Many beginning minimalists will hear the advice that if you are unsure about getting rid of something, put it in a box for 3 months, then get rid of it. This is great advice for people who are scared about getting rid of something for whatever reason.
Unfortunately, this method doesn’t really work for me. When I put something in a box, I won’t remember what is in the box come next week. I don’t really need to keep it for 3 months. I have yet to declutter or get rid of something and then miss it after it was gone. I cannot tell you how many items I have gotten rid of or what left because I really don’t remember. Poor memories and ignorance are both forms of bliss.
When I moved into the house, I have double the space I had in the apartment. My community has a huge garage sale event the first weekend in June. I had started putting decluttering boxes in one of my empty rooms to store them for this garage sale weekend.
These boxes have frustrated me all winter. When I go into that room to clean, seeing them there stresses me out.
When I thought about the logistics of a garage sale, I honestly have no idea what is a reasonable price to put on an item. I also really don’t care. I was thinking of doing a “pay what you will” sale where people could take an item and pay what they feel it is worth (and if you need an item and take it for free, that is okay too). However, the more I thought about it, I was worried that people would think I was weird.
Not only that, but participating in this sale would monopolize an entire weekend of my time. Do I really want to spend an entire weekend holding a garage sale or a pay what you can sale? No, I do not.
I ended up taking all the boxes to their appropriate donation locations. One box went to the animal shelter (see Dog Gone Down), several boxes went to the Salvation Army, and one box went to a local Boy Scout fundraiser/call for supplies.
Now that all the boxes are gone, I feel so much better.
I feel like I have a clean slate again to be able to move forward in my decluttering journey. I literally and figuratively got rid of that which was holding me down.
The ultimate goal for the upstairs of my house is to have the spare bedroom with closet in use, the bathroom with closet in use, and then two empty bedrooms with empty closets. Part of this is because the stairs in my house have been challenging for me. I have been falling down a lot.
The upstairs bathroom is the only bathroom in the house. I can’t get around that. If I have one bedroom upstairs as a spare, then I am prepared for any company who may decide to visit and stay over. I pretty much live downstairs and stay downstairs. What is supposed to be the dining room is actually my bedroom. I have a large eat-in kitchen, so the dining room is in no way a loss. I really need to minimize reasons to go upstairs. The cats are up there more than I am.
Getting rid of the boxes I don’t need gives me the opportunity to settle into the house more and organize it how I want it to be organized. I have only been in the house for 7 months, and I still have moments when I can’t find things because I don’t remember where I put something in the new house. I can tell you where the item was located when I was in the apartment, but good luck finding things here sometimes.
Each person’s decluttering journey is different. If it is helpful to you to put something in a box and then wait 3 months to get rid of it, then do that. For me, it is beneficial to get rid of boxes shortly after they are full. I pretty much held onto these boxes all winter and they drove me completely nuts.
I am also still in the process of settling into my house. It’s going to take time for this house to truly feel like home and for me to establish exactly where everything’s place is located. The nice part of this clean slate is that I literally have the rest of my life to figure it out. I’m not moving again, so I’ll be dying in this house.
I have the advantage of achieving this clean slate by moving into a new location. If you do not have that privilege, you can achieve the allusion of a clean slate by reverse minimizing.
Sometimes you have to empty an entire room to figure out exactly what you want to have in it. If it is too difficult to subtract by decluttering, try emptying an entire room and then only add what you love. This exercise mimics moving. When you move to a new location, you are starting with a blank canvas – a clean slate – and adding your stuff.
Oh, the psychological tricks we play in our journeys to simplicity.
Use whatever works for you. The goal is to have more time for the people and things in life that are truly important to you. Whether you decide to add or subtract, to get rid of boxes immediately or wait, it’s your choice. Our goal is the same, but the journey is different.
What methods do you find helpful in decluttering?