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My De-cluttering Challenge

In the past couple days, I’ve pinpointed some things that stress me out in my life. One of these things is clutter. Over the past few months I’ve concentrated on decreasing my clutter and it’s been a long ride. Clutter is something that always feels like a battle, no matter how much I get rid of. My wish is to get this clutter issue down to something reasonable and manageable. I haven’t written about this on the blog before, I lost dad suddenly a little over a year ago. It’s been a struggle to finish school, settling things, and the emotions, but getting to where I am now, has only progressed step by step. These past few months I’ve been in the process of selling and donating, and it’s been stressful knowing what to do with each thing I come across. A lot of things are sentimental, or it’s something I don’t feel like I can just donate but would like to sell and selling things isn’t always easy. But when it comes down to it, the ease of mobility and peace is worth it, especially in the past year of stressful times. Here are a few ways that I’ve found the clutter making me unhappy.

1. I have a hard time putting anything away because I know there is no where to put it

2. I’ve been leaving things on the counter that really needs to be thrown away or recycled right then because it’s hard to get to the trash can or recycle bin

3. I don’t clean as often, wash dishes, or do laundry because it’s difficult with all the other things around

3. Tired of looking at it

4. Tired of walking around it

5. Tired of moving it

6. Tired of thinking about it

7. Home isn’t a place to store stuff, it’s a place for joy, comfort, family, fun, and love

8. I can put more attention into other parts of my life like what matters the most to me

9. I can enjoy the things that I do keep and use them more often, rather than spreading my enjoyment and not really enjoying anything I have

10. I haven’t cooked that much because it’s difficult to find space

It’s amazing how these things have put a damper on my happiness. I’ve taken some time to know what stress really is and how it relates to the clutter. Stress is the rejection of a certain situation and the product of anger. It’s kind of ironic, these things are supposed to bring me happiness, but in reality, they make me stressed because it’s just too much. These things don’t correlate with my lifestyle because they’re really just getting in the way. I get pretty overwhelmed seeing these things and not knowing how to take care of it because it’s a lot. I also think about where I may be moving and how I don’t want to pay a lot of money for space to store a lot of stuff that I otherwise don’t really need. The clutter makes me angry by getting in the way and makes me confused in what to do with it. Then I reject the realization that these things need to go, but it’s difficult to do. My dad had it right. He didn’t have much that he wasn’t using or would use. There was never anything in the way and everything had a place.

I also think about the fact that the more things there are, the more chaos there is, the more accidents there are, and the more things get put before people. Things aren’t worth this chaos.

One challenge I took was about the Christmas tree me and my dad had. I remember when we went to Wal-Mart and picked it out and all the decorations. I was so excited and loved decorating it each year. I set it up a week or so ago, but I knew that I would eventually have to sell or donate it because it would be a lot for me to move and store. I decided to go ahead and see if any one else would like the tree before Christmas gets here. A Hispanic couple bought my tree and I’m glad that they will be enjoying it. I still have the ornaments I made every year for my dad and the angel that we got to top the tree. Even though I could not keep everything, I know I have these parts of my memories.

I think about all the things I’ve gotten rid of the past few months. Through 3 yard sales, consignment shops, selling on Craigslist, Etsy, throwing away, and by donations. I’d like to see the amount of stuff piled out on my lawn and just be amazed. But there’s still a ways to go and it becomes tougher as I really have to think twice about the things that I thought I wanted to keep. I’ve been reading up on the whole issue of clutter. It can be pretty difficult getting rid of things, but starting at some point is a great start. Clutter doesn’t enter the home at once, so it takes time to declutter. So I’m challenging myself and plan to do so again even after this one!

Reading what others have done to battle their clutter can be amazing. One lady, gave a homeless woman and child her trailer home full of furniture and other things. Another lady is posting 4 photos a day on her Facebook of items she’s getting rid of until Christmas. That’s 100 items! I liked this woman’s idea, so I’ve planned to do the same. I plan to get rid of 100 items by Christmas. This means it has to leave my home. Within the past couple hours, I’ve come up with well over 100 items that I want to get rid of. Now, I just have to make it happen. I read a few articles on this blog http://www.bemorewithless.com/2011/i-want-to-give-it-all-away/. There are some good things on there on every aspect of life.

I’ve also decluttered in another way by unsubscribing to a bunch (about 30!) of store’s emails. These clutter up my inbox everyday, make my phone beep all the time with an email alert, take up my time, and tempt me into purchasing. Not only am I clearing out my inbox, but I’m preventing clutter by not looking at these deals.

I’ll be posting updates on my declutter challenge every few days.

Here are a few thing I will be removing from my house. Some is going to a donation center, some to the humane society. It’s crazy that just this amount of stuff is taking up the whole living room floor.

Update: 12.08.2011

I began my declutter challenge seven days ago in desperate dreams of a clear pathway through my house and visual serenity, the ability to move easier and sooner. Today I want to share the progress I’ve made to reach this desire of a non-chaotic mess. As of right now I’ve decluttered…

132

items from my home, all in a few days. When I just now calculated that number, I’m feeling torn as to if this is good or bad. My original goal was 100 items by Christmas. I find it good that I’ve managed to go over my goal this soon, since at first I wasn’t sure I could do it. With my goal in mind, I have been working on the task everyday and thought of ways to take these items elsewhere. But if I have made it to 132 items already, it leaves me with the question…how do I want to increase this challenge?

Where did all of these things go, and what were they? Some of them were small, some were large items. Some were thrown away, sold, given to others, and donated. What counted? Some items I considered a set, like a bag of bows counted as one item. I also didn’t count anything like recycling or everyday trash. I already have plans for some more items that I’ve already gathered up to leave my home.

Day 1: 5 food items went to trash, gave 9 items to my mom, sold 5 Christmas items on Craigslist

Day 2: Took car ramps, golf clubs, a humidifier and some small things to Goodwill, threw 5 office items away

Day 3: Threw 1 thing away, gave 7 items to my mom like wrapping paper/bows

Day 4: Returned 1 item to the store

Day 5: Threw 14 items away, sold 1 item on Etsy

Day 6: Sold 1 item on Etsy

Day 7: Visited my grandparents and gave 11 items to the Franklin Co Humane Society, Took 47 items to the consignment shop (clothes, home decor) (she asked if I was trying to clear out all my stuff or move, I said ‘both!’.)

I’ve also managed to unsubscribe from nearly 40 email subscriptions, which I didn’t count towards the number. I considered this as part of the challenge to defeat clutter in more than one way. Some of them are still trying to send me emails, but I don’t have to sort through nearly as many emails anymore which is stress relieving! Instead, I subscribe to a stress management newsletter that I have been reading everyday that I find benefits from.

I’ve reduced my clutter in other ways too. There have been things I’ve seen and wanted, but I took the challenge and didn’t get them. I simply sat on the thought, looked at it as a bystander, and walked away from it! I’ve also been resourceful. I’ve wanted some pillow covers and instead of buying some, I found some fabric in my own stash I’m going to dye and use to make pillow covers, putting my sewing skill to use. I also wanted a frame for a poster that I won a few months ago. Instead of buying one, I re-purposed a frame and some left over mat-board my dad had and I think it looks better than one I could have bought!

I have also been working hard doing some updates to the house, putting up a new light, painting, and reupholstering. While these things aren’t necessarily things that are leaving my house, the items that were sitting there are now being useful and I will be donating the replaced items to someone who can re-sell them to raise money. I guess I have decluttered my to-do list!

So now for a new challenge, which is going to be tougher. The challenge is now to increase the number to 200 items by Christmas. I better get started ASAP, that means I have 68 items to go!

Update: 12.26.2011

368

A few things I learned:

Most of the items I donated I couldn’t remember what they were the next time I thought about it

Clutter breeds clutter, space breeds space. Clutter can equal chaos, causing frustration, stress, and unhappiness. Stressing due to clutter isn’t worth it, so…minimize stress.

Have the things that reflect who you are and know what that is. This is the important thing. I feel happier with fewer things that I love.

Clutter is complicated

Clutter can make things hazardous

As I went back and read my previous writings, I can say I no longer feel like I have to jumble stumble around things to simply throw something away. This has omitted the negativity of when I got pissed off about not easily reaching the recycling bin!

I can visually see a difference in the amount of stuff that’s in my house now. Humans are visual creatures, spaces are important; we know this as landscape architects!

No wonder they say chi flows when there is open space around and your space is cozy

It’s not about the number of items I get rid of (it’s more of a way to keep the process going), but about reaching a point of clarity in the space where I live. Reaching this clarity is important so I’m able to focus on more important matters. This is something that will be important to me for the rest of my time. Going through the process now feels good

At times it became frustrating because I didn’t know what to do with certain things, but wanted it gone. It’s a step by step process and can’t happen overnight.

At the same time I’ve been doing some ‘home improvement’ to the house and making the space look good so it assures that it stays that way

I haven’t reached the point of  what I envision, but my efforts these past few weeks has really paid off because I can visually tell there are fewer things when I look around, and that’s huge in my eyes. I often wonder how many pounds I’ve lost…haha (seriously though). The quest still continues and I have already made plans to donate some items to Restore (the Habitat for Humanity Store), to take items to a consignment shop, and plan to donate some more things to the humane society. I have already put items for sale on Craigslist again and in my Etsy store. I also did an exercise when it came to my wardrobe… which is one thing that is tough for me. I went through and found similar items and chose which one I would wear if given a choice. I also put all my clothes in one space, which allowed me to get a good look at everything.

I feel I’ve made huge progress with everything since May when I began this huge venture

I also really miss my dad. It’s difficult seeing a house change that has pretty much been the same since I was 4 years old. It feels better to declutter and gain freedom, but it is difficult parting with items that were his.

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