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.