What I Decluttered This Month - March

While I didn’t get too much decluttered this month - and I’m sharing my declutters before the actual end of the month - I did reach my “purge” limit. As I had to make a lot of tough decisions and force myself to follow the guidance of other, far more successful, minimalists in order to dispossess myself of many of this month’s possessions, I figured I’d give myself the rest of the month off.

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I think I only managed to rid myself of 36 things this month - a few of which were super easy to part with - ill-fitting or threadbare clothing, a torn and tattered sheet, expired/used cards, etc. But the kitchenware items were very difficult to let go of. Especially the dishes that matched my current set.

Purging items that you feel attached to can make it feel like you’ve climbed a mountain when you’ve just gotten rid of one little thing. At least it feels that way to me. And I am wiped out, mentally drained.

Yet I feel so much lighter having parted with just a few hard-to-let-go-of items, than if I’d let go of many things that meant far less to me.

I am hopeful that as each month passes I’ll have fewer and fewer things to get rid of. And as I’ve set myself a budget with a goal not to buy too many extraneous things for the next year, I’m hoping it will be possible to find my way to minimal by next spring - at least what I currently feel would be my minimal.

Of course the first week of this month (prior to setting this goal for myself) I did add a number of items to my home - baskets, planters, mugs, an outdoor table - but these past three weeks I’ve stayed on goal.

What I did with the stuff…

In order to rid myself of this month’s possessions I sent a number of things to family (at a shipping cost), gave a couple of items away via a local app, dropped off a few things at goodwill and my local eCycling center, recycled one item, gave a few more items to a friend (using the tote bag I was decluttering to carry everything in), and attempted to upcycle some of the worn fabric items - but failed as they were just too destroyed to use as rags. So landfill got something. :(

What I Decluttered This Month - February

I didn’t get quite as much decluttered during February as planned - there are still a few decisions left unmade regarding kitchen items and linens. I also ended up picking up a few things that might not have been as useful as they should be when added to my home, though all of them are rather beautiful.

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I passed along a few ceramics that I had in my collection that I wanted to share with family, some book-related swag, some new/unused socks that weren’t quite right, a pet food reusable tote, a duvet I love but haven’t used, and a decorative pillow that I don’t have a need for. I gave away one additional coaster to a colleague that wasn’t being used, recycled some bits and bobs from my toolbox, some wrapping paper, a paint “brush,” and a bit of paperwork, said goodbye to a new but completely destroyed bath mat and eCycled an old/unused computer cable. I also recycled an eco-friendly soap holder as it kept getting mucked up with soap waste due to the really wet location in the shower it lived in.

The changes aren’t significantly noticeable in my space - aside from having a tiny bit more room in my linen bins and one less decorative pillow (cover) to wash each week - especially as I did end up adding an equal number of mugs to my collection. But at least there are a few less unused items in my space and a few less decisions to get fatigued about.

Did you declutter your home in February? If so, what did you declutter this past month?

Overthinking the Things on Your Journey to Less

When on the journey toward minimalism it’s easy to find yourself spending way too much time thinking about your possessions - the very things you’re trying so hard not to have to think about.

Do I want this? Do I need this? Can I live without this?

Just because something is beautiful, could be useful, cost a fair bit of money, if it isn’t actually being used it might be better suited to a new home. Try not to make something fit into your life that doesn’t, try not to overthink it’s value. If it’s causing you stress and not being used, it’s not valuable to you.

Just because something is beautiful, could be useful, cost a fair bit of money, if it isn’t actually being used it might be better suited to a new home. Try not to make something fit into your life that doesn’t, try not to overthink it’s value. If it’s causing you stress and not being used, it’s not valuable to you.

During the process of moving toward less it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

But just know that this will not last forever.

While you may constantly have to reassess your things, your goals, your life, once you have pared down there will just be that much less to have to reassess.

Be aware that it’s not a “once and done” effort. But know that with each step forward it will get easier, there will be less to have to think about, and “overwhelmed” will become a THINK of the past.

Early on you will likely hit decision fatigue on multiple occasions. If your head is spinning, step away and focus on something else - a “no-brainer” activity. This does not have to be done all in one go. You do not have to have the perfectly minimized home and life at the outset.

If the prospect of this taking weeks or months or years makes you want to give up, take some time to think about why you’re doing this. Is it just to have a clean and organized home and life? If so, maybe you just need an organizer. But if it’s to live more intentionally with less, then maybe you’ll want to adjust your expectations and timeline to ones that are more realistic.

It didn’t take a day, a week, a month or even a year to be surrounded by clutter and chaos. So, why should you expect it to take so short a time to disentangle yourself from the life you created?

If you find yourself overthinking certain items in your space, and becoming easily overwhelmed by them, set those items aside for now and focus on the easy wins - inexpensive items that have expired, that you have way too much of, that you don’t like, trash or papers that don’t require action, things you’ve been meaning to get rid of but just haven’t.

Know that every decision is a step toward the life you want, even if it may not be the decision you wanted yourself to make right now.

More Valuable, Less Meaningful

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As I move toward achieving the minimal that’s right for me, I’ve found that I am left with possessions that are inherently more valuable.

At least from a monetary standpoint.

Clearing away the clutter meant getting rid of items that were of poor quality, that didn’t have staying power, that weren’t unique, leaving me with items that were built to last, that serve a purpose, that fit with my design aesthetic.

But even though these items that remain have a larger price tag, and are more intentionally in my life, they are less meaningful to me.

Because, while I appreciate the things I own and will treat them well so they’ll continue to serve my needs, they are just things.

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They are meant to enhance or support the life I am living. They are meant to function, to appeal to my sense of beauty, and even to “spark joy.”

But as I continue on my journey toward minimalism, I realize that the only things that are truly meaningful are the people and beings in my life, the experiences I have, the memories I create, the impact I make, and the goals I seek for my future. Not the objects that surround me.

No matter how “valuable” or beautiful or intentional they may be.

As you journey toward minimal, do you find the things that remain are more valuable? And do you find them to be less meaningful to you than before you began to declutter?

Sentimental Clutter

I used to attach emotion to every piece of paper - gum wrappers, movie tickets, cards, notes - every object - buttons, dried flowers, stuffed animals, trinkets, toys… junk.

Sentimental clutter decluttered in days past.

Sentimental clutter decluttered in days past.

My memories were so interconnected with these items that when I decided to declutter that nearly everything I owned fit in the “sentimental” category. Outfits and books and music and DVDs became associated with memories. I associated decor items with certain times and events in my life.

And forget about gifts. Those automatically became sentimental clutter the moment they came into my life.

But over the years I learned to let go.

In part because when my mother moved she tossed the items I stored with her. The items my father was keeping for me got destroyed by a flood. A broken pipe in my apartment complex wiped out a few more things. So I had no choice but to say goodbye.

The fear of bugs had me getting rid of even more. (Reality bites sometimes, doesn’t it?)

But eventually it got easier and I got rid of things by choice. I came to realize that these items were just things that were taking up valuable space. They didn’t have feelings - no, those Ikea ads about the broken, discarded items are not true. These broken, useless items were only just a physical reminder of a time gone by. And many weren’t even that - as I couldn’t remember where I got them or why I had them.

I have taken photos of almost every sentimental item I decided to part with. I’m not ready to let go of the reminder quite yet. Especially as I’m learning that memory isn’t always infallible and sometimes - at least with the positive ones - it’s nice to have that trigger.

Any regrets?

None. Though I do sometimes miss my first stuffed bunny that was given to me before I was old enough to remember and that went through a lot with me over the years. And I do miss the stuffed mouse my father brought me when I was so very sick, to keep me company when he could not.

But I do not miss worrying about whether they’re OK, where I am going to put them, how I am going to take care of them. And I don’t mind not having to constantly wonder what’s the point of keeping them if they’re just stored in an airtight bin in the back of my closet.

Any keepers?

Some. I have a couple of handmade soup cups/bowls that were given to me by my father that are too delicate to use anymore, but I’m not ready to let them go. I have a signed book by an author I idolized as a child. And I have a worry stone given to me by a professor that I just couldn’t let go of no matter how many times I tried.

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I do have quite a few of those paper items pasted into a number of scrapbooks, a few small decorative boxes of photos and cards, three medium-sized storage boxes of “lost loved ones” memories and a necklace. Though, as all the paper items are digitized I hope to one day be able to let them all go.

Tips?

Take those pictures. They make it so much easier to get rid of the little pieces of clutter that aren’t quite as meaningful.

Practice the Fire Drill Test. It may help you to remember that these things aren’t the important things in life. And the longer you spend contemplating the stuff, living with old memories, it means less time spent enjoying your present, spending time with the ones you love, and making new memories.

Save the “lost loved ones” items for last. And don’t attempt to do this all at once. These will be the hardest. When you’ve gone through everything else and these things are all that remain between you and your ideal minimalism think about tackling these things. Whether these are items belong to a lost pet, a former friend, partner or spouse, a relative who is no longer with you, they will likely be more emotional to part with. Allow yourself the emotion but say goodbye to as many of the things that you can. The harsh reality is that they no longer need them and if they were still alive they might not even have them or want them anymore. In most cases they would want you to enjoy your life and if their things were getting in the way of that enjoyment they’d want you to get rid of them. And just remember that they are not their things. Just as you aren’t.

Minimalism is NOT Perfectionism a.k.a. My Non-minimalist January Buys

It’s sometimes easy to confuse minimalism with perfectionism. Especially when looking at those ideal minimalist homes or those seemingly flawless minimalists who live with next to nothing and who are in touch with who they are.

But nowhere in the definitions of minimalist or minimalism does the word “perfection” appear.

An adherent of minimalism
— Merriam-Webster
A style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.
— Merriam-Webster

Yet, still the urge to seek perfection when pursuing minimalism persists.

And so when failing at being perfect, it’s easy to think you’re failing at minimalism - though that’s not the case.

Because minimalism is a journey, a lifestyle, a mindset. It’s about being realistic about your needs and understanding what those needs are. It’s not about being mistake-free.

Which is something I have to constantly remind myself about. And forgive myself for… which leads to my not-in-pursuit-of-minimalism purchases last month.

My desire for the perfect space had me purchasing a slew of baskets, a throw, a bath mat, and some linen tea towels - all not truly needed but were meant to help to make my space look perfect. Only a few do, and only a few will likely remain in my space in the days/weeks/months/years to come.

In my quest to be more healthful and eco-friendly, I picked up this Swiffer alternative when an item from an existing order was out of stock. I also purchased a number of bath/cleaning products from Common Good, Burt’s Bees, Aesop, Bigelow. All useful, but I didn’t need to splurge on these items - especially as I still haven’t used up what I already have in most cases.

My love of mugs got me into a bit of trouble when I discovered my new favorite potter had an Etsy shop. And at a moment of weakness I succumbed to my love of stationery and writing implements. The mugs instantly became a problem as they didn’t fit perfectly in the space I had for them. The notebooks, however, serve their purposes and are already in use.

The only thoughtful purchase I made in January, beyond necessity purchases, was the simple brass photo holder meant to display a couple photos of loved ones that had passed. It took a long while to find it - though I still am not sure whether I’d have preferred the one in the more angular shape - so has been a very intentional buy.

Every single one of these items are ones I find beautiful, all of them have the potential to be useful, none of them help me to find perfection, and fewer than a handful are ones that pass the need versus want test.

This is a journey. This is a journey. This is a journey….

Less IS More

I used to believe that having more things was better.

My empty space felt unfinished. It didn’t feel like home.

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I thought by filling my space up with furniture, books, films, decor, accents, kitchenware, I’d be happier, I’d feel satisfied, my space would feel like mine.

But all I felt was crowded.

And I was stressed. Unhappy. Unfulfilled.

So I changed things up. I got rid of the things I thought weren’t good enough. And I bought more.

I thought by having more, there would be more to “love.” I thought by upgrading to better, I would be happier.

But really all that happened was that I was more in debt and more unhappy.

And so the cycle continued.

As I began to embrace minimalism, I came to appreciate the idea of having less. While I very much appreciate items of quality, things handmade, things of beauty, I enjoy them far more when I own fewer of them.

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Having the space surrounding an object of beauty allows that item to stand out.

Having fewer items to maintain, makes them that much less stressful to own.

Understanding that while I do appreciate these things, they’re just things and aren’t truly important, allows me to focus on the people and beings and experiences in my life that are.

I used to think that having more was everything. Now the only “more” I wish I had was time spent with those I love.

The Hobbies

Having hobbies typically requires a certain number of possessions in order to pursue those hobbies. If your passion is photography, you’ll need cameras and lenses and tripods and lighting and backdrops and more. If playing an instrument is your thing, you might need accessories, music, music stands, soundproofing. If you’re into outdoor activities you’ll need all the gear that is required to pursue those activities.

The acquisition of which seems to go against the idea of minimalism.

But minimalism isn’t about living an empty life devoid of the things you enjoy just for the sake of having fewer possessions.

If your hobby (or hobbies) enriches your life, then making room for it does not conflict with living a minimalist lifestyle.

My hobby requires half a closet…

My hobby requires half a closet…

An excess of paraphernalia

Where your hobbies can conflict with minimalism is if you were to acquire items that you don’t need or use to pursue that hobby, items that go unused and just take up space.

And it’s easy to go overboard, especially when pursuing a new interest. All those potential “must haves” that seem to be necessary but actually aren’t. So it might take some trial and error and then some editing before having the “right” amount of stuff - whatever amount that might be for you.

… and my hobby adjacent reference materials - useful but not all of them used - take up a cupboard shelf. Perhaps it’s time for an edit.

… and my hobby adjacent reference materials - useful but not all of them used - take up a cupboard shelf. Perhaps it’s time for an edit.

Abandoned hobbies

Abandoned hobbies can also get in the way of living a minimalist lifestyle. Especially if you hang onto those items with the idea of picking them up again “someday.”

Not only will your space become crowded with interests no longer pursued, but they will affect your peace of mind. They will be that constant reminder of something failed, money not well spent, a dream unfulfilled.

So it is important to go back, reassess whether you’re just taking a temporary break from that hobby or whether it’s one that you’re no longer passionate about. And if the latter, then it’s important to say goodbye to those things so that you can make room in your life for new things, new interests, new passions.

Too many hobbies

Another way that hobbies can get in the way of living minimally is if you find yourself passionate about too many hobbies - ones you just don’t have the time or money to realistically pursue.

While you may want to learn to surf, master the electric guitar, speak a new language, if your life is too busy to tackle them all, you have to take the time to think about which one - or ones - you’re most passionate about, which one fits more easily into your life, and which one you can comfortably afford.

But there’s no reason to keep your life hobby-free just because you want to live minimally. If seeing the stuff that makes up your hobby brings you joy, fills you with excitement, makes you feel alive, then you are living intentionally, you are living minimally.

Home Decor Trend Watch Out

When pursuing a minimalist lifestyle it’s easy to succumb to the idea of creating a minimalist home aesthetic by purchasing decor items that fit that aesthetic.

Scanning YouTube for minimalist home videos and you’ll find countless home tours of calming spaces filled with decor items that fit with a bohemian (boho) lifestyle - neutral colors, earth-friendly fabrics, handwoven baskets, plants, tapestries, and on.

Aesthetically pleasing minimalist home tours

Aesthetically pleasing minimalist home tours

While these spaces look lovely and give off a calming, serene vibe, does pursuing this decor trend truly fit with minimalism?

Is this trend no less manufactured than fashion trends? Will the next trend that comes along make you want to toss all your items in favor or the latest one when it begins to populate social media and YouTube?

Will your space start to look like a page out of a catalog - a la Phoebe Buffay in The One with the Apothecary Table?

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NBC

Will it drive you into a consumerist frenzy or spending spree?

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NBC

If you’re tossing your perfectly good plastic containers in favor of handwoven baskets and bins, is that truly minimalistic? If you’re buying baskets instead of discarding items you don’t need, or buying baskets to house items that you don’t need but that you’re purchasing to fit your new design, is that being a minimalist?

Do those fake plants in those lovely ceramic pots that require dusting but don’t provide oxygen or other health benefits truly give you a sense of calm in your space? Or are they just future clutter you’re going to purge when the trend ends?

I am not a fashionista, or at least not anymore, but I definitely have to fight the urge to follow home decor design trends. Especially ones that make a home space seem calming or cozy or “perfect.” It’s a challenge for me to watch any minimalist videos with beautiful homes as the backdrop, as I covet those spaces. (I'm totally obsessed with JFM’s living room.)

So I’m not immune to the lure of consumerism when it comes to my space.

But in my pursuit of living my minimalist lifestyle, I’ve taken the advice from the experts and taken a beat before clicking to buy and thought about whether that hanging print that would look just so amazing above my sofa is one I actually need or want to fill that space - especially since I was considering getting rid of the two I already owned.

I’ve set up a waiting period on items that I don’t absolutely need just in case I’d regret purchasing them later - items such as hand knit throws, belly baskets, eco-friendly storage containers, kitchen utensils. And most of the time I haven’t gone through and made those buys.

But I haven’t been perfect and have found that most items I’ve brought into my home because of the latest trend are ones I’ve already given away to others.

TIP: Find your style. Before revamping your entire living space, ask yourself if this trend is really your style. Is it one you’ll want to live with for the foreseeable future? Is it one you can easily maintain? Do you really want all the things required to make that style appealing in your space? Is it one you can live with even when the trend shifts and can you afford to do a refresh if it’s not?

It’s taken me a long time to figure out that while I enjoy a multitude of different styles of decor, the one I’m least likely to want to change - and the one I keep returning to when the latest trend has passed - is mid-century modern. The clean lines, the ease of moving the pieces, the beauty and simplicity of design, makes these classics ones I know I will be less likely to tire of in the long run.

TIP: Trend-lightly. If following a trend does bring you some joy, but you know you’ll likely want to follow the next one, then do so with smaller, less expensive items - pillows, blankets - or items that you know family and friends would love to have after you’re done with them, or items that don’t have a long “lifespan.”

TIP: When I do find myself beginning to covet the homes I see on YouTube and Instagram, I pause and ask myself if I prefer the empty space that would be filled by the item(s) I see, I ask myself if I want to be responsible for maintaining and moving those items, and I ask myself if I’d prefer to have the money to enjoy an experience with instead of the thing. Is not having it better than having it?

The Minimalist Entryway

The first peek into someone’s home comes from the entryway. Whether you’re in an apartment or condo, a tiny house, or a standard (or super) size home, your entryway sets the stage.

In our minimalist entryway, we have less than two square feet. We’ve opted for a wall-mounted “shelf” to house keys and wallet and the occasional piece of outgoing mail. A mirror replaced a clock as it not only brought light into the dark corner, it saved us from embarrassment more than once.

In our minimalist entryway, we have less than two square feet. We’ve opted for a wall-mounted “shelf” to house keys and wallet and the occasional piece of outgoing mail. A mirror replaced a clock as it not only brought light into the dark corner, it saved us from embarrassment more than once.

So if you want a home that feels calm, decluttered, and relaxing, it has to start at the entrance to your living space - even if that entryway is through a mudroom that guests might never see.

Because this is not about how others perceive your space or whether they deem it at “acceptable” minimal aesthetic levels. This is about how you perceive it and whether it serves your needs.

An entryway is not just the place you welcome others into your home. It’s the place where you enter and leave your space (that is if you reside in a space that doesn’t have a mudroom, attached garage, or other exit point).

So it potentially has to serve a multitude of functions. Perhaps it’s the space where you grab/drop your keys, wallet, sunglasses, phone, put on/take off your hat and coat and shoes, pick up/leave your mail, check yourself to make sure you look the way you intend to look.

And while it would be nice to leave it sparse, it just might not be feasible to do so.

But it doesn’t have to be cluttered.

Just around the corner from our entryway and closet we do have a small nook where we have opted to put a bench for those times we need a little extra help putting on shoes. We’ve also added a hanging rack that we usually fill up with hats to eventually be washed and our reusable bags that need to be brought to the car.

Just around the corner from our entryway and closet we do have a small nook where we have opted to put a bench for those times we need a little extra help putting on shoes. We’ve also added a hanging rack that we usually fill up with hats to eventually be washed and our reusable bags that need to be brought to the car.

Before going out and purchasing furniture, organizational supplies, accessories, decor, think about what purposes you need the space to serve. Do you need it to hold your pocket change? Do you need it to charge your phone or watch? Do you need it to be a repository for your “grab and go” items?

Then think about what will realistically fit in the space. While a large piece of furniture with drawers to house all that you’d like to have access to as you enter and exit your home may be on your Pinterest board, is it truly something you can navigate around in your actual entryway? Would you love it as much if it was taking up all that real estate in your space?

Next, think about whether you’ll really be “happy” with the multitude of purposes you’re trying to cram into that space. Do you want the space to have all the cables and wires that come with using your entryway as your charging station? Do you want baskets or bins of items in plain sight every time you come into or leave your home or would you rather find a place for them behind closed doors?

TIP: Empty out your entryway if not already empty. Take a look at the space, take pictures of it, and live with it in its empty state for a day or two - or more. Not only will having the empty space help you determine whether you prefer it sparse versus filled, it will help you to realize just what functionality you’re missing from that space. Add back (or add to it) only that which serves the function(s) you need and the visual aesthetic you desire.

Things to consider when decorating your entryway: Do you walk in, wishing you had somewhere to set your purse, keys, wallet, sunglasses, gloves, etc.? Do you really need a place to sit down to take your shoes off or put them on? Do you need a hook for your coats and other items if a closet isn’t a part of your home’s entrance or would you rather take them to a closet elsewhere to avoid the visual “clutter”? Do you want to leave all electronics at the door so that you can be free from your pocket screens at the day’s end? Do you want this to be a space filled with decor items - plants, candles, prints, photos - whose maintenance you will be reminded about as you enter and leave your home everyday?

In our current space we are fortunate enough to have an entryway closet to house my partner’s many hoodies, our shoes, a couple spare totes, and a basket for our three hats. (We do have extra hangers for guests, though my fleece goes on one of those empties. And the empty bin is from a recently decluttered pair of shoes.) In the past we’ve used the wall-mount hanging “rack” shown in the pic above and a wall-mount shoe “rack” by j-me for our everyday shoes.

In our current space we are fortunate enough to have an entryway closet to house my partner’s many hoodies, our shoes, a couple spare totes, and a basket for our three hats. (We do have extra hangers for guests, though my fleece goes on one of those empties. And the empty bin is from a recently decluttered pair of shoes.) In the past we’ve used the wall-mount hanging “rack” shown in the pic above and a wall-mount shoe “rack” by j-me for our everyday shoes.

Empty Spaces

When a space is empty there is often the desire to fill it with something, even if we already have everything we could possibly need.

“That hallway wall would look perfect with that NYC pressed map I saw at West Elm..”

“That corner needs something else to make it feel finished.”

“I have room for another set of dishes, so maybe I should buy them just in case I need them.”

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Empty spaces…

…that need to be filled, or do they?

We want to complete our collections. We want to finish decorating our spaces. We want to fill the void. Because “incomplete” and “unfinished” and “empty” make us feel dissatisfied, that something is wrong.

We want balance. We don’t want imperfect. Yet uncluttered is not imbalance. And perfect is not realistic.

Yet we strive for perfection.

But minimalism is not about being perfect. It’s about living with less, it’s about valuing the people and beings in our lives, it’s about enjoying our experience, it’s about having experiences. And it’s about finding peace in our homes, with our things, and with those empty spaces.

Perhaps humans are natural pack rats. I know when I look around my space and see a void of things where something “should” be, it makes me just as anxious as it does peaceful on a given day.

Hmmm… if I were to buy that popcorn bowl from East Fork in the eggshell glaze it would fit perfectly on the unreachable top shelf above.

Hmmm… if I were to buy that popcorn bowl from East Fork in the eggshell glaze it would fit perfectly on the unreachable top shelf above.

While I love decluttered spaces, I still struggle with ones that are completely empty or partially empty.

But unless I want to fill those spaces with things I don’t really want and definitely don’t need, I have to make peace with emptiness, imbalance, imperfection. Because I can’t create a custom home based on just the things that I do have.

I knew I shouldn’t have gotten rid of that unused pot. It left a void that I am desperate to fill.

I knew I shouldn’t have gotten rid of that unused pot. It left a void that I am desperate to fill.

And I can’t purge everything just because the space would look better with nothing than with a few things.

So I either have to adjust my mindset or reorganize things I currently own so that they can fill the spaces. The healthier option would be the former.

When faced with empty spaces, do you desire to fill them? Do you prefer emptiness when you look around your home, open your cabinets and cupboards and closets or do you like to see them filled but not crowded?

What I Decluttered This Month

In an attempt to start off the new year right, I decided to take a few days during this past month to reassess my possessions and scour my two junk drawers for bits and bobs I was hanging onto for “just in case.”

And while I did acquire a few things over the past month (including a few too many mugs) I was able to declutter more than I brought in.

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January Declutter Part 1

The first 39 items…

I found a few items in my cupboards to give away - a ceramic corked bottle, a mug, a glass bowl with lid, 3 extra coasters. I also found many more items in my junk drawers to either give away or recycle - picture hanger and screws, an unused paintbrush, 4 plug protectors, a pop up pet water bowl, a bottle lid, 4 gear ties, 12 shower curtain rings, an Apple manual, a hard drive sleeve and velcro tab, a basket label holder, a pet litter scoop hanger, and a bamboo drawer organizer.

In round two, I continued to go through my kitchen, but also tackled some items from my bath and closets.

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January Declutter Part 2

The next 21 items…

I was finally able to part with a number of items I’d been holding onto far longer than I needed to - 3 mugs, a decorative bowl, 3 glass smoothie straws, a ceramic knife and sharpener, a prism, 2 champagne flutes, 4 comfy t-shirts, the box for my airbuds, a broken trash can, an ineffective scrub brush, a travel-sized deodorant that I didn’t like, and a mirror that was too small in scale that got replaced with a larger one. I was able to find homes for most of these, though I did have to recycle, eCycle, and dispose of the rest.

Round three involved further edits in the kitchen, bathroom, and closets.

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January Declutter Part 3

The next 24 items…

In this third pass through my home I was able to part with 3 baskets, a print with hanging frame (counting as 1), a glass bottle with sprayer, a spare glass bottle lid, two unused electronics cables, a set of measuring cups (counting as one), a necklace, 3 pet blankets, pet scratch deterrent, a box of litter, a glass straw carrying case, a bottle opener, a mug, a pet hammock, and a broken Apple airport (thank you power outage!). Not shown: an old litter box, litter scoop, compost bin, and receipt for a gift I’d been hanging onto “just in case.”

All were given away, donated, eCycled, or recycled.

The next round of decluttering involved many of the same places - though I did venture into a new closet.

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January Declutter Part 4

The next 49 items…

In round four I found 2 dish towels, 2 dish cloths, 1 shower curtain, 1 decorate pillow, 1 basket, 1 lanyard, 1 messenger bag, 1 necklace, 2 felt jewelry bags, 1 mug, 15 furniture protector pads/feet, 2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, 1 hat, 1 pair of shoes, 11 books, a box of business cards.

I already found homes for most of these items, am waiting to pass along one of them, and have discarded the remainder.

And in my final round of decluttering this month I was only to grab a few things, so wasn’t quite able to get to 150 items for the month (just 141), but I already have eight items in mind for next month. I just need to take some action on the items before I can let them go.

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January Declutter Part 5

The final 8 items

In the final purge I got rid of a glass water bottle, a wicker basket, a dried up paint pen, a bag that’s used to store pillows, a chewed up door stop, and 3 basket label holders.

Many of these items were ones that didn’t quite serve the purpose I’d intended them to be used for, I had other items that could serve the same purpose, were just too used/broken to justify keeping around, or were items that my pets just didn’t like or need.

Hopefully I’ll make smarter - and more on point - choices going forward. But if I don’t, I’ll continue to be back at the end of each month with what I decluttered.

For now, that’s it for me. What have you decluttered this month?

Declutter First, Organize Second

One of the best pieces of advice I’d heard along my journey to minimalism was to declutter first, organize second. I just wish I’d heard it earlier.

I spent countless hours and way too many dollars trying to find the “perfect” storage solutions for the chaos that was my stuff.

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Perfectly organized…

…totally unnecessary

And when those solutions didn’t work to create peace of mind, I tried to find other solutions and spent even more time and more money hunting for an ideal that was never going to be ideal.

Because it wasn’t organization of stuff I sought. It was freedom from that stuff.

Corralling my belongings into beautiful albums, boxes, bins, binders, sleeves was never going to satisfy. Not when I was just trying to organize things I didn’t want to be responsible for.

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Time and money spent…

…time and money wasted

I didn’t need the collections of DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, cards, letters, photos, keepsakes, mementos. I needed the space they took up in my home and in my brain.

I read numerous books on organizing and decluttering - some that helped and some that weren’t on point. And they were all only partly helpful in separating me from my things and allowing me to detach from the sentiment I placed on them.

Not one of them pointed out that maybe I didn’t actually need most of my items or want very many of them before sharing tips on how to make these things look nice in my home.

I wish they had.

The best piece of advice I can pass along is this one: Take the time to declutter your possessions. If you’re not ready to let go quite yet, don’t. But don’t spend a ton of time or money trying to find the best ways to fit those items into your home and life if you know, deep down, that what you really want is to get rid of them some day.

My journey is still ongoing (I have too many keepsakes/mementos, chairs and mugs than I’d like; I still have a problem with impulse shopping on occasion) and because it’s taking so long I have had to come up with temporary organization solutions so that I can function in my home properly.

Boxes, bins and keepsakes… oh my!

Boxes, bins and keepsakes… oh my!

But I now recognize these to be temporary and am fine with the money spent on them and will be ready to part with both storage solution and item when the time comes.

Of course there is one area where I’m struggling to follow this advice: digital clutter. Because it’s so much easier to organize the emails, photos, documents instead of dealing with them. But that’s a topic for another day.