Travel light

Mount FugiMy son having moved far far away 5 years ago is now relocating a mere 150 miles. I , a stuffoholic, of course assumed rather than selling or finding homes for his stuff he would be packing all he had accumulated and hiring a large van. He though tells me  he cannot (or is that will not) take all he has collected with him and unlike me recognises even if he could take it all some things like his spiderman costume should be  left behind. I’m not disappointed to find out that if  hanging on to things is a genetic trait then it is not a gene I passed on. I asked him of course whether some of the things he is disposing of could not be passed on to his brother who is going to be in the same country albeit 300 miles or so away. He sighed. Well actually he didn’t he humoured me as if I were the child and explained that the sensible option was for his brother to make his own choices not live with his. My son’s sage advice to his brother was  travel light and think hard before buying any  new possessions. Advice I could not find fault with as advice for life.

Let only memories be packed when you move on… and even then be wary of letting the past whether good or bad stop you from enjoying the present or the future.

Batty

Bat

We started writing this blog over two years ago, to record and encourage our clutter-clearing efforts. We knew it would never be easy, but did we ever imagine we’d still be Drowning in Stuff all this time later? Carrying two bags of outgoing stuff, I recently bumped into a neighbour who remarked “oh, you’re still doing that?” Little did she know how much that still needed doing!

I wouldn’t regard myself as a hoarder, but I’m finding it ridiculously hard to de-clutter my home. I also realise that any minimalist would view me in the same light as people who’ve saved all the Sunday supplements since 1973, just in case that interesting article comes in handy. Why is it so hard to get rid of this stuff? I’m starting to think it’s about letting go…

DSC_0890

This little chap used to belong to my daughter. As you can see, he’s quite cute, but he was never a family favourite. I’m currently selling stuff on eBay to raise money to go on a wildlife holiday with my now grown-up daughter, so it seemed apt to add him to my listings. As I took the photos, I discovered this tag:

Zappy Batty

Suddenly, I felt that bit more attached to the little fella. My daughter had given him a name. How could I possibly give away Zappy Batty? Before he was just a sweet soft toy, now he was practically one of the family! Somehow, I continued the listing and eventually sold Zappy. As I tenderly wrapped & popped him in a jiffy bag, my heart ached a little. My small daughter had named this bat and I was cruelly evicting him from our home.

Give a bat a name and it becomes twice as hard to give away!

This made me realise I have attached emotional importance to so much of the stuff which fills my house… things which my children would chuck in the bin without a second thought, I preserve and cherish. Souvenirs of their childhood.

And it goes way beyond that. I also hang on to stuff which I might refer back to (but don’t) and things that might prove useful (but won’t.) I guess that’s why it’s easier to let someone else clear stuff away- they simply don’t have the same personal attachment to your things.

That’s why I’ve found it so hard over the years. I’ve invested a lot of energy in not getting rid of this stuff, in rearranging it, storing it, trying to manage it… when all I needed to do is step back and look at it from a different perspective. Did I really want to keep Zappy Batty? No, I didn’t even like him that much. What I want is a wildlife holiday with my daughter, creating new memories. I’m now £4.20 closer to that goal, and hopefully a little closer to getting rid of a whole lot more stuff which I really don’t love or need. Here’s hoping.

PS: Talking to my daughter on the phone I told her how sad I’d felt, giving away her childhood friend. She laughed and said she hadn’t even chosen the name for her bat. It had been the toy manufacturer’s choice; there were thousands of Zappy Battys!

Anyone want to buy two bats?

For Sale

For Sale

 

Time is up

Hourglass

This post will take me 23 minutes .How you ask can I be so precise and so quick when previous posts have given the impression this blogging lark takes hours if not weeks of effort before a post sees the light of the day. Simples as they say. Last week my fellow stuffoholic gave me the self help book she reviewed and it is now clear to me (it was before but I was in denial) that this blog is as often a way of procrastinatig as it is an incentive to get stuff done so I have something to write about.

I faff around deciding on the perfect title then the perfect pictiure or three. Today a perfect example of how life conspires to make a job taking longer. the first picture chosen proved to be wrong format an excuse to delay but no today simply chose the next image. I liked it came from a post entitled “No Fear of Time” . Indeed fitting as what I took away from the book was the reminder all too often a job takes as long as we give it because we want to do something else even less. The time I spend on this blog is time I’m not spending on emptying the filing cabinet of old stuff to make room for new stuff which would mean I could find things and enjoy working at my desk without fear of something sliding off.

At his point there would more faffing and time wasting as I take picture of desk connect, phone to laptop , upload on third attempt , resize …. Not today. Today I will find something already loaded which is good enough . Just in time before timer goes ping . I leave you with the

Thought for the day 

“You don’t need it to be poerfect you need to get it done !!” 

albert-einstein-its-not-rocket-science

Apologies dear reader (and fellow stuffoholic) for spelling , grammer and other stuff but I had to get it fdone !!

Get On With It!

Get Your Shit Together

It has taken me two weeks to write this blog. I’m a reluctant blogger and I’m starting to realise that writing about decluttering has simply become another way to avoid decluttering.

My progress over the past two years has been steady, but slow. Way too slow. So today I pulled this book from my groaning bookshelves. Like most self help books I own, there was a bookmark around chapter two. Which possibly explains why my shit is most definitely not together.

Anyhow, I’m not going to ramble on about my failings. I’ve zoomed through Get Your Shit Together and these are the bits that struck a chord for me…

  • What’s stopping me? Seriously, stop blaming lack of time, money or space. Forget the blame game. If this shit is bothering me, do something about it today. Now (well, maybe finish this post first.)
  • Lists are faffing in disguise. No amount of talking about the problem will help. Just start sorting it out.
  • “Everything you do is action-generating. The more shit you tackle, the more shit you are able to tackle.” This is so true… once I start clearing the clutter in earnest, I gain momentum and end up getting rid of far more than I first intended.
  • “Be ruthless when it comes to clearing- it is both emotionally cathartic & practical.” Again, it’s as if this woman knows me. I must stop over-sentimentalising everything. All these tiny souvenirs add up to one huge mountain of clutter. They aren’t helping me enjoy my life, they are draining my energy.

So, the blog’s written. I’m off to get my shit together, one shelf at a time.

Who wants this book next?

Not Gone but forgotten

you just never know when you’ll repurpose a broken …….

Good morning or good afternoon or good night. I have been inspired by KonMari to tackle my desk and to try to accept that someday useful stuff or even stuff I think I love is of no use carefully tidied(hidden)  away never to see the light of day.

I cannot believe an item from a post that promised regular reviews of items has languished in the in-tray on my desk for a mere 22 months when it was to be reviewed after 3 months. More to the point what pleasure has it given me over this period. Why did I keep it ? Is it any use to someone else? Can it be repurposed? All good questions which made me cry. No wonder I cannot tackle the big issues as I arrive at a life junction where I need to accept change when I cannot easily let go of an item without purpose as if being asked to say farewell to a dear friend. 

What to do. The modern solution. Take a picture. Thank item for its good service and send it on its way to the great recycling centre in the sky (well down the road but that didn’t feel quite as poetic) to become I hope something else.

Thingummyjig

A broken thingummyjig saying goodbye before heading for a new home

Farewell old friend . Finally gone and I hope almost certainly forgotten. Now what to do about that tray.  Remember that  ….lovely tray that was given to me to put my cups of tea on by a friend who was worried about the rings on the table. BUT I never  do /did use it for that purpose because once put anywhere it fills with stuff. …..  I guess it’s not a  KonMari solution to think it really would make a suitable prize for the next ‘spot the difference’ game.

 

Open Sesame

 

One DrawerfulAfter strongly advising my fellow Stuffoholic to do away with all her grief-inducing paperwork, I thought I should probably tackle my own mountains of Pointless Paper. This week, it was time to face my old nemesis, The Drawer That Must Never be Opened (cue dramatic music.)

Brimful of random paper accumulated over the course of twenty years or so, this drawer is only occasionally rummaged through for a missing receipt. Excavating the contents of its murky depths was not a job for the faint of heart..

I set myself a clear mission for each and every item in that drawer;  establish a reason for keeping it, or it was being recycled. Sometimes this was easy- why would I keep pay slips from 2013, notifications of NHS appointments long gone or birth announcements for friends’ children who are now old enough to have babies of their own?

Pages from ancient magazines were also easily chuckable. I had saved a pattern to knit my own cakes, apparently on the off chance I’d learn to knit. And the 35 Things to do Before You Turn 35 was now 20 years too late (fyi, I’ve only done 10 of those things.)

Decluttering  mavens often suggest tackling heaps of magazines by saving the important or useful articles and chucking the rest. I’d like to revise this advice a little… NEVER save an article, a picture, a list, an advert, or anything from a magazine. You will never go back to this piece of paper, which will simply clutter your space for the next 20 years. Save  yourself some time and effort- recycle those magazines now. Better, still don’t buy them in the first place. All of that stuff’s online, you know.

Then there were the utterly pointless items, such as these unuseable store cards and gift vouchers.  Random keys, odd buttons, unidentifiable plastic thingummies, rubber bands… why do we hang on to these things as if they are valuable? (my fellow Stuffoholic will gleefully remind me I’ve yet to tackle the kitchen drawer which contains all these things, and more!)

5. drawer

So, what went?

  • 88 items shredded & composted (including those old payslips, dental receipts from 10 years ago, and a failed driving test notification.)
  •  72 bits of cardboard recycled (42 of which were old birthday, Christmas and mother’s day cards.)
  •  211 pieces of paper recycled (…magazine pages, old newsletters, places to go leaflets, instruction manuals, many receipts, yoga instructions…)

What was left?

Fifty recipes  cut from magazines have gone in a recipe folder, to be tackled at a later date. Thirty one bookmarks were put to one side, to pop in the books I give away.

And in The Drawer That Now Opens, I replaced a small heap of paper… things which I want to see again (letters from old friends, greetings cards from my children, photos, artwork and a small folder of very recent receipts & guarantees.) Never again will I need to dive through years of accumulated paper. Nor feel a failure for not working out how to apply false eyelashes by the age of 35.

Result

Sorted

 

 

So much paper so little time

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” ― Marie Kondo

Writing this blog never easy but this month the reward/effort ratio such that blog has stayed written in my head and no enthusiasm for ensuring that the thought finds it way to a virtual page. Why? Doesn’t matter. Today a new day , well actually tomorrow but you get the gist. My fellow stuffoholic has a wry sense of humour so despite a only if you really really need or love it stuff buying ban couldn’t resist getting me THE book when spotted for a mere 50p in a far flung charity shop. There are many books out there looking for a home but how could a stuffoholic have not added KonMari ‘s seminal work to their collection( even if they know they will have to let it free when it has tarried here long enough)   I was sceptical how someone who had achieved a global empire from tidying would resonate with this self confessed drowning in stuff non minimalist.  Surprised to learn that the Tidy guru wasn’t so different, loved books and had struggled with systems and a sense of never ever going to get it done too. 

Inspired I decided to tackle my desk, an old foe with which you will be familiar if you’ve chanced by this blog before. Past efforts have been successful in that the problem with desk is now paper that needs to be dealt with. Easy peasy after all this practice developing my tidying muscles. But it wasn’t .  The easy stuff had already been filed or recycled. No these bits of paper were the one’s I’d picked up many times, put back and thought I’ll deal with that later. I thought my fellow stuffoholic would be sympathetic to my dilemma, agree that this was a seriously difficult exercise and would need tea. Quite the opposite, they said it was simple. I said show me how and they picked up pile and headed for recycling bin. Nooooo………………! That’s cheating , what if my passport is in that pile. It isn’t they said . But .. I said plaintively. How about we do this one piece at a time. And to cut this tale short . The stuffoholics paper dealing method was invented. Ta dah!

Go With the Flow

It doesn’t file the paper for you but there’s now only a trickle making it through to What Now. What now? Well in best cliff hanger tradition the answer to that question will require you to return another day. May your paper mountains be scaled or turn out to be hills.

Remember on your decluttering journey these KonMari words “We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

All the Small Things

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now and it’s very easy to think there’s nothing we can do to improve matters. Today, I’m saying Never Give Up Hope. If the big stuff is too much for you to tackle right now, try starting small…

1. Curb the junk mail. If it’s been posted to you, send it back marked Gone Away, Return to Sender, or Please Remove me From Your Mailing List. To stop the endless stream of pizza menus and cab cards, simply stick a message on your letterbox. It works!

No Junk Mail

2. Never, ever, ever use a plastic bag! Seriously, these things are bad news for our planet and the sooner they are banned the better. There are so many reusable alternatives available these days (NO, not those plastic Bags For Life!) Always take one (or three) with you when you go out, and you’ll never need a nasty, polluting, wildlife-killing plastic bag again.bags of bags

3. Perform an audit on one small corner of your life… look under the kitchen sink, tackle the bottles on your bathroom shelf, review the food you choose for lunch, consider the stuff you use on your body/at work/in your car… you don’t need me to point out the pointless plastic gathering all around you. Just have a think & make some changes. My small start was swapping plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones. Check out Save Some Green for products which don’t cost the earth (Drowning in Stuff isn’t connected to this site in any way… we’re just happy customers.)

Bamboo toothbrushes

4. Switch search engines. It’s time to wave bye bye to Google, Bing, Yahoo & friends in favour of Ecosia, the search engine which uses its profits to plant trees.

Ecosia

5. Grow lots & lots of flowers. Insects need our help now more than ever… if you have a garden, fill it with flowering plants. Let dandelions bloom this spring, don’t mow over the clover in your grass this summer, leave a spot to go wild, plant meadow seeds… and enjoy the abundance of insects and birds which will visit your garden throughout the year. bee

Not sure what to plant? Here’s some advice from the Sunday Gardener.

6. Pick up litter. Doesn’t matter if you didn’t drop it… litter is everyone’s problem & we can all be part of the solution. Every piece you pick up makes a difference to the world.East Tilbury

For a little inspiration, check out #2MinuteStreetClean and #2MinuteBeachClean

…and good luck with all your Small Things.

The museum has deserted me!

Now you’re used to it maybe not being immediately obvious where a post is going but today is even more challenging as I’m not sure where it is going either. Never mind as with life there is hope by the end (or ideally before then ) it will make sense. Well,  I am not going to write about the visit to the Victor Wynd Museum of Curiosities not turning out as planned ( potentially it seemed a good fit for our cluttered psych but closer examination proved quite the contrary) nor any other museum for that matter. No, when last week the muse deserted fellow stuffoholic the title of today’s post  was autothingy’s determined attempt to make sense or nonsense of our words. The muse isn’t with me either today but the title has at least got me this far into writing a blog as I found a  site I would otherwise never have seen and a musuem  I don’t think I will ever visit. So far at least  in keeping with the message this year of  ‘get on with it’ rather than always worry about the final destination or what’s waiting for you if you ever get out of the tunnel. I also discovered there is no need for me to keep and curate collections of stuff when here in London I will never run out of collections I can go and view. While offering  no recommendation I sense  18 Folgate Street in Spitafields found while google wandering ‘museums of things’ may be worth a visit some day.

Enough of what this is not about , I realised by this point that today’s blog would focus on one of the discoveries in that study of mine. This year we are being fearless in the face of paper paralysis –  a not uncommon condition when one keeps old papers in case they come in useful when truly their only use is for hamster bedding or compost heap.

Years AgoSharing here the treasure of the day – Old Calendars. Touching them, recollecting happy days when the house was full and all four columns in use . momentarily tempted to file them back down the side of the filing cabinet. But, keeping the calendars will not bring back those days and even if it could life is about making new memories not staying frozen in the past.  If today, we only throw away one old thing no longer needed and create and make one new memory it will have been a good day.

 

Start

4. Study

????so much stuff??????????????????

Start where? why? what? Start Somewhere and Start Now !! Today life advice for most situations not just how to regain your space. Fellow stuffoholic was fair but firm. I had committed to regaining this space. Decided to Start Small and tackle the mantlepiece. Before

How? Well sorted swiftly stuff into two piles . Stuff to keep and the stuff that needs to be re-homed, recycled or even thrown away! Did not spend time agonising over what went in which pile. Today’s mantra  is Do Something and Do it Now. A decision made can still be changed but I tried hard not to cheat and default everything to the keep pile.

Voila. The tale of two trays.

First the Keep Tray every item justified . I won’t bore you with why this is so,  it is suffice that it is not all the items on the mantelpiece. I also won’t explain why they were all (except the make up brush and Su Doku book ) relocated in a shoe box to be reviewed on another day. I never claimed this was a one step process.

Saved

Stuff to Keep

And so to the other tray …

Gone

Stuff NOT to Keep

What treasure did I find? More importantly why had I kept stuff  so valuable but never used.  The paint brushes a reminder of a creative hobby that after several decades I finally accept is never going to happen. The brushes will go to a neighbour who runs art classes at home so they will finally be put to good use. The little book of Keep Calm and Carry On never helped me but will go to local little free library – set free. Broken mug heading to recycling , only need so many containers for pens and stuff. Tempted to keep it for a mosaic project but the look given me as I voice that thought speaks volumes. Old cards for recycling too . Toothbrushes , deep sigh, only so many you need for tricky corners.  Lastly, the over sized nail file , given to me as a well meant gift , never used and is no use at all now I cannot reach my feet. Surprisingly,  it is just what my fellow stuffoholic needs. Result!

So how does it now look.  Bare but there’s plenty still in that room so don’t fret it is now time to Stop (for today).

After