We're "fortunate" to have a lot of stuff. I say "fortunate" because I've come to a place where I no longer think all this "fortune" is necessary. I've started my quest to not only de-clutter but to de-own. All the organization magazines and books say that if it has a place it can stay and if it doesn't have a place it needs to go. So I've made sure: things have a place and that all the things that don't have a place are slowly making their way out the door. For instance, the other day we (and I mean Sean totally by himself because he's so sweet) lugged three bags of clothes, two bags of books and two bags of shoes to the donation bins down the street. And yet, sometimes, I just feel cluttered. Things accumulate so quickly, don't they? One minute our counters are clean and with one trip to the mailbox -- they're totally covered in flyers and bills and coupons for stores I don't even shop at. Or the bathroom -- it's totally clean but by the time I finish getting ready each day the counter is filled with lotions and potions that I don't even remember applying. And laundry? Somehow laundry makes a mess in the whole apartment.
In the past few days, I realized that it's probably not okay to just throw away things in mass quantities. Maybe some would disagree but there were a few days there that Sean really thought he was going to come home to nothing at all in our apartment. So rather than throw away items that our money has paid for and that in lots of cases we actually use and enjoy I decided to get my fix of de-cluttering in other, slightly smaller, ways.
1. Merge email accounts and organize emails into folders: I have so many email addresses; two for personal use, one for my blog, one for ebay, one for work... I mean, seriously, why? In about two minutes I was able to merge all my email accounts (I left my work one alone), and about twenty-five minutes later (it probably could have been quicker but I got a tiny bit sidetracked by emails from Expedia) all my emails for all my accounts were organized into folders. It's great because I no longer need to log into multiple emails. They're all in one place. It helps to unsubscribe to companies that send you emails all the time but that you don't want to receive. That's my next step.
2. Clean out my purse: Why am I saving receipts from Chipotle? Why can't I ever just put my debit card back into my wallet? Why is my Marc Jacobs bag a dumping ground when I'm on the go, when I want to clean out my car or even when I need to clear off all the mail from the dining room table? There's really no need for it, and when my bag is clean and organized I feel so much better. It takes a few minutes, why not do it?
3. Fold the clothes in my dresser: Whenever I go through clothes, it doesn't have to be because I'm getting rid of them. Every now and then, I like to take every single thing out of my dresser, fold it (I don't know how they're getting unfolded?) and then just put everything back in the drawers. It gives the illusion I've just thrown away a bunch of stuff but really it's all just neat and tidy.
4. Delete the DVR, just do it: I'm one of those serial recorders. When I like a show I DVR it every single time it's on... on any channel. This means that at any given time I could have over 30 episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, Boy Meets World, Chelsea Handler... the list goes on. Whenever I feel the need to clean out something but can't find trash bags -- I go straight to the DVR. I just pick a couple of random episodes, spend a few minutes deleting them rather than 30 minutes each (give or take) watching them all and just watch as the space on the DVR frees up.
5. Take out the recyclables: When all else fails, actually take things outside that you're planning to get rid of anyway. We recycle a lot. And our FOUR recycling bins (plastic, paper, glass, aluminum) are right by the door. This means they're the first things I see when I walk in, they're the last things I see before I leave and they're all right there every time I'm in the kitchen and glance down the hallway. It's hard work (and kind of annoying) trying to be green when I want a neat house and all these bottles and cans and jars and papers are constantly cluttering up my apartment. The nerve. So when it gets too much to handle, and when I feel like it's weighing me down -- I bring all the bins to the recycling center. It takes less than five minutes and feels good to know I'm getting rid of things I don't want, need or use. And sometimes, Sean does it for us. So it's even better. And five minutes later, I have empty bins by the front door and it's relaxing rather than chaotic.