Deciding what we NEED...

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Paula Paula
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Deciding what we NEED...

I thought it might be nice to start a topic where we can help one another purge... sometimes I need backup, so figured others might as well. I have a kitchenware and stationary addiction I am trying to break :-) Encouragement is welcome. Anyonw else have a letting go problem? Oh, what to let go when you love it all!
Nicole Nicole
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Re: Deciding what we NEED...

Hi Paula,
I would start by getting rid of duplicates. For example, if you have two cake stands, keep the one you love the most and donate the other one. I had a lot of scrapbooking supplies. I loved collecting the pretty papers more than doing the craft itself. I had a hard time letting go of that, but I have recently gave all the tools to friends that I know scrapbook regularly and gave all the paper to my daughter to craft with. I have also been using the paper to cover the kids school books in.
gennarator gennarator
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My husband and I have been actively purging 'stuff' from our place for over two years now. It's crazy to think but we just tackle a bit at a time. We usually have at least a few bags for good will about two times a month. We've lived close to zero waste for almost a year now but have room for improvement of course! We never seemed to get our laundry under control so we really started there, going through clothing with each other and helping each other decide what to keep and what to donate. It's funny doing it with your partner because sometimes you might think a piece of clothing or gadget or knickknack etc is the best thing ever and the other person will say 'donate!' If I want him to donate something he does it and visa versa. My advice would to be start small, one corner of one room and move on from there. It can be extremely overwhelming to do it all at once. I feel as though we have been making progress even though we have been moving in baby steps. We were affirmed of our efforts when our friends who hadn't been to our place in over a year walked in and said 'Wow, this place looks huge! Did you get rid of a ton of stuff?' My husband and I looked at each other with the biggest grins, we did it!

On another note, if you haven't used it in the past six months you won't miss it!
Janette Janette
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In reply to this post by Paula
Paula and everyone,

I definitely have a problem letting go. My mom is a hoarder. She lived through the depression and kept everything "just in case." I'm doing better than I used to, but it's a huge challenge! Also, my husband has ADHD and has a true problem with organization, so I have to do the organizing for both of us!

My biggest problem is with "information." Papers, books, magazines. My office is a nightmare and is driving me crazy. Every time I try to declutter hard copy information I get stuck! I'm trying to start with less important and older stuff because it's easier to let go of. But it's taking me forever.

I could definitely use prompting in this area! Thanks for the post!
Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Hi Janette,

It's definitely not easy to start decluttering...in fact, it's never easy for me to de-clutter. But it does get easier the more you do it. One thing that helps me is to start small...ie. just start with one drawer or even one file. And before you even start looking at the objects make some decisions about what you are definitely willing to part with, for example, any document over X years old can be trashed or boxed. Making a few important decisions beforehand will help the process be easier and smoother. If you find it's still going too slow. Make some more decisions before continuing.

Also, it helps to make decisions about the papers that come into your house, like junk mail, also. For example, I immediately review all junk mail and discard. I also have set up a procedure whereby I contact companies to ask to be removed from their mailing list whenever possible. The trick with this is to do it immediately. If I saved up the mail for a week or two, it would probably seem to daunting to make a bunch of calls or send emails. But now, I hardly get any junk mail thanks to this decision. These two steps keep mail duty easy and quick and reduce the decluttering I'll have to do later.

You're doing great by putting int the effort and thought now. And the more thought you give, the less effort there will be ;)
Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Janette
Agree with Steph! Again, an easy starting point is stopping what comes into your home, from mail, to receipts,  -any official paperwork. Do you really need it? Can you do without, or failing that, save as a PDF?
Also, look through the Office subforum, You can get a lot of ideas there.
Janette Janette
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In reply to this post by Paula
Thanks! These suggestions help a lot! I believe it will make a huge difference when I get a scanner (can't afford one yet). I plan to get one that scans a stack of papers at once, which should make getting rid of my paper files quick! I'm looking forward to it.

I am doing a lot better at scanning recipes and articles with my phone rather than ripping out the page and keeping the paper or keeping the whole magazine. That has helped, too!
Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Deciding what we NEED...

A scanner might be of help in some ways, but most mail does not need scanned, and the items that do might be available electronically (bills on pdf are offered by most utilities these days, for example), and if you do scan, then 1- if it isn't done daily it stacks up waiting to be scanned, and 2- you have to organize all of your documents electronically, which can be nearly as big a pain as physical organizing/storing/purging. Then, emergency or shorter documents scanning can be done by phone apps pretty well these days.

It's tempting to be drawn in by the lure of a new product that seems to promise to make life easier...but it's good to think critically, is product X really essential, or is it really just adding to your stuff?

Janette Janette
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Re: Deciding what we NEED...

That's a good point, Steph. I'm not talking about scanning mail but rather the documents in my filing cabinet and boxes. Such as medical records, contracts, loan paperwork, etc. I don't think I can do a good enough job scanning those with my phone, and it would take a very long time.

You are absolutely right. Dealing with things as they come in is a much better remedy than trying to manage them later!
Janette

On Apr 11, 2013 3:19 AM, "Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
A scanner might be of help in some ways, but most mail does not need scanned, and the items that do might be available electronically (bills on pdf are offered by most utilities these days, for example), and if you do scan, then 1- if it isn't done daily it stacks up waiting to be scanned, and 2- you have to organize all of your documents electronically, which can be nearly as big a pain as physical organizing/storing/purging. Then, emergency or shorter documents scanning can be done by phone apps pretty well these days.

It's tempting to be drawn in by the lure of a new product that seems to promise to make life easier...but it's good to think critically, is product X really essential, or is it really just adding to your stuff?




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Jay Jay
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Gonna jump in again:
Catching up can be a royal pain. I, personally, would -these days- choose a scanner over a printer, but that's just me and what I've been going through recently (long story, think deceased family member=hoarder). A document feeder will make things go faster, for sure, but unless you have unusual needs, even an older model will do: I used a 15 year old one to catch up. Remember too, once you catch up you may not need again.
Before you start scanning, go through files with a fine tooth comb and make sure you really do *need* that piece of paper! I found I could easily throw away 60-70% of what I thought I needed, even tax related stuff.
Anyhow, just go slow and like I said, before getting/borrowing a scanner or using a service (?Kinkos, etc), you can still massively pare down the paperwork one file at a time.
Another thought: an important element is backup. You can't backup paper copies, so once it's gone.... Electronic is different, and very easy to backup off site. Living in earthquake land, THAT was important to me!
Regarding organizing electronically, make sure titles are appropriate, searchable.
Good Luck!
Lori Lori
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Re: Deciding what we NEED...

Anyone try the "camscanner" phone app Bea mentions in her book? I just downloaded it and have high hopes but have not tried it yet.

My motto when deciding whether to save or get rid of something is "would I cry if I lost it?", i.e. it really needs to be important. And I really like to save stuff so decluttering is an ongoing challenge!
Susan Susan
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In reply to this post by Janette
Paper clutter is the worst. But most information is available if you need it online, and it is usually more up-to-date! Another thought is that you could start scanning the things you are getting stuck on, then get rid of the paper. Eventually you can delete the files if you never consult them.
My most difficult area is photographs. I have so many old family photos, photos of my own kids, relative's kids. I will have to tackle that this summer. I am worried about an old photo album with adhesive pages that I think might ruin the photos, so I am feeling pressure!
Janette Janette
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Re: Deciding what we NEED...

I really like that idea, Susan. My husband said scanning everything is just another form of hoarding, and I agree with his statement. However, at least doing that would make our physical space open up and relieve some of the claustrophobia. And I have a feeling the more I do it, the less I'll decide to scan because I'll decide it's not worth the time! It took me an hour yesterday just to scan and electronically file a few veterinarian and medical receipts! Who wants to waste that kind of time unless the papers are something you truly need?!


On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM, Susan [via Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Paper clutter is the worst. But most information is available if you need it online, and it is usually more up-to-date! Another thought is that you could start scanning the things you are getting stuck on, then get rid of the paper. Eventually you can delete the files if you never consult them.
My most difficult area is photographs. I have so many old family photos, photos of my own kids, relative's kids. I will have to tackle that this summer. I am worried about an old photo album with adhesive pages that I think might ruin the photos, so I am feeling pressure!


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--
Janette
Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Susan
Susan, I am also having major issues with old photos. I can't afford to pay ¢30 PER photo for a service to scan our boxes and boxes of old photos, as much as I would like to foist this task off on someone else! I have a scanner that will scan up to 4 at a time, but it's still SLOW and the labeling, etc. is really getting to me.  Not sure I'll ever get through all of the pictures, much to the disappointment of our kids. I've searched online for a document feeder that works well with photos (ours would eat most of them), but everything I've read suggests that there are some fatal flaws using that method <sigh> 
Would be interested to hear others' thoughts, experiences.
Regarding paperwork, still a believer in scanning, as we go through the gad zillionth round of thinning our files. Over the last year we've cut the amount of paper files by about ⅔ . DH still wants some paper copies of manuals, etc. but I suspect if we had a [large screen] tablet computer, he'd gladly let go of all… With paperwork, the ADF (automatic document feeder) has made all the difference in the world.
Trish Trish
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I feel your pain!  I've spent days and days scanning old family photos and am only up to 1950.  There are about 15 boxes more in the closet and I can't talk psych myself up to tackle them.  I think the answer might be being selective and only scanning the best of the best and letting the others go.... But even the time sorting through for the best photos is time consuming!  The nice thing is, there is no deadline!
At Home At Home
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In reply to this post by Paula
I got some tips from an organizer. You need to pick one place in the house to focus on at a time. You really need to make sure that you think it through so you have time to do everything you want. While you think about it you need to consider 2 questions.

Organization questions to ask yourself:
1. What isn’t working?
2. What is working ?
3. How would this function in a realistic world?

Next you need to make a plan. Realize what you want to do and ask yourself some questions:
1. Can I break this don into smaller steps? Maybe 1 shelf at a time or one cupboard at a time?
2. How long will it take?- double it! It is better to set aside more time where you will not get interrupted.
3. When will I schedule this?  

Next actually take the steps to organize:

1. Collect everything and sort it into piles. Put like things together so you can see how many things you have that fill/serve the same need.
2. Release items you do not need. If you have many things that fit the same need or you do not need donate it.  
3. Establish zones or place for everything.  This is where the cleaning supplies go, this is where the glass jars go. Remember to keep in mind what is working and what was not. Do the jars need to be closer to the door?
4. Acquire containers for the job-  get the right container for the job. Once you know what space you have and what you need you can find the container to fit that need. Bea has the perfect toy containers, or trays for her cooking utensils.  
– label it – swoop bag opens up to mat- container to save school work and at the end of the year take the best and put into an envelope and label it-
5. Transform – put everything away and look at how nice it looks.
6. Evaluate how everything works and keep reevaluating. For example when you kids are little it may work to have toy containers, but as they get older the types of toys will change and maybe they will need fewer toys. You need to reevaluate that area and make the changes to keep it useful.  

I know this may not directly help you decide what to get rid of, but it helps to think about how to organize things and makes you see how many items you have that fit the same needs. This can help you to decide if you can get rid of it..... or maybe hide from view and see if you miss it before you give it away.  
celestenous celestenous
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I have been slowly decluttering for about a year now.  I love to go treasure hunting at thrift stores, yard sales and antique stores!  I get a rush from finding quality items for a great price!  What I have found in the past year is that I enjoy the hunt for great stuff more fun than the ownership of it.  So, I started selling my excess knick knacks, clothes, jewelry, electronics, etc on ebay.  This has been a great way to pass on the enjoyment of the objects that I've collected and to earn extra income for vacations and other experiences.  

The process of becoming zero waste has been a slow and deliberate one.  It takes a lot patience and daily diligence to accomplish this goal.  I still struggle with grocery shopping.  I work in an office full-time, exercise, take care of my home and find it tough to make cooking all meals from scratch a priority.  I would say that some of my friends are zen with cooking, they just get it.  I wish I enjoyed cooking more.  I have a few tried and true recipes but often turn to hummus and crackers plus some cheese and a quick salad for dinner.  So, I'm still working on this aspect.

Focusing on needs instead of wants is somehow easier to do when you begin selling the excess inventory in your home one item at a time.  I have found that it makes me want to bring less into my home!  

I have not purged everything plastic in my home and do not have plans to do that in the near future.  What I have done is pare down to things that I use and enjoy.  Nothing buried in the back of a closet, forgotten.  Its a great feeling to know what is enough.  

One of my favorite quotes about home care is from William Morris:  “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

When I first read Bea's blog, I felt that she embraced his sentiment perfectly.  Thanks to Bea for being such an inspiration!
Catherine Sultana Catherine Sultana
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This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Trish
Trish and all others dealing with old photos.... Maybe an Artificial Deadline will get things completed though? This 12/31 have all of the 1950's  photos completed; then by 12/31/16 have all of 1960's done; then by 12/31/17, the 1970's, etc. Before you know it, you'll be able to take new pix! Plan to share the products of your labor with other family members will help to keep you on track. Hope this helps!
Trish Trish
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Good suggestion!  Think I might set the deadline to my belated great grandmother's birthday.  They are her pics, and the whole family gets together every year to celebrate on her bday.  The presence of my grandma and great aunts would help me sort out who is who in the old photos, and if I have already scanned them, my family members could take the originals with them if they want.  

Thanks!
Catherine Sultana Catherine Sultana
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In reply to this post by Janette
Here is a highly recommended book https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1583913580/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1462204642&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=adhd+organization&dpPl=1&dpID=41vg6YdZgfL&ref=plSrch#


ADD friendly ways to organize your life...I am saving up to buy it for both myself and my diagnosed ADD child. Let me know if you find it helpful in your home. Don't know how ZW it will be, though...