Like millions of other people out there, I have too much crap. Not to the point of being a hoarder, or needed storage sheds or storage units, but I have lots of stuff. I’ve been reading lots of minimalist blogs recently and watching TEDx videos, and really resonating with the concept of less stuff.
Overall, I think I have a good relationship with stuff. I regularly purge out clothes I don’t wear and I hate shopping so I rarely buy for the sake of “stuff’. Yet my house is cluttered, and because of that, its filthy with physical dirt and dust. I have no empty shelves or blank space. It doesn’t help that I use my 1000 square foot house for a potting shed, a greenhouse, a brewery, a cannery, a butcher shop, a craft room, a wood working workshop (there are no lights in the garage), and (two different) offices plus normal living day-to-day things.
I approach free piles with glee, and can think of all kinds of useful things I could do with a particular item. A reflective shade from a giant grow light? I could take it apart and make a solar oven! Half dead vintage Christmas lights? I can wrap my non-existent lemon and avocado tree for frost protection! And into the garage they go. Like most homesteaders out there, I really struggle with getting rid of things because “I might need it one day”, both of inexpensive and expensive items. Some people might be able to just go buy something if they need it again, but that doesn’t work for our budget. A waste-not mentality equals accumulating things, and keeping things around. But something needs to change.
It seems that one of the basic guidelines to achieving the goal of less crap is to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a given time period. Sometimes its 3 months. Sometimes its a year. Because I live very seasonally, there are things in my house that don’t get used on a daily basis but are certainly crucial to homesteading. My food mill or canning pots or seed starting equipment are only used seasonally; certain tools might only get used a few times a year but make a project possible. So purging based timelines never resonated with me.
A friend recently suggested that different categories of things get assigned a different time bracket. Clothes, 1 year. Tools and craft supplies, 2 years. Etc., etc., etc. This made sense, and made me excited to work on this project. There is rain in the forecast and I’m on spring break, so I’m declaring it spring cleaning, and I’m going to go room by room and purge out crap, clean, and organize the things I’m keeping.
Here are the guidelines I’ve set for getting rid of things:
- If it hasn’t been used in 3 years, it goes. We moved here almost 3 years ago, and undertaken every type of project we have the skill set for. If we have a tool or kitchen item that hasn’t been used yet, it won’t be used.
- Clothes not worn for 1 year.
- Books that I haven’t looked at, for reference or made something out of, for 1 year goes. I will not (GIANT CAPITAL LETTERS!!!) flip though the book to see if there is something interesting, then deem it “worth keeping”.
- Fabric bits and other “things” (like scraps of wood) that I have no immediate and concrete project planned for. I will not spend time brainstorming how I can use it.
- Anything broken or needs repair that I’m not actually going to fix.
- Duplicates, or the old version of something that was upgraded.
- Things will immediately be donated/freecycle listed/street free pile/recycled/landfilled. They will not get put in boxes and put in the garage to “do later”, which inevitably means it will sit there, taking up space, or worse- migrate back into the house.
- Establish designated spots for the things “I need”. Put the item back to its designated spot when done with it! Novel concept, I know……
- For projects half done or still in the “collection rest of materials” phase get an assigned time limit. Dedicate time to finishing the project.
I’ll let you know how it goes. If you have a favorite de-cluttering tip, please leave me a comment and let me know!