virtual decluttering

At this time of year as the last of the turkey is finished and the empty chocolate boxes and biscuit tins glare accusingly at you across the kitchen most of us say “ENOUGH – there  is too much stuff everywhere.  I need a sort out”  And indeed we probably all do, however there is one kind of sort out you probably haven’t done for a while, if at all, and I guarantee it is the easiest and quite the most satisfying.

We were away for Christmas.  I took my phone and iPad but I left my laptop at home.  Consequently when I turned it on this morning there were thousands of emails waiting to download.  A goodly number went straight into the spam folder but my inbox was still full of stuff I didn’t want to read.  Most of the emails were newsletters from companies I had bought from online or somehow seem to have indicated that I was indeed desperate to receive their regular missives, when that could not have been further from the truth.  The rest were those that had slipped through the assorted spam filters.

So armed with tea and toast and  honey I began the process of gutting my inbox.

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There are two options to inbox de-cluttering.  The simplest is to block.  In Outlook (which I use) you simply right-click on the email and select the “block” option.  There are, however, downsides to this option.

  • If you have bought something from Company X and they have automatically put you on their mailing list and you block them, the next time you want to buy from them you won’t get any confirmation emails etc.
  • It doesn’t work for automated mailing lists.

So you have to go for option two.  A little more cumbersome and time-consuming (hence the tea and toast) but much more effective.

Where you have an email from a company or interest group they will most likely have used an automated bulk mailer such as Mailchimp.  Somewhere deep down in the bottom of the email and in a font so small requiring excellent eyesight or very good glasses you will find the unsubscribe option.

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Click on this and a hyperlink will open.  Sometimes the message is an automatic “you have been unsubscribed”, sometimes you have to go through a few hoops such as inputting your email address, confirming your desire never to hear from them again.  Almost all ask you to say why you are leaving, this is usually optional and I never bother.  Frankly the options they give are so banal and similar that if there is somebody analysing them they have a very boring job and I’m not going to add to it.

You will probably find your junk mail box suddenly fill up with emails from all the companies who you have asked to remove you from their email lists asking if it was a mistake!  Oh yes, my favourite was from Vintage by Hemmingway (which I like but I don’t need a whole bunch of emails telling me when all their events are around the country when I only want to go to the Festival of Thrift) who asked me if I had perhaps forwarded the email to a friend so that they could share the love and the friend had clicked on the unsubscribe link and inadvertently tried to unsubscribe me by mistake … Really?

Now I have a lovely relatively empty inbox containing only the few emails I need and want.  The added advantage is that when a spammy email sneaks in you can easily spot it and zap it at once!

 

reclaim your garden

Excess photo alert: the sun doesn’t often show his face around here!

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Here in the UK the sun has been out for three whole days.  That is little short of a miracle and in true British fashion, the weather is pretty much the number one topic of conversation.  It is wonderful, I am a summer person, I hate wearing lots of clothes and can’t wait to be in flip flops loose tops and cut off trousers and leggings.  It certainly makes deciding what to wear in the morning much easier when you only need to wear two items!

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Yesterday I took the day off, no work whatsoever.  I lay in the hammock all afternoon and read.  At the perfectly appointed time The Boss came out with a large glass of Pinot Gris.  At this point for fear of wasting the Pinot by inadvertently watering the grass with it I moved to the table and continued to read, sip and listen to the birdsong.

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What has made this year in the garden so wonderfully easy is that we decluttered all the outbuildings two years ago.  We no longer have half a deckchair hanging around just in case.  Boxes of garden toys that the girls have grown out of have gone.  In fact yesterday morning the trampoline frame (the pad had long gone) was picked up by a chap who is going to use it to make a polytunnel (Freegle is wonderful for letting things go to new and better homes).  We now use our hammock and deck chairs, I sit out in the courtyard with a cup of tea, we play ping pong in the meadow.

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Dolly enjoying a doze in the sun.

It is so easy to stuff seasonal things away where you can’t see them out of season, but then come summer (or winter and where are the snow chains?) and the effort of digging through all the rubbish is so depressing that it is easy to be tempted by those special offers and just go out and by some new chairs or ping pong bats.

Remember the Hanging Gardens of Brancepeth?  Now look at them.

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It’s lovely out there, take advantage of that, clear out one bit of one garage/outbuilding/shed.  Reclaim your summer.

Love Gillie x

the maybe box

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Over the years I  have read a lot of decluttering books, blogs, articles.  I have listened to people talking about their own journey and heard people give advice.  Almost every single person, regardless of their methodology, rationale or philosophy advised people to have three piles: In, Out and Maybe.

I have never had a Maybe.

When you are decluttering a drawer or a cupboard you are examining not only physical stuff but also your emotions.  Even if the drawer is in the kitchen there will be an emotion attached to they stuff you are putting through your hands.  The  meals you have cooked with that whisk.  The kind thought behind the gift of spiraliser you have never used.  Examining your emotions is part of the process.  Accept the emotion, accept the memory and unless it meets the pre-Raphaelite code of  “do you believe it to be beautiful or know it to be useful” then let it go.  There is no inbetween.

So why  have a maybe box?  Because you haven’t completed the journey for the item.  You haven’t decided it it is either beautiful or useful and so you put it in the maybe box.  I can guarantee that almost all if not all of that box will never make it out of the door.  The mere fact that it has gone into Maybe is proof that you are  not ready to let it go.  So why pretend?

Furthermore, you come to the end of the declutter that day and feel great because your drawer is now clear, neat and ordered.  There are things that have been thrown away and some put in a bag to go to charity (tomorrow not sometime next week….!)  and then there is that Maybe box.  You have to find somewhere to put the maybe box, probably somewhere you can’t see it so you forget about it until the next declutter.

Over the course of the month, things from the Maybe box will work their way back into that drawer and it is no longer neat and ordered but reverts back to its original state.  All that work for so little return.  That wonderful feeling you had when you first decluttered that drawer comes back to haunt you and worse you tell yourself that decluttering clearly doesn’t work, at least not for you.  And you give up.

All because you had a Maybe box.

Be strong, let it go or keep it.  The important thing is to not only make the decision but to know why you have made it, in fact once you have done that the decision is not only easy but becomes a no-brainer.

Love Gillie

 

 

 

decluttering changed my life

One year on.  Remember this?

 

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and this?

 

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Well now it looks like this.

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In fact that is a mere fraction of what has gone.  As I write I have six more bags to go to charity and the Singers have been dispatching some of the Boss’s clothes on Ebay.  So what next?  What have I learned?

What next?  Well there is still a huge amount to go.  The Boss is slowly working through his wardrobe and I will have to work at his pace.  The study still has far too much in it and there are a few black holes around the house to which we have been turning a blind eye.  The videos and CDs are a case in point.  But as the house has emptied we have begun to turn our attention towards the garden.  I have plans to turn our garden into a mainly physic garden where all the plants are either medicinal, edible or have other practical uses.  Meanwhile the Boss has finally got on top of the meadow and is planning the wild flower border around it.  Currently it’s mainly vetch, poppies and cornflowers, but give him time.

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What have I learned?  How long do you want me to go on?

Don’t give  up  Like learning to play a musical instrument it is hard at first.  You can see other people knocking off a snazzy sounding concerto whilst you are still struggling to coordinate your left and right hand sufficiently to get three notes out in the correct order.  But everybody has to start at the beginning.  Everybody has to practice, practice, practice before they are a master of the art.  Decluttering is no different.

It does become easier.  Trust me, you will come to a point when you are instinctively picking up things that you don’t want or need and putting them in the charity bag or recycling.

Let go of guilt.  Just because it was a gift or a family heirloom does not mean that you have to keep it.  Offer the latter to somebody else in the family to caretake if it will cause a ruction.  So you bought a dress and have never worn it but keep it because you feel you must.  Don’t.  Let it go.  Sell it on eBay BNWT!

Space is beautiful.  The things you love can shine when they are bordered by space, space in itself is something to love and cherish.

Don’t clutter it up the space.  My entire summer wardrobe fits in less space than my shirts used to take up.  My bookshelves contain books I want to read.  I know every shoe I possess, I no longer open a shoe box and look at the contents with surprise.

As I decluttered my belongings I decluttered my mind.  Now I can’t promise that this is true for everyone or that the two were actually connected.  I suffer from acute  and severe depression, the kind where all is well and suddenly for no apparent reason the lights are all turned off.  I made an active decision after a particularly nasty attack that I was going to think differently.  Thus it is quite possible that  my mind declutter is down to that.  Either way.  This year  I have gone from unsure what to do with my life stay at home mum to published author with a second book in the works; professional tarot reader; workshop facilitator and have plans for a small handmade toiletry collection.  As I decluttered I became more focused.  The things I focussed on were not those that I had expected but I am loving life and have big plans for the future.

Not everyone likes it.  A bit like losing weight and discovering that not all your friends are as keen on the new you.  I have been told all sorts of reasons why “they” can’t do it; why “they” could never let go of books (heaven forbid!) and so forth.  Maybe they really can’t or maybe they are jealous.  Whatever the reason it has nothing to do with me so I shall continue my path.

I have discovered my own style.  As I have let go of things that I didn’t like, need or want I have discovered a style that is mine and I like it.

I have made some amazing friends and some incredible business contacts.  I have discovered crossovers and potential joint projects with people I probably would never have met had I not started, and gone public with this journey.

I have more time.  I can’t explain this one, I still live in the same house, I still have the same family.  Perhaps it is more that I am more mindful of my time, I don’t fritter it away.  As I am only keeping things I cherish I am learning to cherish my time as well.

And finally, I did it because I wanted to.  You have to want to.

 

 

 

 

 

101 things you could let go of right now

I love lists.  Don’t you?  That immensely satisfying feeling as you cross off the things you have done.  Decluttering is perfect for list makers.  You can break up the clutter by room, by cupboard, by person, by subject area.  Oddly enough, I have done none of these things.  I have just started in one part of the house and worked my way round, over and over again.  Then I came across this blog by Joshua Becker 101 Physical That Can Be Reduced In Your Home .  Oh the joys, I am so doing this today.  I have already crossed off those things I have already reduced to the bare minimum or we don’t have.  But so much more to go.  I’m all fired up and ready to give the remaining clutter the heave ho.

Could you take this list round your home?  How much could you cross off today?

  1. Glassware
  2. Cookbooks
  3. Kitchen gadgets
  4. Kitchen appliances
  5. Pots / pans
  6. Mixing bowls
  7. Tupperware
  8. Water pitchers
  9. Magazines
  10. Newspapers
  11. Books
  12. Over-the-counter medicine
  13. Make-up
  14. Barretts / hair clips / ponytail holders
  15. Cleaning supplies
  16. Personal beauty appliances (hair dryer/curlers, electric razors)
  17. Bottles of shampoo/conditioner
  18. Photos
  19. Photography supplies
  20. Sewing supplies
  21. Craft supplies
  22. Scrap-booking supplies
  23. CD’s
  24. DVD’s
  25. Decorative items
  26. Candles
  27. Figurines
  28. Crystal
  29. Vases
  30. Audio/visual components
  31. Audio/visual cables
  32. Computer equipment
  33. MP3 players
  34. Furniture
  35. Video game systems
  36. Vdeo games
  37. Video game accessories
  38. Shirts / shorts
  39. Pants
  40. Coats
  41. Dresses
  42. Hats
  43. Clothes hangers
  44. Shoes
  45. Winter gear
  46. Jewelry
  47. Purses
  48. Coins
  49. Pillows
  50. Towels
  51. Linen sets
  52. Candle Holders
  53. Televisions
  54. Items on your bulletin board
  55. Magnets
  56. Artwork
  57. Mirrors
  58. Home office supplies
  59. Pens/pencils
  60. Old batteries
  61. Tools
  62. Hardware
  63. Rolls of duct tape
  64. Coolers
  65. Manuals
  66. Phone books
  67. Coupons
  68. Sporting good supplies
  69. Sports memorabilia
  70. Aluminum cans
  71. Glass bottles
  72. Automobile fluids
  73. Automobiles
  74. Scrap pieces of lumber
  75. Brooms
  76. Rakes
  77. Shovels
  78. Garden tools
  79. Plant containers
  80. Empty cardboard boxes
  81. Board games
  82. Puzzles
  83. Decks of cards
  84. Unused wedding gifts
  85. Baby clothes
  86. Baby supplies
  87. Old schoolbooks/papers
  88. Army men
  89. Bath toys
  90. Toy balls
  91. Toy cars/trucks
  92. Toy musical instruments
  93. Stuffed animals
  94. Plastic toys
  95. Childrens’ old school papers
  96. Suitcases
  97. Soda
  98. Alcohol
  99. Processed foods
  100. Christmas / seasonal decorations
  101. Cable channels

life is easier without clutter

I was talking with my mother earlier today and the conversation inevitably came around to decluttering.  The area in question being her wardrobe.  She maintains that there is nothing in her wardrobe that the doesn’t like nor anything that doesn’t fit.  On the other hand there is enough in there for her to  have just taken out several boxes of clothes because the wardrobe was full.  It is not a small wardrobe.

That freaked me out.  The idea of having that many clothes was scary. I love the fact that it doesn’t take me ages to get dressed in the morning.  I love the fact that I have discovered tops and bottoms that I would never have thought of putting together look fabulous.  I love the fact that I am much better at layering and thus don’t need so many jumpers (even in the north of England).

So I began to think of other areas where decluttering has actually made my life easier.

The kitchen.  I never have to clean a finickety garlic press, it’s long gone, I grate garlic now.  I am seriously wondering about keeping my Kenward Chef.  I rarely use it.  Today I made Bakewell tart and homemade custard for supper.  I did the whole thing by hand and with a hand held beater.  I would never have bothered to make pudding if I had to get out the Kenward and then wash all the bits up.  I make bread by hand because I enjoy the process.  The yoghurt maker died and I discovered I could make yoghurt just as easily without it.  The kettle died so we started using our stove top one on the aga and/or the hob.  Just as quick.  Leave it on the side of the aga and the water is always warm and there is a nice space on the kitchen surface where the kettle used to be.

The knicker drawer!  I cleared out every single item  of underwear other than recently purchased bras that fit and knickers that I wouldn’t mind being caught wearing if I was run over by a bus.  To the latter I added 4 pairs of bamboo knickers that I adore and with which I  will be replacing all current incumbants as they wear out.  Early mornings are so much easier when there are only five pairs of knickers and a couple of bras in your drawer.

The compost bin.  The kitchen compost bin has been replaced by a smaller one and the garden compost bin moved closer to the house.  Net result nobody minds emptying the compost.  That is a BIG result in our house.

Books.  Having got rid of books I had held onto for all sorts of reasons, but books I was never going to read again I have discovered some gems that was hidden behind all the rest.  Books I had forgotten I had bought but have loved reading …. and passing on.

Oddly enough the area I was most scared about decluttering.  The area where I thought I needed all those bits and pieces was the kitchen.  That has proved to be the area where decluttering has been the most productive.

 

 

 

“oops I seem to have decluttered” method

Following my earlier post about Marie Kondo’s top ten decluttering tips it seems that the world falls into two categories.  I suppose you could call it the Decluttering Marmite Test.  Those who do it all at once (me) and those who need to do a bit at a time.

Once you have been decluttering for a while you realise that you can be both.  This was brought home to me today while I was putting away the washing.  After a while it becomes almost impossible to do anything without culling a few items here and there.  It is lunchtime, I have spent most of the morning removing copious quantities of malware from my laptop and resetting it and arranging for my new oven to be fitted.  In the meantime I decluttered:

  • my husband’s sock drawer, when you can no longer fit the clean washing in the drawer something has to give.

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  • my hair accessories bowl, I put back my cleaned hairbrushes and noticed a few things I never used.

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  • the dump zone by the iron, it seems that several things that nobody knew what to do with (because we didn’t need them) had taken up home behind the iron.  Yup that’s an empty space – doesn’t it look good 🙂

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I wasn’t actively decluttering but merely noticing what was there when I put things away.  Mindfulness is much in vogue these days, and for good reason.  However, if you are mindful as you tidy up at the end of the day or as you put away your clean washing it’s amazing how much stuff you can pick up in 20 minutes and put out for charity or recycling.

And just because it is beautiful this is the view from my bedroom window right now.

 

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