decoding the decluttering movement

Monday, February 1, 2016
Stuff. Stuff.

It wasn’t until I was packing up my two-bedroom, one-person condo to move into a one-bedroom, two-person home that I realized just how many “things” I had accumulated over the course of three years. Between piles of unworn clothes, stacks of books, and miscellaneous small appliances, it became glaringly obvious that all of my perceived self-control was maybe, er, nonexistent.

The excessiveness was shocking at first, and then disappointing, and then just disgusting.

What I hadn’t realized during my slow and steady compilation of crap was that all of these “things” that I dreamt would make my life easier (i.e. That “perfect” dress for the party; that “necessary” cupcake holder for the birthday girl’s treats – seriously) were actually becoming the bane of my existence. A new piece of clothing here and there meant that I was spending my Saturday organizing my closet. The odds and ends that didn’t have a proper place to be stored were lugged into the garage to move elsewhere … eventually. And slowly, all of it – all of the crap – was mounting bit by bit on top of my shoulders, creating this weighty feeling that nagged at me constantly.

A clean house was never really a clean house when there were bags of donations waiting, books needing sorting and shelving and shelves of décor needing dusting.

And it just so happened that while in the midst of this move, one of the bloggers that I’ve followed since my days in banking PR – Blonde on a Budget – was discussing the same predicament, albeit on a different level. Cait, who was willing to take extremes that make me shudder, declared a shopping ban. (If you’re interested, she’s outlined her experience in these two posts: How to Start a Shopping Ban and How to Complete a Shopping Ban.)

That was, of course, one solution.

Simultaneously sweeping that nation was also a “light” version of minimalism, found in the best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It’s seemed as if everyone is in the mood for a bit of decluttering.

For me, well, I was looking for a bit of a Goldilocks solution, something “just the right size,” something that straddled the line between mild and radical change.

I don’t like a stark house. I like the warm, cozy vibes that come with candles and throw blankets. So, while I want to streamline the “stuff” that fills our home, I also want to keep the pretty pieces that don’t do much more than make me smile.
(I love the concept of pretty minimalism that’s talked about in this Slow Home podcast, by the way.)

Even as my wannabe-minimalist ideals evolve, here are a few tips to consider for those folks just starting to grapple with a less-stuff lifestyle…

Digitize the paper stuff. Pull the plug on the printer. The paper trail in our lives can be never ending if you don’t have a digital home for your important documents and files. I’ve used MyPBWorks for years and love the easy access but secured space for whatever I want to keep on hand.

Ditch the duplicates. You likely don’t need three soup ladles, and let’s be real. Those things jam any crowded kitchen drawer. And that iPhone 4? Go ahead and drop it into the tech donation box at your nearby big-box retailer. Simply getting rid of the outdated technology and the it-never-fit-quite-right jeans allows you to better see and select among your favorite things.

Don’t jump in the deep end. Box up all the things that you’re not 100 percent sure you can live without out, but that you also don’t want to get rid of them. Then, hide them on yourself. Put them in the farthest corner of the basement or garage and try your damndest to forget about ‘em. If you haven’t touched the box in three months, hand it over to the Salvation Army.

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