|See original article by Pam Young below|
My husband and I are doing a major house redo that is starting with finally opening boxes and seeing what's in side of them. Some of these boxes have been in the garage in our first house, then moved here in 1994! Now we have scanners so we are going to scan or take photos and save things digitally. He (last month) has already pretty much done his office in this way so has a system for filing naming set up.
I'm using painters tape to label each box after I open it, and stacking them in the dining room/living room slightly arranged by topic. (Christmas, Office Supplies, Florida, Pictures/Audio/electronics/disks, son, wedding, DH, me, teaching) We have three rooms in the garage, so far I have only looked at the boxes in one of the rooms. I had ten boxes that were clearly a mix of topics so I'm going thru those boxes first.
I started yesterday with three boxes, tossing duplicates and things I didn't need (I mean recipes from magazines dated 1984 and 1985!!!) and ended up with one box. I felt badly just stacking things back in the box. Last night I thought about it and realized I need to have boxes ready to receive things we want to keep so things are categorized when we go to scan them. The trick will be thinking ahead on the categories so the items are only handled one last time when the scanning is done.
I could drive myself crazy trying to come up with the perfect set of categories! I think I will start making them up based on what I find in the boxes. I was so organized when I was teaching, but that was because I had everything organized by the instructional goals and objectives - even using numbers. But this is life and things are not as clear cut... I know the goal is to handle each paper as few times as possible, but also for things we are scanning if they named clearly then it won't matter as much if they are not on the same topic. The reason to categorize is to see how much of one category we have. For example: If I can see all the Christmas stuff in one place, then it's easier to find the proper boxes to store things and to see what duplicates can be given away or sold.
I have been going thru the rooms in the house following the Flylady suggestions and have made great progress with decluttering those rooms. I do the weekly vacuum, clean bathrooms and kitchen pretty much all the time so I'm set there.
The garage is a major project that will take a few weeks I think to have done. Our garage is fitted with walls so a car can not be stored in there, instead we have boxes and boxes on portable plastic shelf units. When my mom moved to assisted living I put up her shelves and put her boxes and boxes from my husband's mom in the garage too. DH and I had cleaned out the garage, then my mom fell and it was clear she wasn't going to need her furniture so the furniture was put in our newly cleaned out space. Too much stuff.
So this is the project I'm working on now. Going thru boxes.
I started by picked the sewing/guest bedroom and going thru everything in that room. If it was not sewing it was taken out. I took supplies and clothes to my mom's assisted living place, supplies were put in the bathroom or garage. But I knew in the garage I would find lots of fabric and the projects I put away to make more room for my friend who stayed here while we were in Boston last year - my clearing out the room I had room to put the items without a lot of fuss. I started labeling the boxes after I had already put things in the closet, so there are some boxes not labeled.
Then I went thru the bathrooms and got rid of duplicates or old things so there are just a few cleaning supplies under the cupboard (still probably too much there).
I went thru the under the stairs closet first, emptied it and put things in boxes so they go together (table clothes in one box, paper plates and cups in one box, etc.). But I did not label the boxes so will need to go back and redo that later.
So now I have pretty much emptied one of the garage rooms and put the boxes in the dining/living area. I'm going to go thru the mixed up boxes and categorize them, then will probably start scanning to clean things out the dining/living room before starting the next two garage rooms.
So I know this is really boring stuff, but posting here to challenge myself to keep going and to finish it up this summer!
5 Decluttering Questions to Ask Yourself-----------------------
Yes, I lost 50 pounds of clothing that was clogging my closet, and when I dropped the contents of my suitcase off at Goodwill, I felt 50 pounds lighter spiritually! Whew! I always say that clutter is the biggest destroyer of peace, and decluttering closets, cupboards and drawers brings a peace that money can't buy!
About half the stuff I'd packed in that suitcase, was just not me anymore. Like the linen, Kasper suit, that has beautiful classic lines that don't go out of style, but it just didn't fit my style anymore. (I was tickled it still fit my body!) I bought it at least 20 years ago as a speech suit and I probably spoke in it 25 times. Today when I speak, I wear casual clothes.
One dress that went in the suitcase, I'd bought to wear to a big deal occasion several years back. My good friend Marla Cilley, the FlyLady, had invited me to speak at an event put on by Yahoo to celebrate FlyLady's reaching 500,000 Flybabies through email. I think I got too excited about the affair, because the dress was more like something you'd wear if you were a queen at your coronation.
As I was packing that suitcase, knowing all this was going to Goodwill, I asked some great questions of myself and I thought it might help you if I shared the questions and my answers.
1. Has my lifestyle changed since I wore this?
In the case of the linen suit, my answer was "yes." I have a basic black dress in a polished-cotton that I can scarf up or down, (sparkly scarves for evening, pastels for spring and summer, red for winter and orange for fall).
I also quit wearing 4" heels when I speak (I always ended up kicking them off mid speech anyway).
2. How long has it been since I last wore this?
A good test of this is to put the garment on and go show your husband. As you model it for him, if he gets a confused look on his face and asks, "Is that new?" you'll know it's been too long since you've worn it and probably means you never really liked it in the first place.
3. Why have I kept this so long when I never wear it?
I had to ask this one a lot as I handled each garment that ultimately ended up in the suitcase. The answer that kept surfacing was: 'It was on sale and for that price I couldn't pass it up even if it was too small. And besides I always wanted to be a size six like Molly Cutter (a high school cheerleader who was so cute and petite). And even though I never have been (and never will be) a size six, I'm an eternal optimist.' When I heard myself use that cockamamie excuse, I knew I'd reach that point that it was time to admit, I'm a size eight and that's just fine with me.
4. What if I regret giving this up?
This question came directly from Nelly, my inner child.
"Hi Nelly, you mean what if I become a size six like Molly Cutter and I want the dress back?"
"Yeah, and it'll be gone and we'll be sad."
"Nelly if I somehow become a size six, it'll probably be because I'm very sick and all I'll need are size six pajamas."
As we grow older, we can still carry dreams or remnants of dreams we had when we were young. But thank goodness, our dreams can change and as they do, there is a peace that comes when we let go of dreams we've outgrown. Looking at that size six dress I'd never worn, I saw what power that garment had in holding me to a dream I'd outgrown. So ultimately my answer to the question, "What if I regret giving this up?" was, I won't.
5. How will streamlining my closet help me be happier?
Clutter causes stress and stress saps energy. I'm a living breathing believer that the less stuff I have the more peace I have. By streamlining my closet, I have given myself the gift of happy dressing every morning.
I feel like I have a new closet and a new wardrobe. I read somewhere that women wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. I've just allowed myself to wear 100% of my clothes 100% of the time!
Thank you for reading my blog! I hope I've inspired you to lose at least 50 pounds today and I hope you brag to your friends that you did. I believe clutter is one of the biggest sources of stress in our society. It saps our energy and raids our hearts of the natural peace we are meant to have.
For more of Pam's essays and videos please visit her website here!
- Link to Flylady's article: Wardrobe Slimdown
- FLYing Lesson: FlyLady’s Moving Tips (She suggests using different color markers to indicate what room the box should be moved to. In another email someone shared the idea of getting different color tape to mark the boxes and the doors of the new house. Orange = office, Blue = bedrooms, Pink = kitchen [sink], Green = great room.)