Uncluttering, very slowly

Lately I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by Stuff. You know, all those things that seem to accumulate in the house. Items that sit around requiring organization and taking up space. All that Stuff.

I’d like to get rid of some of my Stuff. I’m not anywhere near the level of hoarding, but I still have waaaaay more Stuff than I need. Clear and open space in my home makes me feel calmer and more relaxed. I’d like to have more relaxed feelings and less Stuff.

I’ve been working on this project intermittently for about a year. Somehow, though, it seems that as much as I clear away there’s still an enormous amount of Stuff left. I read blogs like Unclutterer and Simpler Living, and though I don’t aspire to the extreme minimalist lifestyle of Miss Minimalist, I do aspire to clean out as much Stuff as I can.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that a few months ago I did a massive closet cleanout and brought several large garbage bags of clothes and shoes to my local thrift store. (And, though embarrassing to admit, all of these items came from just one closet. I still have the kids’ closets to go through, the front hall closet, and a couple of storage closets as well.) It’s a wonderful feeling of lightness, like a heavy weight has been lifted, when I can see all the items in the closet and easily find the one that I want. Although I have fewer clothes, I feel like I have more to wear.

But I find that like many of life’s endeavors, uncluttering is an iterative process. I can’t get it all done in one swoop; I have to keep returning to the same items again and again. Looking at my closet today, there are things I had decided to keep just a few short months ago but whichI now know I should give away. There are still some pants that don’t fit me well, some shirts that may be just right for work but which I haven’t worn in at least 5 years, and some cute but very uncomfortable pairs of shoes. I’m not sure why I couldn’t get rid of them on the first round of closet cleaning, but I do know I’m ready to get rid of them now.

With the iterative nature of decluttering in mind, I decided to take a stroll around the main living area of my house to see if there was anything else that suddenly seemed unnecessary.  A quick look around (the space is not very big, after all!) and I immediately found 10 objects that I can definitely do without:

  1. The stereo, including the Speakers,
  2. Receiver,
  3. CD player,
  4. and a double tape deck. Plus all the power cords associated with those items. None of them are even set up at this point! The CD player doesn’t work, we don’t use cassette tapes any more (does anyone?), and we have other means of listening to music and radio. Our small docking station for iPods, which I received as a gift last year, has speakers, a radio receiver, and plays CDs. It’s a lot smaller than the whole stereo, and the fact that it works is clearly a plus! 🙂
  5. Staplers. My quick look around found 4 staplers. That’s more staplers than people in the house. Clearly, this is a simple case of disorganization. Since the staplers were scattered around in various rooms, I didn’t realize that we had so many. I’m thinking that one stapler is probably enough.
  6. The Phone Book and Yellow Pages. I resisted getting rid of these for a long time, thinking that it takes too long to boot up the computer just to look up a phone number. But now we have iTouches and laptops which are nearly always on. I can’t remember the last time I cracked open the big old phone books. Time to recycle those.
  7. Broken watches. To be honest, I think some of these aren’t broken, they just need new batteries. But still, how many watches can I use? I wear the same watch every single day. I may keep one extra as a backup, but the rest are headed for the door.
  8. Pieces of non-working humidifiers. Yep, I know it’s hard to imagine in this sticky, hot weather, but in the winter the air around here is so dry that I sometimes run a humidifier in the house. I’m not sure why I saved the pieces from the one that broke two years ago, though.
  9. Tiny tea cups, and saucers. I have a full set of dishes that, though I no longer love the design, I still use regularly for larger groups. Someday I may choose to replace them, but in the meantime they are useful. However, the set came with tiny little teacups and saucers, and I think I have 16 of each. Which we never use. And they are space hogs because they don’t stack well. If we’re going to have a cup of tea (or coffee or hot chocolate or any other hot drink), we use a reasonably-sized mug. I’m packing up those teacups today.
  10. The teacups made me consider some of the other items in my china cabinet as well. I’d rather have a few things that I love than a cabinet full of things I never see.

I couldn’t believe how quickly and easily I found 10 things I don’t need. Maybe I should start looking for 10 things every day! What about you? Are you on an uncluttering kick? If so, what have you found recently?

This entry was posted in Happiness Project, Observations, Uncluttering and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Uncluttering, very slowly

  1. Kathleen Pratt says:

    I love this. We are in the process of moving (most of our possessions are in storage at the moment) and we THOUGHT we had uncluttered and “purged” like crazy, but I still can’t believe how much stuff we have! Moving helps though, you have to make some tough choices some times.

  2. Maybe that’s a strategy I could use…pretend I’m moving, and ask myself would I take this with me if I was moving?

  3. Suzanne says:

    Hi Barb, I came over via your link on Unclutterer.

    The items in the picture under #10 are beautiful pieces. I hope those are examples of items you love and chose to see more of by purging the clutter around them!

    Several years ago I went through major clutter purges and now am on a “maintenance plan”. I keep up with clutter by doing/running the 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge. We have challenged ourselves to declutter at least one item from our lives per day for a year.

    Want to join us? 🙂

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  5. bkwriter4life says:

    I’m all about uncluttering myself. Except for me it’s lots and lots of tree: magazines, newspapers, old journal books, bills, bills paid. A whole lot of paper. I have gotten rid of clothes (I give away an article or two of clothing to the Salvation Army at least once a month) and as for stuff, I haven’t started (like kitchen supplies I never use). I need to get there. It’ll happen…sloooowly.

    • I sure do hear you, bkwriter4life. Papers and paperwork seem to multiply by themselves in my house. I am always overwhelmed by the paper clutter.

      For the moment, though, I’m focusing on the other things… books, kitchen items, clothes, and decorations. I’m feeling the need to have LESS.

  6. Gila says:

    I did a major de-clutter about 6 months ago, but after reading this, I looked around and realized the piles had accumulated again (new ones, and the ones I had set aside the first time because I wasn’t sure what to do with them). I was too overwhelmed to deal with it all. I just decided to tackle one small pile – or even one item – a day. It’s a slower process, but it makes me like I am at least making progress!

  7. Shira Adatto says:

    It’s a little eery but I think I really could have written this blog word for word. We had a yard sale today and then I dropped (are you ready?) 8 bags of stuff off at Salvation Army, mostly old clothes, shoes, toys and baby blankets. And by the way, my kids are almost 5 and 8, why do I still have old baby blankets and burp cloths around? Amazingly enough, I think if I did your little walk-around exercise, I could find tons more. Needless to say, it felt very very good to get rid of all this Stuff and now I am going to try the 365-day exercise. That sounds awesome.

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  10. Andrea says:

    Good job…way to de-clutter! It’s better to do it slowly than not at all!!

  11. Amy says:

    Man, I really need to do some of this! Our closets are bursting!

  12. amanda says:

    i’m on a journey of decluttering my house too. i just keep telling myself baby steps. Sounds like you are doing that and off to a good start!

  13. "A" says:

    Great job!

    My sister, a friend and I have a project to get rid of one thing a day this year, and we’re blogging to stay accountable. It’s amazing how quickly one thing a day starts to make a difference…(and we’re inviting any kindred spirits to join us…)

    • “A” — great idea! I love the photos and the history of each object that you post… it just shows how long we keep things we really no longer need.
      [I tried to comment on your blog, but often have trouble with blogspot comments. Sorry.]

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