Whom Are You Saving It For?
There comes a time when even the most avid (translation: compulsive) collector of stuff must admit that all that trash is not making life better but instead is reducing one's focus, space, aesthetics, time, and tranquility. I know, for I am one of the great offenders against that truth. In the garage plus every room but those
strictly inhabited by my spouse, there are extra piles or scattered arrays, many with crammed together books or magazines, aquarium sand donated by someone with poor color taste in such grit, extra containers with bits of leftover liquid or spray, old greeting cards, partially used bars of soap, old bits of camera or film from before one could take photos digitally, legal pads with but one or two notes written on the first page, dust-gathering assemblages of clothes I never wear, tax records from over ten years ago, garage sale bagsful of used toys for our pooch, worn out shoes I had forgotten I had, dull or broken tools, newspaper clippings from long ago impulses to save some thought or other, packing materials for appliances we no longer own, and so on.
Declutter your home (AARP.org)
Ironically, I can recall a time when my younger self appreciated the eye-pleasingly austere simplicity of almost bare walls and too little furniture in a just moved into new home. Now, thirty years later, it could take days spent clearing out all the junk just to get the place in shape to paint those walls afresh or put in new carpeting.
So, hard as it may be to take the plunge, I am pledging to myself and Valerie to do at least one thing daily to simplify and thus to finish at least 90% of the cleanup before my next birthday (in October). I am inspired in this by specialists in corralling clutter who say disorder equals tension and that it would also be the height of meanness to leave one's messes for someone else to clean up after one has departed to his or her just desserts.
Here, then, are some of the anti-packrat practices I intend to apply in the days and months ahead, and please wish me luck:
- Have a garage sale (or put items on Craig's List) to get rid of anything still of more than sentimental value that is, however, now really just taking up space.
- Cart anything else reusable to local thrift shops, and give it away.
- Dump furniture that was hauled home from the side of the road a generation or two ago back onto the curb for the next local bulk pickup.
- Store essential originals, like birth certificates, discharge papers, deeds, passports, bonds, and wills in a safe box or fire resistant container, photograph and digitally record other necessary paperwork, and throw out all the other years' long collections of receipts, partially used old napkins, greeting cards no longer looked at, etc.
- Go through big bags of tax return related garbage with a fine-tooth comb. If in doubt, throw it out!
- Ditch without a moment's thought old containers of half-used pills and supplements, opened but uneaten food containers, nearly empty insect or foot sprays, and joint splints, back braces, oily and crumpled hats, holey gloves, or other such vital spoils not even seen in the past five years. Put them all into large plastic bags, seal, and eliminate with the next garbage removal.
- Take everything physically out of each closet. Only put back what you will definitely use in the next year. Discard the rest.
- Spend no more than 15 minutes on each pile of stacked writing tablets, old magazines you wanted to read "sometime," formulas for developing a sparkling personality, recipes for cookies you do not need and won't ever bake, and get rid of almost all of it, for goodness sake.
- Sell or send to book exchanges or the local library recycling center any book you are not sure you will read, cover to cover, in the next five years. Books by the thousand can take up vast amounts of space. Yet how many of these tomes will actually be read in a year or ten. Soon enough you'll be yourself a has been.
- Beyond all that, get rid of anything you do not currently find useful. Seriously! Investment advice you wrote yourself from twenty years ago, for instance, is never again going to see the light of day. It is a little late now anyway.
I am sure I have just scratched the surface of this topic. Others have doubtless been in this situation before me. If you have additional tips I have forgotten or did not know to mention, please give me the benefit of your prior experience! Bad old habits die hard, they say. I can use all the help I can get.