The key is to be ruthless. I haven't been very ruthless in the past year or so, and I find myself having to make up for it now... the shirt that looked really good that one time but has a stain? Get rid of it. That vase that you never really liked but you like the person who gave it to you so you've been holding on to it? Get rid of it. Cards from your college graduation? Get rid of them. Your "matchbook collection"? Get rid of it. That book that you got from the thrift store and still haven't gotten around to reading in three years? Get rid of it!!!
There are some things I'm having trouble with, and I admit I did pull two pair of jeans out of the thrift store box (they may fit again!).
But I will say that both closets are completely decluttered, as well as the kitchen table (which had become a sort of purgatory for correspondence-- now it is all put away or thrown away and the table is empty!! I also cleaned and decluttered the bathroom, I mean, how many bottles of lotion does one need? Even now, I shouldn't have to buy lotion again for at least two years.
It is a blessing not just for them, but for me and my decluttering task as well, that I have a few friends and family members expecting or having recently welcomed babies. I am forcing myself to part with some of those adorable, cute, precious, tiny clothes that I have been hording. Yes, they still contain some of that rare, delicate infant essence, but how many onesies does one really need to save? I mean, they are white and made by Gerber. They aren't exactly unusual or hard to find. And besides, someone else can use them!!
I did keep some things, of course. You can't expect me to part with every baby item that Buck no longer fits in. Well, I mean, go ahead and expect it but it ain't gonna happen, my friend.
I'm about to raid Buck's toy bucket while he's asleep and repossess a few things. His birthday is coming up and an influx in unavoidable. Adam and I had this discussion. You can't say "no presents" because some people are going to bring presents anyway and then the people who don't feel like cheapskates. I mean, the people who aren't cheapskates. The real cheapskates probably don't feel like cheapskates, they probably feel like the people who brought presents are suckers.
Anyway, point being that you're gonna get all manner of items from birthdays, Christmases, Easters, Fourth of Julys, cousins, friends, and random relatives. It is inevitable, but you can pass on the things that have been outgrown.
Here's a few rules I've been playing by in the declutter the cabin game:
Get rid of:
1. things you haven't used in the past 5-6 months
2. things that you don't really like but (for some reason) keep
3. things that you have two or more of (like sneakers- I now have one pair)
4. paper. this is a big one. Catalogs, junk mail that somehow doesn't make it to the recycling, old bills, bank statements, birthday cards, etc...
(I do love to save personal letters, though, but now I have a drawer with a box for all the letters and notes I want to keep.)
5. broken junk you haven't gotten fixed in the past year. This is a big one. Yes, that record player was great, but it hasn't worked in two years. It's JUNK!!
6. anything you can!!!
1. Things that make you happy. There's nothing wrong with keeping something for sentimental reasons. But don't keep anything that has negativity attached to it- just keep the things that remind you of the good times. If you're unsure, keep it. In six months, maybe you'll be ready to part with it.
2. Things you use at least semi-regularly.
3. pictures-- but put them in an album. I am just starting to really take this one to heart. I've been putting off "albumizing" my pictures for years now because it seems like so much work to organize them chronologically and then get them in an album. I've decided to hell with it, I'll just put them in an album and not worry about getting them perfectly organized. You can enjoy you pictures much more this way, and keep them safe. Of course, now most of my pictures are digital, but I'd really like to have the "old-timey" ones in albums.
Oh, but throw out any pictures that give you bad feelings-- that one where you've always thought your hair looked awful, pictures of people that make you mad, etc. Only keep the good ones.
4. Anything you can't bear to give up yet!
You don't have to make yourself miserable. The point is to remove clutter so you feel better, not deny yourself all material possessions. There are convents and monasteries for that.
I've been struggling with this one-- chipped dishes. The feng shui (or "fung schway" as I like to call it) book I've been reading says that chipped dishes are almost famously inauspicious. They can make you lose things and people cheat you.
My problem is most of my dishes --okay, that might be exaggerating a little-- but plenty of my dishes are chipped. My favorite plate (which I found in a trashcan) is chipped. I don't know what to do about it...
Oh yeah-- throw away your old phonebooks, too. I had like five of them laying around. We never even use them anymore...
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