Sunday, November 17, 2013

lessons learned: October simplified

I spent as much free time as I could spare in October working on simplifying my life in one specific area - belongings. After taking a hard look around my house (and realizing that some closet doors hadn't been shut in months - or *shudder* years), I knew I needed to start the process of organizing and sorting and cleaning, no matter how long it took. 

I started with our spare bedroom/office and moved my way through the upstairs. I made piles upon piles of items to toss, store, donate or sell. Right now, our dining room is full of boxes that need to be stored for the spring, when I'll be joining some friends in a yard sale. It's now past my October "deadline," but I am done with everything but the basement and 50% of the kitchen. (Doing the kitchen requires me to have the basement clean with some new storage areas for things that can't live in the kitchen any longer. I'm looking at you, canning stuff!)

Even though there's still a lot to be done, I can acknowledge how far I've come in parting with items that really contributed nothing to my life but a growing sense of my belongings closing in on me. The piles of stuff were always sitting there, mocking me and making me feel guilty and overwhelmed. The dust on the piles showed just how little the items were actually used.

I've sold about a dozen books on Amazon and been able to put aside some great stuff for my little niece, both for now and when she gets older. And I am really happy that I can add to my sense of peace by providing stuff for other people that might get use out of it. 

I'm being much more mindful about what comes in and out of the house, and I'm not buying things without a specific purpose for them. I've also learned that a good barometer for whether or not you should get rid of something is if you've used it in a set time period. For example we had a metric ton of board games - ones I had collected in college as I sought to own every Trivial Pursuit ever created - as well as the more advanced variety like Munchkin and Pandemic. I went through each game individually and asked myself - have we played this in the last year? If I had a game night tomorrow, would I want to play it? If the answer was no, it went in the pile. 

Having a plan really helped. But what helped the most was finishing that first room. It made me realize how much peace came with accomplishing a task that had sat unfinished for so long as well as the calm that comes with space, margin and order. That great feeling pushed me forward. 

My big goal is to finish the basement and kitchen before Thanksgiving so that after the holiday, we can pull out our Christmas decorations and feel like we don't have to strategically place them around piles of clutter. I can't wait to enjoy the holidays without thinking "I was meaning to get around to this..."

Have you had any simplifying success this fall? 

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