Minimalism is catching on, and I'm excited about streamlining. I'm sharing what I've learned about decluttering and simplifying our lives.
The Challenge of Clearing Out Clutter
I joined a Facebook group that has the goal of clearing out 2020 items of clutter from your home in 2020. Wow! Many of us really need this kind of inspiration.
The average American home has over 30,000 items in it. Unfortunately, many of those items are not really wanted or needed; we just haven't cleared them out. It isn't easy to get rid of things.
Joining this group should inspire me to really get going. Follow along if you also want to clear out stuff and reduce the stress from overcrowded home situations.
No Clutter = Calm and Clean
Getting the Stuff Out of the House
To help me make progress on my goal, I've signed up for regular pick-ups from the Red Cross or Disabled Veterans. I'm really lucky that in Central Florida, that these agencies will come right to your house. They send out an email telling when their next round of pick-ups will be in your area, then that inspires me to start rummaging out more clutter to meet their deadline.
I put the books, clothes, and other discards into bags and boxes, then label it for RC or DV or other agency. These get placed just outside my garage for them to take. They leave me a receipt for tax purposes, though we never find it works for us to itemize.
This pick-up system is such a help for me, as otherwise, I'm likely to let the bags and boxes pile up in the garage until I have a free day to haul it to Goodwill or some drop-bin.
Donate and Recycle, Don't Send Useful Things to the Dump
Ways & Places to Dispose of Your Stuff
Don't resort to just tossing everything in the trash. We have to care about overflowing landfills and the state of our planet. It takes a little extra time to sell or give away your excess stuff, but it's worth making that effort. You'll end up with more money, some good feelings, and help other people who are needy at the same time.
Places to Sell Your Unwanted Items
- eBay (everything)
- Etsy (for vintage items or craft supplies or handmade items)
- Amazon (great for books)
- Facebook (look for yardsale groups in your area or for collector's groups)
- Craig's List
- Consignment Shops
- NextDoor Neighbors (join this online group for your neighborhood, then look for the sale tab to list your items)
- Flea Markets
- Yard Sale/Garage Sale (combine with some neighbors to share the work)
Places That Take Your Unwanted Items
Some items may not sell or perhaps you don't have the time to bother with selling. If you just want the item to go away, offering it for free can be easier and quicker than the methods listed above.
- Charities (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, church thrift stores) Some of these may even come to your house to pick your donations up. Look for drop boxes in parking lots around your community (usually just for clothing).
- Staples (takes old computers and electronics)
- Place your items at the curb with a sign saying "FREE." Usually, they'll be gone in a few days. People are hesitant to take upholstered furniture for fear of bedbugs. Works well for other things.
- No Buy groups - look online for the nearest one. Also, you can list free items on Craig's List and NextDoor Neighbors.
- Bulk trash - for large items that are hopelessly broken/ruined or that you can't find anyone to take for free.
Caution: Don't Bring More Clutter Into Your Home
Big and Small, They Have to Go
Tackle a Big Item
We had a huge hot tub on our patio and once we decided not to keep it, I felt a bit overwhelmed about how to get rid of such a large item. I contacted a spa company and found they would be willing to buy it for a minimal amount and take it away. Whew. They had to take a panel out of our screen room to accomplish this.
Clear Out the Small Stuff Too
On the small side, I'm cleaning out my recipe box. Many of the recipes date back to my Suzy-Homemaker days of the 1970s. In the early days of my marriage, I diligently clipped recipes from magazines and pasted them onto cards. I even tried a few. Since then, they've sat in the box which has moved from Maryland to Texas to Florida without further use.
By this point in our lives, we have our favorite meals and prepare those from memory. Paella, pot roast, pulled pork, BBQ ribs, etc. When we do want to try something different, we tend to hop on the Internet to find a recipe. So, the old recipe box filled with cards is getting thinned out. I'm such a hoarder, that if the back of the recipe card is blank, I save it for scrap paper. The other ones end up in the recycling bin.
Some Things Are Harder to Clear Out
|Problem Area||Emotional Feelings||Overcoming Those|
Hanging on to books is my downfall. I love books. I even decorate with books. I have books on my tables. I have books in my bathroom.
Start by donating non-favorites. Ask yourself if you will read that book again
You attach special meanings to an object
Take a photo of it and save that, then let go of the item. Or give it to someone who will treasure it.
It's hard to let go of the idea that someday I'll make this craft project
Face the fact that years have passed and it isn't happening
Guilt for procrastinating on fixing the item
Determine if you are capable of fixing it. Have you already replaced it? If don't know how to fix the item or have already replaced it, then dispose of it.
Avoid the Lure of Bargains
Some Cluttered Areas That I Need to Work on
The desk top is adrift in little bits of paper where I've noted ideas for blog posts, letters to answer, and updates to add to some of my web pages. So many ideas, so little time.
If something doesn't work, we stash it in the garage for future repairs. If something is no longer needed, we move it to the garage until we can sell it or take it to Goodwill. It is no wonder that there's clutter out there.
My Clothes Closet
Besides my fatter clothes and my thinner clothes, I still have some career attire. Since I've been retired for many years, it is unlikely that I'll need those anytime soon.
The Bathroom Drawers
Lots of tubes and bottles with a dab of lotion or make-up in them. I need to stick with one bottle until it is used up.
The Food Container Storage Area
It really is mysterious, the way lids disappear. There's a stash of mismatched tops and bottoms. At some point, I need to accept that the matching part isn't coming back.
Change Your Habits
My Experience With Clearing Out Clutter
Gave Away Three Plants
I'm on a decluttering mission and today, I was able to clear out a few more things. My lanai was getting too crowded, so some of the large plants needed to go. I put an ad on Next Door Neighbors and got calls right away.
Here's my advertisement:
Three Free Plants - The first one is a pineapple plant. You can have it and the pot it is in (has a slight crack in the pot).
The 2nd one is an aloe plant that needs to go into a larger pot. I would like my pot back after you replant the aloe.
The 3rd one is a five-year-old rosemary bush I would like the pot back from that one, once you replant it.
Any of these can go into the ground or keep in a pot for the lanai.
The great part about posting ads on the neighborhood site, is you get almost immediate responses. Within 3 hours, I had calls and the people came to get the plants.
One lady came in her golf cart. She was new to the community and had to call three times to get directions when she took wrong turns.
We tied the big plants onto her golf cart and I told her to drive very slowly on her way home. I was afraid one would fall off when she made a turn, but she made it home fine.
A Fresh Burst of Decluttering
Last year, I stalled out on my decluttering 2019 in 2019 challenge. Having visitors distracted me and let's face it, gave me an excuse to stop rummaging in closets. Anything that I'd been sorting was shoved back on the shelf and out of sight.
I'm blessed and cursed with having lots of closets in my house and lots of shelving in my garage. The curse is that human nature wants to fill those spaces with stuff. The blessing is that at least it is out of sight, so no one suspects at first glance that an incipient hoarder lives here.
The guest is gone, so I no longer have an excuse. It's time to resume the minimalism project.
My family collects things and that kind of behavior is encouraged from an early age. Since I only display my most prized collectibles, some of the lesser pieces reside in boxes in the garage. Yesterday, I brought in the first box. I'll photograph the pieces and post them for sale on a Facebook collector's group that I joined.
Last week, I posted ads on Next Door Neighbors to sell some computer equipment. I priced the items very low, so I've cleared out 2 computer monitors and a printer in the last few days. I'm glad to have those space-eaters gone.
Next, I need to sell off some old sets of golf clubs. I also need to post more of my book collection on Amazon for sale.
Are you in the decluttering mode too?
30 Day Challenge to Simplify Your Life
Wrestling with My Inner Paper Hoarding Self
It used to be okay to hoard paper and information, as I was a librarian, but now I'm retired. Librarians are supposed to collect, preserve and retrieve information. As a retiree, I keep intending to streamline our lives and downsize our possessions. Easier said than done.
Yes, I'm an information hoarder. Much of it is hidden in boxes and file drawers so it conceals my addiction. Some of it creeps out and forms stacks on my desk, under my desk, and on the bookshelf. To compensate for my paper hoarding, my husband strives to have a clean desktop all the time. It makes him grumpy to see drifts of brochures, clippings, notes and other papers start to spill over from my space to his.
Today I pulled out some folders from my crafting file drawer. Out, out, out. I'm not going to weave a heart shaped basket or dry flowers in my microwave. The pages torn from a magazine twenty years ago and saved all these years are now gone. Many more remain, so I must repeat this exercise daily for the next week and reduce that file to just the crafts and projects that I really do want to make.
Three Computer Monitors That Needed to Go
Crafts I Won't Ever Make
I made great progress cleaning out my files of old craft ideas and instructions. Apparently, at some point, I thought I was going to "build a classic country armoire" even though I have zippo woodworking skills. In addition, I was planning to crochet plastic bags to make throw rugs. Neither of those plans happened or are likely to happen in this lifetime.
Other ideas and projects that I'm abandoning include:
- Making cornhusk dolls
- Make an ecolarium (bet you don't even know what that is)
- Create jewelry from seashells
- Knit a lacy fringe for a tablecloth
- Turn vintage tea towels into a bib apron
- Build my own cedar closets
I did keep some other craft plans, even though they don't fit my skills. Perhaps I'll hire a crafty person to make a few of those for me.
My Chart of Items Decluttered in 2017 (my first year of participation)
Do You Have Too Much Stuff?
Let Go of Things You Aren't Using
Going out the Door Today
- A jigsaw puzzle that I never put together. That rainy day never came.
- 2 speaker stands. Hubby bought a new sound system and these are not needed now.
- A lovely harvest basket. My herbs and blueberries don't require a big basket.
- A Corningware set of glass cooking pots. Just not using these. They were taking up valuable cupboard space.
- Set of wasp trap funnels. I found another brand of yellow jacket traps that I prefer.
- Solar light for the flagpole. A buying mistake as it doesn't fit our pole.
- An over-the-door shoe storage unit. Another buying mistake.
- A stack of books that I'd started reading but never finished. They just didn't grab me.
Any Lessons Here?
I see that I hang onto new things that I bought that didn't work out. After waiting too long to return them, I felt guilty about wasting the money. The problem then becomes not just wasted money but also wasted space. Hoarding unwanted new items turns them into clutter and multiplies the effect of that buying mistake.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Virginia Allain