De-clutter: Don’t Postpone Joy

I recently encouraged readers of this e-newsletter to de-clutter and participate in a 30-Day Minimalism Challenge along with me. (Missed it? Read all about it here).

Approximately a dozen of us were accountability partners and de-cluttered together throughout the month.

Here is a quick review of the “rules”:

This my de-clutter calendar I used to keep organized all month.

This my de-clutter calendar I used to keep organized all month.

  • Every day of the month, we each removed or designated for removal from our homes the number of items equal to the number of the date. On the 1st of September we removed one item, on the 2nd two items, and so on…
  • Removing means donating to a local charity, selling or giving the items to someone who needs what we don’t – anything qualifies and everyone in the home can participate
  • Each day, we took a picture of the items we chose to remove and published it on my Facebook page (or emailed it to me)

You can see how well we all did here.

We all were successful!

It’s been great fun. I knew it would be. What I didn’t really expect was the early and positive reaction from participants. Before the end of the first week – I had numerous emails and comments expressing pretty much the same thing, which was:

 I’m finding that I’m looking at everything in my house differently – and asking myself do I need/use/love it! Everything!

Here are examples of some other comments:

I’m having way more fun with your Minimalism Challenge than I thought I would. Not only has it helped me to purge things that I don’t need/want/love, it’s made me reorganize what I do have.

It’s amazing what lurks in the back of a closet.

 After dragging very old paint cans out of a dark corner of our crawl space, it was like a walk down memory lane as we recalled the color names and what rooms we painted those colors.

 Lesson for today: I’m seeing that the things I’m deciding to keep are more about quality and functionality. And honing in on those keeper factors is a good lesson for me going forward.

By Participating in this challenge myself, I learned a few things:

  • Letting go is an ongoing process. Even though we moved just last year, we still have way more stuff than we really need/use/love. We did a good job of purging before we moved, but could have done more.
  • Items don’t serve me if they sit in a box in the basement or attic. After spending months cleaning out boxes and file cabinets in my parent’s house, I’m determined not to do that to our kids.
  • Gathering like-items to be sorted in one place really speeds up decision-making. I often suggest to my clients when they decide to clear away clutter, clothing, or whatever, to gather ”like items” together. It really helps make quick, informed decisions about what to keep and what to purge

What surprised me most during this challenge?:

  • I’m finally ready to let go of some items with a strong emotional bond. When we cleared out my parents’ home a few years ago, I held on to some items that were “special,” primarily to my mom. They were things that had always been displayed in my childhood home. But I realized during this process, that those were the items that I never unpacked a year ago, and now it’s ok to let them go.
  • I’m not a collector anymore. For years I collected cookbooks, Isabel Bloom sculptures, old bottles, every kitchen gadget under the sun, and more. What I uncovered during this process is that collections don’t interest or serve me anymore. I’m no longer displaying or using these items like I did in the past, so it’s time to find them a new home.
  • Even after removing 465 items from our home, I still have more to go. 465 sounded like a big number to me at the start of the month – but it turned out that it wasn’t.

There are numerous reasons to consider de-cluttering your home/apartment/office, but the most evident and I would argue, the most important reasons are these:

  • Clearing the clutter relieves you of what is weighing you down. In most cases, you may not even realize what is weighing you down – like those boxes in the basement or attic that you don’t see every day, or those old paint cans in the crawlspace – but they are still there.
  • Clearing the clutter uncovers what’s truly of value to you. When you intentionally and systematically evaluate everything in your home – like the 30-Day challenge participants did – you start to look at everything through a different filter.
  • Clearing the clutter allows you to surround yourself with only the items you really love which, in turn, make you feel good.
joshuabecker4web

Joshua Becker of “becoming minimalist” sums it up well.

Like most things in life, it’s hard to visualize what an activity is really like until you experience it. Take a look at my accountability partners’ experience this month. They found unexpected joy in letting go.

Ready to try it yourself? I’m planning another 30-day challenge in the not too distant future, that I will announce on my Facebook page. You can wait until then, or if you don’t want to postpone joy, feel free to jump in anytime.

I’m here and ready to be your accountability partner anytime.

If you were to de-clutter, where would you start? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Ta-Da Tip of the Month

When my clients are ready to de-clutter, often one of the final objections I hear is “How do I get rid of all this stuff?” In your local community, there are numerous ways of disposing of items that still have value to someone else, and in many cases offer hope to someone in need who can purchase at a discount.

Some of the more obvious places to consider include: hope4enews

  • Consignment shops in your local area
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore shops
  • Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army and other charities
  • Church fairs and neighborhood yard sales
  • Friends who need the items you don’t
  • New homeowners – do you know someone getting ready to buy a home or move to a new apartment for the first time?
  • Schools and libraries are perfect places to donate craft supplies, books and more
  • Online classified sites or Apps such as Craigslist, Close5, or search for Yard Sale groups on Facebook
  • paperbackswap.com is a site I have used for years for books
  • Neighborhood transfer stations typically take hazardous materials and other more challenging items to safely dispose of

Where do you like to donate items? Please share you suggestions below.

With a little planning and effort there are numerous ways to avoid just tossing things in the trash (which I only recommend as a last resort). Ta Da!

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