When it comes to de-cluttering I really struggle. I love and am in love with the idea, but having a hard time implementing. Both of my parents are collectors of stuff (hoarder seems too pathologically negative), mom is a shopper, dad is a saver/salvager. So I have learned to buy way more than I need because it is fun!! And save everything because you never know when you'll need that hubcap you found on your lawn in 1995...
In particular I have a hard time getting rid of clothing. Items that I bought because they were beautiful, (vintage fashion) but not necessarily functional or even comfortable. I have been going through stuff slowly, and even though I have bags and boxes to donate, it is exhausting in an emotional kid of way (yes I know it is just stuff but I'm sentimental). Because it is exhausting and emotional I suspect that as I go along I get less and less decisive. So, when I get close to being 'done' going through a bookshelf or set of drawers, etc. I always feel the need to go back and re-do the purge again. In short, I am never finished because I am not REALLY committing myself, and I don't know how to get past this bump. Any thoughts? People with similar issues who have prevailed?
You're dealing with decision fatigue. There are two ways to combat this. 1. Start with a less emotionally charged area, like the junk drawer or the shelf that holds extra towels. 2. Do shorter, timed purges, still work on emotionally charged areas, but limit yourself to a 15 or 20 minute purge on a smaller section, revisit that area as needed to complete.
I totally know that feeling! I don't know that we ever finish decluttering or purging, but it does get much easier once you get to "maintenance mode," as I like to call it.
It was hard for me to start as well, but after I moved to a smaller apartment I didn’t have a choice! Maybe you can start with the easiest part of the house, just a corner, or maybe even a drawer. Completing a small area may be enough of a motivator for you to continue, especially when you see how nice it is not to have to dig through things that you don't use to get to what you do use. At a certain point I found that many things got easier once I got rid of enough stuff: finding clothes in my closet, doing the dishes (I don't have a dishwasher), and straightening up the apartment were all easier with less stuff.
If your closet is difficult maybe you can enlist a friend to help. Try your clothes on for your friend to judge whether or not each piece fits, is flattering, and how likely you are to wear it. if it doesn't fit or look good, why should it take up precious space in your closet or life? Someone else could use it and maybe you can make money from your vintage pieces.
In the end it’s all just “stuff.” You can’t take it with you, as they say! Reading up on minimalism also helped me let go. I felt that it was about streamlining my life, focusing on what's important to me, and having too many possessions to take care wasted time that I could be doing something more important.
Agree with others have said, and totally sympathize with your "stuckness". I think we've all hit a bump in the road, and have had to step back, take a break, and think about something else for a while.
I still find stuff stashed away, stuff I no longer need, and I've been at this a while. Frustrating, yes, but fun, too, realizing I don't want or need something I once thought was important enough to own.
Most of us will not go through the extreme of moving/downsizing/purging all at once as the Johnsons did, and we have to work around our stuff as we make decisions.
I think there is real value in bringing in a neutral party, be it a friend or, if you want, hire someone -just make sure it's someone who really doesn't have any sentimental attachments to your things.
Mostly, just recognize that this is exhausting at times, that you may not get it all done right away, but that as long as you don't bring anything new in, you're ahead of the game. Give yourself a pat on the back for what you have done!
I had another thought about your vintage clothes since you say they're particularly difficult for you to let go of. Can you display some of your pieces as a collection? You can display handbags on shelves or hang hats on a wall. Maybe you can display an outfit on a vintage dummy in your spare room and change the outfit once in a while. That way you can enjoy the beauty of these pieces as artwork even though they're not practical for you to wear. You may even find that you have a few favorites that you like to rotate and can let the others go.
Decluttering is a never ending task as we continue to bring things into our homes, garages, sheds. We start new projects and hobbies which need supplies. Each phase of family life has its emphasis. As soon as you adjust to this way of thinking and make time for decluttering like you do for cooking, cleaning, and sleeping (!) you will be more able to make process (at least that's what I experienced). Cheers!
You might want to try clearing clutter from one room at a time.
I started with the bathroom keeping just what we need in the bathroom. Then moved onto the bedroom-- the bed, bedding, dresser, lamp, and a couple of sentimental items could stay-- everything else went to the office. I have also cleared the living room, dining room, guest bathroom laundry room, and kitchen of everything that isn't necessary or beautiful.
I have donated 3-4 bags of clutter from each room, but the office is a disaster right now.
Now that we have been living in uncluttered, nicely curated rooms the horrors of the office seem so much less forgivable. The office is the last room to tackle, but I am ready to do it next.
I had another thought-- maybe it's time to focus on what drew you to zero waste in the first place to solidify your commitment.
If it wasn't a love of minimalism, maybe it was the desire to make the world a better place by not wasting resources? If so try to think of ways to let the things you give up serve a better purpose.
I have given my professional clothes to a charity that helps disadvantaged women apply for and interview for jobs. I gave books to the humane society for their annual book sale. Office supplies were donated to school, like-new stuffed animals to a children's charity, etc. I like feeling like I have a positive impact, however small, and that keeps me going.
IMO you're not purging enough stuff at one time. Just get rid of 90-95% of what you own, and your problem is solved. If you get rid of two things a day, get rid of this thing, get rid of that thing, become hesitant, you're just pushing the problem down the road and of course you'll have "decision fatigue" or whatever it's called and it'll never get done.
Call Goodwill, Salvation Army, a women's shelter, a food bank, or any org that will pick up your crap, set a date for them to come over and stick to it; hell call them all and get them all over there, box it all up and get it out of your house.
You won't know what it really feels like to minimize until you, well, actually DO it. Who cares if it's beautiful or might be functional in the future. If you're not using spare hubcaps and wearing vintage clothing right now, you're not only depriving yourself of its use but you're depriving somebody else of enjoying it or who could use it.
I've seen so many comments like yours around the "minimalist" blogs. It's common. You think about it on an ongoing basis because you're doing it piecemeal. It's like washing one dish and leaving the rest of the dirty dishes in a pile. You still have the rest of them to wash so of course you're stressed about it. Instead of 'decision fatigue," you should just acknowledge that you're not ready to go the distance. Nothing wrong with that. But for your own peace of mind, stop tap dancing around it. Purge most of your possessions, or acknowledge that you don't want to do it and forget about it.
I don't recommend the "becoming minimalist" website. The blog owner is too religious and it creeps into his "message."
I echo you, Catherine! Thank you, coldswim, for what you said.
I'm really disgusted right now. I have a contractor coming over to do some house repairs. I was trying to move stuff out of the way so he can work. I have no place to put the stuff. We are NOT wealthy. How did I accumulate so much junk? I need to be ruthless like you said and get on it. This is stupid! I've been working on this for years--how can it still be so bad?? Obviously, I'm not doing enough fast enough.