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?
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…
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?
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).
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?
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!
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!
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).