Are we having fun yet? My sorting and tossing has been pretty rusty this past week. If were motivated by last week’s column, then you know what I am talking about.
This is a hurry up project, since pretty soon we are going to be outside more. To heck with the inside then. If you have started to simplify your life with less, then good for you! I have worked over my spice cabinet, and my junk drawer in the kitchen. I also weeded out a few winter clothes that I don’t like. I might get bold and dig into my make-up drawer next. None of the items help much anyway!
My advice to me is this: Don’t bite off more than I can chew. Be realistic. Something is better than nothing.
I have discovered some pitfalls to this “decluttering” project. Maybe I can help us not to fall in these traps. Here they are.
1. Don’t give away someone else’s possessions. Fred holds on to things that are important to him. They may not be important to me. I might be “lusting’ after his closet space, or garage space, or you name it. But it’s “his” space, not mine. Giving away another’s possessions is a no-no. Once, years ago, I decided that he “didn’t need all those ball caps.” After all, I reasoned, Fred never wears caps. The very next week, he was looking for the very cap I threw out!
2. Think it through before you act! Earlier this winter, I impulsively emptied an entire (guest bedroom) closet of contents on the bed. It was not a large closet, thank goodness. However, the bed was piled with every odd mish mash of items in that closet; knick-knacks, blankets, quilts, picture frames, Fred’s shirts, (which I left alone), poker chips, scented candles, a sewing kit, and well, you get the idea.
All I got was confused. I had no idea which items would go in the give-away box, and which would go back in the closet...or maybe be placed somewhere else? It took me a week to find a place for each piece. As it ended up, I got rid of nothing. I just re-arranged it. The closet looks very neat now, however.
3. Don’t declutter just to declutter. It feels really good to get rid of things, but sometimes we are motivated and get rid of something just to get rid of something. I have done that. I have no idea what I was thinking. (see number 2)
I gave away a potato ricer years ago, and have missed it ever since. Do I need a potato ricer? Very occasionally. But I wish I still had it. I bought an “oldie” at a garage sale to replace it, but it is not my ricer.
I also didn’t own any sweaters during this past cold snap. I gave them away several years ago because I “never needed them.” Ha. Fred, though, has about 10 really nice sweaters in his closet (because I have observed rule 1).
4. Adapt the “one-in-one out” practice. Bring something home, you need to take something away. I notice that I have collected about 5 ragged clothing sets for working outside, painting, etc. I must not forget to inventory before I buy something new, to see if I really need it.
5. If you don’t use it, love it, or need it, sentimentality is probably motivating you to keep it. That’s ok. But, if the sentimentality is guilt because your grandfather or mother cherished the item, it does not mean you have to love it.
Keep it up. Weeding out is a continual process, and makes us feel better about our surroundings. A neat home is not hard to maintain if we have less to dust, care for, store. Let’s not be hard on ourselves. This is meant to be fun. After all, we are looking for freedom from too much of everything. Let’s share it with someone else.
They will soon run the other way when they see me coming to offer them giveaways.
Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org