Posts Tagged With: Decluttering

Progress on the January list

I’ve done two things from my January ‘to do’ list today. First thing, quite an easy one I admit, I finally got around to getting my hair trimmed for the bargain price of £8 plus tip. The second thing was sorting through our DVDs – something This Thrifted Life also posted about doing recently.

 Last Spring I put a lot of our DVDs into one of those big wallet things and threw the covers away. However, there was still a lot (and I mean a lot) that I couldn’t seem to let go of. What with baby on the way, space is at a premium so I knew I was going to have to have a go at it again. I think I’ve become a lot more ruthless about clutter since my first attempt. Previously I wanted to hang on to the covers of my favourite films and series, now I just wanted the space. After all, it’s the disc itself that counts! Even Husband, who is a hoarder by nature, seemed relaxed about getting rid of the covers this time.

I knew we had a lot of DVDs. We had several storage boxes full, a whole shelf plus little clusters of them scattered around under the sofa, in drawers and in cupboards. I think I’ve managed to find them all. What I didn’t realise was that I had enough covers to completely fill two large bin liners. Two! Of just DVD covers! All of the actual DVDs are now neatly, safely stored in two special disc wallets that hardly take up any space at all. There were some discs that there was no space for plus some old home videos (holidays, weddings etc) that I don’t want to part with so I’ve put those all in one small storage box.

I can’t believe how much space we’ve gained. I’ve mentioned that I’ve been trying to donate a lot of books but I’m getting close to the point where I can’t part with many more so I’ve gained one more shelf that I can keep the ‘keepers’ on. Throwing out the DVD cases has also meant that I now have several empty storage boxes which is great. I’ve got a few ideas for them but I think I’ve done enough for today!

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Categories: Decluttering | Tags: | 1 Comment

Making space

Had another go at a bit of decluttering last night in the much feared second bedroom (feared because the room is very small and very cluttered). I have had a couple of goes at it over the last few months; I’ve tidied up all of the paperwork and put it in folders on the bookcase, I’ve thrown out various bits of junk and I’ve got rid of a lot of books. However, it is still very much a work in progress – spare rooms are a magnet for junk and clutter.

I used to spend a lot of time in this room as, firstly, it was where the computer lived and secondly because it was where I did my all of my studying (I did my degree part time over 6 years alongside my job). There isn’t much in there; a built-in wardobe, a futon sofa bed, a small bookcase, some book shelves, a 2 drawer filing cabinet, a chair and a tatty but very useful old bureau. The room has largely been abandoned as I finished my degree in May last year and then the PC died to be replaced by a laptop so we didn’t need to go in there to use the internet. However, I have been hankering after the space – particularly after reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

Last night, I fished out the huge tangle of leads behind the bureau and finally removed the broken printer, the two PC speakers, the keyboard and the mouse. This left the top of the bureau completely clear for the first time since we got a computer. The difference is amazing – technology is sometimes very ugly! And so I am beginning to get my desk back which should be handy as I have a few projects in mind.

It wasn’t a ‘proper’ declutter as I threw a lot of the junk that I don’t know where to home into the filing cabinet and also into a plastic container on the shelf. I’ll probably have a bigger purge when I decide what colour to repaint it. I’ve been thinking of a soft grey-blue but I’m not sure of the exact shade. I don’t want to make it look cold and uninviting. Until I paint the walls and the furniture I can’t replace the carpet, which has been attacked by moths. However, I’ve made enough of a start that I can start to use the room again and it looks better already!

Tooth update: Am still in agony. The denitist is mystified. The pain wakes me up at least once a night – I can’t work out exactly where it is coming from. I have mostly worked half days this week as I’ve either been at the dentist having things done or at home in bed trying to catch up on sleep. Beginning to wonder if we’ll ever figure it out…

Categories: Decluttering | Tags: | 3 Comments

Making the most of what you already have

One of my ‘categories’ in the 100 day challenge was ‘Making the most of what I already have’. Doing this plays a big part in the move towards spending less. My recent decluttering bender (still a work in progress) not only made me realise how much stuff I had that I didn’t need or want anymore but also made me realise how much stuff I had that I liked but just wasn’t using. This included everything from items of clothing to cake tins. When you’ve got a lot of ‘stuff’ it tends to get into a big mess – you can’t find anything. Once you’ve eliminated a lot of the clutter you suddenly find a load of great stuff that you just forgot you had. It’s like getting a host of new things to play with!

I generally found that the things I could make better use of were either items I had forgotten about or things that needed to be mended, such as:

  • Mending clothes: By doing very small and easy things, like replacing buttons and sewing on beads, I brought a few items of clothing back to life. They were in perfectly good condition but I never wore them because, well…they needed mending. It’s a good idea to go through all of those drawers and pull out everything you don’t wear because it needs a hem sewing back up or a button sewing back on and just do it. It really doesn’t take long. I equipped myself with nothing more sophisticated than a single needle, some black cotton and a pair of kitchen scissors.
  • Looking after your shoes: When Woolworths closed I bought a half-price shoe polishing kit that contained brown, black and clear shoe polish along with a cloth and a brush. There were a couple of pairs of shoes I hardly wore because they were scuffed but they looked as good as new once they had had a polish. I also found a great place locally that re-heels shoes. I took one pair in (again, I hadn’t worn them for over a year) and had them re-heeled for £7.50. Much, much cheaper than buying a new pair. That said, some shoes are beyond a bit of TLC, in which case – bite the bullet and get rid of them!
  • Books: I love buying books and own a huge amount that I have never read. Despite this I keep buying more and more! I cleared a shelf on a bookcase and put all of my unread books together. Since I did this I’ve spent a lot less on books as I know I have a great selection ready and waiting and I don’t have to root around trying to find them. Also, I have a library card which I make full use of!
  • Stationery: I know I’m not alone in buying lots of notepads. I decided not to buy anymore until they were all used up. I went through the house and got them all together, then ripped out and recycled all of the pages that had been used. This created a massive pile of ‘new’ notepads, (even though some only had a few pages left in them).
  • Bathroom products: I had masses and masses of bathroom and beauty products. Sorting through it all really taught me where a lot of my spare cash had been going. Boots was always one of my favourite lunch break destinations. In January I resolved not to buy anymore products until something ran out. I prefer shower gel over soap but at the end of the day it does the same job. I had 6 or 7 soaps that had come with gift packs etc and never used. My supply is still going! I’ve had to replace very little so far. I still like the idea of buying this stuff. But I am sticking to the plan of buying no more until I actually need to.
  • Food: I had a good sort out of my kitchen cupboards and found a lot of products coming towards their use by dates so I’ve been making a real effort to use them up before they go off. I’ve also been making a meal plan every week which means I know exactly what I need to get when I go food shopping. Doing this results in very little waste. I used to end up throwing a lot of food out which is wasteful on more levels than I can go into. Surfice it to say that these days, when I empty our compost bin (it gets collected where we live), it only contains tea bags, apple cores, vegetable peelings and egg shells.

I know a lot of folk are making the most of what they have in other ways too. Some are selling the fruits of their decluttering missions and generating a bit of tax-free income while others (the clever, crafty ones) have made gorgeous cushion covers from scrap fabric and old shirts. I know one man who can take a piece of wood and turn it into a unique shelf or even a simple piece of furniture. I read a great book about living without a salary (see my review under ‘Shoestring reading’) which had some amazing ideas in it. It’s quite addictive once you start thinking about how you can readapt or rediscover things you already have. I’m keen to find more ways of making the most of what I’ve got so…

Any ideas?? How have you been making the most of what you’ve got? Re-organising things? Mending stuff? Finding ways of making things go further? I want to hear from you!

Categories: Decluttering | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Why do we declutter?

Over the past couple of days I’ve been mulling over why I, and what seems to be a lot of other people, have caught the decluttering bug. Of course, people declutter all of the time. If you move house you are forced to sort through every possession you have as you pack it away (or throw it out). It might be something you do on a regular basis. It might be that you have a house so full of clutter that you can’t open your doors properly and have been forced to confront it. But it seems to me that suddenly a lot of people are doing a lot of decluttering. While I think this is generally a good thing I have still been wondering why – right now – people seem to be doing such a lot of it.

Why is it that those of us who are, in one way or another, starting to take our finances seriously suddenly consumed by the desire to get rid of things? Why does looking at our finances trigger a need to declutter and make life more simple? 

Isn’t decluttering in some way a contradiction to the current economic climate? If we should all be spending less why aren’t we hoarding more? For example, what happens when the remaining articles in our wardrobes wear out? The less we have, surely the sooner we’ll have to buy more? Why, when we worry about our finances and our ability to ever buy anything again, are we suddenly obssessed by going through our homes and trying to find ways of having less?

A lot of writers and bloggers have discussed the growing awareness of the difference between need and want. And a lot of debt and spending seems to be based on consumer confusion between the two (one brand tells us that we should buy their products not because we need them but because we are worth it). We’ve had months and months of TV, radio and newspaper features on the state of the economy, the housing market, personal debt and so on and it has forced a lot of us to look at our attitudes towards spending. And the second you really, really look at what you’ve been spending your money on, whether that be funded by your income or your credit cards, you realise how much of it has been wasted.

Once you realise how much you’ve spent on things you didn’t really need, you start looking at the purchases themselves (everything from complicated kitchen gadgets to dodgy dresses bought because they were on sale) and you want it out. That’s how it was for me anyway. I wanted a clean slate. Before trying to address it I felt as though I had been fighting a never ending battle against clutter/crap for a very long time. For example, my wardrobe and drawers were so full of clothes I had no idea exactly what I had. By getting rid of items I knew I was never going to wear again, didn’t really suit me, didn’t fit properly etc I discovered lots of things that I would actually like to wear – I just forgot that I had them because I couldn’t find them through the piles of stuff that didn’t need to be there.

Most of the things I threw out I hadn’t had enough use out of to justify the cost of purchasing it in the first place. It wasn’t just the waste of money in itself that annoyed me. If I had pots and pots of money that I’d never had to earn it probably wouldn’t have been so galling. But I did have to go out and earn it. I dread to think how many days, weeks and months worth of work I had to put in to buy all of the things that I have thrown away in the last few months. It wasn’t just money I had wasted – it was massive chunks of my working life. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had then wasted precious and limited space storing it all and had also wasted my spare time trying to keep a house tidy that had too much crap in it for that to be possible. If anyone else feels the same way about it, it is hardly any wonder that we are all trying to liberate ourselves from all of our junk!

Here’s what I have found: Over the past few months I have got rid of more clutter than I can begin to describe. I have made repeated visits to charity shops, have given clothes and bathroom products away to friends, have shredded 6 binliners full of old paperwork, cleared my kitchen of any gadgets that I never used, emptied cupboards and thrown away junk and old boxes -I couldn’t comprehend how I ever thought this stuff might be useful. And I’m still not done. But I am getting there. Already I am spending a lot less time on housework. The less clutter I have, the less time I need to spend putting things away and cleaning. And I can actually find the things I do need because they aren’t stuffed away at the back of a cupboard. It is bloody brilliant.

I’m not interested in creating a clinically minimalist home – I like pictures and pretty pots and odd knick-knacks too much. I’m also not interested in shunning the shops. If I see something I can really use or something I really love then I’ll buy it.  I’m just not going to waste any more of my time and money on stuff that really isn’t worth it!

Have you been decluttering recently? What has been driving you to do it?

Categories: Decluttering | Tags: | 9 Comments

Day 96: Good swapsy karma

I didn’t actually start the diet today. Why? I forgot about it! I woke up, failed to weigh myself and then arrived at work to find that one of my colleagues had thoughtfully left a packet of my favourite biscuits on my desk. It was only when I was tucking into biscuit number four and thought ‘I probably shouldn’t be eating this’ that I remembered that I really wasn’t supposed to be eating biscuits at all! Big oops. I will start tomorrow. Honest, honest, honest!

I took another huge bag of books up to the chairty shop today and have already filled it up again for the next trip. One bag at a time is such a great, unstressful way of decluttering – I can really recommend it. Rather than thinking you have to clear out a whole room or cupboard just try and fill one large bag at a time. It is like reverse shopping. Instead of going around a shop and putting purchases in my bag to take home, I walk around my home and look in my drawers, in the wardrobe and on bookshelves and put things in my bag that I then take to the charity shop. It just goes to show what a waste of time and money most of those purchases were in the first place (although I have read nearly all of the books and worn most of the clothes at least a few times I suppose).

I have some new, free additions to my stock of bathroom supplies. Mum bought a shampoo and conditioner that didn’t suit her hair so she has given them to me to try. I’ve used the brand before so I know they’ll be fine on my hair. I love swapsies. One of my colleagues and I have very similar taste in books and are always swapping books. Not only is it great to get free reading material but it is particularly great when you trust their recommendations. Another colleague and I are around the same size and, lately, have been very good at swapping clothes that were otherwise destined for the charity shop. She has had a couple of tops and a couple of recipe books from my charity shop bag in the past week and in return I’ve got a very pretty lace trimmed, delicate T-shirt from her charity shop bag. She also gave me a gorgeous top – unworn – from French Connection back in January which I really love. So this year I have not only been able to give a few unwanted things to charity and share a few bits with friends but I’ve also got some nice things back in return. Good swapsy karma if you ask me…

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: another big bag of books for the charity shop
  • Nifty thrifty: free shampoo and conditioner!
Categories: Decluttering, Frugal ideas | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Day 91: These [shoes] were made for walking

Took another massive bag of stuff to the charity shop again today. This time it was mostly books. About 20 of them! The lady in the shop was really pleased. Obviously I’ll be going back. I’ve already re-filled my giant beach bag, which I am using for these trips, with more books – mostly large reference type books that I never look at.

This evening I’ve had a little look through my wardrobe again to see if there is anything else I can get rid of. I managed to find a jacket that I quite like but haven’t worn for a couple of years, a shirt and two work tops. I like the tops well enough but I only wear them a few times a year. Going through my clothes is interesting. Sometimes I find things I haven’t worn for ages and it is a great reminder of things I really like and can get more wear out of – a bit like having new clothes. Other times, like today, I find things that I hardly ever wear. I can’t quite put my finger on why I persistently skip over them when I’m deciding what to wear but I always do. So they might as well go and make a bit more space. I have a very, very small wardrobe and everything gets crushed so more space is always a good thing!

I also found a pair of shoes shoved at the back, covered in dust and spider webs. I’ve nearly thrown these shoes away a million times but have never quite managed it. They are not particularly attractive shoes. They are flat, black leather shoes which are fine I suppose but I always feel they are a bit frumpy. However, the reason I keep hanging on to them is because they feel like heaven on my feet. I’ve mentioned before the strange phenomenon of me and shoes – most styles won’t stay on. I’m really pleased that these shoes have survived my various clear-outs. I keep meaning to go out for a walk but I really couldn’t find a comfortable pair of shoes suitable for warm/hot weather. I’ve given them a good clean and am wearing them right now. It is like walking on clouds.

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: taking another bag of stuff to the chairty shop and starting another bag off to take next week
  • Making use of what I already have: rediscovering and cleaning up a pair of comfy shoes for walking and mooching around
Categories: Decluttering | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Ode to my recipe folder

Okay. First off, this isn’t actually an Ode in the traditional sense. Second, I have no idea why this is coming out in italics. Please excuse me on both points! Here is why I think recipe folders (or boxes) are brilliant. For me, one of the most difficult things about making a food shopping list is trying to decide what to make in the first place. A couple of years ago a great friend bought me my recipe folder…

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…which I love. I’ve got a great collection of recipes that I use again and again and also ones I’ve picked up along the way that I have yet to try out.

As part of my decluttering mission I have been having a good look at all of the recipe books I own. Most have sat unused and gathering dust on the bookshelf for years. A few have sentimental value and a couple are used regularly. But most of them just aren’t earning the space they take up. So I have been gradually going through them, copying out any recipes that I might realistically want to use in the future and putting the non-keepers in a pile to go to the car boot. There just isn’t enough space and time for them all!

I’ve also been getting some great cook books from the library, which I go to regularly. I find that this is a great way to get one or two recipes from books you might not usually consider. One of my best cook book ‘borrows’ was The French Kitchen by Joanne Harris (she of Chocolat authorship) though I nearly didn’t take it back…the photos and little stories attached to each recipe are just gorgeous. I currently have out on loan Easy Vegan Cooking by Leah Leneman. Now I’m not remotely vegan but I really want to try out cooking with lentils and was after a book with lots of ideas. I’ve copied out a few recipes and am looking forward to giving them a go (the book is well worth a peek by the way).

So I am a fan of the recipe folder as, not only is there something rather lovely about having all sorts of useful recipes from all kinds of people (the recipe for Beef Casserole copied out by my Gran is my particular favourite) but it is helping my declutter as I can get rid of a load of (almost) useless recipe books!

Categories: Decluttering, Frugal food, Frugal ideas, Getting organised | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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