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.



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

  1. Thanks for the update! I’ve been reading this blog since sometime near the end of year one, so I’d love to here updates from other past bloggers!

  2. So good to hear your update Tracy! The man cave looks great and being able to get the house guest ready in 30 minutes is astonishing, you have done so well! Sorry about your job, but it does sound like you are making the most of it. Jenni

  3. Thank you for doing this! I enjoyed reading it too, and totally agree that nothing is ever “finished.” Appreciate you taking the time to update us all!

  4. Thanks for the update! It’s always fun to see how previous years’ bloggers are doing, like catching up with an old friend. It’s so true how the process never ends, but hopefully, it gets easier. We’re in the midst of decluttering in preparation for when our child goes off to college and our downsizing. I’m determined to let go of ALOT but know there will still be STUFF left for future rounds of decluttering.

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