Goal #5 Book Clutter

Reading is an amazing hobby. It educates, entertains and can whisk you away to places as far reaching as your imagination can travel... just open the pages and away you go (no batteries required). Purging books is like purging friends somehow...

Goal #5;
Edit book collection. The primary goal is to release the commitment of reading so many of the books that have made their way (with honorable intentions) into the house - a realistic time limit of one year to read it should be helpful. Secondary goal is to make every book have a real home in the correct bookshelf.

Background: Like so many others, I love a good book. And I have a hard time letting go of a good book too.  It's too easy to happily pick up a few books at the thrift store that look interesting (or that the kids might like). The problem lies in the sheer QUANTITY of books that I am still trying to find time to read! A massive bookshelf is not enough. My kids each have a good sized bookshelf... but all their books don't fit either. It's hard to find what you want, and worse, it's a heavy burden with so much yet to be read (exciting, but still a burden when the time just isn't available).

Challenge: Set realistic expectations for what can/should be read in the next year. Go through the ones that have been read and decide if they are worth reading again... if they are, can they be found at the library? Also see if any of the books in the kid's rooms are not enjoyed or outgrown (we do this regularly, interests change often). Then sort which may be useful to the school library, and the rest can go to the charitable thrift store... put the boxes in the trunk of the car to leave immediately! Let them go to be experienced by the next eager reader!

Verdict: Some success, it was a challenge to actually convince myself that there wasn't enough time in a year to read them all... brutal choices had to be made for this goal!

Process: One bookshelf at a time. Every book was pulled off the shelf to be categorized, inspected for damage and sorted. This gave me the wonderful bonus of putting the "keeper" books in logical order as I put them back!


Living the dream

How would real-life be if this house was ideal?

How much would have to go before it's truly great in here?

I had a test run of that idea when we had our place listed for sale last summer. All extraneous things were removed to my sister's garage to make the house "show-home ready". The good news is the extra stuff (aka "clutter" to a potential buyer) took up less than half her single car space.... maybe 6ft cubed if that. It was a wonderful way to live in my husband's eyes.

Yes, daily cleaning was quick, rewarding and easy.

BUT certain, inevitably necessary things were missing. The biggest example, bulky seasonal items were removed (coats quilts, boots, etc.) it opened the closets right up (very nice) but in "real -life" we need these things.

By going through the process of decluttering piece by piece I hope to get to that peaceful living space that we had when the house was listed, without sacrificing real life for all seasons.

How? I am really evaluating the value each item adds to our daily life and weighing that against the cost of physical space it occupies.

So far so good.... I've lost count of the number of bags and boxes that have left since I started worrying about clutter.... still a long way to go though... and I'm up for it!


Goal #4 Office Supplies

A natural transition from craft supplies is stationery, this goal I have tackled before, but somehow the pens, clips and everything else office-supply-like seems to multiply on their own. Especially after digging out the craft items.

Goal #4
Reduce Office Supplies to What I Use, Need & Love

Background: How many mediocre pens does a family of 4 need? I admit I have a bit of a stationery addiction. I love pens, markers, pencil crayons, tape, glue, paper, clips and bins.... they are just begging to CREATE something. I get positively giddy in the big-box office supply places... and there lies the problem. I'm always happy to find a different pen or drawing stick.... and even if they are sub-standard, they stick around languishing in drawers or bins.

Challenge: Take all these supplies from every corner of the house and edit, edit, edit to a reasonable and practical amount of supplies. Take the excess to the school for their use. Remove the duds to the bin.


Process: All in one pile, each item was tested (pens, markers, scissors, glue, stapler, etc...), then the useful items sorted by category. Each category was then judged strictly.... Is it being used? Is it a favourite? How many of this item is really needed?

Verdict: small bag to trash (half-used notebooks, dead pens, old markers, dried out glue sticks...). And a decent sized box taken to the schoolcrayons, hole punches, primary scissors, fancy paper, stickers, rulers, pencil boxes, pencil sharpeners, blank notebooks, etc. The entire sort/purge took 1.5 hours while watching a favourite chick flick for the 100th time -- it was almost fun! And the best part is NOW I know what there actually is in the house in the way of supplies (and tht they all work) and where to go when I need them! A very liberating feeling.


More or Less

More is just... "more"... not "better", not "new & improved"

More money spent
More space needed
More resources used
More responsibility
More trips to the store &
More trips to the landfill

For now, the planet may appreciate it if we say "enough" instead of "more" for a while....


Goal #3 Craft Clutter

The hardest part of clutter is when you come across something you REALLY wanted to complete, but didn't.  There is guilt over the money spent, regret over not having accomplished it, and embarrassment over having forgotten about it for so long. 

In my life, it is especially painful finding a craft that I intended on doing with my young boys -- they are not so young any more. Plaster casts of tiny feet, finger paint and stringing beads are no longer cute rainy day activities. That boat has sailed and I am sad that I missed some opportunities.

Goal #3;
Find NEW homes for the craft supplies that we have all outgrown (yes there are lots of well-intentioned projects for mom that never got completed too)

Background: Even after many purges of this type of thing, I still have some unopened or gently explored craft supplies intended for the primary years! From fuzzy craft bits to a small mountain of crayola crayons, stickers, play-dough, these items are tucked away all over the house.

Challenge: Gather ALL the supplies to one place, make decisions, donate to the local Boys & Girls Club programs... after all my youngest boy did do preschool there and they are wonderful people that do wonderful things for the local kids. Or find other appropriate homes that the supplies can go to in less than a week -- no lingering regrets!


Verdict: This was one heck of a goal, I had no idea what I was getting into! This one took 6 hours to complete (not including transit to the B&G club -- that's happening tomorrow)

Process: I had to open every drawer, every cupboard and every closet to search all of it out (and I'm pretty sure I have missed some). I piled it all in the family room and sorted it first into keep/purge piles then into age-appropriate bags. Whenever possible I just set the entire bin to be donated (why keep a container when they could use it?). Some decisions were very easy....  for example colourful pompoms and popsicle sticks are not needed here any more.... and the robot flannels I intended to make PJs out of will find more appreciation with my sewing neighbour that has a 2 year old. Other things were more challenging.... my niece still enjoys play-dough quite a bit, it would be nice to keep it around for when she is here...


Daily Grind

With a picture of what my ideal space SHOULD be, this daily process of selecting things to donate away is getting easier.

(Time willing) Every item I come across is getting interrogated: 
"What have you done for me lately?" 
"Why should I keep you around to take up space and resources?" 
"Is there something similar that works better or is preferred?" 
"Will I suffer in any way if you are not in my life anymore?!"

Even though I just took 2 decent sized boxes away last week (Post-Christmas cull), There is now another box almost full today. The dining cabinet that houses the table linens got a once-over today. I found a variety of things to part with: candle holders that aren't my cup of tea anymore, and some tea cups too, a stoneware platter that I never really liked (a gift), a stainless steel martini shaker that leaks to the point of me never wanting to touch it, and a couple picture frames (what were they even doing there?). All that hiding and crowding the linens and platters that are actually used!

The cupboard works better now. And that is the whole point of this exercise -- make the space work for the life I live now.


Goal #2: Take the boxes/paper accumulated over Christmas to recycling centre

Background: We hosted Christmas AND had out of town guests over the holidays, the result was a mountain of paper and cardboard. We have a recycling pick-up program, but the pick up day isn't for two weeks!

Challenge: Gather it all into the covered deck area (on a calm-weathered day), sort the various recyclables into appointed bags and deal with the non-recyclable left overs too. Then drive it all to the recycling centre and responsibly put it in the correct bins without going crazy (the place is a muddy garbage infested zoo of impatient people at the best of times).


Verdict: Amazing! By setting it up as a challenge instead of a dreaded chore, I was able to get the tools ready ahead of time, gloves, bags ..... patience... and after 30 minutes of sorting I had everything sorted and bagged and in the back of the truck! I decided to see if they would take the Christmas tree too -- I wasn't going to have it languishing in the backyard until Spring like usual!

Process: As stated above, by being organized with the tools and clear of purpose it came together smoothly. I picked a windy but not too rainy day to do it, so there were moments when I was chasing down festive ribbons, but it got done in one afternoon, and now it's off my porch and out of my head! They took the tree for a nominal fee so that was a bonus. Amazing!