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Old 01-21-2014, 12:15 AM   #1
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Post The Big Declutter

Feather's decision to move to a smaller, more 'workable' home, my neighbour's recent death & the moves of others in the building lately as well as the nature of the work I do, (cleaning & organizing for others), got me to thinking about decluttering & getting ready to move.

It can be a daunting process especially if we've lived in one location for many years. Often too after the death of a family member means we end up with a lot of their possessions. More than one member here has ended up with the household goods of several family members. Some of us are natural collectors & we can get carried away. Or through different life circumstances, we sometimes end up with a lot of things we intend to sort through & deal with & don't - perhaps we're ill, our lives become very busy & complex - there are many good reasons not to have time to deal with accumulating stuff.

It can become a burden in many ways. I understand that well having grown up in a hoard. It wasn't just a hoard - it was filthy, bug ridden, smelly - everything you see on the TV hoarding shows. It wasn't my hoard but it sure weighed me down. Worse, when I started my own household, I had no concept about what I really needed, what was enough, what might be too much. I didn't know how to organize my life & my things, how to look after stuff or any logical means of evaluating what I let into my life in terms of stuff. I've had times when I've had too much & no idea how to begin to deal with it all, to reduce the items to an amount that made my home pleasant, comforting, a real refuge from outside life.

I learned the hard way - by doing, by making plenty of mistakes & by watching other people. I learned from those who had no 'stuff' issues as well as people who do. Some aren't what I'd call hoarders, they simply have too much stuff, unexamined ideas about how to deal with stuff & many are fed up with having all of it. When it comes to hoarders, there actually is a scale. The mildest hoarders simply have way too much stuff - collections gone wild, enough possessions for several households but it's organized & clean. From there, things deteriorate on the scale until you end up with homes that are damned near death traps - full of filth, literally falling apart & where most things really aren't salvageable.

I don't know many people who are entirely happy living in a sea of stuff. They don't know what to do, where to start. Just trying to think it through can seem overwhelming. It can be a very long process & by times, tiring. But sorting out your things, eliminating what truly isn't wanted or needed is very possible. It doesn't have to all be done at once & is often more satisfying when done slowly & carefully.

There's never really an end to cleaning, organizing, making decisions about things we own - that's just a necessary fact when you have & run a household. A major sort through with appropriate decision making can, relieve us of many of the anxieties that can accumulate around having too much stuff.

Don't we owe it to ourselves to be truly comfortable in our own environment? We deserve a peaceful refuge, where we can enter & sigh in contentment or with relief; a place that makes us happy and/or calm. Why not our own homes? And we all own beautiful things that we do indeed deserve to use. How many of us have lovely items that we 'save' for some undetermined purpose or for the use of guests. In our own homes, especially, those lovely & treasured items should be available for OUR benefit. Life is too short to do anything else.

It's winter, the slow season for many outdoor activities & as we recover from a hectic holiday season, it's a good time to look to clearing out some of our excess stuff. Even if we simply clear out one room or sort out one specific category of stuff, it's a rewarding feeling & we don't have to do anymore than we're comfortable doing. Rome wasn't built in a day, we didn't accumulate a ton of stuff overnight & we don't have to deal with it all at once.

There are ways to approach a big job like this can be without feeling like we're drowning, overwhelmed. There are simple methods we can apply that will quickly show progress. The steps I'll outline don't have to be followed in any particular order. Start with what you're comfy with, what YOU feel is the priority in your home. As long as you feel you're making progress, don't worry about where you start.

A few things to keep in mind - don't start a job & partway through decide something else needs to be done as part of the first job. You'll end up at the end of the day with a string of half completed jobs & a discouraged attitude. Here's an example - you have a closet somewhere stuffed full of clothing you rarely, if ever wear. The bottom of the closet is packed with shoes, bags & miscellaneous stuff. So is the shelf above the hanging rod. The task you've set yourself is to look at each item, decide which, (hopefully just a few), you're going to keep & bag or box up what's left of the decent stuff for charity & put the rest out to garbage. You start by taking each item out one at a time & looking at it. Partway through, you decide the closet is dirty - it needs to be dusted, washed & vacuumed. You dump everything in the closet on a bed, sofa or floor - you can't believe how much you had crammed in there. You fetch some cleaning supplies & get scrubbing. You get the walls done & the shelf. You run out of steam before you can vacuum or maybe you have to prep a meal, pick up kids from school or activities. You find at the end of the day, you haven't been able to get back to the closet & everything in it is still out. Maybe the kids played dress up & it's scattered to the winds. For all the work you did, you've ended up with a bigger mess than when you started - at least before, it was all out of sight! Now you're tired, cranky & discouraged.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to discuss how to deal with different categories of stuff. When faced with a big organizational job, I prefer starting by dealing with categories of stuff. Once enough categories of things are dealt with, the focus can switch to rooms if you want to motivate yourself by having one really nice space to retreat to as you continue to work through your items.

Remember - no rush, just focus on making progress. If you have a really tough time letting go of things, even one garbage bag out is a start - it's that volume less clutter in your home.

So, let's go!
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:00 PM   #2
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Default No, I Didn't Abandon This!

I got busy with life & was helping someone else declutter. I was also doing a lot of thinking - why is it so hard or why does it become hard to declutter, to streamline & organize? Part of the answer is mixed messages.

What does clean, decluttered or organized mean anymore? If you're a fan of décor magazines with their emphasis on trends, even the overall 'look' can vary. Some years, some rooms are very spare & minimalist. The featured rooms may look perfect but you get the impression no one lives there. Others are stuffed with decorative objects. What happens when you toss in your kids' toys or your objects? Chaos. The rare times I look through these magazines - usually waiting in offices, I think of them as I do the stuff that trot down the runway at a lot of fashion shows - stylized, arty versions of reality. In most cases, the featured products, the ads or vapidly gushed over trends are simply trying to separate you from your money. Believe it or not, the Pantone Color Institute chooses a 'color of the year' every year. To be on trend, that's the color you should choose or feature. Naturally, last year's colors don't work well with those chosen for this year.

How you set up rooms tend to be pretty rigid - why? If you want to plunk your bed right in the middle of your bedroom, who says you can't? Why is it anyone's business. YOU live there; do what works best for you & your family. Every family, every home is different & you are the folks spending most of the time in your home. Don't set it up or organize it for the screw faced old auntie or disapproving in laws or even the nosy neighbours. Make it work for YOU.

It doesn't matter how a house is organized or how much is in it. What's important is - are the things in there items you use, things you treasure? Is the type & level of organization something you're comfortable with? You might find most of your home & how you use it works but one or a few areas or types of tasks are a PITA. If that's the case, look at what doesn't work. Try to figure out why it doesn't work for you. |In thinking through the 'why', you may come upon your own solution. It may not be any one else's. What's important is that it works for you.

Now I'm writing this starting with the operating assumption that... your house is full of stuff - too full. You can't find anything. Cleaning is hard because you have to move so much stuff. You may not have seen the back of certain rooms for years. You may have lost track of what you own. You may not be able to use rooms the way you'd like or at all because they've become filled with stuff.

It doesn't matter if your issues aren't nearly that severe - extract what works for you from the areas where you have problems. I had to start with some operating premise & I thought I might as well work from 'worst case'.

An increasing number of people find over time, that they're closer to 'worst case' than they would like. We lead busy lives. In many families, both parents work & when they're not working, they're ferrying kids to & from sports. They also have lives outside of work - errands, shopping, meal prep, hopefully some form of social life. Housework & organizing takes a back seat & in surprisingly little time, you can't find anything. And frankly, I've never met anyone who IKES housework. I certainly don't. I like the RESULTS. The effort involved - not so much.

I'm going to start by tackling how to deal with different categories of stuff; that way anyone with an 'overwhelming item overload' can clear some room in which they can do work that requires more thought or sorting. And btw - lots of this can be delegated - spouses, kids - they can contribute, saving you time & energy.

Now... I shall eat my very late, unorganized supper & come back to deal with the dreaded.... PAPER PILES!
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:39 PM   #3
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We just need more shelving and storage for preps.
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:50 PM   #4
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Default The Paper Piles

Man, does that stuff accumulate & quickly. It ends up under stuff, crammed into corners, on top of things - sliding off at the worst possible moments. It hides other items we're desperately looking for, it's heavy, unsightly & a fire hazard. It also represents "Things We Should Be Doing!"... like taxes, filing. I hate it.

So let's get rid of it - what we don't need. You don't have to overthink it or worry about organizing what you're going to keep - not yet. The aim here is to clear space for work on other things later... including organizing the blasted paper you're going to keep.

Speaking of getting rid of it - most communities are happy to take paper back in curbside recycling. If your community limits that, pile up the excess that's over your weekly or biweekly limit & either get rid of more weekly or run it out to the dump/recycle site.

First thing you need is a container in which you're going to put the paper you're going to keep - bills, anything to do with taxes, forms you need to fill out, report cards, anything like that you can't or won't get rid of. It can be a box, garbage bag, laundry hamper; just grab something suitably large if you figure you're going to be keeping a lot of paper. The stuff you're going to dispose of - deal with it as your local 'rules' specify - bundle it, bag it; whatever.

If you have stray paper in a lot of places, it doesn't matter where you start - just START. What to get rid of? Old catalogues & magazines. No, you're NOT going to read those old magazines if you haven't already. Catalogues from 2 years ago are of no use - new items & prices have taken hold. Keeping bills for filing? Okay, but lose the envelops & inserts often included. Make sure you check each paper - you don't want to toss a vital tax slip, unpaid bill or essential receipt. Old newspapers can go... hello, what's this? An owners' manual for an appliance that died 3 years ago? Out! Now we get to items that may be tougher. Old letters & cards, kids' school work. If trying to think about getting rid of them is starting to stress you out - don't. It's something you can decide later. The aim right now is to clear most of the 'forest' so you can appreciate the remaining individual trees.

As you get into a groove remember - you don't have to grimly go through the whole house or even whole rooms all at once. If all you can handle is 15-30 minutes, then do that. Keep an eye on the final goal & know that even a small step towards it IS a step towards it. If you have a ton of paper & not a whole lot of energy, take one small section at a time. Tomorrow - do that pile over there. The next day, try emptying a bedside drawer of excess paper.

A couple of 'blocks' can make this process difficult. Don't get caught up in reading the papers you're sorting. Don't kid yourself into thinking you'll read old newspapers later or magazines or that keeping certain catalogues evoke nostalgia. Scraps of paper with information you need - those should be dealt with immediately. Buy or locate in your stash, an address/phone book. Find a paper with a name, number/address you want to keep, immediately write it down in that book, then dump the scrap of paper. I'm a bad one for 'info scraps'. They end up in my bags, desk drawer, by the phone... argh!

As you make your way through this process, over part of a day, days, weeks or longer, make sure you look anywhere paper might be hiding - under sofa cushions, coat pockets, handbags, backpacks, school bags, lunch kits. You don't have to sort or file what you're keeping immediately, especially if you're trying to deal with years of paper accumulation but as much as you're able, fish out & deal with current bills & make sure you don't lose anything tax related. Personally, I have 3 red file folders - the kind that have sealed sides. 2 are for past years' taxes - his & mine & I keep the other one for the current tax year. It's the only thing I file in red folders - red means taxes...

Don't set immense goals for yourself if you're trying to catch up with years worth of not dealing with paper. Start slowly & don't lose track of your 'Keep It' box or bin. Don't allow yourself second thoughts about what you decided to toss. Really - it's just paper. Getting rid of it gets rid of volume of clutter as well as a lot of dust.

We'll look at organizing what remains, what you're keeping later. Right now, we're still clearing space with which to work.

Oh & before I forget - that kitchen drawer - you know the one I mean... down near the bottom. 5 of those pizza flyers are out of date & the Thai food joint closed 18 months ago - get rid of those pamphlets!
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Old 02-07-2014, 10:05 PM   #5
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So far I've given the church thousands of dollars worth of clothes. Stuff I will never wear again, even if they fit. I figure there is someone out there that will put all of it to good use. The church is a poor one, tomorrow I'm going to start going through the kitchen and decide what to give them. They will except anything a person can use.

All antiques will be put in one area of the house and a dealer will be asked to look over everything I'm not keeping. If we are still here the week before Memorial Day, we'll join the neighbors and set up a garage sale and see how many books can be sold. Any leftover will be taken to Half Price Books. The money raised will be used to feed everyone that helps with the move and a donation to the church.

I kept most of the kids toys and I'm so tempted to call that guy from the Travel Channel that buys old toys. I have original Turtles and Barbie stuff. There's even some of my toys in the basement. Sell them.

I'm treating stuff like I'd have to carry it to the new place so I really want very little to go to the storage unit. Any paper work not needed anymore is going into bags and being taken to the bank to be shredded if there is any personal info on it.

The next stuff to go to the unit will be some furniture.
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:49 AM   #6
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Feather, from where I'm sitting, you've already done a phenomenal amount of work. You must be tired but other than that, how have you found the process? I'm asking you because you're the one going through the work here... you're our resident expert. Were parts of it easier than you expected? Did you find some of it was emotionally tough - maybe tougher than you expected?
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Old 02-08-2014, 01:25 PM   #7
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Rain all next week. It's time to declutter again.

Try to be ruthless.

Usually the ratty stuff goes first, unless it is a favorite.

Right now they are putting cups out on the turn around table from the galley. I was going to bring down a dozen, but will hold off.

I try to bring things down a little at a time.

One guy here used the stuff for extra cash on e-bay. He's asked me to leave the computer and asked how he can get into e-bay without useing google. I told him I have no idea. He also takes the books we leave out to the flea market guy. With the huge rent increase he is even more desperate. Feel for him. He is on the computer a lot now.

I'll keep the best stuff to put up at e-bay, or bring to the flea market myself. Better in my pocket than his.

The warmer stuff goes to the St. Josephs closet for the homeless. The dressier here.

Right now I'm wearing most of my stuff from the senior thrift shop. $1.50 for new seude black moccasins with sheerling over great white socks for 50cents. Ralph Lauren black velveteen slacks for 50cents, a free black vest lined with red over a grey cashmere turtleneck sweater. All my underwear, new, was 25cents each.

If I knew how cheap the thrift stuff was, (a lot new) I would only have brought along my all time favorites from my old life style.

All my stolen expensive jewelry has been replaced with imitation stuff here. Not as fine, but good enough.

Stuff goes out one door, and stuff comes in to replace it. A round robin.
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Old 02-08-2014, 11:35 PM   #8
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I'm going to think and then post the answer later.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:15 AM   #9
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More than fair Feather - it was a big question. Seeing as I'm up for a few more hours anyway & currently waiting for the downhill, I'll be adding to this shortly. First, I have to peel a cat off me, grab a snack, peel the cat off me again - he likes pudding, then get writing.
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Old 02-09-2014, 01:47 AM   #10
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We're still on paper tonight. I'm not expecting anyone with a large paper problem to deal with it quickly & do NOT expect that of yourselves. Much of what you're finding yourself dealing with may be more than simply paper. Easy enough to throw out old newspapers, empty envelops & junk mail but other things are much tougher. You find a pile of childrens' old school work & want to keep some of it... but how do you choose? We each need to find our own criteria for that. Personally, I chose to keep final report cards as well as some work & projects - not many of the latter however; just some samples. But it was hard to choose. What about old cards from friends & family - birthday, Christmas, other special times? Some people may literally have boxes of those. Ask yourself why you're keeping them - especially if you have lots. If you must keep something from each family member, try to limit that to 1 or 2 items per person.

After you've made your way through your home looking for & making your first cut at paper culling, you may still have a lot left. If you're in a situation where you're swamped with stuff or have to downsize, try to be fairly ruthless. Can some of the paper you're hanging on to because of crucial information it might contain be scanned on to your computer and/or a thumb drive? Unless you collect them, do you really need 176 cookbooks? You might be surprised at the variety of recipes available online & very, very few old cookbooks have any resale value or collectible value. Some old textbooks from our student days might still be current but very few can boast that distinction. The acid test may be - when was the last time you went to one to look for information? If you can't remember or it's been many years - why are you hanging on to it?

Old personal papers - letters from loved ones are a special case. I would be loathe to dispose of those under most circumstances. Old bills - ask your accountant if you use one. A year's worth is usually considered plenty - unless you're in some kind of dispute with a company that sends you bills. Speaking of bills - many companies now offer the option of paperless billing; your bills appear online. Banks not only offer the same, some banks CHARGE you for mailed monthly statements. Our bank nails you $2/month for a paper statement. One caveat - they're only kept online for 13 months - every 6 months or so, I print out from the date of my last printed out batch. I hang on to bank statements, LOC & credit card statements for roughly 2 years. Tax paperwork, I hold for 7years.

You may have a lot of paper lying around or a little; either way, you need some sort of filing system to keep track of what you're keeping. Don't complicate it & you don't need a fancy system. I have 2 sets of files. One set contains old personal momentoes, stuff from former jobs that's due to be winnowed out, old tax years, owners manuals & stuff I rarely need to look at but might or want to keep because of personal memories. Then I have a simple system of current files - one for anything I'll need for taxes, one dealing with the apartment - copies of repair requests & rent increases, a work related one... everyone will need different files depending on their life's activities. Whatever system you set up, just keep it as simple as possible & twice a year or so, quickly go through & eliminate anything no longer current or that you can't see yourself needing in future. When you pay your bills, file the statement - add a note about the payment: date & amount if you care to & when you add a bill, get rid of the oldest one.

Someone with a lot of paper may find they have to go through it more than once before they really get it down to a manageable quantity. When it comes to locating & dealing with personal papers - old letters & such, I'd suggest not reading through them on the first go through. It can get a bit emotional for many reasons. Identify them for what they are, put them in the 'keep' bin for now & make a final decision later - after you've unloaded the trash, have had success dealing with old paper & are emotionally prepared to read old family letters & papers.

Okay - enough about paper for now except to say - don't go back to things you've already decided to throw away. Your first instinct is probably the best one & shuffling paper or anything else from one pile to another isn't really dealing with it - it's indecision. Get rid of what you're throwing away as quickly as possible - next garbage day if you can recycle it curbside or make a run to the nearest recycling depot as soon as you can. \once it's gone, you no longer have to worry about it.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:51 AM   #11
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http://www.larepubliquedespyrenees.f...un,1177967.php
http://www.sudouest.fr/2014/02/01/le...48094-4344.php

I (mostly) solved the clutter problem by running away and moving into a micro trailer. The goal during this period is to become minimalist. I will, eventually, go back home...hopefully having become minimalist enough to simply go in and empty the place without looking or regrets.

But ruined my anonymity by ending up on the front page of the regional newspaper. That wasn't meant to happen...when the radio came by, I asked them to not mention certain details, then one newspaper came by and called my little home a "rabbit hutch on wheels" and posted a picture of it, and then by the time another came by, I figured 'what the hell, do as you please', which they did, although nicely. Luckily, I was gone by the time the TV crews came by.

On the road, again for me. And I found that I'd began to clutter up all over again in my parking lot complacency...packing in a hurry to get the heck away was almost impossible and I had to jettison a part of the cargo. I found myself thinking of cast-iron stoves littering the Oregon Trail.

One thing that has helped (and made me laugh and almost enjoy the process), is to take a picture of what I'm getting rid of. That way, I still kind of have it around, but not taking up space or nagging at me to use it or do something with it or find a place for it. I TAKE A PICTURE. Yep, a simple picture and then out it goes. Almost painlessly. So when I want to see that almost real looking cauliflower candle that I picked up at the Goodwill and couldn't bring myself to melt down and recycle; there it is for me to see in all it's unmelted down glory. I then gave it away and the next person gets to decide what to do with it.

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Old 02-09-2014, 09:17 AM   #12
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A thought about getting rid of paper. You might want to run some of that stuff through a shredder. You may have sensitive information on some things that you don't want others seeing (like an account number).
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:23 AM   #13
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Quote:
do you really need 176 cookbooks?
YES!!! They're like old and dear friends and I DO look at them. Between Max and I we have an amazing library. Still, there are books to cull and that's on the project list.

Our declutter method is to circle the house by going from one room at a time to another throughout the year. We have sort of a seasonal accumulation in different places that has to be addressed as the seasons change. Right now we're cleaning and organizing the canning kitchen getting ready for seed planting. The greenhouse and mudroom are not far behind it and because there are some big cleaning items, the basement bathroom gets cleaned as well. There are now only 9 items under that bathroom sink.

The paper thing is ongoing but gradually I'm making progress. I have tubs that I sort into by year for important papers and receipts. Those too old to keep go to the burn barrel. I have a table set up for this process and when it begins to look 'weak' I pull out another box. Yes, I have boxes of the stuff still left from my dad's move. Still left from a previous life pre divorce. Still left from closing out businesses. Still left from the kids stuff. This is a project that I just can't stick with for too long, it just gets overwhelming. Hence the table devoted to it. It's a manageable set up and I AM making progress.

The other place that cries for reworking is my closet. It too is getting there. I have bags set up for goodwill and as I find things I no longer want the go into the bags. When I hang clothes as they are worn and washed the go to one side of the hanging bar. When I dress I pull from the other side. That way the things I don't wear accumulate on one end. It may be a slower method but it works for me.

Max and I are skill collectors and that means tools and equipment. Sometimes handling that can be a challenge but what we're doing is using the tub/specific area method: Sewing, leather working, electronics, plumbing, tile work, glass work, carpentry, vehicle maintenance, etc. It sure is nice to be able to go to a specific place and find exactly the tools required for the job there. It works well as long as things get put back after they are used... We have a library of books related to those among other things as well so we group them together. The library does have a system!

Some people wouldn't understand our accumulation but its a farm and that's just how farms are. You need tools and information when you need them and you need to know where they are. Sometime you need them in a hurry like livestock supplies for example.

I keep reminding myself that if I die, my kids will have to deal with this. So, I keep the goal in mind to have everything in its place in a container. That way the auction won't be such a hassle. And what an auction it would be! It would be the kind of auction I would LOVE to attend!

Sue, you would have a hey day here, LOL!
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:35 AM   #14
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I used to take a pictures of what I admired but couldn't afford to buy. (A lot) All those pictures are gone now. Hundreds of albums of my past are gone without regrets. I still regret not taking my white Lipanzzaner rearing horse and horseman in black, and many other things like life cycles of butterflies and moths in glass. Also regret not taking things I spent years accumulating and putting together to make something unique.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:04 PM   #15
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bg - I'd have a hey day just looking over the neat stuff the two of you have! Don't anyone get me wrong - I'm not pushing for a minimalist lifestyle for everyone. We have different interests, occupations, different housing conditions & by necessity have different things & different amounts of those things. I too am a prepper & there's no way I'd get rid of my prep items except through rotation.

All I'm trying to do is help people dislodge accumulated clutter that's blocking them in some way. It may be locking up room that could better be used for prep items, room for LIFE. It can help liberate cash through time & selling excess stuff. It can save time due to less cleaning, less planning...

But first, having been up until 0430, then slept the morning away - off to the grocery store. SD wants to come over for the afternoon & I promised her a 'mom supper'... lonely to find out I'm out of 2 crucial ingredients... fresh stuff. I need the exercise anyway. Looks like my afternoon at the greenhouse will slide to next Sunday.
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
All I'm trying to do is help people dislodge accumulated clutter that's blocking them in some way. It may be locking up room that could better be used for prep items, room for LIFE. It can help liberate cash through time & selling excess stuff. It can save time due to less cleaning, less planning...
And THANK YOU for that! We can all use a little less blockage! You wouldn't believe how often I think about your advice as I move through our continual sorting process. You have become the voice in my head
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:43 PM   #17
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I agree with BG about keeping cookbooks. I have four thousand back at the house...all of them as familiar as old friends.
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Old 02-09-2014, 10:39 PM   #18
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The stuff from the bathroom was easy to go through. Any extras are already in a cupboard in the computer room. The main thing about the bathroom will be getting the shower clean. It has that white film that showers get. Then there will be the fun of painting it. A few years ago there was a group from Rebuilding Together that came and did a lot of painting here. The two gals that painted the bathroom got confused and used some of the house paint in there. The room is white with blue areas. I figured it's an easy fix. We have a friend that likes to paint and she said she'd paint the bathroom and kitchen for me.

The living room was fun to pack. Most of what's in there is breakable so it's wrapped up and in storage already. Right now we are working on the back bedroom. Most of it is in boxes already, we've used it for storage since my oldest son moved out.

The basement will be a pain. Down there is stuff from my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents, my kids, DH and me and even some things from my ex's family. There's so many antiques but I told myself that we don't have room for them and I'd like someone to be able enjoy them.

The kitchen will be pared down. We just don't need all of the pans we have. I have a Cruet enameled cast iron pan with a lid. I'll see if the grandsons mom wants it. Some of the cookware will go to the church for people who may have lost everything and have to start over. I'm still debating with myself over keeping the silver set my dad bought for his mom. It's beautiful but I really don't have a time or place to use it, so it's once again for me to decide if someone else would get more enjoyment out of it. While clearing out under the sink I found where the water in the bathroom came from. The piece that is supposed to hold a collar like thing for the sprayer had fallen off the underside of the sink. DH isn't carefull when he does the dishes so water went down the hole for the sprayer and caused the problem. Lucky for us I've learned some plumbing from reading the how to series my dad had and by watching This Old House. I just need to get someone over here that can follow directions, DH just can't seem to understand them.

There are a lot of my folks things that I'd like to keep but really don't have the room for. It's hard to get rid of some of it. Same with my grandma's things. There are some family photos that I want to show one of my cousins to see if she knows who they are. If she or any of the other family members I've found would like them, they can have them. I already have three or four paper boxes full of photos that need to be gone through. There are some things I'd like to give my kids ut I have no idea if they would even want them. Those I'll keep and then after I'm gone the gal taking care of everything can decide if they have grown up enough to care for nice things.

Books are big thing for me. I have a few hundred boxed up right now. Do I want to take them to The Half Price Bookstore or have a garage sale? I have two boxes of cookbooks that I'm getting rid of. DH has certain things he likes and I've kept the cookbooks with those receipes in them. My favorite is the 1950 Better Homes and Gardens. Mom got it as a wedding gift. I am keeping a box full of the books. I have almost all of the thin Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks and all of those receipes are in the big book. I'll list them in the for sale area and if you want them all you have to pay is postage.

One thing I've decided is that I won't leave a house full of stuff for any one to go through like my mom did to me.

I hope this makes sense. Sometimes things that make sense to me leave others scratching thier heads trying to figure out what the heck is going through my mind. Feel free to ask for clarification.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:16 AM   #19
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Makes lots of sense Feather. Have comments & more questions, (easy ones, I think) but I'm quite tired - off to bed early for a change.

Not sure what I'm tackling tomorrow. Paper is tough - think I'll go with something that's less emotionally loaded& not as much work.
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Old 02-11-2014, 01:53 PM   #20
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Default The Dreaded Linen Closet - After a Few Other Points

Oh why not? After dealing with piles of paper, some of which might have contained emotional land mines, linen isn't complicated... unless you make it that way & the whole idea here is to simplify the effort involved, end up with less & that less all being useful or treasured, organized & usable.

I find a lot of folks who have difficulty with clutter & end up with a lot of stuff often do so because they over complicate the cleaning/organizing effort. At this point, (remember in theory I'm assuming someone is starting with... way too much of everything), all you're trying to do is cut the quantity & volume of stuff down enough so you CAN do a better job organizing it & dealing with it for your life from now on... but later. Right now, the focus is on getting rid of excess linens.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of that, let's talk about a few mental blocks when it comes to sorting out, organizing, getting rid of or even using our stuff. For many of us, our attitudes towards stuff come from our childhoods. We grew up with stuff, using it, watching how our parents & other adults in our lives dealt with it. If we were lucky, we grew up in clean, tidy organized homes. They were cheerful places to live, we knew where to find things but they weren't treated as museums; we could fully LIVE in them at the various stages of our childhood. We were taught over time how to buy things, how to care for them; when & how to dispose of them. Wow - did anybody get that kind of upbringing? LOL. On the other end of extreme, you grew up in a hoard - complete squalor. That was me. The only familiarity I had with cleaning implements was the top end stuff my mother bought & never used. Thankfully, spells of time at grandparents sort of taught me the basics - although much independent study was required when I left home!

Growing up or having lived in poverty can have a big impact. It can be very hard to let go of things: "What if I need this later & don't have the money for it?" A legitimate concern for many items, for many people in different situations but we can apply logic to that as well, resulting in the comfort level of 'spares' we need without stuffing our homes with 20 years worth of 'just in case'.

Cleaning/organizing can be flat out tedious. Personally I've conquered that monster but it holds me back in other areas. The easiest way to deal with that one is break down jobs into smaller chunks that you can fit into small increments of time - I'll be doing another thread on that but even in the initial 'Big Clearout' - the Wicked Witch of Windex isn't hovering, ready to turn you into a toad if you stop a job for the day before it's finished. Nothing has to be done in one shot or one day or a week or month. It depends on how big a pile you're dealing with, how much time & energy you have & the other things going on in your life. Just START, then try to maintain momentum.

We want to 'A Perfect Job'. Nothing & nobody is perfect. Here's what perfect can lead to - this is an internal monologue I've personally replayed over |& over & I bet many others have as well: "Okay, time to do the linen closet. Let's start by emptying out. Oh crap, where am I going to PUT everything??? Guess the dining room table will do. Oops, I meant to get that crystal put away in the hutch last week - better do that first. (Rummage, rummage). Shoot - if I don't move stuff around on that second shelf, I'll never get that last wine glass in there. If I move this___ yuck! How did THAT get so greasy? I'd better put it in the sink to soak so I can wash it later. Damn, sink is full. Better do the dishes first.... after a cup of coffee."

So I've just wasted an hour - there's an armful of linens precariously perched on a dining room chair, more stuff on the dining room table then when I came down, (well I had to put the glassware from that damned second shelf somewhere!), some stuff in the kitchen sink & some out, already feeling flustered & bitchy & wondering why matters seem more disorganized than when I started.

Don't worry - you're eventually going to reach a point where that doesn't happen - or not too often. It happens to all of us once in a while no matter how organized we like to think we are. Remember - right now it's not about perfect, it's about getting started, getting the ball rolling & starting to feel encouraged by a little progress. For those with not so large an organizational challenge on their hands, you're fine tuning or getting rid of some burdens.

And let me tell you from experience - anyone not knowing how to organize & deal with stuff properly or who can't for whatever reason & I'm not judging - been there; you can't imagine how much weight you're carrying around, how much negative energy is circling above your head until you start getting a handle on your stuff. IT is controlling YOU - just as much as being burdened with heavy debt, a precarious job or health situation or any other life issue. You're not just coping with clutter here, in a very real way, you're making it easier to deal with many other aspects of your life. In time, we're going to get to all of this stuff - slowly. AT YOUR OWN PACE FOR YOUR OWN REASONS. This thread isn't going anywhere & neither will a few other organizational threads I'll be doing.

Okay, time to get a drink, then let's take care of the linen closet.
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:51 PM   #21
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I'm rearranging my kitchen cabinets.

kill me now.
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:55 PM   #22
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Linens later - I need to finish a few chores. Just thinking about writing organizing stuff always makes me feel guilty about what I have that's NOT done...LOL
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Old 02-11-2014, 05:21 PM   #23
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The one thing I do not have to worry about is a linen closet. My folks gave it up so that the door to the bathroom could be changed to 36 inches, for a wheel chair. The only part left is a counter ijust in the door.

The stuff normally in a linen closet is in a cabinet in the computer room and the bedding is in the back room. What few towels we have are in a cupboard above the toilet. Most are going to be used for rags and nice new ones bought.

We took a load to the unit today. Before that we had a big hunt for keys. Somehow DH lost the house keys yesterday. I think they may be in the snow on the driveway, he thinks they are n the house. We'll see.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:34 PM   #24
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Default Meanwhile, Back at the Linen Closet

Let me 1st, define linens. Anything used in bathing - face cloths, hand towels, bath towels & bath sheets. Anything you put on your bed - sheets, blankets, comforters, duvets, dust ruffles, pillow cases - cushions don't count - we'll deal with those later. Table cloths & napkins...

Find a sizeable, flat surface - the top of a bed will do. Empty your linen cupboard or equivalent on to it. Some store bed linens in the appropriate bedrooms - get those too as well as any bath linens you keep in the bathroom. Have a look at what's currently on your beds & towel racks & what may be waiting in the laundry; just keep in mind what you've got there - no need to strip them off for washing.

Before you do much sorting, think through the current composition of your household as well as how much room you have available. If your family of 7 is down to parents & 1 remaining child at home, you don't need linens for seven people. If you're moving from a 2,300 sq. ft. house to a 1,200 sq. foot home, you only have - maximum - half the storage space you're currently enjoying. Plan accordingly & this is something you can do before you get near this job. Something else to think about - how many linens do you really NEED & need definitely comes into it if you're moving to tighter quarters or are trying to clear space for other purposes. Answers will vary. If it's just 1 or 2 of you & you're both in good health, you don't NEED that much. If one or more aren't in good health & may go through more than a 'normal' amount of bed linen, by all means keep that in mind. Completely absolute NEED means you 'only' need one set of bed linens per bed being used. I run on the minimalist myself but no way I'd have that few. I likes my linens! In theory for us, that means 2 sets of summer sheets, 2 sets of flannels & a few extra bottom sheets & draw sheets for when SO is ill. In practice, I have more summer sheets than that - probably double & yes, a slight thinning out is due!

For now, decide what number works for you - maybe it's 5 times what I think is needed but if you have 15 times what my household of the same composition has & you get it down to 5 times as much, you'll have done a fantastic job of thinning out. Later on, you can always thin out more as you feel like it.

So look at all your sheets. If you have too many, get rid of any that are faded beyond recognition or that are threadbare. Those of you into fabric arts may find a use for them but think that through very carefully - you probably already have all sorts of fantastic fabrics & the aim here is to declutter & free up space. After tossing or setting aside the old, worn & threadbare stuff, you may still have too many sheets or sheet sets left. Bet you have some really nice ones you've never used because they're 'special'. Maybe you're saving them for guests or some other extraordinary purpose. Guess what? YOU are extraordinary & your tired body deserves to lie in pampered comfort. If you have to thin out your bed linens, reserve the best ones for YOU & your family.

Do the same with your blankets & comforters. You know which ones work best at different times of the year & in what combinations. If you have frequent winter power outages, hang on to a few extra. Get rid of the rest.

Now if 'getting rid of' bothers you, I don't necessarily mean garbage. Extra, perfectly serviceable bed linens can be donated to shelters, young adult kids starting out on their own... caveat on the last one. |If they're not leaving home until next year or later, let the stuff go!

Now do the same with bath linens. Again, reserve the nicest ones for YOU. You deserve it. Serviceable extras are welcomed at shelters. Not quite so nice serviceable ones are always welcomed at animal shelters. Often they get animals in that require bathing; towels are handy & they can be used for bedding for animals giving birth, the sick...

Go through your speciality & seasonal linens the same way & ask yourself, (answer honestly!), do I need this many? Do I have room for this much? Get rid of what you can without causing yourself too much fuss.

There are going to be special items you simply can't bring yourself to get rid of, even if you don't use them often or at all. That may include items from relatives or special 'finds' or gifts. Make room for those special items; you're looking to declutter, not to make sterile your life. If you have pets who have favorite blankets or towels, of course you hang on to those. If grandbabies visit, you'll need a few sets of crib bedding. Work with your own circumstances.

Ideally after sorting stuff out, you've reduced the piles that were disgorged from your linen storage areas a good bit. You may not think you've done quite enough; as long as you've made progress, that's all you need for now. As you get into the habit of decluttering, you may be able to thin items out further later.

Before replacing items in linen storage, vacuum out any dust. Fold & put things away in an order that works for you. I keep bathroom linens at the level that's easiest to reach. Seasonal & decorative linens are highest & lowest in the cupboards & bed linens I keep within easy reach as well. A hint - at the end of winter, wash your winter bedding, make sure it's well dried, then store it in plastic garbage bags, ready for use next season.

Those items destined for the garbage or recycling - do it as quickly as possible & donate those items you plan to donate quickly as well before you have second thoughts.

And after each stage of this - treat yourself to a cup of tea, coffee or your own favourite.
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:15 AM   #25
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I'm on a roll!

I gave the new microwave to a pregnant drunk, and now I'm emptying the trailer and taking it all to the homeless daycare (showers, laundry, pedicure, shrink, nurse, pingpong, whatever).

I think the staff took most of the stuff...what does a homeless person do with flowerpot or a cheesegrater or folding chair, or a frog pillow, anyway?

I went in, took pictures of the stuff, and that was that.

I miss a few things, yes. And the trailer is looking a bit bleak, yes.

But I can now go straight up to bed without having to move stuff around. And if we could move (we can't, the hitch has again broken), we have everything almost ready to just up sticks and go.
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