Thursday, November 3, 2016

Decluttering: starting small

Recently something clicked and I starting decluttering some stuff. I donated some handbags I never used, clothing, a lot of books and about 5 years worth of magazine subscriptions. It felt a little overwhelming but I persevered and made sure I took the items to the op shop that same day so that they weren't hanging around for weeks, tempting me to change my mind.

It doesn't look like much in the photo, but this is what I donated:


Getting rid of all this stuff hardly seemed to leave a dent. It made me realise I had a long way to go if I really want a peaceful home, only surrounded by the items I love or find useful, rather than being suffocated by stuff that I never use or forgot I owned.

I heard some advice to tackle decluttering which seemed to make sense: if it all seems overwhelming, just start with one space. A cupboard, a drawer - whatever you can tackle in the time you have. To keep the momentum up, I went through a tray on my coffee table that held remotes, pens, a tissue box and an assortment of other crap. Having it all on a tray was my solution to containing the mess. I put things away in their rightful place, threw out papers, perished rubber bands and lots of little things that I had no use for (and no one else would). The results were great!

The next night I continued with the 'drawer' in my nightstand - the nightstand itself is a box with a shelf near the top and a bigger open space below. I had a large shallow rectangular container and a smaller one acting like a drawer, housing my lip balm, nail files, moisturiser, charging cords etc. Over time this had become full of random safety pins, receipts, hair pins etc and it desperately needed a clean out.


Before

After - not beautiful but clean and intentional, and the smaller container is empty!
I'm aiming to continue this a few nights a week, but I've found the mentality is spilling over into everything at the moment. I took 20 minutes to go through papers and files at work and got rid of a few things. I filed about 800 emails in my work inbox in about an hour, and in the process found flagged emails I needed to respond to that would otherwise have been buried amongst the rest. I got my unread emails in my Gmail inbox down from 400+ (at times it has been over 1000!) down to 24. I have never had such a clear inbox before. Some of that was just filing them all in folders, but I also deleted a lot of previously filed emails that I realised I would never get around to reading.

I had held on to all of these emails thinking that they contained valuable information that I wouldn't otherwise be able to access. But realistically, the chances of me reading these emails to stumble across a unique insight I can't find anywhere else on the web or in a book is just crazy. So I deleted hundreds and hundreds of emails, and unsubscribed to as many as I could. And it felt amazing! Now I can really focus on each email that comes into my inbox, rather than quickly scanning everything, deleting the obvious junk and only opening the ones I thought were important. Time will tell if I can keep it up, but it would be really amazing to keep the inbox to one screen of emails at all times.

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