We’re moving to California! Which means….we need to downsize – a LOT! In fact, we’ve put a deposit down on a….wait for it…1 bedroom, 600 square foot apartment. Yes, we are moving from a 4 bedroom, 1900 square foot house with a garage to a 1 bedroom, 600 square foot apartment with no garage and no real storage (more on that in another post). I know, I know – it is certifiably crazy, that’s for sure! Regardless, there’s a lot of this going on lately:
…in other words, we are trying to clear out the clutter. So far we’ve already paid one junk hauler to come through and take away half of our garage worth of stuff and have taken one Mazda3 car load worth of clothes to send to Goodwill and to Powell’s Books to get rid of a laundry basket filled with old paperbacks that we never read. Seriously, I got rid of some of my summer reading requirements from my high school AP English classes and even the dress that I wore under my gown to my High School graduation! We won’t discuss how many hairstyles ago that was…
So this brings up a good point. How do you decide what to give away, donate, re-furb, etc. I’m a MASTER de-clutterer. It’s probably because I’m not really a very sentimental person except in rare cases and my Mom taught me from a very young age to go through the crap and keep only what is super meaningful/useful to you. So I thought it would be good to kind of detail here a couple categories of things here – maybe it’ll be helpful, maybe it won’t? And maybe we’ll be getting to more stuff later on!
Clothes – Ahhh….yes, clothing. Here is where we ladies tend to go overboard. But I have a few simple rules for controlling clutter. First off, you need to go through your closet every season change (well, fall and spring essentially). And you should also go through it whenever heavy items fall on you whenever you open the door – it’s always a good rule of thumb. But here is how I determine what to keep/throw away:
- Have I worn it in the past 6-12 months OR have I worn it in the previous season? If the answer is no for both of those, then it’s probably time to say hasta la vista, baby! Just to be safe, try it on to be sure it fits….
- Does it fit? This probably seems pretty obvious, but I can’t tell ya how many people I know who keep those “skinny” jeans just in case they might fit again. Lemme tell ya somethin’, honey. Get rid of them! Once you do lose that weight, treat yourself to a non-calorie item and go out and buy NEW clothes! Also, remember this saying always – “You should wear your clothes. Your clothes should NEVER wear you!” If you don’t feel absolutely sexy/beautiful/insert miscellaneous compliment here, then it’s time to get rid of those clothes.
- Stains? Missing buttons? Repair work that’s outside your scope? Again, pitch it. Especially if you’ve attempted repair and it’s just not taking.
- If you need more space, then click here to learn how to fold your clothes the “right” way – Seriously, I have so much space in my drawers now because of learning how to fold shirts this way. And it sounds silly, but both Dr. J and I used to have our own “methods” for folding shirts and now we both fold this way because it saves us *so* much room! It may just change your life – you never know!
- Lastly, understand your climate – Everybody said when we moved to Oregon that we wouldn’t need our warm winter coats and (for the most part), they’re absolutely right. There are also a lot of “climate” issues that I’ve noticed about living in Oregon versus living in Ohio – anything that’s suede and/or water penetrable in my closet absolutely *cannot* be worn. That means shoes, coats, blazers – you’ll rarely see an Oregonian strutting their stuff in a pair of Uggs – it’s the most colossal waste of money! So eliminating these items from my wardrobe is pretty important. Now that we’re moving to California, we’ll no doubt be going through a whole other set of wardrobe changes….gotta make room for it!
I know a lot of people feel somewhat sacrilegious in throwing away books, so here are a few tips that might help you out when it comes to decluttering books and also some thoughts on how to purchase books in the first place:
- Buy yourself an e-reader - Are you a Nook-er or a Kindle-er? In our household, we’re both. And honestly, I don’t think it matters very much anymore what kind of e-reader you should buy. If you like to read, they are VERY affordable nowadays (an entry-level e-reader will only set you back about $100 these days). And if you’re looking to declutter, this is an absolute no-brainer! We purchased an e-reader about a year ago and honestly it is just about the best thing we’ve ever done. When we went to Hawaii last year, we took our Nook and Dr. J read about 2000 pages in a matter of a week. Not sure how many books that was but it doesn’t really matter. An e-reader is a declutterer’s best friend!
- Go to the library – This is one I’m always trying to get Dr. J to use – I mean, 2000 pages in a week is easily 3-4 novels – possibly more! And since his tastes in reading tend towards fiction, it’s very “disposable” light reading that he can easily check out of the library and return with no need to store it!
- If you must buy, then leave the paper, take the hardback - Here’s a tip – hardback books are pretty and they really give a bookcase a nice “distinguished” look (minus the dust covers). Paperbacks, however, are ugly. Their spines never retain their shape, the artwork is very often ugly and super market-y/loud and they just DO NOT look good – i.e., they are very disposable. I realize books aren’t all about looks, but if it’s something that I feel “obligated” to keep because I’ve read it, then YES, it IS about looks once the passage of reading enjoyment has gone. And, no, I don’t believe in keeping books as “conquests” or as a brag sheet. That’s what the public library is for! If it’s paperback and it’s a “disposable” title, then I say pitch it – unless it’s something you read often. And if you read it often, you may want to consider forking over a few extra bucks for a hardback version because a paperback is not good for repeated reading – or see about buying it on your e-reader!
- Now I have the book, how do I decide to keep/pitch? - This is a very personal question – and it really depends in your level of interest in the book. I have a few books that I re-read every few years or so and make it a point to keep them handy for those times. For example, I re-read the Harry Potter series probably every couple of years from 1-7, so those books will always be on my bookcase (and some are paperback just to give you an idea). However (and I will probably get a lot of crap for admitting this publicly), I had to pull teeth to get through the Twilight series so I ended up sending those books to the toss pile even though it was a high quality hardback set. If it’s a book that I will likely never touch again and it’s a paperback (see paperback note above), then I have no qualms in giving it the boot. So ask yourself these questions – Do I love it? Will I read it again? Does it have a memorable inscription/meaning? Do I need this book for work/class? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of those questions, then it’s time to retire the book.
- Where do I send my old books? - As unsentimental as I may be about “stuff”, I do still think that books should be given proper burial. I.e. – send them to a used bookstore, a library, or see if some of the titles you have are appropriate for your local school and call to see if they would accept donation? There are so many options for getting rid of books. Don’t ever feel like you have to throw it in the garbage – that IS actually a crime!
So that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure there will be repeats of tips above on other sites, other places. We still have a long way to go – namely the kitchens and the bathrooms will need a serious down scaling. But we’ll get to those in time.