project smellie – the review

All good project managers have regular reviews so I thought it was time to review our declutter project.  Unfortunately as I am a rubbish project manager I haven’t written a project plan or overview.  I had no particular goals other than “get stuff out”.  I had no timescale other than a vague idea that if it wasn’t done by Christmas I might just move out.  There were certainly no mini goals, you know, the  ones you are supposed to have to (a) ensure that you achieve the big goals and (b) keep you on track timewise.

You will note, therefore, that review is going to be (a) very difficult or (b) rather different.  I tend to take approach (b) in most of my life and I see little reason to change now.  So here is the “different” review of Project Smellie – the Great Declutter of 2013.

1.  How do I feel?  BRILLIANT!


I think we can call that Success 1.  Now I could put the feeling of wonderfulness down to wine/sertraline/my lovely family/the summer holidays/the fact that the sun shone this summer.  I am sure all of these have played a part, but  the feeling you get as you clear out cupboard after cupboard, as bags and boxes leave the house, as you open a drawer and find exactly what you need, as you can see SPACE is immeasurable.  Do not underestimate the gorgeously squiffy feeling that newly discovered space can give you.

2. How does everyone else feel?

Well I can’t speak for them personally but there has been a general consensus that it was about time.  (Having said that, the Dancer and Singer 1 could do with some decluttering of their own, in the meantime I just keep their doors closed.)  There is some concern amongst the teenagers that this could lead to “one step too far”, more about that later.

3. What practical changes have you noticed?


Dressing is so much easier using the 333 method.  I will confess to have broken rules occasionally, but I reckon this is about making life easier not about sticking to a rigid set of rules.  I am being more adventurous in what I wear and how I put clothes together because I have less to choose from so I have to make them go further.  Having sorted through ALL my clothes, accessories, shoes, jewellery and dispatched about 40% I still have a lot but it is well sorted, easy to find and on display.  Packing for holiday was a dream.


There are no surprises in my freezer.  I know exactly what I have and where it is.  We have saved a fortune on groceries this summer because we know what we have and we have made a conscious effort to eat it.  I am putting less leftovers in the freezer (unless there is sufficient for at least lunch for 2) and using them either the following evening as the basis of another meal or if there isn’t much then it’s my lunch the next day.  Thus the freezer isn’t full of obscure little boxes of unidentifiable “stew” (the labels always fall off) which never get eaten and just clutter it up.

Things get put away more quickly – if there isn’t any clutter for them to hide in they stand out like a sore thumb (well to  me anyway, some family members are still blind).

4. What less tangible benefits have you noticed?

Mindset shift.  This year I have been out foraging as usual but instead of looking at 5lb of rosehips for example and thinking “I’ll put them in the freezer and do them later”  I do them now.  I don’t want to put something away unless it’s finished.  I have made rosehip, rowan and blackberry jellies.  I have dried seaweed, lavender, soft fruits.  I have made fruit brandies and vodkas, I have made fruit vinegars and oils.  The shelves are groaning with preserved foods for the winter and it’s only 5th September.  I am getting things done.


I don’t have any particular urge to shop unless there is something I actually need.  In fact I am almost evangelical in not buying.

My mind feels more open.  Okay this does sound a bit weird, but I feel less cluttered in my head.  I am interested in new ideas.  I want to learn and discover.


5.  Any complaints?

Not from me.  The hardest part is physically getting the stuff out of the house.  It is easy to put it all in the Gin Gan and shut the door but even that isn’t a complaint.

The children think I am “going one step too far” 🙂  Once you start on this journey you can’t stop and you start to look at other things you can change.  Going plastic free (ish), aiming to be waste free. Decluttering is one thing, suggesting that they rinse their hair in homemade rosemary vinegar is quite another.  I do sometimes wonder if they will rebel and become high consuming adults but I think probably not…..

At this point one is supposed to propose the plan for the next three months based on what one has learned from the previous three months.  But as I said at the start I am not going to do what I am supposed to do.  So there will be no plan other than to keep doing what I am doing.  If I had a plan then there would be no opportunity for serendipitous moments to make themselves known, no chance for unexpected opportunities to be grabbed, no room for the random idea to be allowed to mature and grow.

On the subject of the random idea maturing and growing I have one rumbling around what passes for my brain.  I’m going to leave it there a little longer and maybe, if it shows signs of intelligent growth I’ll set it free.


13 thoughts on “project smellie – the review

  1. I love your words – “My mind feels more open …I feel less cluttered in my head.”
    What an inspiration 🙂 Annie

    1. Thank you for quoting me as inspiration! I tend to think of everyone else as inspiration but actually inspiration and encouragement is often on our own doorsteps we just don’t slow down enough to notice.

  2. Hats off to you – wow!

    Our hall was finally freed this morning – a good room’s worth of “stuff”: gone ;)))

    Then spent several hours visiting Berne, aware that I will need some grey trousers sometime soon but couldn’t be bothered so will happily do without and with what I have left from last winter’s drastic purgings and layers – not even tempted to buy any of the rather nice fashions in the shops. Most things I either have or had something comparable or am now too old, so why bother?! I will still look just fine and be warm 😉

    Spent a tiny sum (pennies…) on replacing a small toy for my granddaughter’s doll for her birthday – my grand day out lol.

  3. And it is true!! If you have less clutter around you your mind is clearer for the task at hand. When I sit down at my work desk, which surrounds me on four sides and involves three computers, I can feel myself tense up at the collection of mail, catalogs, phone messages, etc that have landed on the surface. I may be doing payroll on the blacktop, but my eyes keep straying to the mail (are there bills in that batch) and the catalogs ( wonder what new colors are in). Takes twice as long toget anything done!!!/……..

    1. I hate office desks. Before I had my all singing laptop and real wifi I worked in the study I was evangelical about ensuring my desk was cleared every night because I couldn’t cope with mess. Bit difficult as I have a husband who works in what he believes to be organised chaos. I am not in a position to question as he is highly effecient … but just not in the same way as me! Now I work at the kitchen table on my laptop and with a single file with today’s papers. No catalogues, no post, nothing other than that which I need or want to work. It works 99% of the time, the 1% failure rate is when I have a job I really really don’t want to do …. so I don’t. And because I am working at the kitchen table and have to put everything away at the end of the day I can shove ;the job I don’t want to do away in the file for tomorrow. And tomorrow it will get shoved away again….

  4. Wow good on you. You’re taking on so much and once and shinning through! I am so impressed with all your efforts. I love decluttering you’ve inspired me to do some today. I love removing items from my house and mind. Keep up the great work sweets Mx

  5. You are impressed with me?! Oh my I am learning so much from you. You are the one that introduced me to the idea of plastic free (I ‘m not sure my teenage daughters love you as much as I do!) You are the one who suggested powdered milk and you are the one who keeps me roughly on the straight and narrow 🙂

  6. Well I am getting a handle on my own house which is on the market but now have “Declutter – the sequel” to handle. Mom moved this week to a small apartment in a retirement community and I must get her house emptied and ready to rent. It is far scarier decluttering someone else’s stuff. Any tips for staying on task?

    1. Oh my, I don’t even want to think of my mother’s house! I am not usually of the “little and often” school of thought in decluttering. I like to get in there and pull it all out. But in this case I think a little and often is the only way forward. Set a timer for 40 minutes (that’s my optimum time, if I am doing well I can keep going but I have to do the first 40 minutes – works for writing too). Make instant decisions now, you can always go back and change them later but you probably won’t, if you spend ages remembering how your mum made great jam and you really ought to keep the jam pan but you HATE jam then really why keep it – let somebody who really will use it have it. Just keep going don’t think too hard about keep, sell, charity, bin. Just sort it. It is much easier to be objective once you have sorted and you can go back and move things around. I feel a blog post coming on thank you 🙂

  7. I am not as organised as you are, and I am also trying to declutter. I found eBay really good. I made a little bit of money selling used stuff, and it felt nice.

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