For the last few years my wife and I have been slowly decluttering and simplifying our living spaces. We have cut out things like newspapers and most TV viewing that were not contributing to our quality of life. We gave away two bookshelves worth of books. We have expanded the amount of time we volunteer, but cut the number of organizations that receive part of our time.
This summer I am going room by room thinking about what should go. Betty is actually leading the charge this year, looking to declutter with a vengeance. If you are a simple living convert, or leaning that way, maybe some of what we noticed will spur you into action. Let's take a closer look at a few rooms:
|Not my office, but you get the idea|
My office and closet have become cluttered, full of things I don't use very often, and a dust bunny's heaven. Even though I gave away hundreds of books last year, there remain at least fifty that simply sit on the bookcase or on my desk. This is a no-brainer: more of the books must go.
I have a credenza that does one thing: supports a printer. There are six drawers that contain virtually nothing. So, do I get rid of the credenza or make better use of the drawers to clean off other surfaces? That will take some thought.
There is a clothes closet in the office (since it used to be a bedroom). Off season clothes, sports coats, dress slacks, and ties are kept in there. It is jammed. I have a hard time getting anything in or out. I own 14 sport coats and wear each one maybe once every 3 years. There are 15 sweaters in there somewhere. Each one is worn once a year. Two dozen ties hang in a corner. The only time in the last 10 years I have worn a tie is to a funeral or memorial service. Clearly this closet is destined for a major thinning out. I'll keep the best six sports coats, two or three ties and a few sweaters. The rest get donated.
I'm off to a good start.
Betty's office and closet are home to a woman with more projects, creativity, ideas, and scraps of paper than any human should have to juggle at once. A bomb couldn't create a bigger jumble than what is in there now. Just to use the computer mouse one must navigate around a few dozen sticky notes, some yellow legal pads, stacks of papers, opened mail, and a few catalogs. Her closet has more art supplies, paints, papers, pens, clipboards, and bits of this and that than a well-equipped hobby store.
As I type this she is moving every single thing out of the office, down the stairs, and into the garage. Spackle and paint cans are about to be brought in. Ikea catalogs are consulted and trips to the Container Store happen with increasing frequency. Her office and closet are being completely reworked with the goal to simplify, streamline, and maintain only what is part of her life now. If something isn't going to be actively used over the next six to eight months it will not survive in this space.
The master bedroom has a nice easy chair and ottoman in front of a television. Big problem: the TV has been disconnected and the chair is used to hold yesterday's clothes before they make it to the hamper. Clearly, this arrangement makes no sense. There is a stereo with CD player and speakers for listening to music, but that almost never happens. The room is quiet and the chair is comfortable so this could be a great place to read, if only there was a place to put a reading lamp.
This is going to take some serious thought. We are wasting a nice piece of furniture, electronic equipment, and a quiet environment. Clearly the television set can go. It hasn't been on for 5 months. The stand it sits on needs to leave. But, what to do with the chair and the need for better light? At the moment, I don't know.
Just like the closets in our offices, too many clothes are jammed into too little space in the bedroom. A few days ago I looked at all my shirts-polo, Hawaiian, dress, and T-shirts. I realized there was probably a third of them I didn't like, were old and torn, or hadn't been worn in a few years. I knew if they were not there I would never miss them.
You have just read over 800 words and I haven't made it downstairs yet. I have targeted just three rooms so far, but have enough donated stuff to fill my car twice. Living spaces where Betty and I spend a good part of each day are being declutterd and simplified in a way that improves the quality of our lives and helps others in the process. This has been a good start to our summer.
How about you? Have you ever taken each room in your home, condo or apartment and made everything justify its continued existence? If your possessions could speak would they be able to convince you they should stay where they are...or would you only hear the sounds of silence?