Last week I introduced myself and wrote about the four objectives I’m going to work on this year. All four of them matter a lot to me. But I’ve realized I need to make a lot of headway towards my first objective if the other three are going to happen.
Objective #1 is To create a home which contains only things we need and love.
We live in a small house, about 1500 square feet. I like the coziness of small homes, and I realized a long time ago that we don’t need a bigger house because we don’t fully utilize all the space we have. Instead, we need to own less stuff.
I’ve managed to cram a lot of my clutter out of sight, but its existence still drains and stresses me. Over the years I’ve tried to get rid of things, but it seems to never end. I’m hoping this year will be the last time I ever do a major house purge. Since January I’ve donated a lot of clothes and miscellaneous items, and wanted to share what I’ve learned so far.
1. The answers to our clutter problems are not in a book. Over the years I’ve brought home several books on decluttering and organizing, hoping just one would hold the key to dissolving the mental block which has led me to keep a pair of flannel pajamas from 1991, and more. Books about decluttering can be really insightful and motivating. And while it’s great to learn about the underlying issues that lead us to hold on to things, reading is passive and decluttering requires action.
2. There is a definite chance we will give things away which we later need. Instead of using that as an excuse to keep unneeded items, look at it as an opportunity to think creatively. Recently I regretted donating a huge cooking pot which I never used. I’d promised to make a pasta dinner for a friend’s family and planned to make the same meal for my family. I needed two large pots, one for the pasta and one for the sauce, but only had one, which was also too small to cook all the pasta at once. After briefly kicking myself, I realized I could make the sauce in the slow cooker and cook the pasta in two batches. A little creative thinking helped me work around the problem. I still don’t miss that big honking pot.
3. Adding just one thing to a donation box is a victory. More than once I’ve opened my garage door, intending to go in and work for an hour. Instead, I shake my head and close the door again. I’m getting a reprieve at the moment because it’s too cold to work in there, but spring will be here soon and I will have no excuse. And when the time comes I’m going to think smaller. Since immediately slamming the door shut and walking away is my baseline, getting rid of even one thing will be an achievement. That’s where I’m going to begin.
On Wednesday I’ll talk more about how I managed to get let go of everything in the boxes and bags. My daughter is off from school this week, so I’ll also talk about the challenges of decluttering when you have kids.