Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back to Basics

I love this image but it makes my brain hurt a little

I got rid of a lot more stuff this week.

I ended up with some unexpected free time. The plan was to visit my grandparents this past week, but I caught a cold (thanks to some co-workers who don't call in sick when they should) and I had to cancel my trip. I felt bad, but it would have been worse to give my 79 year-old Mamaw a respiratory infection that turned into pneumonia. Respiratory infections and the elderly do not mix- trust your friend the nurse on this!

I don't have any big projects going on right now, except that I'm supposed to be brushing up on my French before I go to Haiti next month. I'll bet you can guess how well that's going. The drive for linguistic excellence is lacking, but I did have some de-cluttering motivation. I really blame Josh Millburn of The Minimalists for this.  He posted some photos of his loft (shown below), along with a list of his possessions on his blog.

Here is what really hit home for me- Josh says he didn't have to straighten up before taking this photo. Can you imagine if your house always looked like this? Wow.

What I am finding is that having too much stuff makes it harder to clean the house. Storage containers pushed into the corners create a space suitable for dust bunnies and pet hair tumbleweeds. Too many books on the bookshelf make it harder to dust. Clothes all over the place have to be picked up before I can vacuum.

I am nowhere near owning 288 things, and I don't expect to get there anytime soon. What I am proud of this week is that I sorted through the four large trunks of childhood toys and books and condensed it down to three trunks. More importantly, I found a place to put them that is not the corner of my bedroom. I was able to easily vacuum behind that area for the first time in a long time.

Recently I have been making a clutter triage pile in the spare bedroom. This is where things go after I pick them up, realize they don't serve a useful purpose in the house, and decide to get rid of them. I took the contents of that pile to the thrift store on Wednesday, but there are already new things in it. For example, today I reached for a colander and realized that I have two. Why would I ever need two colanders? The dinky plastic one went into the pile and the nice blue enamel one stays and can double as a fruit bowl.

I started this blog and decluttering project 14 months ago. The purpose has evolved from a desire to have cleaner closets into an attempt to live a more simple, purposeful life. But when I look back at my first post, I still see the validity of my original desire to own only things I love, and to have a suitable place to put them.

I still have a long way to go. Most of my living area is clean and organized, but there are still a few monster-infested places in the house- especially the guest room. I always have to shift piles of stuff into my bedroom when I have guests. The "clutter triage" pile is really convenient, except that Isabelle the Curiosity Never Hurt Anyone Cat likes to knock everything onto the floor and lie on it. I have a huge desk in there, which I rarely never use for scholarly pursuits and which is always covered with things I hastily shifted off of the dining room table when someone was coming over.

Despite my messy guest room, I get a little closer every week. The combination of getting rid of lots of things and not buying that many new ones is simple math that will have to catch up with me one day.

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and try having a clutter triage pile. Just don't forget to take it to the thrift store now and then.

PS: I know that talking about Steve Jobs is so in it's out right now, but check out this image tweeted by @zen_habits. "All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo, and that's what I had." So maybe I don't really need and iPad like I thought I did...

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