Thursday, January 9, 2020

Blogger: De-Clutter As The Year Starts

Every year, before January comes around, and I have to put away the Christmas presents, I love getting out the bin for plastic, and paper, and the general waste and THROW EVERYTHING OUT. I do not know when I fell in love with de-cluttering so much, but there is an incredibly rewarding feeling for me in getting rid of things I know I will never need again. There is also a form of control in knowing all the things that I actually own in my house. And when I am done cleaning I also feel more ordered inside and relaxed. Over the years I have tried to help my friends get rid of extra and unnecessary clutter as well, and this is not just about getting rid of what doesn't cause you joy, the Marie Kondo way, although that is a great first step. I have found that sometimes necessary can outweigh joy (like medical papers I feel hardly cause joy...). What is important is finding if it is necessary for you or for someone else, because if it is the latter then you can easily pass it on to those who can use it. And I am sure that knowing that it is not wasted and it does not only go to the trash is a big help for some to finally look over their things and get rid of what is only taking up space. There are a couple of things I always look through at the end of each year, and I thought I would share my thoughts on it, in case you too need a hand in getting rid of some old junk!

Transcendence (2014)

“Everything I learned I learned from the movies.”
― Audrey Hepburn
I'm sure you also have a good chunk of DVDs on the shelf that is doing virtually nothing but collect dust. For the exception of those five to four that are now scratched so hard that you cannot really watch them anymore anyway... I personally love buying DVDs up to today: there is something about owning something physically that is virtual, that fills me with joy. Especially if it is a movie with an actress or actor who passed away... I know already that I am not getting more, so I am also sure to re-watch those movies. However, movies are the gift that keeps on giving. Think of libraries, schools even, places that might actually turn to DVDs and have no money for it. Now look at your shelf... you can find at least 3 romantic comedies your siblings got you, two more random action movies that came with a magazine you read regularly and at least half you bought for your children or they were on discount. Trust me, if in two years you have not touched those DVDs, you do NOT need them. I find it fun to have a list of the things that I have owned, for the future (because we also know at least one person who has two of everything), so I don't buy them again. But overall, there are still places that look for DVDs which are slowly becoming vintage, so you just need a tiny bit of research to see where you can put them and go for it! [I would like to emphasize that if your thing is collecting DVDs, please disregard this paragraph!]

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Just like movies, books are another gift to humanity. I can already tell you which books I will never read on my shelf, and I can also tell you that they are no longer on my shelf. At a Starbucks in the city they were collecting books for schools and that reminded me of how much I actually love to get used books. There is something about knowing that others have read that same book, let it be the same copy or simply because it has been around for a while, that I feel connects me to others. I much more prefer going to old book shops than new ones. I also love ebooks, my kindle is probably my best friend. As a result, even if some books I like to have on my shelf, I am not embarrassed by passing on others (sorry to those who get me books, I still read them, I just want to give a chance to others to read it as well). And actually leaving books in one place and saying "Take one!" is magical. People not only take them, they do so in bulks, and sometimes return them the day after as they read them quickly. We all L-O-V-E buying books, that is a general human trait, for some more than others, but there is something about it that does indeed spark joy. And I find that is the main reason why I am able to pass them on. But in a world where so many things are reachable in digital format, I find that instead of forcing people and the industry to invest in 4th and 5th editions... let's just pass on our books and let others enjoy them as well. Look over your books, write down what you have and give the others away (you can always also sell them!). Try and recall everytime how happy you were at receiving a book for free and try to give that same joy to someone else! And you magazines also qualify here: cut out the article you bought if for and do yourself a favor: admit that you will never open them again.

"You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it." 
― Edith Head
For many this is the hardest thing to get rid of, because you look at it and you might wear it again... girl. No, you are NOT gonna wear that again, remember how it made your chest look? Exactly. But the reason it is so hard to throw out is because we associate feelings with clothing items: when you bought it, who you were with, how much time you spent putting money aside for it, or actually, you inherited it (and only then did you find out that you look terrible in it). I understand, this was incredibly hard for me too, and if feelings are involved, I do think that the joy method does not work properly. I can only tell you what my technique is: put everything you haven't worn in a year into a bag, and put the bag aside. Keep it for now, from a min. of 6 months to 1 year. Then, if in that period you did not remember ANY of the items in the bag, not once did you go looking for that terrible yellow shirt, then once the year passed DUMP that bag. Do NOT look inside again! Feelings are gonna come back and it will be impossible to put the out again! If in a year you have not remembered a single item that is in the bag... trust me, you will never need it again. And hey, there are hundreds of places that accept donations, if they were not in terrible shape (and the probably are not), then make sure you pass it on to someone who can use an extra pair of jeans or a coat, unlike you, who still has 20 other in the wardrobe.

"Like my father, I would never as a child throw anything away, keeping old toys, electric motors and bits of broken machines under my bed in what I called my Box of Useful Things."
― Nick Park
I find that there is only one way at dealing with toys: categorizing. First, you will need a group of (1) "toys my children will throw out, cause I can't", then (2) "toys that should already be in the trash", then (3) "this is still good but it has no value to me", and finally (4) "I don't even think this is mine, whose is this?". I think that once you look at the name of the categories is becomes super easy to decide what stays and what goes. First, if you have siblings, your parents very likely threw everything in the same place, so have fun remembering what belongs to whom, because if you throw out something that wasn't yours, well... enjoy World War III! But, second, once you made these differentiation you will see that some toys are perfect still to be give to charity. And do yourself and everyone else a favor: wash all the plushies. It either collected dust or your marvelous body odor for years. They can use a big cleaning even if you are keeping them. I find that if you minimalize category (1), you are doing great already, and it is useful to keep some toys for friends with kids who are coming over every now and then, not to mention that you don't want to take all the toys away from grandma's house. But if you see a way to reduce your toys to the valuable things and be open to charities, then you are on the right track. 

“Shall I explain the game? I have to, I'm afraid, even though describing video games is a little like recounting dreams.”
― Nick Paumgarten
Sharing video games between friends should not stop after high school, I find. I would love if there was a bigger sharing community for video games, because some are f*&king expensive. Even with discounts... 10%??! Really? And if the console isn't sold anymore there are no games for it like... dude I still have a perfectly working PS3, give me games for it! I can afford the game, I might not afford the new console, help me out here! I understand that I should invest in the newest thing, but I cannot afford it for the life of me. You are now cutting of a buyer I have gone years without playing games simply because I did not have the newest thing and I did not care - not gonna go bankrupt over a console. So what is left to do? The problem is that there are consoles that can do anything, and most people also only get things for their PC, so it is complicated... but my point was going to be to START sharing! Most people never replay games after they are done with them and (again, if you are a collector, you don't qualify) pass on your game. Actually, this is the best and easiest way to make some quick money: if your copy is in good quality, somebody out there is looking for it for sure! I think that money is a great motivator when it comes to getting people to get off their ass. Instead of having a copy of something that is collecting dust, try and look for a new home for it!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
Is your cupboard also overflowing with sweet you got over the holidays? Charity. Seriously, you don't need that chocolate bar (and not because of your weight), you just simply don't need a 16th bar of something... Give it to the needy, give it to anyone, take it over to friend's house, take to work, SHARE. I am not a religious person, but I do believe that if you have more you should build a bigger table. I am right now staring at a whole table full of things that should not be in a single person's apartment: candy canes, chocolates, fancy and cheap ones, chips, walnuts, and even some mints. I have displayed them so every time someone comes over I can shove it in their face and not eat it myself (I am not huge on sweet anyway). But I will take some to work, I will take some over to friend's place and will give to anyone in need who crosses my path.

If you read again what I wrote, you will see that my advice isn't to throw everything away, but making sure that it is not wasted. Let if be through charity, or by re-selling some of your items, or well, actually, admitting that certain things have an expiration date and should long be in the trash... if from all this post you only take home that you should share and be smart about what you keep around, then I have achieved my mission. 

Have a clutter free home and 2020!

1 comment: