I Spent a Year Blogging about Simplicity…And I Still Have Too Much Stuff

This is a post by Tracy, The Simple Year 4 Blogger

This time last year I passed the baton over to Trisha, and I looked forward to getting a break from my project. Even though I still wanted to make improvements, the intensity of spending a year spilling my guts online had drained me a little. Overall, I felt pleased with the progress I made, and even though I no longer actively blog, I’ve learned a few things about myself and my approach towards having a simpler and more organized life.  Here’s what I learned AFTER I stopped blogging:

  • Don’t underestimate the impact of habits and routines. Before I began my project, I struggled to keep the house clean. One of my goals was to implement strategies to keep the house neat. And even though I haven’t expanded on my routine to include more tasks, I’m pretty content with what I get done each day and evening. Doing a few small things every day makes a big difference in the overall neatness of the house. Each morning I make the bed, unload the dishwasher, and give the bathroom a quick cleaning. If there’s time, I fold and put away laundry. In the evening, I clean the kitchen, set up the coffee maker, run the dishwasher and make sure the living room is neat-ish. I still don’t like to grocery shop, but having it as a regular scheduled task makes it more tolerable. Every Monday I have two hours free while Emma’s at dance, and instead of wasting time driving home and later back, I go grocery shopping. It’s worked really well, though I do get thrown off on the rare occasions when dance is closed. I’m really fortunate that Bob does the laundry and vacuums, and Emma does a great job making her bed and keeping her room neat. Last month she had a few friends over for her birthday, and we got the house ready in thirty minutes instead of three hours. That’s huge.
  • Make a list and/or take photos of what you’ve accomplished. Maybe it just happens to me, but I frequently get into a pity-party mindset where I play the world’s smallest violin to the tune of I haven’t done anything with my life. I’ve accomplished nothing. I’m a big loooooooser. And my house is a mess! Of course, none of it’s true, but negative thoughts are inevitable. Six months ago I lost my job when my company closed, and lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve done little with my time. Believe it or not, I forgot that I wallpapered the living room and upstairs hallway, painted the master bedroom, gave Emma a bedroom makeover, including paint, for her 10th birthday, and converted her old playroom into a really nice office for Bob.

    The once-pink playroom is now a refined man cave.

    I am not going near Sherwin Williams again for a very long time. But remembering I did all those things made me feel better, partly because I wouldn’t have been able to do them if I hadn’t gotten rid of so many things we didn’t need. Taking inventory of what I have done makes the remaining mess seem less overwhelming.

  • It’s never done, and maintenance is a fact. Accepting these truths makes a huge dent any aspirations you have of perfection. “Finished” is a myth. I spent a lot of years striving for an unrealistic ideal, trying to get my house magazine-perfect all the time. Now, my goal is ‘neat enough’ which I define as feeling mostly unembarrassed if someone drops in. People and pets live here, and perfection is soul-sucking. Letting go of pointless ideals helps me enjoy my home a lot more. At the same time, I expect the fire marshal to show up and condemn my garage any day now, and something fell on my head the last time I opened the attic doors. So clearly, I need to make donating stuff a priority again.   Despite all the stuff I gave away, I didn’t internalize the donating/purging mindset as much as I wanted. I’ve only had maybe two donation pickups since last spring. But the plus side of unemployment, besides having more time, is the subsequent belt-tightening. I haven’t bought anything that wasn’t a true necessity, and we scaled back at Christmas too but didn’t miss all the stuff. So there are fewer things coming in, and I want to continue to be more thoughtful about what I purchase.

So that’s my update! It’s not terrible, it’s not amazing, but it’s reality. Thanks Trisha, for giving me a chance to pop back in again before you wrap things up.