Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Project Simplify

We spent the weekend decluttering. I have mentioned before that both hubby and I have packrat tendencies, and our home was really bursting at the seams with stuff. All that stuff was getting to me: I couldn't find materials when I needed them for homeschool, we had a study that was unusable because there was waaay too many things stored in there, it was hard to clean when there were things covering various surfaces at home.

However, finding time to declutter was hard: there were the kids to take care of during the day, meals to cook, a house to clean, and my nights were spent catching up on housework and other matters. While I did try decluttering at night, those attempts hardly seemed to make a dent in our stuff. But recently I decided enough was enough. The hubby was on leave since the weekend, so we decided to do a massive decluttering exercise.

Recently I read about Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (Aff link, the book is currently at 40% off! You can read a pretty good review and summary of the book here). I ended up purchasing a copy, and am in the midst of reading it. The book has been great. It explains clearly how (and why) to go about decluttering, and also includes tips on how to effectively organize and store what's left after you've gotten rid of all the extra stuff. One of the most helpful things from the book that stuck in my head was this idea:

"We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of."

Keeping this in mind really helped when deciding what to keep and what to give away or throw. Once you are clear about what you actually want to keep, giving away the rest was much easier.

Anyway, here are some tips from Marie Kondo which I found useful:

"In the majority of the households, items that fall into the same category are stored in two or more places scattered around the house... Gathering every item in one place is essential to this process because it gives you an accurate grasp of how much you have."

"In addition to the physical value of things, there are three additional factors that add value to our belongings: function, information and emotional attachment. When the element of rarity is added, the difficulty in choosing what to get rid of multiplies. People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (inforamtional value) and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). 

The process of deciding what to keep and what to discard will go much more smoothly if you begin with items that are easier to make decisions about. Clothes are the easiest because their rarity value is extremely low. The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, miscellaneous items (komono) and, lastly sentimental items and keepsakes."

So I took her advice and started decluttering our clothes and books. We switched it around by starting with our books, since I wanted to donate those off earlier to Dignity Mama Stalls. Hubby and I decluttered the books together. We are both book lovers, and we have tonnes of books (we have 6 Billy bookcases and 5 Expedit shelving units of various sizes). My parents very kindly took all three kids in the evening and we spent two hours or so just taking books off the shelves. In the end we cleared about 9 bags worth of books: many novels and Christian books (some even new ones which we never found the time to read), a whole pile of non-fiction reference books of various topics, and a couple of cookbooks. We did have quite an interesting time choosing what to keep and what to clear! Clearing the novels made sense: many of these were interesting, but chances are we probably would not have the chance to re-read them again, and if the kids wanted to read them next time, they could always borrow them from the library. However, we kept various classics, and stories that we've read over and over, like those by Tolkien, James Herriot and C.S. Lewis. After all that hassle of decluttering, I think we'd think twice before buying a novel in the future!

I moved on to the clothes on the next day. Decluttering clothes was definitely easier, and I cleared 4 large bags of clothes. The good stuff we'll be donating to the MINDS shop, and the old stuff I'll be cutting up to use as rags.

We still have a long way to go, but I think we're feeling much lighter as we continue this decluttering process! Are you decluttering your home too?


  1. You gave away Calvin and Hobbs!??!

  2. Yes, I just decluttered a large bag of clothes for our Filipina fellowship's flea market sale! When we got married, we 'reconciled' our books, and gave the repeats of christian books to the church library. :)



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