How De-Cluttering Made a Difference

In 2013 one of the first things I did was take a month to de-clutter my home.  As the one year anniversary was approaching in 2014 I wanted to repeat this good action, and to raise the bar a bit  too.  I had experienced some success creating support groups on Facebook for doing a raw cleanse together, so I reached out to see who might be interested in de-cluttering and simplifying their lives.  I originally thought people might laugh at me and perhaps a few did, but a group of 32 people decided it was worth their time.

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My living room after de-cluttering feels nurturing and more expansive.

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I now have more space that encourages creativity

Knowing I had done a complete sweep of every drawer, closet and room just a year ago, I anticipated this would be easy.  What I found was this year I was more ready to let go of duplicates, excess and items I am no longer using.  It is one thing to organize your stuff, but a real different step to go through each item and sort out the excess.

To make the group worthwhile I thought it would be good to get a couple of books on de-cluttering.  I found The Joy of Less – A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay and SoulSpace – Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life by Xorin Balbes were two great books on the topic.  The books and our support group kept me on track.

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The 2 books I choose to help with de-cluttering

The Joy of Less is a great book that goes room by room making suggestions for dealing with clutter and going through the items in your home and office.  One of the biggest lessons from this book is the value of emptying the drawer, closet or room versus just plucking out the items you are ready to get rid of.   Her method caused me to look at why I  keep things and encouraged me to only keep that which I love and that is “useful and beautiful.” Sometimes we fear getting rid of an item as equivalent to getting rid of a part of ourselves.  This is not easy work, it takes some time, reflection and a willingness to try new things, but it is valuable work allowing me to let go of things that no longer serve me.

There is something to be said about knowing what you have in your home and going drawer by drawer, closet by closet and room by room is a way to truly know what is there.  For me, my bathroom and kitchen were the most cluttered.  I found I had cosmetics from the 1980’s and 6 potato peelers, and this is after I thought I had done a complete de-clutter job just one year prior!

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The process of de-cluttering my bathroom included taking EVERYTHING out first.

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After getting rid of about 1/3 of the stuff in my bathroom

It felt so good to let go of those items I had been hanging onto and really coming to grips that I wasn’t using them and I never was going to use them!  There is a freedom which is hard to put into words, but it is palpable!  We sometimes hang onto items that were our “someday selves” as we want to believe those dreams might happen, but getting real and acknowledging that ship has sailed gives us back our power now.

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Some of my kitchen items for donation, including 4 potato peelers I no longer need.

Another key concept in Jay’s book is that “Less stuff = Less stress.”  Having less stuff means there is less stuff to take care of, worry about, repair, clean and replace.  She provides a great method of sorting through items we will “treasure, trash or transfer.”  After doing this round of full de-clutter, I noticed that the next time I did what I call “top to bottom” cleaning in my home, it took about 1/3 less time.  There is less to clear away before dusting, less to pick-up each night before bed, and less on my floors to move when I vacuum.  The sense of freedom was beginning to echo in having more time for the things I love and want in my life!

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Even the act of removing one item, makes a difference.  Before photo.

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After photo with only 3 items max on a surface.

SoulSpace is a good companion book as it is all about creating a space that shows personality and what’s important to you without clutter.  The goal is to feel at home within the space we create.

I originally thought I just wanted to de-clutter, but as time passed, a new topic of minimalism is now seeming to be a common thread.  I think even some of the appeal of walking the Camino was knowing I’d have to carry all the items I needed for two months on my back.  Knowing you have to carry it is a profound process in finding out how little you can get by with.  I am now taking “A Simple Year: Twelve Months of Guided Simplicity” course and exploring what minimalism has to offer me.  What I am finding is that unless I set up new practices, I will be de-cluttering every year.  So stay tuned to see what new lessons I learn!

“It’s not about living with less, it’s about clearing out the things that don’t add value to your life to make more room for the things that do.”  ~ Colin Wright

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“Recalibration is an intentional restructuring of your life, using your goals — your passions — as a compass. Rather than heading toward the traditional, inherited definition of ‘success,’ you set a new standard, identify new metrics for achievement (and failure), and slowly whittle away the extraneous bits that get in the way of your new direction.”

~ Colin Wright

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I’d like to give a shout out to our Facebook “De-cluttering and Simplifying” group of 32 people.  By setting weekly goals and reporting out, our group was able to let go of 101 classic metal trash cans worth of stuff we no longer needed in just two months time.  I think that might have been enough stuff to fill an entire house!  I am grateful to have the pleasure of not just my own wins in de-cluttering, but I also got to experience the big wins of the group!

If you would like to be part of our next round of private De-cluttering and Simplifying group on Facebook, please let me know and I can add you in.  I anticipate starting our next cycle at the end of 2014.

11 Comments

  1. Sharon Day says:

    Count me in for your next round!

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  2. Mom says:

    Now that I have read your blog I think I have a good idea of what minimalist is. It must be a new word that denotes simplify, or bare bones, or learning to do without by learning what is most important, prioritize, etc.

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  3. River says:

    Well said : “Less stuff=Less stress”

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  4. I am so envious right now of your journey. I want to do it too but I don’t feel ready to start. I did a bit of it when I moved recently but honestly think if I had a house with a garage the stuff would easily build right back up. But I’ll keep reading of your triumphs and dream for when I am ready.

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    • Tonia, I hear you. Please know that we are at different phases of our lives and that has a big impact on what works well for each of us. So focus on any small steps that work with your life and know I am here to support you!

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  5. Deb says:

    Please add me in. My goal for 2013 was to declutter my body. I’ve successfully lost about 30% of my starting weight. In 2014 I’d like to declutter my possessions by a third as well.

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  6. Liz says:

    Please count me in for the next round!

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    • Hi Liz, I am happy to add you into our group. Because it is a private Facebook group, please send me a “friend” request and I can then add you in now. We will be ramping up towards the end of the year, but I do post good articles in there and you can go through and read past content for some information and inspiration.

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