a work in progress

wanting less 

a-year-of-less

If you have a health concern that makes doing normal things like washing your hair difficult, organization around the house might get overlooked. If you don’t have a health concern and are just busy or would rather spend a day out with friends rather than cleaning your home, organization around the house might get overlooked.

But the truth for most is that we have too much stuff. Way too much stuff.

Below I’ve outlined a month-by-month guide to getting rid of unused / broken / meaningless things in your home that you don’t need. Do yourself a favor and give it a try. Stream “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix or rent it on iTunes and get psyched. I know you can do this.

 


 

January focus : the computer  // Take a glance at your inbox. Delete what you don’t need, and unsubscribe from emails you no longer wish to receive. {I use unroll.me to help me identify the emails to which I subscribe.} Organize your documents and desktop. Backup your hard drive. Spend thirty minutes each day between now and January 31st uploading your old CD collection into your iTunes library.

February focus : the kitchen // Clean out the refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and that cabinet under the sink. Get rid of expired condiments and canned foods. Throw away old pots and pans we now know are unsafe to cook with. Do you have gadgets that make other tools in your kitchen obsolete {like a stand mixer that replaced your handmixer}? If so, get rid of the old model. Do you really need 20 or more plastic cups? And please, oh please, throw away the extra chopsticks that you keep when you get sushi delivered. You will never use those.

March focus : the spare room // We all have a room {or closet} in our home that we don’t want anyone to see. There’s no need to buy new furniture and spend a lot of money decorating, but clean it out and maybe even try to make the space work for you! Use this “new” room as a guest room, a home office, or a place to do yoga.

April focus : the outdoors // If you have a shed that’s full of junk clear it out. If you’ve been meaning to repaint the porch now is your time. Do all the things that you talk about but never actually get accomplished. Not only will you be happy you did, but you’ll feel great after spending your spare time outside!

May focus : the “collections” // Do you own a lot of books or DVDs? Maybe you have a closet full of ski clothes your family used to wear but your youngest outgrew years ago? If you have a sizable number of anything it’s time to take a closer look. Think about how much room these items are taking up and what you could use the space for instead.

June focus : the closet and the dresser // Look at each piece in your closet and dresser and ask the following questions. 1) Does it fit? 2) Did I wear it within the last year? 3) Do I like it? If the answer is no to any one of these three questions, it’s time to part ways. You can try to sell gently used items on websites such as Ebay or Poshmark, give pieces to friends or family, or donate what you no longer wear.

July focus : the bathroom // Toss expired products and the items you don’t use. Bring ratty towels to a local animal shelter. Take a good look at the collection of samples that has grown over the years and consider whether or not you will ever really use them. Organize what remains so you know you are out of toothpaste before you actually run out.

August focus : the workspace // Whether your desk is at home or away, spend some time organizing it this month. Use an app like Evernote to electronically file whatever you don’t need a physical copy of. Throw away pens that have been dried up for years. Recycle or shred old documents that you no longer need. Even if you don’t have a desk and do your work at the kitchen table go through your supplies, toss what you don’t want, and organize what you decide to keep.

September focus : the memorabilia // Have you heard the term “heirloom guilt?” If not, it’s worth reading this short post on Bea Johnson’s blog, Zero Waste Home. Take a look at the heirlooms in your home. If the item is something you don’t use then ask yourself if you only hang on to it only because the item belonged to someone you love. If the answer is yes, then it’s probably time to pass the item onto someone who will use it, donate it, or sell it if it’s valuable.

October focus : the laundry room // Expired cleaning products are probably your biggest waste of space, but don’t stop there. Go through your cabinets and drawers and clean it all out. Once you get rid of all that excess you’ll actually be able to see the items you do use!

November focus : the decorations // Now is a great time to go through your decorations. Get rid of the lights that don’t work and the wreath that you replaced with another two years prior. Catalog what you have so that you don’t purchase things you think you need because you didn’t realize you already own them. Organize everything so that it’s easy to take out and put away when the time comes.

December focus : the holes //  What did I leave off of this list that you need to tackle before the year is up? What did you rush through and maybe need to give another look? If you start early enough in the month your house will be in great shape for all of the holiday nonsense we love so much!


 

Here’s the thing…if you work a little every month to get rid of crap in your house you’ll be less likely to bring new crap in. You’ll find yourself asking “Do I really need this?” when you’re standing in a store holding yet another scented candle. Your standards for what can pass the threshold into your home will go up. Before you know it you’ll spend less time cleaning, more time doing the things you’ll love, and you might even save some money

I’ve worked on making do with less for years, and I am constantly finding new reasons to love living this way, and new things to toss. It’s a process, and as long as you work on it a little all the time you won’t curse me under your breath when you’re cleaning out the garage.

3 Comments

  • Linda Maumus

    This is me on a daily basis. Katrina helped me let go-not because anything was damaged, but because I was moving back to NOLA into a 450 sq. ft. apartment. I gave 25 large garbage bags filled with stuff to the Episcopal Church Thrift Shop in Athens, GA where I had been living for 8 months. I gave furniture away. It was freeing. I’m now in a large place, but I don’t miss anything. In fact, I can barely remember what I tossed!

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