Friday, May 13, 2016

Reporting in on my "Joy of Weeding Out" Experiment

Did I mention a road trip coming up? My niece in Colorado would love to have the furniture that I inherited from my mother. I really don't need that furniture. So it's getting bundled up (along with some other items from Mom) and it's all going to Colorado later this month. The furniture is 75 years old (Mom & Dad got it as a wedding present), so it's awesome it'll be kept in the family. My niece was so happy to know she'd have it.


Inspired by that, I finished skimming through almost all of the Life-Changing Tidy Book (as I call it). I found some useful information in there:

1. Weed out before you plan to organize. If you have an organization idea in mind you'll weed out to match that system. Just weed out, see what's left, then decide on how you'll organize it.

2. Gather all items of the same kind in one location to assess them. That means put all books on the desk from every room and go through them one by one. Do the same with clothing (I have clothes downstairs, upstairs, etc.)

It's surprising what this does. It forces you to look at the sum total of what you own of that object. Believe me, going through my desk drawers was eye-opening. Do I really need 17 pads of sticky notes? Boxes of binder clips? Notepads galore? How many rubber bands does one human need?

Not as many as I had! I donated a bunch to a schoolteacher friend who was happy to get any and all office supplies.

3. The "joy" thing. I didn't hold up each item of clothing and ask if it gives me joy, but I did look at every item of clothing (and book, etc.) and ask myself why I did or didn't wear it.

  1. It only looks good with the dark pants that really aren't very comfortable. Donate.
  2. It's good on thin days. Donate.
  3. I wore that to Mary N's premiere as a Mouse in the Nutcracker ballet. Mary N is now a Senior in college. It's served its purpose and I haven't worn it for 3 years. Thank you for your service and donate.
  4. Yes, they were really expensive, and yes, they're tres chic, but no, I won't wear those shoes because they just don't fit right. E-bay item.
  5. The fit across the bust is wrong. Gaposis galore. Donate.

4. Next I tackled The Memotoes. That box of Stuff I've hauled around with me for decades. What I did with it was similar. I looked at each item (scrapbook, box of letters, etc.) and asked myself if it truly represented that moment in time and was that moment in time important to me? If not: recycle/pitch. If yes, keep.   I got rid of half of the stuff.

I think you see the common theme here: actually look at items and make a decision to keep or not. I don't know about you, but too often I look at something and think "I'm not sure so I'll keep it." I took my time and touched everything and decided, Yes or No. Very freeing.

I still have two small file drawers to tackle (easy to do), and a box of photos, which is not as hard as it sounds. For those, I'll set aside ones I want to scan then scan 'em in; others will probably follow the "does this remind me happily of that event/person? If yes, keep. If not, pitch." Then I'll probably go through everything one more time and ask the ultimate question: "If I was moving, would I want to pack this?"

Yes or no?



Margo Hoornstra said...

Just reading this was joyfully freeing, JL. Too often I go the I'm not sure route and get nowhere. Guess I should be more mindful!

Leah St. James said...

Same here, JL. I often want to make some sense out of the chaos that has become our home after more than thirty-something years of marriage, but I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it. I like your road map. As far as scanning photos...why didn't I think of that?! Thanks for the tips!

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm not a huge pack rat, except old books and some toys the girls had. Dolls (some that were mine originally) are hard to part with. If it has a face, I have a hard time throwing it away.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Good for you, JL. Nothing better than a remodel or a move to help sort through things, but you have further lightened your load with the 'joy' plan of attack. I have a feeling that book has increased donations immensely...Goodwill and Salvation Army are smiling (or overwhelmed) as we speak :-)

Brenda Whiteside said...

Since we are selling the farm, I've had the lovely task of weeding, deleting, or donating, etc. We've made 3 trips to the dump and one trip to Goodwill already. I'm still looking for the joy in this process! said...

Great post!
I read the Tidy book too- but it came too late for the clearing out I had to do a couple of years ago when our family sold the home that had been ours for over 75 years.
I learned from that process that I'd rather decide what is important now (or not) and save it (or not) than have someone else do it for me. I spent a lot of time channeling my long gone grandparents trying to do right by them. There was little to save in the case of the family home. Hurricane Sandy damaged a lot of what might have been a memento. All in all a tough mental and physical process.
I also learned alot about myself. I really like architecture, the decorative arts and travel. Now I take a lot of photographs and steer clear of collecting though I still haunt tag sales and flea markets...just to look.

Vonnie Davis, Author said...

My biggest weakness is pictures of the kids and grandkids, framed and sitting everywhere. Clothes? I won't even go there. Shoes, jewelry, and lightweight jackets. I have too much. After I finish every book, I think I'm taking a week to work on one of the topics mentioned above. Somehow it never happens. You are much more disciplined than I. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

I've got a basement just waiting for your touch!

Diane Burton said...

2 1/2 years ago, we made a major move--one we had to pay for ourselves (previously Hubs' employers paid for our moves). Good way to clear out/donate/sell. Oh, the decisions. Good for you, JL, to have a clear objective.