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It’s Mine

Josh and I have been decluttering, in fact we scheduled various decluttering days on the calendar.  For instance, dedicate a day to decluttering clothing.  Get the whole family involved in the process.  Donate the clothing at the end of the day.  Job well done.

Except that when life feels chaotic or unsettled, I have a tendency to hold tighter to things.  I am like the squirrels who have sex in my backyard by the window, by which I mean that I like to store things on the off-chance that life goes to hell and I need them in the future.  Like the aforementioned clothing.  No, I’m not wearing that Nordic-themed sweater anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future if we are struggling to make ends meet and I can’t buy new clothes.  (Who am I kidding?  I never buy new clothes.  I am allergic to clothing shopping; it makes me itchy.  The only clothing item I acquire are t-shirts and a new pair of jeans — always the exact same kind — whenever an old pair of jeans get holes in the knees.)

All I can think is, “It’s mine.”

And then I think about the money wasted by purchasing said clothing and not wearing it enough.

And then I think again about how it’s mine, and somewhere inside me, I turn into Gollum with the Ring, stroking every item in my house while I call it precious.

Still, it needs to get done because we are suffocating in unused stuff taking up way too much space.

I didn’t read Kondo’s book because it doesn’t sound like my thing.  I am not into minimalism; I’m just into organized spaces.  In fact, in Googling things like, “Kondo, sad about giving my stuff away,” I came across the perfect article that helped me feel okay about my decluttering tactics.  It’s what I’ve been using to make decisions, be okay with letting go of certain things, and be okay with keeping stuff that doesn’t spark joy but makes my inner Gollum roar when I think about releasing it from my clutches.  We have space; we just need to use it better.

So, to sum up, my method for decluttering:

  1. Take all the stuff out and place it on the bed. (That’s a good idea; thanks, Kondo.)
  2. Put back the stuff I know I wore recently.
  3. Put back the stuff that I feel very sentimental about.
  4. Put back a few things that bring out my inner Gollum and be okay with that.
  5. Take a photo of every item we’re donating. (I need to know in the future that something was given away and not misplaced.)
  6. Place items in bag.
  7. Donate items immediately.

That’s it.

What is your decluttering method?

13 comments

1 Cristy { 06.28.16 at 9:47 am }

I’m like you with hanging on to things. It would be a huge problem if I was also piling on new things, but that’s not an issue. I donate and consign usually when new things come in. Otherwise the main goal is to organize. So I like your strategy.

Thanks for the article!

2 Raven { 06.28.16 at 10:58 am }

This post made me giggle! My husband is like you, while I am very much “if I haven’t used it in 6 months, it goes.” I like enough space between furniture, items on shelves or desks, etc, that they don’t touch (except books or movies). I like space and hate things that collect dust. It needs to be used, or it moves out, and I rarely form sentimental attachment to items. Yet Mr. Big clings tight to the boxes items come in (for when we move, which we haven’t done in YEARS) and clothing that so and so gave him, and his old radio because he’s had it since he was a kid, etc, etc. We’re two extremes of the same spectrum – so we are constantly working on balance. We finally agreed that he can use the garage for the stuff he needs to keep, otherwise I will keep the house minimal with a few exceptions… (like this old coat he has but never wears, that will now be the main part of his Hagrid costume for Halloween this year!).

3 Journeywoman { 06.28.16 at 3:29 pm }

I am a pack rat. I am okay with this.
The problem is that I have pack-ratted my mother’s stuff and I am not okay with that.

4 loribeth { 06.28.16 at 3:44 pm }

LOL on “it’s mine” and the Gollum analogy. This sounds all too familiar. 😉 I have mixed feelings about the Kondo method as well — a little too drastic for my tastes. That said, downsizing from a 1200-square-foot house (plus basement, garage & backyard shed) to an 875-square-foot condo with one not-that-big storage locker meant I had to really bite the bullet and get rid of stuff. I find I do better (a) when dh is not hovering around asking why I’m keeping this or that and why I’m not throwing more stuff out (which brings out my inner contrarian…!) & (b) when I can sometimes sit on a decision for a while. I’ll look at something, decide I can’t part with it just yet, come back a day or two later, realize how much stuff I still have and say to heck with it and THEN put it in the “donate” pile. 😉

There are still things I should get rid of but haven’t yet. I got rid of well over half of my scrapbooking supplies, but I still have a lot, and I know the likelihood of me using them again is not that great. I have a stockpile of skin care products that are already well past the “best before” date, but as long as they still look and smell OK, I am going to try to use them up (because I know how much I paid for all this stuff…!). I got rid of a lot of books before we moved, to the point that I am willing to be most of the books on my still-crowded shelves have not been read vs read. Will I ever read them all?? Probably not, but I don’t want to get rid of them, because they look interesting, and hey, I might…!! I know I still have WAY too many clothes, particularly now that I am not working. I am never going to need dressy capris in five different colours again. But I have them and I hate to give them up, just because I never know when I’ll have a shower or some other such occasion where my hot pink capris with the coordinating paisley blouse and pink sandals would be perfect. 😉 SIGH.

5 Sharon { 06.28.16 at 4:16 pm }

I haven’t had the time or energy to do any serious decluttering since my sons were born nearly four-and-a-half years ago. And I really need to! But I don’t see it happening in the foreseeable future due to lack of time and energy.

Anyway, when I used to declutter pre-children, I used this method for each item (it’s the FlyLady’s):
* Do I love this item?
* Have I used it in the past year?
* Is it really garbage?
* Do I have another one that is better?
* Should I really keep two?
* Does it have sentimental value that causes me to love it?
* Or does it give me guilt and make me sad when I see the item?

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.28.16 at 4:33 pm }

Uh…am I supposed to have a decluttering method?

I think I just want to invite you over to do it for me. I can’t stand the thought of so many decisions in one session.

7 Elizabeth { 06.28.16 at 9:56 pm }

I have been working on decluttering my house and life the past few months too! I managed to donate at least six garbage bags of clothes, most of them were my husbands, he is a bit of a clothes hoarder. Sometimes while he is at work I dig into the back of the closet and drawers and take out things I know he hasn’t worn in at least 5 years and I put them in a bag. When I fill the bag I donate it. He hasn’t missed anything yet shhhh. I also haven’t read Kondo’s book but I have read a ton of stuff about her methods on pintrest and I watched a few youtube video’s on her clothes folding method. I managed to refold all of our clothes using it and we definitely have more space in the drawers and it’s easier to see what’s there. I highly recommend it! Still working on cleaning out the rest of my house, I probably need to have a garage sale, pintrest has me on a minimalist kick. Awesome post!

8 Mali { 06.29.16 at 4:29 am }

I read an article that talked about the privilege involved in minimalism. Only those who are confident they can replace things can easily dispose of possessions. I didn’t grow up with a lot of stuff. We lived in the country, so couldn’t easily get to shops to buy things we needed, even if we had the money. We used everything, and didn’t throw things away. I I’m afraid I’ve taken this mentality into my adult life. I’m not a hoarder, but I do need to declutter, clothes especially. I’ve noticed though, in the last few years since our income took a dive, that I find it harder to routinely clean out my clothes, even those I haven’t worn in years.

9 Persnickety { 06.29.16 at 7:50 am }

So much what Mali said! There is a certain amount of privilege in minimalism- the assumption that whatever you need can be acquired. Both my husband and I moved a lot in our lives, and experienced times when we lost stuff we would have preferred to keep, through other people’s actions. It makes it harder to throw out what we have. I try to declutter, and organise, but it can be hard. With some things, I have to understand why it is so hard for me to let go, what do I need to keep a flyer from a decade ago for. Other things are easy. What I do not do is throw my husbands stuff away. I may identify it as non-essential for me, but he still has to make the call. I think he tries to do that for my stuff.
I also know that I can only declutter effectively for an hour or less at a time. My attention wavers, I get overwhelmed and too much is kept.

10 BnB { 06.29.16 at 10:59 am }

This post and Mali’s comment intrigue me. I am the least materialistic person I know. I joke (even though it is actually pretty accurate) that I can fit all of my worldly possessions, with the exception of furniture, in my car. I rarely purchase anything new, and even when I do, I almost never pay full price for it. Almost all of my clothing comes from second-hand stores, and even then I wear them until they are threadbare. I’m lucky enough to be at a place in my life where I have the means to purchase anything that I need, but I’ll never forget what it’s like to grow up poor or to be a young adult who, on occasion, had to make the choice between keeping the lights on or surviving on Ramen noodles (I ate a lot of ramen noodles…). I think my lack of materialism comes from knowing that nothing is ever permanent or guaranteed, that at anytime somebody can swoop in and take it all away, and that you have to be able to be able to pack your stuff and get out quickly if needed. This may also be why I don’t have a sentimental attachment to very many things.

Hubs, on the other hand, is what I refer to as a “collector of shit.”

11 a { 06.29.16 at 6:04 pm }

I just get into purging moods and get rid of stuff that I no longer need. There’s no method to my madness…

12 Jess { 06.29.16 at 7:12 pm }

I hate decluttering, because my husband is kind of like your husband… if it hasn’t been used recently, it’s clutter and should go. HOWEVER, I have experiences like when I kept a short-sleeved cardigan that I could no longer button but just really liked, and THREE YEARS after I last wore it it just happened to match a new strapless dress (that I would never actually wear in all its strapless glory) PERFECTLY. I would have had to spend money on something I’d already had if I’d donated it when I stopped wearing it with regularity. Now it gets lots of use. I liked some of the ideas behind Kondo, but her philosophy on books kills me. Clothes, yes. That makes sense. I usually go through mine when I pull the summer things out and then again when I pull the winter things out, because then I can donate things when they are relevant to the season and I can objectively be like, “come on, you haven’t worn this in FOREVER and it doesn’t even really fit you anymore.” But I hate getting rid of sentimental things, like Dave Matthews T-shirts and really soft shirts that have holes in them. But then they become pajamas.

13 JustHeather { 06.30.16 at 4:19 pm }

Decluttering…It so needs to be done in our house. I’m in a continual process of doing something about it. LOL: Right now it is (kids) clothes. I have several Ikea bags full of clothes and I have tried and am still trying on a few things to sell them for a small amount (which, in the end probably isn’t really worth all the time and effort I am putting into it) when I am starting to think I just need to get rid of them all. There are several places I can donate the clothes to, I just need to do it. Soon! As for other things, yeah, I need to work on that too. Books I would like to get rid of some that I have read and won’t read again. Hubby wants to keep them all. Arts and crafts…I have a hard time parting with, because I never know when we might use it. Plus, I’ve paid money for it!
Along the line of sentimental stuff…some I can get rid of, others I can’t. Like the stuff my mom has given me.

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