Actively Decluttering

Actively DeclutteringI am writing this post mostly for my own accountability as we look forward to receiving our six-crate full shipment of household goods from Turkey (in addition to the truck full we just got out of storage in South Dakota – yep that means stuff we hadn’t seen in 2+ years).

Years ago when we lived in the 500 square foot space of the barn, we learned that you could actually survive with only 6 plates and 6 cups, and a lot less stuff in general than we had previously believed. In our time in the military, the inevitable moves meant it was easy to keep the accrual of stuff to a minimum. We didn’t really have holiday decor outside of two small boxes of Christmas decorations, and eventually even small knick knacks and home decor items were let go unless they had some sort of grand significant meaning to us. Every little thing just meant something else to inventory and pack up and move. There were times when we weren’t allowed to bring all of our stuff with us, and it required us to really evaluate what was important and needed (i.e. the stuff in storage). 

Along the way we grew to appreciate the lack of clutter, and started actively working towards simplifying our lives and our belongings at the same time. There have been a few quotes and advice by organization gurus, and a few of my own thoughts that have stuck with me, and that I repeat often in our day to day when trying to decide whether I need to buy something, or whether something we already own stays or goes. 

1. “Every square foot of storage in your house costs you money.” This applies in a number of ways. The biggest being that buying or renting a bigger space to accommodate your stuff means you are spending more money on housing than needed. Not everyone is into the whole tiny house movement, but there is a big difference living in a home that fits your needs for living comfortably and happily, versus a home that is a storehouse for things. 

2. A discussion on decluttering, and the example of your sock drawer.  You can only feasibly wear like 14 pairs of socks in a week (and that is assuming that you somehow find a way to wear two pairs a day – slipper socks, workout socks etc…). Most people do laundry at least once a week, so in reality you don’t need more than 14 pairs of socks. But if you’re like I was, you have at least 3-4 times this many, and probably brand new pairs still in the packaging you are holding onto for when the ones in your current rotation wear out. This expert suggested getting rid of the extras, EVEN the new pairs. Because 1) there are people out there who need them more than you do, and 2) if and when your current favorites do finally wear out, chances are you will just go out and buy what you want at that time. This is especially true to clothes. Styles may come back in, but they are always slightly different and the fit is almost certainly different than it was when your “vintage” pieces were new. 

Another side note on this, I am guilty of developing a sentimental attachment to clothes. Especially if they are my favorite pieces that have served me well. Especially, especially if those favorite pieces aren’t past their prime and could easily last another season. If these happen to be basics, that’s great. But for me, in most cases they aren’t basics, and even though I have loved them, I eventually start choosing other more recent purchases over them. I’ve gotten better about realizing when this happens and letting those beloved pieces go. They served their time and me very well, and it is time for them to make someone else happy. Every piece that I hang onto means a new piece that would bring me joy won’t fit in my closet. I try hard to stick to the one in, one out policy. 

This concept applies to stock piling toiletries, cleaning supplies, linens, etc…

3. “If it doesn’t spark joy in you, it shouldn’t be in your home.

4. Stuff should never cause you anxiety.

5. Just because it was your Great Grandmother’s Aunt’s handmade heirloom whatever, or even if it is worth $500 million, if it doesn’t fit your aesthetic/make you happy/mean anything to you personally, it doesn’t deserve to take up precious real estate in your home. 

Our space has downsized a tad in our new home, which means we are going to have to go through our things with a very discerning mindset. We do have a full basement that we haven’t had previously, but instead of it becoming a neverland of things sent to the storage abyss, we want to actually use the space. In fact, we want to use ALL the space in our house. Whether it’s a coat closet or a corner in the living room. We’ve never gotten to truly settle in a place before, and we want to take the time to put some thought into this space and the opportunities it presents. So far this has meant actually investing in some storage containers and pieces that both increase the functionality of our closets and cabinets, but are also visually appealing. It means not buying things to fill spaces just because we don’t like bare walls, but instead having some patience and taking our time to curate a collection of things that make us happy and represent us and the life we live. And it means I’m now researching ways to hide pesky wires, watching and rewatching Marie Kondo’s folding methods, and fighting the never ending battle against those dang socks that keep trying to pile up 🙂 

What clutter-busting tips do you employ at home and in life? 

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