Not Martha

Spring cleaning for my brain

I’ve found myself in the middle of some lack of inspiration and I decided to give into it. Recently it feels like nothing I try really works out: my very cool Easter project idea failed spectacularly (but I still have hope that I can do it for next year), I bought a pair of really comfy shoes I wanted to tell everybody about only to find that they squeak loudly when I walk, I cannot seem to capture what I want in my photographs. Graaah! Feel the power of overlapping small frustrations add up!

As part of my downtime I’ve decided to declutter the house, Spring cleaning for the house as well as my brain maybe? Shown above is a collection of keys that both Scott and myself have somehow collected over the years. With the exception of one we have no idea where any of these keys might work. There was a Nissan key in there and neither of us has ever driven a Nissan. That padlock was from my high school years and I couldn’t remember the combination even back then. So I’ve tossed the keys and my house became that much literally and figuratively lighter. High five, it’s working.

I’m making slow progress because I’m a very lazy person at heart. It’s overwhelming because this is the first place I’ve lived in for more than two years at a time as an adult and, predictably, I’m finding the amount of stuff you can shove into closets and forget about is incredible. Turns out I’m way better at shedding stuff when faced with the imminent threat of having to carry it all to a new home. These days it’s easier to pull everything out of a closet, toss a couple things and put it all back in, only a little more orderly looking this time. All the work and sense of satisfaction with none of the desired results!

I really need to get motivated, like Hulk Smash! style motivated. So far my plan is:

  • Highbrow: Watch and re-watch this TED talk by Graham Hill on less stuff equaling more happiness. I found this though a article by Jessica Adamiak that I will revisit when I need to remember bullet points.
  • Lowbrow: Watch episodes of Hoarders because nothing will inspire a craving for minimalism in me faster. Maybe I’ll write a prescription for myself to watch one per week.
  • Read Dinah Sanders’ Discardia. It’s in Kindle forrmat as well as good old fashioned book. Something I like from the first chapter: “Your first Discardian act should be to let go of feeling bad about what you haven’t gotten done by now.” Done! (I know Dinah from way back, hi Dinah!)
  • Rearrange my digital life as well. I need to set up a schedule (shudder) for backing up my iPhone, computers and cameras. And back up those back ups somewhere not in this house. I also need to rearrange and weed my bookmarks, Google Reader lists, Twitter lists, Gmail labels and be a better Facebook citizen. My hands feel heavy just thinking about all these things, but I know they’ll break me out of my current “I wonder if The Hairpin has posted anything new?” form of comfort surfing. Or at least I hope.
  • Remember that trash and recycling pick up is early on Friday mornings. Remember that on Thursday afternoons.
  • Acknowledge that crunchy snacks are a vital part of the process for me. Trader Joe’s Crunchy Curls are on the top of my list.

But I also could use help! Do you have any good motivations? Resources? Playlists? Scare tactics? Share, I beg you, if only so that I know I’m not alone in my sea of half-emptied closets.

· comments [54] · 04-20-2012 · categories:misc · mumbling ·

54 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kath // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:11 am

    I had gotten some pretty good tips from a while back. You could try there to start. As for myself, I’m one of those people who start out with a long list of good intentions that quickly get derailed by the endless stream of daily crises around here, so I made a deal with myself to sort through at least 1 closet/drawer/container each day. I’m trying to go room by room and just purge like crazy and it’s been working out well so far because it’s not too overwhelming.

  • 2 Kirsten // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

    You’re not alone! It runs in my family; my father literally has three closets full of flannel coats and drawers upon drawers of flashlights that don’t work, and when my grandmother recently passed away they found two tonnes of coal in her basement. Coal! Anthracite coal!
    I have a few methods. If a room is a mess, I just get a bunch of big containers or bags and toss everything into them. Then I go through one bag at a time (maybe one a day), throwing stuff out or putting it into the right place or putting it into a bag for donation. That way you get the instant satisfaction of a clean-looking room without ten hours of cleaning. I find I get disheartened really fast if I don’t get results right away, so I fudge them a little bit and condense my cleaning into bite-sized chunks. Sometimes I’ll put sticky notes onto drawers, saying what they will contain when I’m done – this could work for closets too.
    Or, say if I’m purging my closet, I write down all the clothes I think I have. More often than not, the clothes I forget are the ones I seldom wear and really don’t need. I also will give myself rewards (eg: if I get rid of those several pairs of shoes that I’ve worn out but just haven’t thrown out yet, I will buy myself those wedges I’ve been lusting after for three months) and such.
    Blaring upbeat music is good – like workout motivation montage music.
    Stopping to read every piece of paper you find is bad.
    Having munchies, like you mentioned, along with beverages is good – in a predetermined space so it doesn’t get overwhelmed with the clutter you’re trying to clear away.
    Good luck!

  • 3 Tamara // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:35 am

    One tip I’ve been given: for items you love, but just don’t use, take a picture of it with you using it so you have the memory, but don’t need to keep the physical item. Works well with clothes! I’ve been on a spring organization binge after helping my parents move a few weeks ago. There’s nothing like helping someone else pack up to motivate you to organize. Since I’ve started, I’ve managed to unearth and sort through boxes I hadn’t opened since I got married, including several boxes of notes from university that I will never read again! So freeing!

  • 4 Marla // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:37 am

    (I’ve never commented before, but I must, as decluttering is one of my favourite things!)

    Unf*ck Your Habitat ( has been a real help for me lately – it’s like FlyLady, but with swears (found via MetaFilter!) The idea of doing something in short intense bursts, with a reward of a break (20/10) is exactly how I work at work anyway, but I never thought to apply it to housework. So 20 minutes of collecting things to go to the thrift store, then a 10 minute break of a cup of tea and reading not martha. See?! I’m doing it now!

    I will also take a picture of a room or an area, then look at the picture to identify the 10 things I could do to make it look better, and then get up and do them. Because in real life I can walk past the grocery bags I have to fold and put in the car a hundred times – because the longer it sits, the more it looks like furniture – but in a picture, it’s like “Who’s the hoarder? Who is?”

    (Thanks for all the great links, and reading, and ideas over the years!)

  • 5 Rebecca S. // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Excellent post! I feel your pain. We are packing up and moving in the next few months and I’m trying to get rid of as much as possible.

    I just read Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin R Doland and found it very practical and easy read, I would highly recommend it. And while The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin only starts with decluttering, I also found it helpful and inspiring.

    Like Kirsten, I like to gather up all the stuff I don’t want or doesn’t belong in one room and fill laundry baskets. Then I sort through each basket in another room (usually the basement).

    I find music helps a lot too and caffeinated beverages. :-)

  • 6 elisa // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:57 am

    “hoarders” can inspire me to get rid of things (unfortunately, it’s the partner that is the hoader and she will not get rid of anything – so i really just organize and shift). peter walsh (and there is an app) is helpful for tips and inspiration. my really help is to just start wherever you are and not for too long, then continue later on (and to remember it gets easier).

  • 7 fancypance // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:07 am

    I am a big believer in using a timer. For tasks that seem too overwhelming, I set that timer for 10 minutes a day and tackle it bit by bit.

    Every Spring and Fall, I turn my hangers backward, and after wearing/washing a garment I put it back in the closet the right way. It makes it really easy to see what I wore during warm or cold weather. If I didn’t wear it, out it goes!

  • 8 Seanna Lea // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I have a printed item for cleaning my kitchen from The Kitchen, and while I like it I don’t use it nearly often enough (it is meant to keep a kitchen clean in 20-30 minutes a day).

    I have 2 separate rooms that are mostly storage. It is pathetic and irritating. I think Sunday when it is supposed to rain I will do some pruning in the basement.

  • 9 abby // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I don’t listen to This American Life regularly just so I can have a backlog of new episodes for when I have to do something crappy, like paint my bathroom.
    When I’m going through my closet and organizing, I stack up big piles for Salvation Army, Garbage, Wrong Season, and move them to their appropriate places a.s.a.p. -that way if you get interrupted you don’t have to resort piles and getting that stuff out of the space makes such a huge, encouraging difference.
    Also, I always remind myself of the adage my mom used to tell her pack-rat daughter: When in doubt, throw it out! This has been essential when applied to my invasive craft supply stash.

  • 10 Nathalie // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I JUST posted about how I organize my kitchen pantry, cabinets, and drawers on my blog. I love cleaning up the house, especially when I have some other, less pleasant deadline looming over.

    I really enjoy organizing much more than I do cleaning, so the emptying and refilling closets sounds like a fun project to me. But you might start with a list of all the things you really need. Break it down into many lists if you want. Think – what do I really need in my life. And maybe also, what do I really want?
    Then start cleaning, and when there are things that are not on your list, and you think “oh, but this thing is so cool! I really need it” think back to that list of things you actually do need. Maybe you don’t need it after all.

    I should do that with my bedroom closet.

  • 11 Justin // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:57 am

    I like to get up really early on a Saturday morning (7ish?) havea cup of coffee and then dive in before I’m fully awake and aware of what I’m doing. It’s how I trick myself into cleaning the bathroom. Then everything is done by like 9 or 10 and I can still do other morning things without feeling like I lost a day to chores.

  • 12 Brook // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:58 am

    RE: Squeaky shoes- I recently rescued a squeaky pair of my husband’s by putting powder between the insole and the shoe. The persistent squeaks are generally from rubber sliding against rubber, and if a bit of powder won’t work because you can’t pull out the insole, you can probably inject a bit of glue with a syringe. I hope that this helps.

  • 13 Rebecca // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Ugh, I’ve been trying to spring clean/declutter/prepare for a garage sale. I’ve made it through exactly one room in maybe six weeks. (New baby and potty-training-toddler are not helping move things along.) Please share whatever you figure out!

  • 14 ~Heather // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I always start with a small project or two, so I can cross them off early in the day and already feel accomplished.

    Then I move on to a bigger project next.

    What I hate is finishing a part of the project that I didn’t think of putting on the list. That’s when I have to write it in, just to cross it off right away.

    Lastly, food can be a great motivator, if you plan to ‘eat out’ after a particularly intense day of cleaning. That way you don’t have to clean dishes and the kitchen on top of what you’ve just organized/gone through/discarded & put away.

  • 15 monica // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

  • 16 Barclay // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Another inspirational read I can recommend is “Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding,” by
    Jessie Sholl. My husband told me while I was reading it I was constantly scratching at little itches – so it gets under your skin, so to speak – but it’s really good for helping one feel psyched to get rid of stuff. It motivated me to throw out a bunch of crap.

  • 17 Ronnie LaForet // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Coffee is necessary. I just moved and did all the recycling, donating to the library, Good will and Habitat for Humanity but still ended up with too much after the move. Some things like stashes of fabric, unused kitchen gadgets, useless organizing tools and then there was the eliptical machine…or rather coat rack.
    Be merciless when de-cluttering places mean a fresh start! Good luck.

  • 18 seth // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

    hoarders: there but for the grace of god go i.
    seriously, left to my own (single, depressed, super-stressed) devices in my twenties my house was a total sty. some light at the end of the tunnel and a much needed move allowed me to unload most of the totally unneeded crap that was weighing me down. it was kind of overwhelming, but also there was kind of just a moment when i was like, i am ready to be done with this. so i had two tactics. one derives from that oft-quoted story about the sculptor who was asked how he made such beautiful work. and he said, “i look at a block of marble, and i imagine an elephant [or whatever] and i take away everything that is not an elephant.” basically, i imagined what i wanted my house to be like in the most ideal sense, and then tried to remove everything that wasn’t in the imagined picture. kind of secondary to that, i made a commitment to only have totally awesome things that i completely loved in my life. so every time i picked something up, i would ask, is this totally awesome? am i completely in love with is? and if the answer was anything but hell yes! i unloaded it.
    i am doing some spring cleaning now to deal with stuff that’s accumulated in the last year and stuff that moved with me but shouldn’t have. i’m trying to get a handle on the organization part which is not my strength, but slow and steady wins the race. and pinterest helps.

  • 19 Kelly // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:03 am

    FIrst – I have de-squeaked shoes by putting baby powder on them. Some recommend it them inside, under the soles. That sometimes works, but extra squeaky ones I also rub powder on the outside soles and seams, getting it in them, then wipe off excess.

    Cleaning and de-clutter – the best tool is an excellent playlist of upbeat music. I actually took the day off work today to clean my house and declutter shelves! Good luck!

  • 20 wendy // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Re: backups. Every six months, like when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors (you do do that, right?), backup everything to an external hard drive and take it to a safe deposit box at the bank.

    Speaking of detectors, please also get at least one CO detector. A friend in college died due to a leak in his house.

    I have 3 kids so I have no other advice! :)

  • 21 Maggi // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:11 am

    You know my life and my home, and that I’m not 100% organized, but I HAVE figured out some ways to deal with the icky feelings that come along with not having a catalog-perfect home or workspace or even work *content*. Let’s get drinks soon and chat more about it! xox

  • 22 berthamae // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Make an appointment with a friend or professional organizer & give yourself a time limit. Plan a dinner party & promise everyone a tour of your spiffed up place. It is so much easier to purge/organize/clean with someone else there to tell you that you don’t need it anymore.

  • 23 Susan // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Never make a purchase without giving something a new home. You can purchase the spatula if you’re willing to give up one you have already. If you aren’t, it doesn’t come into your home, no matter how much you want it. Works for everything for me. Sheets, towels, clothing, and art supplies.

  • 24 Whitney // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Backup: I use and love something called Arq, just for Macs, which automatically backs up everything offsite every day. It’s inexpensive and awesome. I never worry about my photos, work files, anything.

  • 25 Amy // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I watch horrible TV on hulu and only allow myself to watch it while I clean. This weekend I pulled everything out of my kitchen cabinets to organize and toss while watching 5 hours of “The Missing”

  • 26 Crysta // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:02 am

    My friend Joe taught me a time management technique that I use for cleaning the house. Like you, I’ve moved a lot and as nice as it is to be finally settled in somewhere (three years, woo!), I am overwhelmed with how much stuff I have now and often get a fatalistic stance on my ability to tidy/purge. So. It’s called the Pomodoro technique, where you set a timer for 25 minutes. You work work work for those minutes, then write down what you did. Take a 5 minute break (use a timer again). Then take another 25 minutes. It works so well for me, for everything, actually. I particularly like having a little list of what I’ve accomplished when it’s all over. :)

  • 27 Dinah Sanders // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Hi Megan! :) You can do it!

    Thanks for sharing all the other cool tips, everybody. (I’m going to go put powder in my squeaky Josef Seibel shoes right away!)

  • 28 Tori // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:31 am

    As a fellow Seattleite who has bolted upright many a Friday morning to the sound of the trash trucks rolling by, I’ve found the best method is to set a repeating alarm/calendar reminder for Thursdays around dinner. Something simple, but it helps!

  • 29 Bubbles // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I’m going to throw out some love for The basic idea is to work for 20 minutes and take a break for 10, or work 45 and then break for 15. Or whatever works for you. But take the breaks! (Okay I just saw the Pomodoro technique mentioned above, and yeah, it’s that idea.) But the woman running the blog posts other people’s before and afters. It’s a nice little community, and it’s really helped to motivate me. (Check out the UFYH tag on Tumblr to just see what people are up to.)
    Also, I have mad love for Jolie Kerr of Ask a Clean Person over on The Hairpin.
    And finally, my ability to deal with my space has gone way up since I started taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds. Not the solution for everyone, but for those of us who do need them, it’s amazing.

  • 30 Kate F. // Apr 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Oh MAN, about a year ago my husband and I both read “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things,” and then got rid of, I kid you not, about 8 bags of clothes. We aren’t even messy to begin with! That book is MOTIVATING; even more than the show because it talks a lot about the psychology of our sentimental attachment to things like a shirt you haven’t worn in 8 years.

  • 31 whoorl // Apr 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I’m backing up my computer right now, thanks to you!

    (And if I lived closer, I would totally re-organize your closet. It’s my happy place.)

  • 32 megan // Apr 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks so much for all this great advice! It’s extra difficult to weed out my craft supplies because the answer to “could I possibly need this in the future” is always a firm “yes”. Urgh.

    I love the site! Thanks for everybody who pointed to it. It’s sort of beautifully ugly and I appreciate the let just f-ing do this approach.

    I also love the idea of removing everything from a space/room and only putting back what belongs there. The rooms in our house are so small that it’s easy to just work around stuff than go through the energy of moving it all into another room.

    I proclaim that I am lazy but I’ve done more than toss those old keys. Things that have been tremendously satisfying: weeding out all the cake pans and bags of special flour I’ll never need again and getting rid of an old waffle iron I never quite liked from our kitchen. Tossing two very full trash bags of old clothes. Taking a load of books to the Friends of the Library book sale. It was a “whoa, you better pull your car around to the loading dock” sized pile of books and wheee! They were so easy to shed and they’ll go to a good cause.

    The thing I really have to do is shred all the papers I no longer need, which means a stack of mail I was mean to be shredding as it appeared as well as the (very tidily) filed papers and receipts from the past. I keep these in file boxes in a closet but they have outgrown the space and I can finally get rid of those things before 7 years ago clearing three file boxes. Mostly I don’t like shredding (whine alert) because it’s too loud to listen to podcasts and I get bored.

  • 33 Maggi // Apr 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Re: Shredding – put it in your car next time you head to your PO box, there’s a place at Fisherman’s Terminal that does large-volume shredding. I think we might head there this weekend with a couple of boxes of shredding. Worth the drive/expense to not have to do it at home, 10 pages at a time. Here’s the yelp page for it, can’t vouch for it yet:

  • 34 Diana // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Another book you might like to read (I can mail it to you if you like) is Collections of Nothing. Author’s collecting verges on pathological; and when you put the book down you’re like, hey, I’m not so bad. A hoarder, but a literate one. Long time fan from Victoria B.C.

  • 35 Alex M. // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Swear allegiance to Merlin Mann:

  • 36 Sara // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    My friends and I have seasonal “swap it” parties. Everyone brings pretty much anything they would donate and we “shop” to see of one person’s trash is really another’s treasure. The host then takes all leftovers to donate. The best bonus is we get to eat, drink and catch up with each other. It’s been great for me since I’ve lived in the same apt for 4 years now and also miss the big purge that comes with a move.

    Now that we’re expecting a baby I see stuff we don’t need EVERYWHERE, so I’m with you on a lot of your list. I’d love to see what you come up with for the digital organization. I get vertigo when i think about all the different computers and devices i have to organized. I’ve heard Evernote is supposed to be really helpful, but i haven’t broken down and done anything yet.

  • 37 Dianne Faw // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I love Crunchy Curls too (we call them ‘Lentil Curls’ at our house).

  • 38 Lori Paximadis // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm – seriously great help in the blog and especially in the forums here.

    My key: start small. One drawer. One box. One shelf. One surface.

    Boxes/bags for each of these: donate, recycle, trash, needs to go somewhere else.

  • 39 RBoyce // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I appreciate that “take things in discrete time chunks” and “reward yourself” advice. That’s what I do on an everyday basis, or when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed.
    BUT sometimes I feel what I call my “Wrath of God” feeling and I have learned over the years to clean and sort and get things done without interruption when it comes over me. I just don’t stop – I even will eat a protein bar instead of breakfast or lunch so can keep at it for the full 3-6 hours this feeling lasts. Very productive, the Wrathy me! Maybe you need an episode or two like this to get through those closets…

  • 40 Karin // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Do 100 things. Count as you pick up or move or discard when you reach 100 crunchy snack reward time.

  • 41 Amy Scott // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Two thoughts:

    1. I made a playlist of ‘cleaning songs’ that I keep to about 20min maximum. The songs are always ones that really get me pumped- a lot of Michael Jackson and Trooper’s ‘Raise a Little Hell,’ stuff like that. I crank it really loud and clean until it’s over, then go do something else and repeat again later. It makes the cleaning more fun (dancing!) and keeps it from being overwhelming because it’s only 20 minutes or so.

    2. I also ‘comfort surf’ at the Hairpin! And I always know I’m just using it to procrastinate… there is no need to check it 10 times a day… Glad to know I’m not alone!

  • 42 Kim // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    We call the night before trash pick-up “garbage eve”. Somehow it sounds so much more festive and fun than “trash night” that we just seem to remember and get it done.

  • 43 CitricSugar // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    There is some great advice in this list! I get a ton cleaned and tossed after an episode of Hoarders… Freaks me right out and helps eliminate a lot of unnecessary sentiment towards things I don’ t really want or need.
    For regular tasks like back-ups, vitamins, and bill paying, etc, I have an app on my iPhone: todo. Works great. For other things, I find the best system for me is a checklist with little square boxes beside each item. I even sub-divide the bigger things into little checklists. I try to include a couple of gimmes on there, like “get a coffee” so that I can get checking off right away. The list looks neater than crossing things off and you can look back at the end of the day and see what you got done.
    A little bit out the box: A poet I read has been posting about revising on her blog this month – the stanza – and while intended for writing, a lot of the thought process is perfect for decluttering and dealing with life stuff.
    And last but not least, my mother’s rule, never leave a room without scanning it first for something out of place, like a book from another room, a dirty plate from a snack, etc. She never leaves empty-handed and rarely does clutter take over her house.

  • 44 Kara // Apr 21, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I use BO.LT to permanently store my bookmarks. Unlike Pinterest, it stores the complete working website (not just the pretty pictures). More, if that website ever becomes obsolete, your BO.LT link will always show you the cloned copy, so you never get the dreaded “Error 404″ message. To the extent that the BO.LT link is shared, credit for content and links will still be attributed to the original source, so bloggers need not worry that their content is being stolen.

    OK, now I sound like a commercial. Sorry!

  • 45 Maria // Apr 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Hi Megan!! I love your blog!! You are not alone in this! Even though I have found that I need to create my own habits and find my own way to do what works, the following resources have been inspirational and have motivated me along my way. I hope they might help you too! Keep working on it!!!

  • 46 Jenn // Apr 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I find it helps to set myself a number goal of stuff to get rid of. Otherwise I would get rid of a few things and call it good.

    My current goal is 365 things. Enough to be painful (I just moved recently and got rid of a ton of stuff prior), but still doable….I have a lot of clothes! I tend to count small things by piles…a pile of pens, stack of papers, etc. I donate or toss 99%, since it is just too painful for me to put a dollar amount on things like clothes that I really wont get much for, result being I then hold on to it.

  • 47 Kate // Apr 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Oh man I love Jenn’s idea of getting rid of 365 things. That’s just great.

    The Pomodoro Technique is good, too.

    I also try really hard to live in a streamlined way, and so I can be a bit obsessive about this, but a technique that works for me is asking myself if I’ve used the item in the recent past (I do one year, but you can do two). That can help with a lot of the stuff that you’re not holding on to for sentiment but that you’re keeping because maybe you’ll need it someday. You probably won’t need it, and if you do, you can certainly buy it again – or better yet, borrow it from someone you know.

    For example, I owned about 20 coffee mugs at one time, but I only have 3 that I like — and they are all the same mug! So I just got rid of all of the mugs that I never used and then held onto the ones that had sentimental value. Now I own 7 mugs and my kitchen feels much nicer.

    Also donating stuff instead of junking it can give you a nice sense that you’re doing something helpful, like you mentioned with the books. :)

  • 48 Maryanne // Apr 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I have lots of trouble getting rid of craft supplies, too. I will find a use for it all one day, right? One thing that coaxed me to shed some supplies was donating stuff to a local school and daycare center instead of tossing it. The kids and teachers got the benefit of new stuff, and I had a good feeling because the supplies were being used instead of wasted. Plus, I wound up with extra storage space for the supplies I decided to keep!

    In general, finding stuff around my house to get rid of is not the problem, but getting the donations to a drop-off location is. So, I’ve connected with some local charities that pick up donations from my house. I can collect the unwanted items in an out-of-the-way spot in the house, and when the charities contact me, I can pull together a donation in no time. Some charities even leave a receipt to use for tax credit.

    But, eventually I’ll still run out of space for my this stuff unless I modify my habits. For example, I’ve stopped buying books (unless I really want to own them…), simply because I’m running out of places to store them. I’ve been especially discriminating where it comes to knitting books, and will only buy one if it offers a new-to-me technique. I figure I can always check the “pattern” books out of the library or borrow them from a friend, and there are a slew of free resources on the internet.

  • 49 julie.k. // Apr 23, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I am having a similar “blah” spell in my life and want to feel motivated about something again. ugh!

    As far as decluttering, this 99cent kindle book:

    was super motivating for me and I want to reread it this month to get me going again.

  • 50 Jane // Apr 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I hear you. It’s easy to get rid of the lowest 10%, but much beyond that and I start to hear “but I might *use* this” ringing in the back of my head. My mentor has been gently pushing me to get rid of what’s good to make room for what’s better. In many cases, that might well mean tossing something that’s perfectly good, had a purpose when bought, but has now outlived it’s usefulness. His example was as follows: He went camping with his kids each summer. At the start of the week, they’d buy food, plastic boxes for the snacks, and a cooler. At the end of the week, they’d give away the cooler and boxes. I sat there, horrified. “How wasteful!” “Not at all.” he replied. “They did exactly what I needed them to do. At the end of that time, there was no need to keep them further. When you store things to solve a future problem, you’re limiting your options. Not only do you have to store and care for your stuff, when a situation comes up you’re already biased in favour of the supplies you own. It limits your ability to make the best decision possible, simply because you’re now asking ‘How can I use what I have on hand?’ rather than ‘What is the best way to solve this problem?’
    I nodded, and started tossing things.

  • 51 Kristen // Apr 24, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I wish I could say that I had ideas to add to your list, but I really don’t. In fact, I think I’ll use your list as a guide! I tend to get very, very overwhelmed by all this get-rid-of-your-clutter business (I overthink it to the point of just keeping everything, even things that don’t make me happy) but your list is concise and to the point. THANK YOU. And I am off to at least cleanup my online bookmarks on this computer, at least! :-)

  • 52 just barrie // Apr 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    A few suggestions:
    -Read The Happiness Project if you haven’t already. That in itself is a good kick in the pants.

    -Get carbonite for your computer. I can’t do things like dropbox because it forces you to remember to actually save stuff manually. Carbonite saves everything on your computer automatically, all the time. You can even access your computer from other computers, even if it’s stolen or burned to a crisp. It’s great!

    -Make a big, pretty list and make that the first thing you see in your office. Give yourself something to actually cross off. For me, I need the actual act of crossing something off to make it seem like a goal I’ve successfully accomplished.

    -And if you want to take it a step further, read Smart Women Finish Rich. It has literally saved my financial situation for the better. I followed every last thing he wrote in his book and I couldn’t be happier with my no debt status I’ve been upholding for a few years now! I believe I was able to buy our house because of it.

    Good luck! It’s daunting at first, but it’ll get better. I promise.

  • 53 Megan // May 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    The Library of Congress has a great site with tips about archiving all kinds of personal digital stuff. If you’re making plans to back things up regularly, they have some other helpful tips that you could work into that schedule, too.

  • 54 megan // May 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks Megan and barrie! Great tips.

    And thanks for the support everybody, may we all clear out our cobwebs in time for a great summer.

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