De-cluttering Continues

Having spent the last year and half attempting to downsize what I own to fit comfortably in my home I am discovering what process works best for me.  (I am also realizing just how much stuff I have…Holy Cow!) I have found while it is helpful to read blogs and find ideas, doing exactly what someone else did doesn’t seem to fit me.  I find it more helpful to take bits and pieces of suggestions from different sources but mostly to listen to my instincts.

One thing that seems to really work for me is doing an area two or three times.  The first time is about getting rid of the really garbagey stuff and  items I know I don’t want/need.  And then there is the surprise at finding all the stuff I forgot I had.  It is just like Christmas!

The second time through, a few months later,  allows me to objectively evaluate all those “found items”.  If I haven’t even thought about them then I know they can go.  I also find this is when I typically have a big pile of  “maybe” stuff.  Stuff I still feel attached to but really have not used/wore.  My general rule of thumb for the maybe pile is to get rid of at least half.

Third time through I have found my objective has changed.  I have gone from: I just want everything to fit in a designated space;  to: do I really love this?  Does it suit who I am today?  Why, exactly am I keeping this?  I have found the three times through method works on clothes, knickknacks, memorabilia and half finished projects equally well.


I mentioned working on my wardrobe in my last post. I have already downsized a fair amount of clothes this year but I still feel like I have way too many items I don’t really love. I perused a few blogs and saw some good ideas. I also recently read Leo Babauta’s  book “Zen Habits” and that gave me more food for thought.   For the third time through I went with the “would I buy this today” mentality.

1. I truly looked at my wardrobe objectively and who I am now. I have a ton of t-shirts from various units, deployments and vacations, some ten to twenty years old. Memories, yes; stylish articles of apparel, not so much.

2. I really need a separate set of clothes I can wear camping that I won’t care if they get muddy or smoky (from the campfires) or snagged on a bush.

3. I truly believe that I am one of those people happier with less stuff.

So here is what I did. I made a pile of clothes that:
– I feel sort of embarrassed wearing outside the house.

– Anything really old, especially over-sized t-shirts.

– Shirts given as gifts that I really didn’t like.

– Anything that didn’t fit well or made me feel frumpy when I wore it.

– I put aside a few t-shirts and two polo shirts from my military days for my son to wear/have in the future.  It is important to me that he realizes how much more there is to his Mom than just being his Mom.

With my shorts and capris I pulled two pair, put some in the camping pile and the rest back on the shelf.  With my summer shirts and t-shirts I put about half back on the shelf and culled 5 shirts for camping.  One very large t-shirt I am going to try out as a nightgown.

The pile of purged clothes (includes the basket in the back)

The plan was to  put all the “rejected” clothes into a basket in my bedroom.  On the first day of school I would move them to a box or tote in the garage and label with the date one year from the day.  This way if I really miss something or find myself looking to wear a “rejected” item I can retrieve it. And if after one year I haven’t thought about it it will be easy to take to Goodwill.  (Waiting a year will give me most of another summer season to evaluate my wardrobe and plenty of time to make sure I haven’t downsized too much. {Did I really just write that?  As if.}  I want to make sure I have enough camping clothes because I really don’t want to buy new items for camping!)

But I had way too many items for the basket so I put most in a bag in the garage and just a few items I was very on the fence about into the basket.

“On the fence” items

I think I got the put stuff in a box with a date on it idea from Peter Walsh but I was also thinking about Leo’s advice to make things as easy as possible to establish a new habit.  This way I won’t feel any stress about something being gone forever.  For now I have just re-located half my wardrobe :).

And when the weather gets cold (okay coolish) I can go through my winter items and do the same thing.  I don’t think I could handle the stress of sorting more clothes right now.  I do find it interesting that even though I feel happier looking at my pared down wardrobe I find the process itself a bit stressful.  All change is stressful, even good change!

Laundry Room

My laundry room was feeling messy and cramped.  It is not only a very small space but it is the walkway from the garage into the house and heavily used.  It is awkward trying to carry bags of groceries through the space.  This was my second time clearing the space up.  Since I am not the only user of the space it doesn’t stay tidy for long.  It really didn’t take long to sort, purge and straighten the items but it took awhile to do a good cleaning.  There was a fair amount of dryer lint in all the nooks and crannies.  I also made the executive decision to remove the large laundry sorter.  I seldom used it, mostly just as a holder for tablecloths or sheets I wasn’t ready to wash right away.  I owned it because in Montana I had a ginormous laundry room and it made sense there. It didn’t make sense here.  Now the walkway is much wider.




I did this section of the cupboard earlier this year.





The top shelf is for non-Christmas gift wrapping and birthday party stuff.

Washi tape

Now that the laundry bin is gone you can actually see the light switch.  Just for fun I decided to dress it up  with a little Washi tape I had on hand.


In preparation of the office and play area swap later this year I have been really thinking about the items in my office and what I love and need and what I just have.  For the most part I think when the time comes I will box everything up and then find it a new home downstairs or purge it.  See how things fit in the storage furniture first.  In the meantime though I am looking to see what I can purge ahead of time.  This will be my second go through of my office. It doesn’t seem like there is much I want to part with right now, but I hope with time that will change.  As usual books seem the biggest obstacle.  However I did combine four old photo albums down into one.  (How many pictures of the Christmas tree does one need?)

My husband and son are going to a baseball game tomorrow night and I think that will be a good time to look at the closet in the office.  My son is going to get half and I am keeping the other half.  The side he will be getting isn’t too full.  I will empty his future half  closet and then make a pile of items to move downstairs (which will go back into the closet until the swap), hopefully a pile to get rid of  and I need to see what will fit on the other side of the closet.  I have some ideas percolating about where things will go but I can never seem to fit as much stuff in a place as I think I can.

This first step will be a good test of hard this swap is going to be.  I keep picturing how nice it will be to have a tidy living room and dining room  for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I imagine not feeling frustrated by the sight of a zillion toys piled up by the front door.  I picture how happy E will be to have more space to build his Lego town.  I feel the freedom of having less stuff.


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