Decluttering your life? Seems as though lots of folks are thinking about decluttering these days. But in the context of organizing a life’s-worth-of-stuff in your senior years, ‘curating’ would also be a totally applicable word to use wouldn’t it? It’s a great word, eh? It makes me think of museums with huge collections of artifacts and symbols of past lives. Shelves of things collected, all gathering dust where they lie. Colours gradually losing their brightness because of that silken, powdery grey shroud. Gosh, sounds like my place before I’ve gotten around to the annual ‘dust-fest’.
A couple years back, I read an early post by Joshua Millburn of The Minimalists. He talked about taking care of all the stuff that his mom left when she died. Initially he’d thought to go through all of it to pick out the important things that reminded him of her. But that left him with the problem of what to do with the things he chose.
Does decluttering your life include renting a storage locker?
If I remember correctly, he had already started his journey of minimalism and was living in a small apartment at the time. At one point I remember he said he considered the idea of renting a storage locker to put all those saved mementos in. Looking around my place, I think we are all living in our own personal museums. We’ve filled them with the artifacts and symbols of our past lives. Or maybe we’re living in that storage locker with our old stuff. The only difference is, we call these places home.
Has our time come though, where we need to start thinking about decluttering our lives?
But as we get older, there comes a point where we need to ask, do our kids want these things we’ve planned to hand down to them. Or will they be renting a storage locker to start their own ‘museum to Mom or Dad’? Another thing you could ask yourself is if you aren’t secretly sometimes a little weary of being the Chief Director/Registrar/Curator of a lifetime of objects that you have collected? Maybe it’s time to let them become part of someone else’s collection of artifact in some other museum.
And in case you’re curious, Joshua didn’t rent the locker because he said he realized that those things weren’t his mom, only stuff that she had. So he let it all go.
Here are a five ideas to help you begin sorting that stuff, downsizing that collection!
13 Ideas to Help in Decluttering Your Life
- Put a bin in a convenient place in each room and every time you come across something that you don’t want or have two of, put it or one of the multiples, in the bin. And when the bin is full, take it to the thrift store.
- Another bin idea, same method. Except this time, when the bin is full, take it out to the garage. But before you get to this point, clear that corner. As you declutter your life, you now have a place to stack the filled bins. Whatever you put here will be your garage sale stock for later in the summer.
Closets of stored artifacts? Not my closet surely…
- Closets are always a rich site of stored ‘artifacts of past living’ aren’t they? We’ve spent years building a wardrobe, only to realize today, that half the clothes in there will never again move off those hangers. And while a checklist will help you sort and purge and get to know what you really do like, you still have to actually get busy and do the work.
- Another perspective that might make this process just a little easier to wrap your brain around. You aren’t getting rid of your old clothes so much as you’re picking out your favourites. The process is simple. Lay those favoured tops, pants or dresses over on the side of the bed where they will be safe. Now fold and stack anything in the closet. Drop it in a bag and deliver it to the nearest thrift store. And then your favourites go back in the closet. Do the same thing with the clothing in the drawers of your dresser. If you plan on doing a drawer or some other clothing collection every weekend, it isn’t as overwhelming as tackling all your clothes in a day.
Decluttering your life can take time in the kitchen!
- Go into your kitchen (with a bin or a box) and start going through your cupboards and drawers there. When I did that, I found out that I had three rolling pins! I don’t even like baking but I had three rolling pins. In my case, it was into the bin with all three. You on the other hand might like baking more than I do and will want to keep whichever is your favourite. Next, the cake pans, cookie sheets, casserole dishes and so on, many of which you probably don’t really like using for one reason or another. Pick your favourites and into the bin with the rest.In the cupboard where your dishes are, you probably have a few odd balls that don’t belong to sets and that you don’t use because when you have company, you always need four at least but you’ve only got three and so on. So put them in the bin. I can almost guarantee that you’ll never miss them.
China cabinets! Test your skills here at decluttering your life…
- China cabinets are another place that we museum curators need to work on. My mother has a very large collection of Old Country Rose Royal Albert China. She has two daughters and two grown grand-daughters and no one to give all that china to. We don’t want it. In her case, because the china does have some value being largely in perfect condition, it would be a shame to just hike them all over to the thrift store. With this kind of collection, a more reasonable way to deal with it would be to document them with photos. Then begin advertising them on eBay or perhaps Kijiji. That will take care of the good stuff. But you still have the odds and ends that don’t match anything or were received as gifts. These are the pieces that you can send off to the thrift store. And you probably won’t miss them for even a moment. Getting started is hard. So the first step is putting your purging bin there beside the cabinet. Half the battle is preparation!
Big jobs are so much easier in bite sized pieces…
- Handling large, seemingly endless Decluttering Your Life jobs are so easy to put off aren’t they? But there’s a method that works and it includes a To Do list. Put that overwhelming job at the top of your list, but then plan to give it a set amount of time or some other specific ‘small’ goal to accomplish. Take that collection of china that I mentioned earlier. Today, photograph the things on the top shelf. Now ross the china off your list for today. And for next weekends To Do list, plan on doing the second shelf of things. Eventually, you’ll have documented the entire collection and then you can advertise it. Break down big jobs into bite sized pieces. Makes it so much easier to get it started if you aren’t feeling doomed to waste an entire day doing something.
Have you thought of a ‘Give Away’ party?
- Another interesting idea that I had has to do with your family and the things they might want. If you’re seriously trying to clear things out and particularly if you are planning on moving into an apartment, you could invite your kids and friends over and tell them that you would like to know which of the things that they would ultimately like to have ‘when the time comes’ (and we all know what that phrase means don’t we?). Maybe even make it kind of a party day, with celebration type snacks and drinks because after all, it’s a step towards the beginning of a new stage of your fabulous life! Then give their choices to them immediately! In fact, tell them you’re not letting them leave unless it’s under their arm. That should raise a smile and get that thing gone. You’ll be thinning the collection and they can have something that is important to them without having to wait for that inevitable day. That way too, they will feel like you were thinking of them even in the midst of your own big life change. And don’t we all like to know that someone cared about our feelings?
How about ‘dinner on eBay’?
- Take photos of collections that you might want to sell. Then have someone show you how to list them on eBay or Kijiji. Remember, you’re tired of dusting, the kids didn’t pick them when you asked them and who knows, you might make a little extra money off them so that you can go out for a nice dinner. Just remember, people who shop on eBay are looking for deals and giving a stranger a great deal is better than packing it off to the thrift store where you get nothing for it.
Believe it or not, some folks still use libraries, so….
- Many of us have book collections that meant something to us at the time we bought them. But honestly, you probably haven’t looked at them in years. And this is the internet generation so one more thing your kids aren’t going to want. So donate them to the local library if they are relevant and in good shape. I’m pretty sure there are still a few people who go to libraries. Or maybe there’s a second hand book store in your community that would be happy to take them off your hands.
First there’s filing…and now you’re ‘unfiling’?
- The collection of papers that are the legal evidence of your life, also need sorting, curating and sometimes dumping. There are variations in how long you should keep tax returns and bank statements and so on. So I’ve held it a general rule that it has to be 7 years old before I get rid of anything. I hate doing this almost as much as I hated filing them in the first place. So I set aside 15 minutes to go through them. When that time is up, I’m done. I leave a marker of some sort with a plan to give it another 15 minutes tomorrow. Eventually, you’ll be done. And now you have a better idea of what kind of paperwork you do have. So it’s kind of a win-win thing.
Rev your engines up because you’re decluttering your life…next week!
- Decluttering your life is rarely a move taken on an impulse. In my case, I like to plan ahead. So it’s unlikely that I’m going to jump up from my comfy spot on the couch and dive into purging and sorting. When I have an unpleasant job to do, I plan for giving that job 15 minutes or half an hour on Saturday. Or maybe the first weekend in the next month or….. Sometimes revving up your engines over a few days, makes it a little easier to get started at all.
Time has come to rebuild your system!
- The other side of decluttering your life, is figuring out new, simplified systems of managing what’s left. Decide on one place where all your mail will go until you can go through it. Start storing the boxes of new garbage bags close to where your bins are instead of under the kitchen sink. Dump all the small packages of fusilli pasta into one big upright tub. And all your cloth grocery bags can be stored in an attractive basket by the door. Then they’re handy as you leave. These ideas are just starters. Look around your home to discover the things that will improve your routine.
What this is really all about, is learning a new lifestyle. It’s about learning to find your joy in collecting experiences instead of stuff. And about the relationships that are part of your life. So don’t be planning on doing all of the above in the next month and you’re finished. Ease into it, a day here, a day there… And before you know it, you’re cruising on ‘Minimal’ and loving every minute of it.
I love that you stopped by and would sure enjoy hearing from you. Are you moving in the direction of a simpler life or is decluttering your life something that you did a few years ago. And now you cruise on ‘Minimal’. Whatever the case, I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say! So share your thoughts and let me know what you think. In the meantime, be safe, be kind and enjoy your day wherever you are!
As always, I will remind you that I’m not a medical doctor. I’ve spent the last 20 years focusing on and learning to ‘grow’ my own health however. And that’s what I’m sharing here. All of it based on my own experiences and also the things that I’ve learned from the real experts! Those are the researchers and doctors who’ve seen the actual patients, worked in the labs and write the medical reports that are sprinkled throughout these posts.
My goal is to motivate and help you find your best way to live a healthier and more peaceful life. I and Ageless at Sixty cannot be held liable for any resulting injury or adverse change in health status.
I also advise that any changes that might affect your health status be checked with your accredited physician. This would include changes to your exercise routines and any medications you might be taking or other supplements.
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