1 EAGLETON NOTES: Clearing Out and Letting Go

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Friday, 6 March 2015

Clearing Out and Letting Go

For quite a few years I have been gradually getting rid of 'stuff'.  It started one time when CJ was here  a few years ago and we explored the loft (attic - room in the roof) where I had stored enough 'stuff' to sink a battleship. Most of it was things that I just didn't have room for in the main rooms: many shelves of books, pictures, all those glasses for the days when there would be 20 or 30 people in the house and garden for a BBQ (last one about 2006!). And then there's all the things in storage like my 'new' golf clubs (I haven't played for 15 years - perhaps more); dozens of very tidy plastic boxes, each the size of a shoebox, filled with telecom, electronic and computer bits and pieces and cables; travel cases; Really Useful Boxes full of papers and knickknacks; a spare kettle; a deep fat fryer (used once - perhaps twice) and so much more.  That's before I even start on the garage which is large enough for two cars but into which a bike would have difficulty fitting ('though to be fair that's not all my stuff').

The list I have just written purports to be from times past and since then carload after carload has gone to the charity shops (op shop/goodwill). The list is still exactly the same though and it makes me wonder how that can be.

I have, in fact, got rid of a lot of stuff from my study/gym and it is now devoid of a wall full of drawers and cubby holes and so on and the exercise machines have gone (well one's still in the garage). I now have a study/small dining room with views to die for and I go to the local gym which has infinitely more and better equipment and means that I'm not tempted to do other things around the house.

However I seem to have stalled.  Until, that is, Kate shared on Facebook 10 Decluttering Principles to Help Anyone Clear the Clutter. It was a guest post by the author of 365 Less Things - Reducing our stuff one day at a time [and I don't want any comments about less v fewer please]. It's a fascinating approach. 

I'm hooked.  If I live for 10 years and stick to it religiously I might see a difference. I might. Helen and Ian would be proud of me.

33 comments:

  1. I feel like I've been doing a Sisyphus job in the decluttering business too for some time now. In my case, that feeling probably has something to do with the fact that while trying to declutter my own home, I also had to deal with all the inherited stuff from my parents' house... It kept me more than busy enough just to try and keep the balance even (basically getting rid of something for every new - or old - thing I brought home)... Now should be the right time to continue the getting rid process without refilling! I have had the one thing per day strategy in mind before, but... Ah well. Anyway, the principle that "struck" me from the list now was No 3: "Declutter the Easy Stuff First." That's simply brilliant. It made med realise that when I start thinking of getting rid of stuff, my mind usually does jump straight ahead to the hard stuff - and there I get stuck. I'll try and take a new approach to it from now on. (Actually I went immediately into the kitchen and threw out seven worn old plastic things I'm pretty sure not to miss - and if I turn out to be wrong about that, they'll be easy to replace!)

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    1. Monica your travails with your parents' house went through my mind when I was writing this. You've never struck me as a particularly cluttered person anyway.

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  2. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ’ͺ Three cheers for you, and a big red rosy apple.
    Actually, there's nothing quite as useful as converting one's house into an art gallery and then having to move everything somewhere else for the duration of a show, to make it a) nice to have very little to move each time and b) a wonderful opportunity to repeatedly experience how restful a clutter-free room looks.

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    1. Thank you so much Kate. I wish so much that I was able to be there particularly to see your present exhibition which, as you know, has a really special meaning for me. I'll never get my house to that stage but I'm making progress and when you visit you may be sort of impressed.

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    2. Ah, I would have loved to have you here too Geeb. Re: other people's houses, I don't mind anything! This is just my own journey, truly.

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  3. When my children were young and we were young, Big Bear and I moved around a lot. On average, we moved every three years or so. So, that was one way to keep up with and do away with clutter. But now that we have a larger home and have not moved but once in twenty years, we have collected quite a bit of "stuff" that we are reluctant to get rid of. That I don't mind. What I do mind is that those little children have grown up and have small places of their own and think that mom and dad can store "just a few" things for them. Oh, well. We keep telling them that one of these days we will have to downsize and they will have to take those few things back or it will be off to the dump or to Goodwill.

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    1. That's a hard situation to resolve Peace. A lot of the stuff in my garage belongs to my son but that's a purely temporary arrangement because his huge garage was full of building materials for the house he's building.

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  4. It's an ongoing battle, isn't it? I've been trying to clear out stuff too, and have made considerable progress on that front. I am also trying to live by the rule, "one new thing comes in, something else must go OUT." And I have made headway, but oh, there is still such a long way to go! Good luck! xoxox DeeDee

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    1. Yes DeeDee I've been pretty good in the 'not bringing in' stakes. Well sort of anyway. I know when I look in the loft that I really have made lots of progress....just not enough!

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  5. The psychology of hoarding/ not letting go is fascinating. It seems to be part of the human condition to hang on to things and I am very suspicious of anybody who lives in an entirely uncluttered, laboratory-like home environment.

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    1. Well you'll never have cause to be suspicious of me on that account YP. I love my books, CDs, pottery and paintings far too much ever to be minimalist. I just want less clutter of the many unnecessary things that I hang on to.

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  6. One of the benefits in living in a small house is there is no room for extra stuff. It's amazing though how much I can squeeze into the 'spare' room. It's due for a clean out. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I know Pauline. You know The Cottage in NZ and that's pretty minimalist. I can live very happily there with so few possessions so why is it so much harder here?

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  7. Ok - I will read it. It is a total miracle to me how I can go into a tidy empty house and within 3 days it looks as if I am running a jumble sale.

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    1. Jenny I am essentially and by nature a very tidy person and I love order but when I'm working I seem to have papers and computers and everything all over the place and then they have a habit of not putting themselves away when I've finished.

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  8. Having had to sort through someone else's "stuff" after they died ~ i hope never to put someone else through that when I die. What I have learned about myself is that I just don't need lots and lots of stuff around me to feel happy or safe. I constantly check my thinking by asking ~ do I need this. The one exception to the "need rule" is music and books ~ but even then I have limited myself to one bookcase for both.

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    1. Carol apart from the rows of shelves of books in the loft I, too, have limited the living room to one case for each. The flaw in any minimalist attempt though is that the one for books takes up a whole wall and the one for CDs holds well over 1000 of them. But I look at it this way....if the wall is covered by books then it's not cluttered up with paintings.

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    2. Splutters indignantly at the application of 'clutters' associated with 'paintings'.

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    3. Oh dear Kate. A case of orthopedology. You know that I don't think of paintings or pottery that way. I was by way of illustration. I beg forgiveness.

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  9. I know the feeling of downsizing. I think I've got rid of lots of stuff but there's still lots there. I've got rid of lots of big stuff but it doesn't seem to make a difference. Where did I go wrong?

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    1. Red if you find out please let me know. I'm always prepared to learn.

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  10. I got a book on de cluttering a couple of years ago. All that did was add one book to my shelves! But we have started seriously de-cluttering a couple of months ago and I believe we may be getting somewhere at last.

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  11. Decluttering and sorting/throwing out unneeded stuff is my hobby! Although I have a rather "slim" household, there are still items that I want to get rid of. My girlfriends and I want to do a garage sale this summer at the place of one of our friends, and I am soon going to start a box where I'll put all those items in that I intend to offer there. It'll be fun!

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    1. I have a HUGE garage Meike and it wouldn't be big enough for my stuff!

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  12. I'm in absolute agreement with Librarian. Decluttering is definitely my hobby and I'm constantly amazed how much time it takes. Of course I could just throw it all out, but I hate that idea so we go through ebay, gumtree, freecycle, the recycling centre, taking things to recycling bins at the shops etc and that's ignoring all the scanning of documents and photographs. Decluttering could be a full-time job. Good luck with yours, xx

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    1. Helen I work at it but it is definitely a secondary occupation. Mind you the back of the car is full of stuff for the charity shops. Our Freecycle folded although there are several Facebook equivalents for the Islands but they don't automatically come up and you have to make a concerted effort to look at them. Which I rarely do.

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  13. Oh well done, you! I started clearing out stuff recently, got bored after one drawer, and gave up. I must try again.

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    1. The question Frances is whether you really want to. I do for various reasons but I'm not being fanatical about it.

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  14. Pedants of the world unite! Defend those things, up for which we stand.


    Well, somebody had to ignore your request.

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    1. And done so tastefully Marcel.

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  15. Are you sure the items you got rid of aren't trekking back to your house in the night while you're sleeping?
    I hate clutter and a few years ago I decided to start hosting a yearly Swap with my girlfriends...worked out well for getting rid of unwanted items that others could make use of.
    I also place things on our local Freecycle on FB, and it's amazing how many folks show up for those items and are really happy to receive them.
    I then read of a lady who stuck to her policy of if she bought something, then something had to go....I have adopted this practice as well...it's been working so far.

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    1. Virginia I'm having no problems getting rid of things but there's 70 years of my stuff and accumulated stuff from my parents and so on. I have disposed of huge amounts - even some stuff I though I 'had' to keep. My new 'one thing a day' practice is going pretty well so far. I've never put anything on our local Freecycle Facebook account although I might try this soon. Out original Freecycle closed down.

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