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Category: Minimalish (page 1 of 2)

Strike two

I managed to forget writing again yesterday. It’s been a rough few days sleep wise, so when I had to put the baby down halfway into the day’s writing (which, btw, I’ve deleted because it was terrible – sleep deprivation is apparently the silent killer of syntax) I fell right asleep too and slept until I got up for night feeding. I’ve somewhat fallen off the decluttering wagon too – the house was getting *really* messy, and I have people coming over several times this week, so I had to prioritize surface cleaning over decluttering cupboards and dressers, but I’m hoping to re-commit starting this weekend. But since I did it out through my initial one-week challenge, I’m thinking another weekly challenge may be a good way to dive back in. Maybe I should commit to decluttering two drawers/shelves per day next week?

What you resist, persists

I’m kind of disappointed in my progress with the decluttering this week – my heart just hasn’t really been in it, and I’ve been picking the easiest cupboards to do to fill my one-a-day obligation. It’s weird, I really want to get the decluttering done and once I start it’s usually fine, but I keep avoiding it. I’m wondering if maybe it’s because I know I have to deal with my wardrobe soon, and I’m anticipating how difficult it will be to let go of some of the things.

I can be quite sentimental about things that I got as gifts, or things that have memories attached, which makes it really hard emotional work to declutter. And nowhere is this more pronounced than when it comes to my wardrobe. The things I don’t use and should let go of all seem to represent a “better” me, which in some sense I wish I could be – the person who actually wears 4″ heels more than once a year, the person who has lots of occasions to wear cocktail dresses, the person who fits into the size 2 jeans always used to wear the winter I met my husband. And it’s hard to let go of those things, because it amounts to admitting that I’m not that person, and likely won’t be again, at least not for a good long while.

When I started this I thought cleaning out my wardrobe would be the most fun part. I’ve always had fun with it in the past, but to be honest I think that’s mostly because I’ve allowed myself to keep a certain number of these wishful thinking items. And now I wish I’d gotten rid of them much sooner – would I be thinking about the fact that I can’t fit into those jeans anymore if I’d given them away four years ago and didn’t have to keep looking at them? Probably not. I think it’s time to dig into the difficult wardrobe decluttering while that realization is still fresh in my mind…

Decluttering and the sunk cost fallacy

I’m having such a hard time being strict with myself in my decluttering efforts. I keep running into the sunk cost fallacy – if I spent money on something that turned out to be not great, it feels awful to let it go without ever really using it, so I keep trying to convince myself that surely I can find a way to make it work, and so I should just keep it for now. For me, the only way to avoid falling in this trap seems to be being extremely strict with myself about what I get to keep. It’s almost painful letting go of perfectly good things that I spent good money on, but the reality is a lot of them I just do not need or like. And what’s more, keeping them seems to bring up negative emotions because whenever I see them I think about the money I wasted on them and the space they’re continuing to take up. How is it that it seems easier to deal with the constant low level feelings of annoyance these things bring, rather than push through the one time pain of letting go?

Gift-related guilt

In yesterday’s post about decluttering, I touched briefly on the guilt that can come with gifts, especially when you’re trying to reduce the amount of things you own. I’m wrestling with this at the moment, because I had my birthday earlier this week, and while I received some really great gifts, I also received a few that for whatever reason weren’t spot on.

For example, I got a lot of books, which normally I would love, but right now I don’t have a lot of time to read because I’m busy trying to keep a tiny human alive (I’m going through a lot of audiobooks at the moment, though) and I already have a big pile of unread books I’m hoping to get to. So today I went to exchange a few of the books I received, and I found a really great brush lettering work book (I love practicing lettering as a way to unwind, I get all zen and relaxed from it) and then I spent the rest of the store credit on some nice candles.

Now, this was a really good trade for me – it gets really dark here during the winter and candles is one of my favorite ways to make the short days feel cozy instead of dreary. These were really nice candles in beautiful colors that I wouldn’t normally buy for myself, and I know I’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of them, yet I still felt guilty exchanging the books for them. It’s odd, but although the candles are “better” for my life right now, I realized I had this unconscious feeling that the gift-givers would be insulted that I exchanged something “permanent” for something consumable and temporary.

Isn’t it crazy how many ideas we carry around about gifts and the meaning they carry? Anyway, in the end I figured the only reasonable thing to do was exchange the books for the beautiful candles, after all if I had given someone a gift that didn’t work for them, I would certainly hope they would exchange it for something that made them happier!

Do you struggle with guilt over exchanging gifts that don’t work for you? Would you ever let the gift-giver know if you exchanged their gift? And would you want to know if you were the gift-giver?

Let it go, let it go!

Although I got started on the decluttering challenge yesterday, today felt like the “real” start of the challenge. All the things I put in the donate box yesterday were easy to get rid of; they were things I was sure I didn’t want or need and I didn’t feel conflicted about giving them away.

The two drawers I picked for today were much harder to finish. I had to let go of a couple of items that I don’t really dislike, they just don’t really serve me anymore. I felt a surprising amount of guilt and resistance to letting them go, because when I got them years back, they were both gifts. Somehow, it felt terrible to let go of these things, even though I rarely use them, since I have other things that serve the same purpose and work better for me. These aren’t items of any particular importance, and I’m quite sure the gift-givers have long since forgotten about them, so it’s fascinating to me that I had such a strong reaction to letting them go. Wonder how it’ll go when I get to the truly sentimental stuff…

To help keep track of my progress with the challenge, I also drew an overview of all the drawers and shelves that I eventually want to declutter (there are 85 in total). I’m coloring them in as I complete cleaning them out, deciding what each will be used for and making sure that each contains only the things that are supposed to go in it. To further up my motivation, I decided that when I’ve finished decluttering all 85 shelves/drawers, I will use that month’s home shopping allowance on a Roomba (I’ve wanted one for the longest time, since I hate vacuuming, but love when the floors have been vacuumed).

Follow-through

This writing thing is turning out to be kind of great. While I’m not writing anything good yet, I’ve actually managed to stick to my writing challenge, and corny as it sounds it’s giving me confidence that I can stick to other promises to myself as well.

When I was younger, I used to be really disciplined and I had this sense that I could do whatever I set my mind to. Throughout my 20s, life whacked me upside the head a few times (as it does all of us to varying degrees) and it made me lose faith in my ability to do and be anything outside the ordinary. That kept me from stepping out of my comfort zone, which inevitably caused my comfort zone to shrink, and I got well and truly stuck in a rut.

Anyway, I followed through on my commitment today and cleaned out a drawer in our kitchen. Besides feeling great, it made me think that maybe the way to get good at stepping out of my comfort zone isn’t to take on these big bold projects like I used to do. Maybe at this point in my life the best way to improve is to take small actions consistently. Who’s to say small projects can’t be bold too?

This week’s decluttering challenge

I had a really draining day today, and it certainly didn’t help my mood that the apartment was in complete disarray after my early birthday celebrations over the weekend. With clutter and mess pretty much everywhereI turned today, I’ve had decluttering on my mind, and I think I’ve come up with a good challenge to kick start the decluttering project; for the rest of the week I will pick one shelf or drawer everyday to go through and pull out the things I don’t want or need anymore. If it’s a busy day, I can choose one of the “easier” spots to declutter, and if I’m feeling up to it I can tackle a more challenging area.

I’m setting up two boxes tomorrow – a donate box and a sell on eBay box, and everything I’m getting rid of will go in one of the two. I’ve already arranged for the donation box to be picked up in a few weeks’ time, so I’ll have extra motivation to get a lot of decluttering done over the next few weeks! I’m excited to see how much I can get done by then!

Decluttering

Since I’m currently on maternity leave, I’m spend a lot more time in our apartment than I usually do, which means that (1) I get a lot more annoyed when it’s messy, and (2) it’s a lot easier to notice the things about our space that aren’t working for us. Lately, I feel like it’s getting almost impossible to keep the apartment looking clean and tidy while also keeping a tiny human alive, and frankly it’s becoming clear that the reason it’s so hard is that we just have too much stuff.

I’m not a naturally tidy person, so for me I think the only way to keep our apartment consistently clean is to make it easy to keep clean, which means that as the saying goes there needs to be “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. The problem at the moment is that we just have so many things that it’s quite impossible to find a place for everything in our apartment. So the first order of business is to get rid of some stuff, and once that’s taken care of, I think it’s time to start thinking about some improved storage solutions for certain areas in our home.

Lately I’ve been so good at putting aside my perfectionist ideas about doing things perfectly (which, incidentally, I just learned that sooooo many people do, and there’s even a term for it, “raising the bar” – check out the discussion about it in this podcast!) and just taking tiny, but consistent steps, so I thought I’d try that for decluttering as well. I’ll be back with an update on how I plan to tackle the decluttering tomorrow!

One in, one out

I mentioned working on shifting my mindset from quantity to quality focus in my post on my self imposed shopping restrictions, and aside from buying only things I really love, that also entails paring down the amount of things I have.

I want to go into decluttering in a lot more detail in future – it’s another one of those things I really, really want to work on, but I convince myself I have to do it perfectly and KonMari the whole apartment, which makes it all too daunting and so I never do anything.

In the spirit of tiny habits, I’ve decided to try to start out small with a one in, one out habit. So for every item I bring in through my monthly buys, I have to let one thing go. This month’s boots are getting exchanged for a white J Crew blouse I never wear, which I’m giving away a friend it looks better on, and the collapsible table is taking the place of the lamp I used to have on my bedside table in our last apartment (it’s broken, and it’s about time to own up to the fact that I probably won’t be fixing it).

October buys

So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided a few weeks back that in order to get a handle on my online shopping, I’d limit myself to buying one item in the clothing/shoes/accessories category and one in the home decor category per month.

I’ve really been enjoying taking the time to “window shop” and trying to decide what to spend my October items on, and because I tend to have pretty expensive taste, I really enjoy feeling like I can get exactly what I want without feeling guilty, since I’ll only be buying the one item this month.

That said, this month’s fashion item is still a bit of a splurge, but since I turn 30 this month (eek!) I figure it can be a sort of birthday present to myself, so I don’t mind spending a bit more than I’d usually do.

I’ve been looking for the perfect black suede over-the-knee boots for ages, so when I finally found a pair that checked all the boxes, the Stuart Weitzman Allgood boots in black suede, I knew immediately I had to get them.

When I initially started my search for the perfect OTK boot about five years back, I originally considered the iconic Stuart Weitzman 5050 boots, which are quite similar to the Allgood. I know a lot of people love these, but after trying them on I knew they weren’t for me. First, I’m not crazy about the stretch neoprene back – to me it cheapens the boot somewhat, which for $ 650 boots I’m not willing to put up with. The second thing I don’t love about them is they have a very round toe box, which makes the foot look a little clunky to me. (I also looked at the SW Lowlands, which don’t have either of these issues, but they’re quite a bit longer and felt a bit overwhelming on me, since I’m only 5’4″ and my legs are on the shorter side).

I can’t help but think a lot of people must have disliked these two aspects of the 5050 boots, since SW have now seen fit to launch the Allgood, which is essentially the same boot with these key issues “fixed”. The suede version is all around suede, with the back the same type of stretch suede as the Lowlands (bizarrely, the back on the nappa version is faux leather – why??), and the toe box is slightly more almond shaped. I’m super excited to wear the Allgood boots all fall, and will put up a thorough review once I see how they hold up!

My home decor buy this month is much less interesting (but very necessary). We have a few dinner parties coming up with more guests than we can seat at our dining table, but we’re not really looking to replace our table since we don’t have enough room to keep a table that seats 10 out permanently. So instead I spent this month’s item on a sturdy and not too hideous collapsible table that we can get out (and cover in a tablecloth!) when we have guests, and stash in the attic the rest of the time.

Have you ever restricted your shopping to a certain number of items? How did it work out for you?

Photo by bargainmoose via Flickr (CC license)

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