Decluttering Our Closet

One of my absolute favorite things in life is problem solving. I get gleeful when I find a solution to something that’s not working quite right in our home. I will think and think and think about it until I figure it out. It helps to be married to someone who is great at solving problems in a totally different way than I am. I’ll think for hours about something, whereas Ben will throw out wild, crazy ideas off the top of his head, and some of them are just too wild and crazy to be of use, but some jolt me out of the rut I’m stuck in, and give me a few more hours’ worth of material to mull over. I love mulling.

My latest problem to solve was in our closet. We have a massive closet, which is interesting since it’s my goal to own as few clothes as possible, without getting completely bored of my options. We simply do not need all that space, but you know what happens with space? We fill it. It’s so easy to get careless when there’s so much room to spread out, and I’ve been getting lazy with how I’m storing things.

I walked into my closet the other morning and thought, “This is stressful and unappealing. I want a pretty closet.” When I expressed this desire to Ben, he said blankly, “I never think about stuff like that.”

“I do,” I replied. “Our closet is ugly.”

He said, “I think you spend a lot more time in our closet than I do. I just go in and get my clothes.”

“That’s all I do, too, but I still think it’s ugly,” I told him.

So I stood in our closet and stared really hard at everything to figure out what the problem was, and suddenly it hit me: Everything making a mess could either be gotten rid of, or stored somewhere else. My goal was a bare, beautiful dresser, and zero clutter. And maybe some pretty pictures on the wall, eventually….

I started hauling things out. It has made the hugest difference for me. I can’t wait to go in there each morning, because that wide open space is peaceful and soothing to my soul. Three kids can produce astonishing amounts of clutter which I find difficult to keep under control, but they don’t mess up my closet, so this space stays as clean as I keep it.

Those piles cluttering up my dresser sat there for five years, and I never once thought it would be possible to get rid of them. They needed to be there. Except they didn’t, and I can’t believe, once again, how awesome it feels to ditch the clutter, pare down the belongings, and simplify.

I stand in the doorway to our closet and just look at it. I made Ben look at it, too, and he was moderately impressed, but I don’t know if he would have noticed if I hadn’t forced him to admire it. But that’s fine – I did it for me.

It makes me curious what other clutter areas are completely unnecessary, if I can only figure out how to think outside the box. Now I need to go make the rest of my house look as clean as this closet.;)

What do you think – is there any clutter in your house you’ve believed you NEED, but maybe you don’t?!

 

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Goal Accomplished!!

Guess what happened this weekend??!!

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I reached my goal of decluttering 2015 things in the year 2015!!

At the beginning of the weekend, I needed to find 78 things to get rid of, and I felt a little unsure that I would still have that much left to purge.

I had saved all of the girls’ things until the end, so on Saturday, we took the morning to conquer the play room.

I shouldn’t have worried about reaching my goal!! Instead of 78 things, we got rid of over 200! They amazed me! It’s hard to purge with kids, but they did awesome. I’d pull out a bin, dump it, and hold up one item at a time. If it was something they loved, we kept it. But there were so many toys they really didn’t care about! And the best part was how they could see for themselves that purging left more room to enjoy the toys they really like to play with.

This is what I’ve found over and over again for myself – get rid of the junk so you can fully enjoy what remains.

Now I feel torn – do I stop purging for the year, and start again in January with the goal of 2016 things in 2016, or do I keep going strong until the end of December to see how far past my goal I can get?! What do you think?

How Decluttering Leaves More Room For Love

Friends, I have 450 items to get rid of in order to reach my purging goal for the year: 2015 in the year 2015!

I am very excited, and also a bit dismayed. How in the world do we have so much junk in our house??!!

My home doesn’t look that full or messy. It’s usually quite clean and tidy, because clutter makes me grumpy. And I’ve always had a donations box on the go, for items I came across that we no longer needed. But even so, I have been able to get rid of 1565 items without any trouble.

I notice that our home is a little easier to keep tidy. There’s more room in some drawers. Our basement looked fairly awesome…until Ben started finishing it, and now it’s under construction, which would not have been possible if we hadn’t gotten rid of so much stuff.:)

But the sad truth is that I could probably do this whole thing over again and get rid of 2016 things in the year 2016. So much stuff!!!

Even though I was expecting my home to look emptier and a lot more minimalist, I am still completely thrilled with the results, and I’m not about to stop purging anytime soon. It’s addicting, freeing, and I feel so much lighter when I think of all the boxes we have sent out the door. I’ve probably made a few hundred dollars on our town’s Buy and Sell Facebook page. (I kept track in the beginning, but lost count after awhile.)

I think the best part, though, is that I love my stuff that remains. I’ve gotten rid of the junk that made me feel guilty or burdened, and I just feel happy with the things that are left.

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In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo writes a lot about only keeping things that spark joy. It’s not even about the things we actually use – it’s about how those things make us feel. I might use things I don’t like at all, out of obligation or guilt. Or I might have something I rarely use, but I really love it and it makes me very happy the few times I am able to make use of it.

When we get rid of all the things we don’t love, it leaves wonderful things behind, with more space and freedom to enjoy them.

THAT is the best thing I have learned this year.

Also…I love this blog post: “Clutter builds up when we stop making decisions about our stuff.” 

“Rather than choose which wrapping paper we like most, we buy all 13 rolls in a jumbo package. Rather than donate clothing that no longer fits, we hang it back up “in case I need it.” Rather than recycle back issues of a magazine, we stick it on the shelf to read “later.”

It’s those items — the ones that we don’t use or love or need — which slowly fill our closets and drawers, our garages and attics.

Those are the items that make it hard to see the painting on the wall that you do love, hard to find your one snuggliest pair of ski socks, hard to clear off the table to share a meal with the people you love.”

So true.

And very motivating for my final purging push – 450 more things gone by Christmas!

Want to join me?!

 

Weekend Purging Challenge

I’m stuck.

Remember how I made it my goal to get rid of one item a day this year? And then, that was so easy, I decided to get rid of 2015 things in the year 2015?

It’s been going awesome – until April. Don’t know what happened this month, but I’m stuck at 950 items purged. My dream for this weekend is to break 1000, but I don’t know if it will happen….

My problem is that I’ve done all the easy stuff. I’ve gone through the whole house, except for the girls’ toys. I’m saving that battle for a little later on in the year – build up my stamina!

We’ve cleaned out our basement, which feels amazing.

basementshelves Ben built shelves, and we’re just waiting for warm weather to clean out the garage, and take a load to the dump.

But now it’s time to get to the harder stuff. I’ve gotten rid of the obvious things that we never use, but now I need to focus on the stuff we use only very occasionally, and could probably live without. I can’t believe that our house can still look so full, even after getting rid of 950 things!

Alright, who’s going to join me?! Fifty things purged this weekend!!

Three Things I’m Learning From Purging

Remember how I told you back in January that it was my goal to get rid of one item a day in 2015, because getting rid of 365 things in a year would be awesome?

Well. Things are going a bit differently than planned….

I’ve gotten rid of 573 things in two months.

I am having so much fun! It feels awesome, and I have every intention to keep going. Suddenly, 2015 items in the year 2015 doesn’t sound quite so impossible anymore.;)

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As each load goes out the door to the thrift shop, I feel lighter, freer, and happier! There’s just one thing that disturbs me:

We haven’t missed anything.

This bothers me, because it means that 573 completely useless items have been sitting around our house, unused. We don’t even notice that they’re gone, other than the fact that our house looks neater and less cluttered. How much more could I get rid of without even feeling it?? And I haven’t even started on our basement or garage, where we store the majority of our stuff that doesn’t get used regular. Those 573 items are “everyday” things that I’ve found in our kitchen, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom. I still need to tackle a bunch of closets, and the girls’ room.

But our walk-in closet is looking fantastically empty. I love going in there! Sometimes I just stand at the doorway and look in admiringly….

closetAs I’ve gleefully purged for the last two months, I’ve noticed my thought process changing. I’m learning some great things which I hope will stick with me:

1) Purging is a mindset.

Getting rid of at least one item a day means that I am continually thinking of what to get rid of. I used to think of purging as an event, instead of a daily habit. I thought I needed to set aside a large chunk of time, and do it all at once, which I would never have time for at this point in my life.

Last month, a friend asked me, “How do you have time for purging, with a newborn?!” When I thought about it, I realized how fast it is to grab an item here or there.

It’s always on my mind, so when I’m in the bathroom getting ready in the morning, or making supper, or doing laundry, I’m always asking myself these questions:

What do I need to keep? How much can I get rid of?

When I evaluate what I truly NEED on a regular basis, it becomes obvious how much excess we have.

2) Clear, open space is beautiful.

I was surprised how difficult it was for me to have completely empty drawers and shelves! It seems like wasted space – I should be filling them! But why? Why can’t I have empty cupboards in my kitchen?

I was going to get rid of some more books in our living room bookshelves, but caught myself thinking, “If I get rid of anymore books, our shelves will look too empty!”

Wait, what?! That’s a good thing! The bookshelves don’t need to be crammed full! The bathroom counter can be completely empty. Our closet doesn’t need to be full of clothes.

The emptier, the better. I just needed to get used to it.

3) Change is a good thing.

There have been many things I was tempted to keep out of habit. But when I think about it, a lot has changed even in the three years since we moved into this house. I decorate differently, I dress differently, I cook differently. I like different things at different times in my life, and it is right and good to get rid of things that have served their purpose, and now we are done with them.

I thought that having a lavender plant in our bathroom would be a lovely idea, but when I looked at it with fresh eyes, I had to be honest and admit the lavender plant was outrageously ugly. You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I chucked it out.

I can change my mind! No, I didn’t wear that mint green shirt. Ever. It seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but I wasn’t thinking about the fact that mint green shirts clash with olive skin tones. Why would I keep it??!

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573 items gone feels awesome. If I keep this up all year, I can’t imagine how fantastic that will feel!

And guess what – it’s totally contagious! I had a nap on Saturday afternoon, and when I woke up, I asked Ben what he’d been doing. He was downstairs, purging! There’s an impressive pile of his stuff ready to ship off to the thrift shop!

But no matter how much stuff I get rid of, more things trickle in. The girls will keep bringing papers home, we keep getting new clothes, life keeps going, and so there will just always be more stuff.

I have often purged in the past, but it’s amazing how stuff continually builds up.

When I’m done with purging this year, will we have enough stuff to do it all over again?! We shall see….

Purge Party 2015

Oh, I am so addicted to purging, you guys! The more stuff I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of! Why is this so much fun??!

Here’s how it all began:

I don’t usually make New Years’ Resolutions, but on December 31st, I was reading some blog posts…

The first one I read was about making ridiculously easy resolutions to guarantee success – if you aim low, you have a better chance of making your goals! At first I thought this sounded a bit lazy, but by the end of the article, I was beginning to think he was onto something!

The reason mini habits work so well is that they are simple and easy to implement. Otherwise, like with other strategies, when we have a bad day, get overwhelmed, or run out of willpower, we’ll drop our goal and lose our progress.

If you ultimately want to get fit, aim for one push-up a day, every day. You may always do more than that, but never less. Mini habits have no ceiling, so do as much as you want when motivation is high.

But what happens when you aren’t motivated at all? No problem. Mini habits allow you to succeed even on your worst day. I’m going to repeat that because it’s important. Mini habits allow you to succeed even on your worst day. The low bar to action is a safety net to allow remarkable consistency. (How to Change Your Life With Mini Habits)

So I was still chewing on the idea of mini habits when I moved on to another blog post – the author was committing to getting rid of 2015 objects in 2015! I thought the idea was completely amazing, but TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE!!!

With a new baby, I knew there was no way I could commit to something that crazy.

But that was the moment when the two blog posts collided: I could do a mini habit! Purging one item a day seemed reasonable. And while I was at it, I could always purge more than one item, if I felt inspired. But getting rid of 365 objects in a year would be awesome!

My first day, I got rid of 20 things instead of just one! It was so easy to keep going, once I got started! It became a fun challenge for me each day, as I tried to think of more and more objects we don’t need or use, and would never miss.

There have been a few days when I only got rid of one item, but most days, I do a lot more than that! I’ve been doing this for 21 days, and I’ve gotten rid of 123 items! They’re sitting by the door, ready to be taken to the thrift store! Purging!Ben is worried that I’ll run out of things to purge long before the end of the year, but I keep thinking of our garage, and all the boxes in our basement. I’m pretty sure I’ll be kept busy for a long time! It is amazing how easy it is to find stuff that we never use. Ben was going to build shelves in our basement for storage, but I have a better idea – let’s just get rid of everything!

I loved this post on getting rid of things, rather than organizing them: The Secret to Getting Organized

I’m finding this to be true, over and over again. I was thinking of buying more dividers for a kitchen drawer so that I could find cooking utensils more easily, but when I went through the drawer a couple of weeks ago, I realized I didn’t use a bunch of the utensils anyway, and with them gone, I can easily find what I’m looking for, no extra organization needed!

I’m having so much fun, I actually think about this when I’m falling asleep at night, or driving somewhere, or feeding Everett. I mentally go through my closets and think about new areas to conquer. Imagine a house with only the things in it that you love and use and need! How light and free would that feel?!

And guess what – 2015 items in 2015 doesn’t look nearly as impossible! I’m not making it my goal (yet!), but we’ll see what happens!;)

 

Wearing Stuff Out and Using it Up

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

I’ve been a little too blessed in this life.

I’ve always lived with a lot of excess, and haven’t ever needed to learn how to squeeze absolutely all the life available out of the things I use and own.

I’ve gotten rid of clothes because I was tired of them, not because they were worn out. I’ve sent loads and loads of perfectly good belongings to the thrift shop because I wasn’t using them, and they were simply lying around my house, taking up space.

I’m so tired of excess.

I don’t know what brought on the need for change. Maybe it started with this clothing revelation, and just grew from there.

Maybe it came from the stuff I was reading.

Or from moving yet again, and getting tired of hauling around all of the useless, random stuff we owned.

Whatever the case, it’s time to do things differently, but I think this skill of using less will take awhile to learn. This past year, it was my goal to start cutting back.

To start with, I’m trying to own only as much clothing as I actually use. For example, I own two hoodies now instead of five, and I just recently had to buy a new one, because one of my old ones was so worn out, it was only fit to be used as a rag.

I own two pairs of good jeans, and keep one old pair for emergencies. I buy a new pair when I get the inevitable hole in the right knee. (Why always the right, specifically??!)

I’m trying to keep less food in our pantry, and only one kind of salad dressing in our fridge!

I packed away half the girls’ toys, and they are just as happy as ever with what they have.

And our most recent accomplishment: Driving our van until it died.

It sounds kind of dumb, but it was a victorious moment. We limped along for a long time, knowing that the end was near. And then one day, we took our van in to have a problem repaired, and were told that it would cost $900 to fix, but the vehicle was only worth $1000. If we chose to fix it anyway, another $900 of repairs were predicted within the next few months.

We bought a new vehicle because we didn’t really have a better choice, and it felt good.

vanThere sits our van, waiting to be picked up. She’s done well, and carried us many, many miles!

I still shop too much, waste too much, and think I need too much, but I’m working on it.

And every time any of my belongings legitimately wears out, and must be replaced out of necessity, it makes me feel good inside.

I would like to feel this way more often.

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Any helpful purging, “living with less” tips out there? How intentional are you about wearing something out before replacing it? Anyone else struggle with balancing “need” versus “want”?