Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stuff in and stuff out

I'm gradually building up to another round of decluttering. 

In some ways this is ongoing, as I add things to the 'to donate' box or to the bin as I come across them, and I'm trying to be a bit more disciplined about my craft piles by cutting up scraps of fabric and old clothes into patches for a quilt and digging out the odds and ends of cotton yarn for dishcloth knitting.

However, I do feel the need for a more comprehensive approach, and reflecting on my decluttering to date I've realised two things.

Firstly, I'm pretty good at decluttering within clearly defined categories with clearly defined homes. Decluttering my wardrobe is well underway with Project 333, and I've made a fair dent into my bookshelves and my DVDs. Even with my craft supplies I'm making some slow progress. 

What I struggle with is all the in-between categories. The miscellaneous piles and cupboards. The stuff that hasn't been mentally filed into a category and  physically filed in a dedicated home. I tend to move it from place to place but actually until I decide how I want to use it and find a system that works, this is never going to get anwhere. 

This is partly a procrastination topic - many of the things lying around are projects awaiting my attention, like photo frames waiting for photos, and many are new categories like gardening supplies that don't yet have a home. The Cupboard of Chaos is the worst offender here - with odds and ends including spare lightbulbs, storage for presents and homemade body lotion bars muddled in with fertiliser, coat hooks waiting to be mounted and the duvet.

Remember this? The rest of the cupboard looks the same...

This challenge is feeling much more manageable thanks to my second realisation. I've spent so much time bemoaning my inability to let things go that I have overlooked one important thing - I don't buy stuff. I almost never buy anything anymore, and my most recent acquisitions have generally been direct replacements - new jeans because the old ones were worn out, for example. Books given to me as presents are balanced by books I give away or sell in turn.

I'm also getting better at acknowledging that even though I'd love to do something in a vague and undefined way with my jeans rather than throwing them away, I have many projects on at the moment and I should not queue up anything more until I've made some progress. This means I have 'stuff in' under control, and so the level of stuff that I have is fairly static. This should mean that actually I can declutter very easily because I don't have to deal with the influx - I just need to stop procrastinating and decide where things should live rather than shoving them into cupboards.

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