don’t have room for. As you pack to move separate what you should keep and what you shouldn’t. Find a charity who will come and pick up the items you are prepared to give away and get them out of there. Perhaps your new roommate might be able to help you get rid of the things you don’t need.
I was just in Oregon last month. We stayed in Portland for a couple of days and took a trip out to see Multnomah Falls. It was a much nicer day than the first time we attempted it back in October of 2000. There was an ice storm that day and was too cold and wet to get out of the car. There were icicles hanging of the trees and fences. We stopped at the lookout on the old highway and our son nearly blew away. We still laugh about that.
Ingrid, you are making a lot of progress — perhaps thinking through what you would really, really, really want out of what is left — you know: the old “if there were a fire, what would you grab?” would help? At least you would know you could let go of the rest and then follow the other advice about actually getting rid of it.
My husband and I found that when we sat, not in house, and started talking about the things most important to us, we could let go of many things not on that short list much more easily. I have a list of ten things (okay, a jillion photo albums are one item) and really, I can honestly say that if I had those things out, the rest could all disappear in a fire or tornado and I would not really miss them. The stuff in the crate I talked about earlier? I know there are boxes for my kids and I cannot remember anything else! It helps.
I’m not sure when it became ‘enough’ but I started on this blog and others after the floods in Brisbane, my hometown in Jan 2011. Coincidently, a few months later I started looking to buy an apartment (moving out from my parents). I started to realise I didn’t like moving (my family moved 10 times in 10 years, and for the 7 years I was at boarding school, we had to pack up our whole room every term). I’d moved so much of the same stuff, so often.
So prior to moving (23 Dec 2011) I thinned out what I had at home. I was used to seasonal clothing purges, but I started questioning the books. I finally got the last of my university texts OUT (finish Nov 09). I really rationised my high school journals, after realising that my future children/I would not want my grocery store receipt from yesteryear (that’s what I largely stuck in my journal!) I went through the bulk of them, removing anything significant, but getting rid of the majority of paper. I now have two bankers boxes (pretty IKEA ones), one for school years, one for uni years, and they act as bedside tables.
Of course a new house comes with equipping the kitchen. Thankfully my place is small 66 sqm, so there’s a limit to how much I can add, and I’ve moved in with decluttering clear in my sights! I don’t keep things just because – I get a puzzle, I do it, I get rid of it. And everytime something goes, I rejoice in the space!
I am soooooooo looking forward of getting rid of those stupid university reader. we got copies of texts in ringbinders for each seminar, and because I dont know the topics of my exams I am reluctant to get them out now, because I do use them once in a while… but once I am done learning, those will go. I cant wait to get those shelves cleared out, I will probably enjoy this day more than graduation day 😉
Yes, Lena, you WILL enjoy that. Or at least I did 🙂 I had a friend come over who looked through it and took some that was interesting for his thesis and the rest went to the recycling bin without any regrets.
The only thing I can suggest is before turfing things is consider others coming through – I only ‘regretted’ tossing my stuff when I realised a year or three later another colleague was doing my course – I could have saved useless effort getting notes back from one colleague and then tossing them, and just leaving them to circulate the system, for those who needed them. Not the biggest deal in the world, but just a ‘next time’ idea.
I still haven’t thrown away the binder of research for my thesis – now I’m not at uni, it’d be hard to find the articles again, even though most of them are well referenced in my thesis. I have given myself a 5 year deadline, by which time I should be working in a thesis related area, or it’s too late! GONESKY!
well I am not sure if someone would actually profit from those stacks of paper. Every year has a new course and a new teacher and some texts get thrown out etc. but maybe I should start asking around. although I dont really know anyone from younger semesters anymore. I will keep it in mind. Or as I live next to campus I could also just put the reader out in a box just as I am doing with CDs…
The trigger for me was wanting to demonstratively show there was room for my (now) husband to live here as his home, rather than as a visitor when he was still my boyfriend.
This is a small house – main room 192 sq ft and an a bedroom 99 sq ft (Larger double room let out to lodger). Plus an attic space. Something had to give! Especially as he is a bit of a horder and loves loves loves books.
And once I started finding blogs and most importantly this one I just learnt so much about the craft of decluttering and all the different types of clutter there are.
I think I have got rid of 2/3rd of what I own in the last 1-2 yrs. And slowly slowly, my husband is downsizing too. I am also far more choosy about what comes in to the house now via me.
Having less makes life easier and I love that.
Plenty more work to be done though:O)
I never really got a point where I thought “enough!” because I’ve always been at least a little minimal and organized (the only type-a personality trait I got from my mother, I swear). But when I was off work for a month while on medical leave a couple years ago, I really took notice of how every single little thing in our apartment weighed on me and took a toll on my stress, affecting my recuperation. I’m a little claustrophobic, and so I think the effect was magnified during this time. When I was able to, I just started selling and donating things like mad, even things that the week before I swore I never would. I felt so much better after that, and I suppose that’s why I’ve never stopped. There’s nothing I regret getting rid of, and the fact that I’d gotten rid of about 60% of my stuff is saying something, I think.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Faith, yours is an interesting story, one that Ann for New Zealand could relate to I bet. She did a lot of the nitty gritty decluttering from bed while convalescing. Perhaps June will be the month for me to finally get started of decluttering my photographs that I have mostly managed to avoid so far. I am booked in for an operation then and will be on light duties for a while.
I would love to know what percentage of my stuff I have gotten rid of, I guess I will find out the next time I move and see how little space it takes up in the removals truck.
didnt you say you had to make a list with all your belongings for a move once? maybe you could just skim over it with a nice cup of tea and see what is gone from that one.
I will soon make a proper list with every single item I own. I am sure this will put decluttering in high gear as I wont be willing to write down every single CD I have still left. (I am buying max 2 CDs a year, and it feels like they are breeding like rabbits, when will I be done with those?). Or the weird tool thingies that I dont even know the names of. I can make that room by room and shelf by shelf. yay. project for the summer. I am excited.
Colleen Madsen says
that task is on the to-do list. We really need to get out insurance up to date and writing a complete inventory is the best way to know what value to place on everything and what items need listing individually. We really must get on to that task. I wish I could get excited about that task like you are about your Summer project.
Hi Colleen – the wife of a workmate is in insurance total loss (I’ve mentioned this before) and she said 90% of people don’t know 50% of what is in their houses. She personally is a minimalist so know exactly what is in her house and has a list and photos (updated every 6 months) on a flash drive she keeps at work. She suggests this to all her clients but most won’t do it because they are embarressed at how much stuff they have in cupboards etc
well. I wouldnt be excited about making a list of my mums house either, but my little flat is easy to overlook and it wont take me that much time, one little part a day and that list should be done in two weeks…
Hmmm…..I started out quite a minimalist but along the way confused being well resourced with aquiring or hanging onto unneccesary things. As I like to feel organised I would do an annual declutter – or what I called a declutter – but really was just a skim of the surface to ensure I could stuff everything into 100% of drawers and cupboards. The ceiling storage filled up but I didn’t really go up there so it didn’t bother me. Extra storage cupboards arrived in the garage and extra bookcases arrived, but as long as it appeared neat or nicely stacked or contained into a storage bin, I felt it was under control.
Friends moved to the area, she is a minimalist and when we visited their house (they only took 4 hours to shift) I had this nagging feeling that this was what my house was supposed to look like. She works in insurance – total loss – and said that 90% of people don’t know 50% of what is in their house, and I realised that we wouldn’t know 50% of what was in our house. She also recommended that we keep photographic records of our possessions in case we ever had to put in a claim, and said DVD’s were a good place to start.
That night we pulled all the DVD’s out of the cabinet in the lounge (bought to house all the DVD’s) and to our surprise we managed to cover the entire floor of the lounge. That was the moment the blinkers came off.
Moni, I’ll bet our houses look similar. Like you, I’ve always been well organized and did a little decluttering a few times a year. Colleen and the rest of you showed me how to dig a little deeper. 🙂
Hi Anita – yeah initially I googled things like “how to declutter your wardrobe” and “how to declutter your bathroom” to psyche me up, but it didn’t seem to get me the progress I wanted, and then I had this thought “what if I only kept the things I actually use and not the things that are potentially useful” – so I googled “letting go of possessions” which eventually lead me here.
Colleen Madsen says
I was like you Moni, tidy and organised and decluttered on a regular basis but soon replaced those items with something else. Really all I was doing was maintenance decluttering when the kids grew out of things or we felt we didn’t need things anymore. But all the while the storage areas were full of stuff.
It wasn’t until the idea of minimising for the future set in that I realised how much excess stuff I really had.
Hi Colleen – I think it was Mohammed who said that you should only use 80% of each storage space, I thought that advice rocked!
Colleen Madsen says
Moni, it was Mohamed. I am not sure if I am down to only using 80% of my storage space yet but that would be because I keep decluttering the storage as well. So the storage space is taking up only 80% of what it used to too.
LOL – as soon as I hit submit, I realised my mistake and how mispelling the name put quite a different spin on it. I’ll be quoting the Dalai Lama next. Yes I have noticed you have gotten rid of a lot of storage items.
Since decluttering we have eliminated from our bedroom a set of drawers and a tall boy. All my clothes, except jeans and jerseys, now hang in my part of the wardrobe and it would still only be about 80% full. I have these moments where I stand there and whoooosh the hangers back and forward, just because I can. What a big kid! So yeah I love the 80% idea.
Tomorrow I have to amalgamate two freestanding cupboards in the garage into one. Eventually both will go but as I am thinking one could be “work in progress” storage for a project I have coming up so that I don’t have it all out making a mess in the living area in the name of decluttering. Does that make sense?
” I stand there and whoooosh the hangers back and forward, just because I can.”
I started decluttering a couple of years ago thinking that it would be nice to have less stuff when we retire someday and might like to move. Then about a year ago, my mom’s house, car, and almost all of her possessions were destroyed by a tornado. This was the house I grew up in. When we were sorting through the wreckage trying to salvage what we could, I realized how much of a burden all of those belongings had become. My poor mom was completely overwhelmed. That’s when I started decluttering in earnest. I don’t want all our stuff to weigh us down.
Hi Anita – I’m sorry about your mum’s home, that would be devastating. Friends of mine lost their home in an earthquake but escaped with their lives. She feels that it put everything into perspective for her, that possessions don’t mean anything. She says she has learnt to value her friends and family more, and to value water as they were without running water for almost a week.
Moni, thank you. I know how your friends feel. My mom escaped unharmed, and that was the only thing that mattered.
wow Anita, you just got me thinking. I absolutely adore the house I grew up in, it would break my heart to see it destroyed. But yeah, tragedies in life are putting things into a completely different perspective. I will try to save (=declutter) as many items out of that house sooner than later before I have to make drastic decisions under some sort of pressure.
Colleen Madsen says
I think you could call the a probortunity a problem that turned into an opportunity to change for the better.
My decluttering story: A few years ago, we paid off all our debts by buckling down on expenses & selling off stuff (ala Dave Ramsey). Then last year I was able to quit my 18+ yr career that had become both unfulfilling & repetitive. I could quit because we we looked at what I was making & where the $ was going. Turns out it was for stuff we didn’t need or even really want. So by simply cutting out the errant spending – my work income was not necessary.
Once I was home more often, it then occurred to me that we had accumulated a lot of stuff we neither used, needed or even really wanted – all of which required a lot of effort to clean, maintain, store, manage, etc. Unlike the last time we parred down our stuff, this time is not motivated by getting out of debt. This time the motivation is purely intrinsic.
About this same time, I also had read an article in the Oprah magazine by organizing/declutter guru Peter Walsh who summed up how we all have too much stuff for no good reason & that really resonated with me. So that led to me searching the net for decluttering/minimalism info – which is how I found this site! Yah!
Since then I’ve been steadily decluttering with a new goal in sight – relocating to a smaller “conch” home in the Florida Keys!
Hi Jane, I had to google what a conch house was. Very cute! Along the lines of what we call a “Villa”
Colleen Madsen says
you have truly realised the benefits of not wasting money on stuff you don’t need and although I am sure you wish you had come to this conclusion a lot sooner it is always better late than never. Many people never learn this lesson and go on working themselves to death in order to continuously buy stuff whose novelty wears on in the blink of an eye over and over again.
I am so glad you found my blog and hope you reach your new goal sooner than you expect. Florida Keys here you come.
Iâ€™m 57, a single mother with three kids. We live in the house my parents built. As my relatives moved/died, I ended up with their stuff. Iâ€™ve been working on the clutter for a long time, but my new impetus is to deal with it while Iâ€™m still in good physical shape. I have agoraphobia, so when my sons were little, Iâ€™d watch them playing from the kitchen window. Thus, I didnâ€™t know when they tossed carefully stored stuff into a 5×7 meter pile in my dadâ€™s shop. After I saw the mess, I couldnâ€™t face going there. Itâ€™s normally a 20-second walk, but it used to take me 20 minutes. Iâ€™ve worked on that fear, and now Iâ€™m cleaning it a few times a week. I take photos of obscure mechanical items to see if my brothers want them. My goal is to finish cleaning the shop by summerâ€™s end.
Because of my agoraphobia, Iâ€™ve never been inside our local charity shop. I rely on my kids to take stuff there, and thatâ€™s another reason to finish the job ASAP. This fall, all of them will be in college, and the dog wonâ€™t be any help.
Jude, I admire you working through all that and still making progress. Good for you!
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Jude, you should be an inspiration to those who do not have this degree of difficulty when it comes to their decluttering mission. My congratulations to you for managing what you have so far and I wish you all the best to finish the task ASAP. Your children must be real treasures to have helped you achieve what you have to this point. I only wish you were near by because I would personally come and help you out.
For years I’ve struggled with trying to stay on top of the clutter. I finally realized that as our family grew, and our stuff grew, I wasn’t getting rid of things as fast as they came in. I’d wait until it was obviously too much, and then do it all again when it refilled. I’m pretty good at keeping surfaces clear and rooms uncluttered. I learned to put one large and either useful or attractive decoration (plant, a lamp etc) on flat surfaces to keep the rest of the family and myself from turning them into hot spots. Closets, drawers, and all that hidden storage is overstuffed. Eventually it spills out into the home. I’ve learned so much from reading blogs like this one, and find this one especially encouraging to keep at it and not take long breaks from the decluttering. I still have so far to go, but there’s no turning back! Our one cluttered room has been cleared out this year. This summer, we’re working on clearning out the slightly hidden clutter in our living spaces like shelves and closets so we can access our things that we actually use and not have to cram books back into shelves. We love books, but I am trying to get rid of the ones we no longer need so maybe we can have one less bookshelf!
Colleen Madsen says
Well done you, Angela. You are making great progress and I am sure that the more you realise the benefits of decluttering the more strength you will find to continue and dig deeper. Stay consistent and you will get there in the end. Changing the way you think and believing you can achieve your goal is what makes the difference.
Calico ginger says
The last years of my marriage were pretty awful. I had been a “collector” and my husband was too, but he became more and more obsessed with op-shopping and bringing home stuff that he wanted to keep or, eventually, sell on eBay.
By the end of it, my house looked like a op-shop too and I could never have anyone around without feeling embarrassed. My daughter felt the same way – she was so ashamed by it all. I was relieved when we moved out, but I still had far too much stuff of my own.
I am getting like Colleen now – really quite detached from even the “nice” stuff that’s left. Life is not about owning things. I don’t know where I am going with this journey, but I like it.
Colleen Madsen says
Sometimes decluttering means more than just stuff it can mean relationships too. Your ex-husband reminds me of someone I have met recently. His home is full of “amazing bargains” that he is going to make good money from when he sells it on. Except that he never seems to sell it on and the house is packed to the rafters with it. What saddens me though is the fact that their are people out there who can only afford to buy secondhand who have to settle for rubbish because the good stuff is being snapped up by these people and then it sits there unused and wasted.
I am glad you and your daughter are happy with your new life.
I don’t know the exact time or reason for my journey, ( there are so many reasons, just cant pick one) but I do know that the “map” provideded by Colleen, is in colour with the clear and easy to follow instructions. The journey is made even better with the support, links and comments that appear after each ” instruction” from Colleen and Cindy.
Today I have five books written by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Flemming; Save, How to be Comfy, Speed Cleaning , Spotless and Spotless 2. They have been removed from the book shelf to be disposed of, if anyone would like them I would be happy to post them. Otherwise they will go to Lifeline, maybe a day when Colleen is on so I can say Hi!
OOO I love those Lush books, but I just google whatever I need a ‘recipe’ for (and she needs me to have way more pairs of ‘old’ stockings that I could have ever imagined). I’m oh so tempted!
You can check them out , then pass them on……
OOO it’s a tough one – but perhaps let Colleen try to sell them for you. Thanks for the kind thought!
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Wendy, I will be there tomorrow from 11am to 3pm I look forward to seeing you. Perhaps I will read those books before I let the store sell them.
Wendy B says
Oooh! Opened the floodgates with that one, didn’t we! Here’s my story.
Ian and I got together in mid-life. Even though his job moved him frequently and I was recently divorced, we still amalgamated a fair bit of stuff. Then his parents died and we got a lot of their stuff, later added to with things from my father. Our last posting was eight years in stressful jobs in a town we didn’t like. The best part was our huge house – stuff wasn’t an issue. Life was on hold.
In 2001 we bought 11 acres (3 hectares) of land, once part of a farm, overlooking a lake. We moved an old trailer (caravan) there, visited from time to time and waited for the day freedom called. We retired in 2007, built a smaller eco-friendly house in our forest and moved. I thought I would then be free to create, do yoga and live ‘lighter’. Didn’t happen. I looked around at the stuff IN the house and felt it crowding all the beauty OUTSIDE the house. That was the moment I said, “Enough!”
My search started with Feng Shui, morphed to Simplicity, transitioned to Minimalism and finally landed at Decluttering and 365.
In the last two years we have come to terms with our Depression-era parents and our ingrained “keep for good” and “might need it some day” demons. Ian has gone from being the Reluctant Declutterer to an active participant. A couple of days ago we had to go on a great search for a bird feeder we’d taken down last fall and it occurred to me how much we’d changed – the ‘great search’ used to be a daily occurrence and now it’s an uncommon event. An epiphany!
Colleen Madsen says
What a great story Wendy B. How things have changed for you and Ian since you first started commenting here. It is a pleasure to read how far you have come together. I hope that your beautiful retreat in the woods slowly but surely becomes as freed of stuff as it could be and you can sit back and enjoy it.
And how wonderful that you have been sharing your newfound strength to release stuff with your community. The Seniors Club must love you.
Wendy B says
Actually, some of them hate me for upsetting the applecart. But, that’s this week’s tempest in a teapot. Good things will come of it in the end. Thanks for the encouragement. W
How about a big box of cookies and offer to make the coffee for the men’s Crib game 🙂 🙂 🙂
Wendy B says
Good idea, but it would mean hauling my butt out of bed at an ungodly hour. Old farmers get up EARLY!
Actually, they may enjoy the opportunity to blow a gasket. Most excitement they’ve had in a decade probably…
Mama Minou says
Wow–I am loving reading the responses to this question.
I started the decluttering in earnest about 8 years ago, when I started thinking about how to make a dream a reality (at that time, it was moving to a different city to study midwifery). The thought of moving was absolutely paralyzing. And we live in a 1000 sqft home! However, the attic was full to the gills, papers and books and toys were everywhere, and disorder reigned supreme. Did I mention that my husband is a historic preservationist?
Also, when my dad died (I was 19) I inherited his entire household. And being young and foolish, I had it all shipped cross country and moved it around with me multiple times during college. I had let go of things in bits and pieces, but somehow over a decade later I had a realization that to move fully into the unknown, still-to-be-written future, I had to let go of this weight of possessions I was dragging with me from the past.
I do feel twinges as things flow out, now, but not as much as I worry I will–because they are just things. I try to take pictures of items that evoke a sentimental response–I can look at the picture instead of the object itself to remember the vacation, the person who gifted it, or my son the year he drew it.
And my home feels better, It really does. There is still a long way to go (especially with papers…), but I love the space. It feels freeing. My dream has changed, but it still involves travelling more, once my boys fly the coop themselves. I sometimes imagine how nice it would be if my husband and I could happily fit in a small apartment with our possessions, just the necessary ones.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Mama Minou,
I can understand why you hung on to those things of your dads but in the end his memory will stay true whether you have the stuff or not. Better to remember him for who he was than cling to things that once were, probably to him, just things.
I am glad you are experiencing that freeing feeling that comes with minimising your possessions. Fertilise that feeling and let it grow as it is a much better attitude to stuff.
Throughout my childhood (with family) and into adulthood, while single and now with my own family, I’ve traveled and lived/moved all over the world.
Traveling/moving ‘heavy’ is an expensive and time consuming burden! Traveling/moving ‘light’ makes life fun and simple and is so much better and less stressful on our worldâ€™s energy resources!
There have been periods where I ‘thought’ I needed ‘something/an item/stuff’ to add happiness to my life. HA! I was so totally wrong on that, but it took me years, and this blog, to figure it out. For that, I dearly thank you, Colleen, and you, too, Cindy, and everyone at 365! 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Annabelle, it has been a joy having you along on the ride. You and I have plenty in common. I wouldn’t swap moving and travelling for any other life. And the less encumbered I am with stuff the simpler it seems to do just that.
Annabelle how true!
I think you have captured my thoughts , thank you!
“There have been periods where I â€˜thoughtâ€™ I needed â€˜something/an item/stuffâ€™ to add happiness to my life. HA! I was so totally wrong on that, but it took me years, and this blog, to figure it out. For that, I dearly thank you, Colleen, and you, too, Cindy, and everyone at 365! “
Colleen Madsen says
I think I speak for us all when I say it is entirely our pleasure. I have learnt along with you all.
wow, it’s really interesting to read how other people started on their decluttering story. I’ts great that we can all come from different beckgrounds but have one general idea in mind, no mater how fast or in what style we tackle the problems. I also find it very comforting to hear other people’s stories, it makes me believe that there is a chance my parents will one day see the light too…….
I’ve had a fascination with books on household organisation and decluttering since childhood. My family home is small and very cluttered. Not dirty or pathological, but stuff everywhere, to the point where it hampers everyday life. I could see how I didn’t want to live my own life. 🙂 I moved from one end of the country to the other for college, and back, then moved several times after. Often I lived in a single room, then a small flat. The crunch point was moving a few years ago to my present flat which is 240 square feet. I moved from a slightly-larger one-bedroom flat into this one and it was overwhelming. Took me weeks to get sorted out, at a time when I was working, on a training course and cleaning and decorating at the same time. I hated all the struggles which were making my ME so much worse and vowed to trim stuff to fit, not lament that I have such a small flat. The process is ongoing. I wandered onto one or two minimalism websites and followed links to others, finding wonderful people and resources like 365 on the way.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Grey Queen,
having ME would certainly slow your efforts so I suppose the 365 approach would be ideal for you. Working at it slowly as you can manage would be critical to not make your condition flair up. So take your time, take advantage of all the help you can from friends and family and you will be living a simpler less cluttered life soon enough. Good luck and happy simple decluttering.
🙂 Thank you, Colleen.
I bought a Feng Shui book on the subject, by Lillian Too – but all the pictures were so – stark and empty – basically showing the “after” – not the before pics – I figured I can use the time to clean instead of learning Feng Shui and sold it on amazon. 🙂
I have sold many books on amazon – as long as I price them over $1.50 I actually make a little $$ – better than a yard sale etc. I am in no position to donate – unless it is my last resort.
Books on organizing – hm…I take this blog over those any day! xx
Good for you! I’ve sold a few books, but just don’t have the patience to keep them long if I’m not making a larger amount off them. Once I decide something can go, I just want it out. lol I wish I had more patience and the money that would come with it!
Oh, I love reading all those personal approaches. I hope there are more to come!
Well, who says declutterers can’t be greedy 😉 (sardonic laughter and off)
Me too, I love reading everyone’s story. You get to know people around here over time, but it’s nice to have everyone’s declutter-story in one place. 🙂
I love this blog too and was SO excited when I discovered it AND received a welcoming comment from Colleen. We needed to decluttter when we decided to sell our house after living here for thirty years but even then it was about presenting the house nicely rather than having less stuff. ( so everything was neatly boxed and labelled and put away)But then we changed our minds and decided to stay but with a change of heart and direction.I have been quietly moving things on ever since and being much more discerning about what comes in. We have a lot of space but since there are now only two of us( most of the time) I think it is only right that there are now some empty cupboards and shelves. I would like to think that if we ever do move it would be very easy to pack up and go.(or if we died it would be easy for the children to deal with the house) .It’s a great feeling though – to lose that unquestioned attachment to stuff.Am enjoying everyones comments!
Colleen Madsen says
it seems like you accidentally stumbled into the idea minimising your possessions. What a fortunate break that was. And you are so right it is important to make your passing as simple as possible for those less behind. And yes it is a great feeling to lose that unquestioned attachment to stuff.
Colleen Madsen says
So many great stories that I am not going to be able to respond to them all. Little snippets in a story can trigger an ah ha moment for someone who is struggling to begin this journey of decluttering and discovery so thank you everyone for sharing your stories with me and with each other.
Some of us had a catalyst that sent us down this path while others stumbled on to the path accidentally but the path is the same no matter how we ended up on it. Sharing our experiences helps and inspires us to continue the journey. So keep sharing and together we will eventually reach our ultimate goal.
Thanks again. Colleen
Sabrina from Italy says
My starting point was a year and a half ago when we married and my husband moved in with me (previously he was living with his parents).
I had to reorganize and/or get rid of some of my stuff that had happily spread all over the place during my 8 years of single life. I could not find so much space for him so we bought more shelves and cabinets: still not enough. He still has half of his stuff at his parents! And he is quite untidy so any surface he is using (a desk, a shelf…) quickly becomes a mess. I started feeling bad looking at my place, when people came over I had to hide stuff that “lived” on the living room floor into our bedroom. I started feeling overwhelmed and stressed by all the objects that were around. At first I just wanted to get rid of the “extra” stuff but then I realized I really had too many things even before marrying, even if they were nicely organized. Too many clothes, too many books, too many sentimental items, too many “just in case” things.
I’ve just started decluttering and I still have a long way to go, I sometimes have to pause for a few days or weeks because of my busy life (full time job, many hobbies and interests, many friends we like meeting often, and we are also passionate travellers), but I am determined to get rid of as much as possible. One day we will move to our new house (still half constructed, but it’s not the right economical moment to take out a loan to finish it) and I want the move to be as smooth and light as possible. Also because then we will have to move AND declutter all the rest of our stuff that is still at our parents places! Argh 😛
Sabrina, you described how I feel and what it was like before I left our house (and only to bring it all with me)
I really resonate with your story. xx
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Sabrina from Italy,
I think that, when decluttering, communication is key but this is probably even more so when combining households. There needs to be give and take when it comes to what stays and what goes. One person can’t be making all the sacrifices while the other gets to keep their stuff. This is so even when one person is more attached to their stuff than the other. It is important to communicate ones feeling of oppression caused by the clutter and the shame of a messy home when people come to visit. I hope that you have managed to communication any such feeling to your partner and compromises have been made on both sides.
I wish you good fortune when it comes to finishing your new home and I hope by then you will have minimised to a degree that is acceptable to you and that your move goes without a hitch.
I love reading all the stories about how everyone came to decluttering. I have been on this journey on and off for years. It was mostly one step forward and then two steps backwards. I always felt like I had some hoarder tendencies, inherited from my father. Over the years as our disposable income increased, so did our belongings. We have lived in our house for 36 years and we had accumulated so many things. After our daughters and our grandchildren moved out, we had even more space to accumulate.
About a year ago when I was unemployed, I started to seriously look at the stuff we had accumulated. Living with too much stuff was really starting to stress me out – not finding where things were, not having a designated place for everything, upset with the money spent for things we did not need or use, etc. I started to really clean out – donate, sell, giveaway or throw out as a last resort. Then I want back to work fulltime and things slowed down again. In the last few months I have really started picking up the pace. I found your blog, read blogs and books on minimalism and kicked myself into high gear. I have been selling on ebay, Craigslist, and consignment stores and donating to Goodwill and Freecycle. I have a long way to go but now my dressers, closets and cupboards have some space in them. I even have my husband on board when he agreed to sell one of his stereos and actually cleaned out a lot of his tshirts!
One of my motivators is to have more money to go to concerts and travel. As we accumulate less stuff, we are able to pay down our debt faster and have more money in the bank. The progress is not as fast as I like. There are still stumbling blocks – working full time to have time to declutter, hard to get rid of some things, guilty about money spent on things I rarely use, etc. But now I feel like it is more of three steps forward and one backward as we go forth on this journey!
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Judy, welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for sharing your declutter story with us all. I am glad you have realised the advantages to decluttering such as money saved and also time saved not looking for unorganised stuff. Yes there are stumbling blocks, guilt and lack of time but it is always best to focus on the advantages. I have found over the last couple of years that the actual decluttering takes a lot less time than I sometimes think it does. Procrastinating over the disposal method is what elongates the period of time I use to declutter some things. I have however discovered that the solution is to declutter easier things while procrastinating over others. That is my declutterers version of multitasking. 😉
I am glad you are now finding that you are taking three steps forward and only one step back. That is sure better than getting nowhere. Good luck and happy decluttering.
Deb J says
I am really enjoying reading all of your stories. This has been eye opening and fun. I’m so glad you have this blog Colleen and and for all of you who make up this community.
Ive always had too much stuff and have been very good at packing a lot into small spaces. When I moved from Alaska, I got rid of most of my possessions, but more out of necessity than true desire to downsize. It was hard at first, but the more I got rid of, the easier and more freeing it was. Sadly, that didn’t stick once I moved and I soon found myself once again with too much stuff. I took a travel job and once again got rid of quite a bit, but filled a 5×10 storage unit with stuff I thought I needed to keep, expecting to return in a year or so. Three and a half years later, I finally made it back with a 6×10 enclosed trailer in tow. My current place is about 1000 sq ft and though everything fit, I soon realized just how much excess I had. I spent a good portion of that time away living in simply decorate hotel rooms and I missed that clean look. I started sorting and mostly donating and started a blog almost 5 months ago after finding this one. I love the daily challenge of finding at least one item each day to pass along. My goal someday is to built a tiny home on a trailer, freeing myself up even more to live wherever I want since my job isn’t location-dependent. I haven’t missed anything that I’ve sold/donated yet!
Colleen Madsen says
I was like you, not at all a hoarder by any means but good at packing the excess stuff I had away out of sight our of mind. I was good at doing periodical declutterings but now that I know what true decluttering is I guess I was only skimming the surface back in those days.
You are so lucky have a job that isn’t location-dependent. Freeing yourself of excess stuff would make getting up and going whenever and wherever so easy. I hope you achieve your dream one day and get the tiny home and wander to your hearts content.
It’s still awhile off, but I keep dreaming and saving for that teensy house. I found a design I really like and keep it in mind as I sort and purge. I’ve always been good at getting together stuff for regular donation pick-ups, but it’s only been the last 6-8 mos that I’ve also been good at not bringing more in. lol It always amazed me how I could get rid of what I thought were large amounts of stuff but never really saw much difference. Now? There’s a huge difference!
I’m not sure how it all started, but thinking about karma was important in the process. Even more so, as in my native language (a Slavic language), the word for “clutter” is “krama” – hence the obvious hint to “karma.” Karma is, in many ways, clutter from the past.
And just like one desires to purify one’s karma, I figured that in my own life, that meant purifying my space of clutter, among other things.
Am working on it, still have a long way to go.
Thank you for the inspiring blog!
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Sophia and welcome to 365 Less Things. I really like your link between Karma and clutter (krama). That is a good philosophy to live by. No only are you purifying your space but by not bring in more new clutter you are helping keep the planet clean as well. Good for you. I look forward to hearing more about your progress and your karmic philosophies.
Hi Sophia – that is really cool! Clutter is certainly a byproduct of a maximist lifestyle.
Lena, You can find permanent metal coffee filters at http://www.Gevalia.com. My neighbor really likes not having to buy filters all the time. I only have 1 cup of coffee with her every Sat so I don’t make coffee at home anymore.
Judy, I think your story is very much like mine. Closets stuffed to the brim but the rooms downstairs – Living room, dining room, guest room and kitchen surfaces are clear and the place looks tidy. But upstairs and in hidden places, clutter galore. So, I am taking this 365 journey to work on getting rid of the excess. I love the specific – toss this, toss that from Colleen and Cindy, but find that I toss even more than they say. I hope that by this time next year, my rooms look much better. I love hearing everyone’s stories and how things are progressing all over the world. The encouragement is wonderful.
no I dont mean those ones, because they are for the machine and for at least 5 to 6 cups. But I use a little topfilter for one cup at a time. like this: http://www.sonja-plastic.de/shop/product_info.php?info=p116_Kannenaufsatz-mit-Filterbeutel.html
it took me ages to find this, but I am super happy I got it. sad its made from plastic, but as long as I dont find a metal mesh, I will still prefer that over the paperfilter.
Grace from Brazil says
We use these top coffee “makers” everyday here. I love it because we can put it over our thermos if we want a few cups or over a single cup if we want just one. They are so practical and the coffee tastes great. We do have our thermos sitting on the counter but that is all, no coffee maker anywhere.
haha, totally. coffee just tastes better when you dont get it through a machine right? is yours made out of plastic too? I really dont like the HUGE automatic coffee machines that some people have these days. So I own 3 of those filters, (one plastic, one porcellain that requires paper filter, and one for 6 cups, plastic, also for paper) and then I have a espresso can like this as well: http://www.torquato.de/espresskocher-porzellankanne.html. I dont use it as often as the daily topfilter, but I also use it. This item I actually got from a good friend whom I helped decluttering. She unwrapped it, looked at it, closed her eyes and said to me: “now this is from the category too good to use” and wrapped it again. So I had a closer look, realized that this was quality made, and never used, and because I have been already searching for a decent espresso can, I asked her if I could have and use it. She gave it to me with a bit of mixed feelings, I guess. But I use it and I love it, also because it comes from her. For me this can is special as it was once a really heavily attached clutter item, then it changed its purpose and it went to me, where it gets used until its done.
I decluttered the milk-foam-machine two days ago, as it didnt really work, was taking too much space and I didnt use it often enough to justify it. I think I will replace it with a small slim one, which you hold in yourself and press the button to foam the milk already in the mug. I could store that in the drawer and it is quality and not this cheap stuff that was on offer at the supermarket. I really need to have a talk to my family about gifts again soon 😉
Grace from Brazil says
Yes, ours is a plastic one that uses paper filters. I had a small single cup french press that I decluttered recently. You can’t really use it here and I was not about to save it to take it back to the U.S.. The coffee is too fine here for it anyway. You can’t find whole beans at all here in the Amazon area. Most Brazilians that I know actually use something that looks like a sock. It has a round wire from which hangs a cloth sock. Most don’t use paper filters, just the sock thing. Brazilian coffee is out of this world delicious!
I have this sock for tea. its not really pretty anymore, but it serves its purpose really well. I cant do it with coffee, because the mesh is too big for it.
I get my coffee fresh from the coffee shop, and I can then ask to grind it harder or finer, whatever I prefer… and then I get a pound of fresh, good smelling coffee. that makes me happy every time.
my friend went to brazil for a couple of months and gained a lot of weight, because she said that every coffee comes at least with two spoons of sugar, haha. I love mild coffee from central/south america, because its so easy, you dont need sugar or even a lot of milk.
I have always been quite neat and tidy but I married a “keep it, it might come in useful” man. We have two sons – one is very messy. 7 years ago I was off work sick for a year and, despite having been ill, I enjoyed having more time with the family and vowed that I would try to keep my weekends free when I returned to work. Fast forward 7 years and last autumn, I realised that I was actually back to spending my entire weekend shifting stuff around so that I could clean the house.
Over the Christmas break I found 365 less things and decided “Enough”!
Fortunately, at around the same time, I was transferred at work and went from working 4 minutes walk from the shopping centre, to being on a business park with no shops for miles. So while I have been decluttering at home, I haven’t been able to reclutter at lunch break. Instead of walking around the shops at lunchtime, I have been walking around the business park (I like walking). Not only have I lost a lot of clutter from my home but I’ve lost 10lbs in weight too!
I still need to work on the husband and sons but a lot has been achieved in 5 months!
Colleen Madsen says
Wow Tracey, good for you!!! Don’t you just love it when fait steps in and deals you a hand that automatically benefits you in some way you were least expecting. Don’t reclutter while you declutter is one of my golden rules and if that somehow causes more exercise and weight loss what a bonus. Keep it up and happy decluttering. I am sure the boys will come around when they begin to realise the benefits of what you are doing.
The 15 year old son is showing encouraging signs. We were watching a TV programme last night called The Hoarder next Door and part way through it one of the women on the show said that she really needed some item. My son immediately piped up “want it or need it, that’s what you should be thinking about Mrs”. I was in total creases. I don’t think he has a future as a psychotherapist or counsellor with such a direct approach, but I think he already has the right idea about “stuff”. Unfortunately it’s the other son who perhaps needs to be on that programme!
Very interesting stories here!
Back in the early 1980s, when I was a young, overwhelmed mother who needed to get organized, I stumbled across a wonderful book, “Clutter’s Last Stand” by Don Aslett. I read the book cover to cover, bought all the other books he wrote, and have been hooked on decluttering, organizing, and simple living ever since.
I’ve been decluttered and organized for many years, but 15 years ago I remarried, and my new husband was extremely disorganized, a collector of most anything that might have a use, and he found it nearly impossible to get rid of ANYTHING.
Our house and yard soon filled up with his “treasures”, which even included numerous old cars that were to be restored. I became more claustrophobic by the day, feeling like I was drowning in junk, because he could bring stuff in faster than I could get rid of it.
Our marriage suffered greatly because of his need to acquire, and my need to live with a lot less. It is only through the Lord’s grace that we were able to work through the clutter issues, and save our marriage.
Today our marriage is strong, and my husband has learned that it’s really okay to let go of things, and he has. We are able to work together on decluttering now.
The older I get, the less stuff I seem to need. I’m not a minimalist, but I hate clutter, and keep finding items that we can live without.
My parents own a farm, and we’re going to have a HUGE job clearing everything from house, barns, and other buildings when the time comes. I dread the thought of it.
What keeps me thinning out our possessions these days is my desire not to leave a big decluttering job for our children to have to deal with when we’re gone.
I’ve enjoyed this blog ever since I found it, and keep visiting because there’s always a new trick to pick up, or others to encourage as they begin to declutter their homes.
Colleen Madsen says
your story if proof of what I was saying to Sabrina from Italy. Communication is key to decluttering. There really does have to be give and take when there are clashing needs when it comes to relationships and the home. I am so glad your husband and you managed to save your marriage and get your house in order together.
Unfortunately you are also aware of how other peoples clutter, outside your own household, doesn’t only affect them but eventually their loved one. I am talking about the case of your parents farm of course. But at least you are aware of this and will not hand the same problem down to your children and hopefully they will do the same and this new habit will change things for the better for all the generations to come.