Category: decluttering

Mission: Tidy Up

I was in our living room the other night and realized it happened: baby stuff has taken over every surface of our apartment. And the worst part is, Torre is way too young for it to be his doing! So every crinkly toy and piece of baby gear (bouncer, stroller, playmat) is where it is because I put it there. The reason music rang out when I sat on our couch was because I crammed a musical toy between the cushions.

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One of the reasons minimalism appeals to me is because I know clutter attracts clutter, and the simplest antidote for clutter is not to own anything extra. But extra things can be beautiful and useful, not just clutter magnets, and the fact that we have an extra person in our family now, it makes sense to have some extra stuff! In fact, the reason our apartment looked inside out was because everything was being used on such a consistent basis, it simply never got put away.

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Another Round of Decluttering

I cannot think of any time that I am more efficient than when I am procrastinating. For example, the last/only time I scrubbed my bathroom floor was in the middle of a big paper. Now that I’m out of school, there is a lot less to procrastinate, but every once in a while opportunities come along, and last week that opportunity was needing to unpack. Matt and I didn’t check any bags for our vacation this year, which I found to be very impressive and certainly make the whole process of packing a lot easier. Technically, it made unpacking easier than it could have been, but I spent a few days overwhelmed by all the clothes on our bedroom floor and the impossibility of sorting it all into different loads of laundry.

However, as my closet grew emptier in direct proportion to the spreading chaos on my floor, I became inspired to do another round of decluttering. Matt and I got rid of tons of clothes back in March, and I tried to be picky as I switched my closet from fall/winter to spring/summer, but as I looked at the clothes left in my closet, I realized they are the same iffy clothes that I held on to “just in case” but still don’t wear. 95% of what I wear on a regular basis needs to be washed right now, meaning there isn’t much left for my not-favourites to hide under.

I have also come to the conclusion that I have a placemat problem. I think we have four sets of placemats, and we never use any of them. I have rolled and folded and stacked our placemats into drawers and shelves so they’d be available but out of the way, and… we just never use them. I must remind myself that owning/using placemats is not a hallmark of adulthood, it’s just a choice (and doesn’t make very much sense considering the tiny size of our dining room table). I can part with placemats and not lose any piece of myself (I muttered under my breath all week).

I also finally released three pairs of shoes from “shoe purgatory” to the free room of our building. Let me explain. Back in March, I gave up a few pairs of shoes that were worn out, ugly, uncomfortable, or a combination thereof. I put SEVEN pairs of iffy shoes in a box with a promise to myself that if I had not worn and loved any of those pairs by the end of summer that I would stop hoarding them no matter how pretty they look. The problem for me has always been that they are sooo pretty. I bought them because they were pretty and promised myself I’d break them in. I imagined how versatile they were because they’d be cute with a skirt, capris OR jeans!! And then I’d pass them over all Summer and pack them away each Fall. I have a picture of these shoes on my phone but no cord to upload it, so you’ll have to just imagine their cuteness. They are strappy sandals that would indeed have complimented a host of summer outfits, if only I could have walked all the way out of our building without regretting how unsteady it felt to walk.

This long weekend I tossed expired medicine and organized our bathroom cabinet, then “donated” (ie. left in the free room for anyone to take) a shopping bag of shirts and kitchen towels, one placemat set (baby steps, people!), and those three pretty pairs of shoes. It feels good 🙂

Three Things Thursday [Vol.9]

3 framesThese three picture frames were inspired by my readings on the internet about how to honour special memories while decluttering. The frame on the left displays memorabilia from our honeymoon, while the two frames on the right display program covers and tickets from shows Matt and I saw on special dates as well as a picture of us during intermission from the first show. I love this idea because instead of having to choose between keeping sentimental clutter or throwing out memories, we can enjoy and share our memories of these special times on the walls of our home! The only question now is where to hang them?

Spending Time

Recently, taking some quiet time to reflect on my goals and priorities helped me decide to try and sell my old textbooks. I always liked having them around just in case I needed to look something up, and I remember looking at my parents’ books on the bookcase while I was growing up, so I thought maybe one day my future children would do the same. However, that is a ridiculous reason to store shelves (and pounds) of books – if I haven’t taken a second look at any of those books in the past year, what life circumstances do I imagine changing that will create a world where I suddenly want to brush up on critical thinking or sociology? I held on to books from when I studied Biblical Hebrew because I love languages, I used to know so much Hebrew, and maybe one day I’d try and pick it up again.

But here’s the thing: I won’t.

I know this because I cannot foresee any possibility that I’ll need to – I know enough to use a concordance when I want to get deeper in Biblical texts, so I have no motivation to try and cram all that vocabulary and grammar back into my brain. And really, if I were to study a language, Biblical Hebrew falls on my list of priorities behind Spanish, Portuguese, and French. IF things come up that I never anticipated and I need those books down the road, I will replace them, but I think that is much less likely than the chance I’m taking on selling/donating them to make my present and future simpler.

So I am at peace with parting with yet more stuff. But the fruit of this reflective time is not yet done! Because remembering that I really do want to learn Spanish (Matt and I sponsor a girl from Nicaragua and would love to meet her one day, and I would love love love to be able to speak with her directly) made me a little bit sad that I never have time to study it. And then while I was reading on the internet I came across this quote in response to complaints of not having time: “Everyone gets 24 hours, and you decide how to spend them.” And the more that sunk in, I realized that if I spent some of my time on the internet studying Spanish, I just might get somewhere with that.

This is true of everything I wish I had more time for – from keeping in touch with friends to getting more sleep to running to spending time with God. Some seasons are busier than others, and some have more flexibility than others, but ultimately it is up to me how I spend my 24 hours a day. And if I truly don’t have time for the things that nag at the back of my mind, maybe it’s time to check out my priorities and see what’s out of order: the things I spend my time on, or the things I wish I did instead. Maybe like with those Hebrew textbooks, I’ll find habits or self perceptions that I’m really ready to let go of.

Reading Less to Do More

I read a lot of blogs. It’s a pretty entertaining pastime, and it always gives me something interesting to think and talk about. A friend of mine asked me how I find the blogs I read, and the answer is I hardly even know. Sure there are some I subscribe to, others I just check up on, and sometimes I follow links to other authors or articles, or just read the comments and check out new sites that way. It’s usually good times – I learn lots and enjoy seeing people’s different perspectives on the world.

However, all this internet reading can also be a time suck, and a number of ideas I’ve read recently are conglomerating in my brain to make me more critical about how I spend my time including time online.

One piece of the puzzle is minimalism and the journey Matt and I are on changing our relationship with stuff. Rather than taking our identity from it, we want to filter what we own by what we value, love and use. It has been a big deal to question, “If it doesn’t relate to who I am, why keep it on my shelves or in a box in the closet?” and it has been refreshing to find that removing excess and distracting belongings creates more space and appreciation for what’s left. Since letting go of the cheap jewellery I never wear, I’ve begun actually wearing the jewellery I love. Now that my jewellery isn’t “organized” so that it fits packed in a certain space as long as I don’t. touch. anything. I can actually see what I own and decide what to wear.

When it comes to the internet, a lot of the reading I do is not very purposeful, but I have all kinds of blogs in my reader that I just read to keep on top of. It’s a habit, and it’s comforting because I don’t have to sit around thinking of my own ideas, I can just soak up other people’s. Lately though, I’ve been feeling like my mind is so full of stuff that there isn’t room to take in more new information. I don’t want to spend my free time living 9 lives vicariously through strangers on the internet. At this point I have been exposed to a lot of ideas and lifestyles, and now I should probably give more time to living things out than just reading about them.

Related to this is an interesting point I’ve learned in frugality, and another piece of my time puzzle, that if you don’t shop for it you won’t buy it. And when you don’t buy it, very often you can do without it. A great practice (especially since Matt and I are only two people and both adults) is to skip a week of grocery shopping and eat the food you bought because it was on sale/you had a coupon/you thought you’d use it for that new recipe you never actually made. I am all for having things on hand, but it is so easy to forget they are there when they are stacked at the back of a cupboard and you’re buying new food you actually want to eat. I am doing Jello penance this week because I discovered four boxes of it that I don’t even remember buying. I am sure it was on sale because I know myself, but it literally could have been last Fall that I bought it (I can imagine my train of thought exactly: “sale! and it won’t go bad! and… we eat jello… sometimes….? I’ll take FOUR“). So I made a box and have eaten two cups of jello this week. So far. Three boxes to go. And next time I want to buy Jello on sale, I will remember how it’s not THAT good and that I left one box in the cupboard as insurance. And not later eat 8 cups of jello in a week.

How does Jello relate to me and my time? I have a ton of ideas, things I want to do and write and learn, but there is such a constant flow of new content to my mind, that I never get to do real justice to those sparks of true inspiration that pop up every once in a while. If I don’t spend so much time “shopping” for new ideas, I won’t fill my mind-cupboards up with stuff I don’t really want to eat. And maybe I can finally fulfill some of those ideas I’ve been thinking of for so long!