Decluttering/Simplifying

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Hello Fellow Readers!

This week I am going to tell you about two books that I have read on the subject of decluttering. See, sometimes I do read non-fiction!

Sometime at the beginning of the year I ran across Josh Becker’s blog called Becoming Minimalist. Because I am a book person, I picked up a copy of his book Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. I read his book and felt that it was time to start cleaning out our house.

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If you subscribe to his blog (you can subscribe to this blog too!) you will find that almost every weekend he sends out links to other articles and blog posts on minimalism or decluttering. I love to get those. There are always new ideas. Not that all the ideas are right for me but I find them to be interesting.

If you are severely questioning the concept of minimalism, I understand. Please know that it does not mean that you have to throw everything away and live with one plate, spoon, and fork. It just means that you could examine the stuff in your house and see if you really need and (this is an important part) you like it. If you don’t need it or you don’t like it then let the stuff go. It will be that much less that you have to clean or move around.

In February, I decided that it was time to start cleaning out in earnest around here. There was a challenge from Ann Marie at White House Black Shutters to get rid of a bag of stuff a day for 40 days. She posted the challenge again for Lent. Okay, I was going to do it.

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But I didn’t. And I felt bad. As Lent was drawing to a close, I finally started to get going. I don’t think that we (yes, I enlisted my husband) really made the 40 bag mark but we came very close. In 30 years of living in our house, we accumulated a lot of stuff. You would think that if we got almost 40 bags of stuff out of the house that you could tell the difference, right? No. It was sad but it didn’t seem to make a dent. But I knew it the stuff should go and I kept at it.

We have completed what we refer to as “round 1”. We have been though almost each room and gotten rid of a lot of stuff. I should have kept count but I think I would be embarrassed by now. We have sold books, cds, and dvds. We have recycled. We have thrown away. We have given away. And we have shredded.

And there is still so much to go.

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In the meantime, the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, has taken over a spot on the best seller list. Ms. Kondo’s approach is slightly different in that you are supposed to do it all at once rather than clean out room by room. Her feeling is that you need to gather all of one type of item together and decide if you love the item and should therefore keep it or if you should thank it and let it go. In some ways, the approach is very similar. The similarity is that you only keep things that you love and that make you happy. The difference is way you go about it. Ms. Kondo feels that if you do the room by room approach that you will have to do the process again and again whereas with her approach you will only do it once and then you will be set for life. Her process is not only the clean out but she also has opinions on how to store your possessions and even how to fold them.

Somehow, I think Ms.Kondo would lose it if she walked into my house. Her brain might just explode.

I will say that one of the things that has come to my attention during this clean out is that I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed about all the money I spent that was just on stupid things that I threw away. It has made me think much more about my spending habits. I do not allow myself to go to Target. There are just too many things that I decide I need when I go there. (How do they do that? I know I am not the only one who feels this way.)

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Here is my best example of stupid stuff in my house. (Or the one I am willing to tell.) In cleaning out, we found a treasure trove of napkins. I had Christmas napkins, Easter napkins, funny phrase napkins, graduation napkins, and on. We put them all in one place and started using them as everyday napkins. THEY HAVE LASTED FOR SIX MONTHS! Yep, we are almost done with party napkins.

With Ms. Kondo’s approach, you thank the items either for the use you got out of it or the pleasure you received from buying it. Okay, I know you are giving me the arched eyebrow with that one but it does make sense on a certain level. What level? The level where you are throwing out (or recycling or donating) something you have never used. By thanking it for the pleasure you received from buying it, you get to ease the guilt a bit. (Yes, it is all in my head and that is okay with me!)

Would I suggest one book over the other? As much as they are similar, they come from a different place. Josh Becker’s book explains more of why you might want to do it while Marie Kondo is for those who have decided and want be open to her ideas.

My feeling? I needed to go through my house room by room. It was easier for me to do it that way. In my case, I have enjoyed it. I like to feel that there is less in the house and that stuff that we don’t need is gone. It is freeing on a certain level. There are things that should have gone a long time ago.

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via GIPHY Something to teach the dog, right?

I will let you know if we ever finish…  If you are starting to wonder if we belonged in an episode of “Horders” the answer is “no”. In fact, the hardest part is that so much is gone and you can’t tell from looking at my house.  Wait, that could sound like “Hoarders”. We have a big basement with lots of storage shelves. We had a pantry with lots of storage shelves. Our kids had moved out of the house and yet somehow there was stuff in every closet.  There are now empty shelves in the basement. You can walk into the pantry and find things.  Not “Hoarders” just an everyday house with too much stuff.

Thanks for reading.

If you are interested in ordering either or both books from Amazon, here are the links, Simplify and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

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About Brian and Carol Early Cooney

CPML Social is a social media management firm for small businesses. We are there to help you - we know that you don't have time to do it all. Whether you are a real estate agent, a musician, an insurance agent, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, we can help you.
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3 Responses to Decluttering/Simplifying

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too, Carol. I only seem to declutter when I move, and I haven’t moved for a while. I’ve started, but have a long way to go.

    I am reading the Marie Kondo book, loaned by a friend. I don’t discount her ideas; they remind me of the current diet advice to lose a lot fast, rather than the slow and steady method we’ve been hearing for years. But I’m surprised it’s a best-seller; the content seems pretty thin to me so far, though of course what else can you say except stop buying stuff and get rid of the stuff you have? The bigger problem is that I find her voice extremely annoying. As a writer, I’m still trying to work out what it is that irritates me. Did you run into that problem with her book?

    • I did have problems with it. Perhaps it was cultural? I will admit that I completely zoned out about the closets. Maybe that part was not completely geared for American houses. She did have valid points and there are ideas to take away from her book but her overall plan would not work for me. Who would have thought that a book about a Japanese method of “Tidying” or any book on “Tidying” would be a best seller?

  2. Julia Tomiak says:

    You are not the only one who spends too much at Target. I’m very thankful I don’t have one in our little town. We’ve acquired clutter and we’ve only been in our house six years! I hit the master BR closet last week. I can only do a little at a time. Thanks for sharing these resources!

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