Reduction progress

November 15, 2010

Well, this was a productive weekend!

Some of my work clothes were getting a bit frayed, so I got them all together in one place and did a critical review.  I do laundry once a week so how many shirts do I need?  Decided to keep five of the best, and also mail ordered one more.

Only have one pair of work pants that fit, due to my recent weight gain.  Kept those and ordered one more pair.  The only non-work pants that fit me now are two pairs of jeans.  Kept those.  All the other pants were donated.  So, I did some serious minimizing on clothes.  When I go to work on Monday I’ll be wearing my only pair of pants that meet the dress code.  Except for my old suit, which is still too big on me, but could be worn if I ruin my pants before the new ones arrive in the mail.

Some of the jeans I donated were being kept in case I could fit into them again someday.  That’s not a good reason.  Buying too-small pants in the first place was a waste of money.

Another online purchase this weekend was a pair of eyeglasses.  I had another pair of cheap glasses I got online that were being used as reading glasses.  But after many attempts I was not able to adjust them so they fit me well.  It was just a really bad choice of frames (hard to do online).  So I put them in a bag along with all the other glasses I had stored away, and donated them all today.  Right now, for the first time in about 40 years, I have no spare glasses at all!  This is a strange feeling but okay.  My whole life I have only needed a spare about 1 or 2 times, so I’ll manage.  I bought a new pair online that hopefully will replace the ones I have now.

In addition, I finally listed my Grandmother’s old ironing board on Freecycle.  No takers.  I’ll relist in a week with the offer worded differently.  If there’s still no interest, I’ll try craigslist.  If that doesn’t work, what then?


Small Shoe Regret

March 15, 2010

Well I threw away a pair of shoes last week.  They were still usable.  Black office shoes, and a pretty good brand name.  The sole was worn so that the tread on the bottom was worn flat in places.  They were scuffed up around the sides, but I could have fixed that with some shoe polish.  The heel was a little too high for me.  The laces broke a couple years ago and they were replaced.  I could have continued to wear them or keep them in my wardrobe.  Haven’t used them in more than half a year because I have other shoes that I like better.

They were high-quality black leather shoes, water-proof, good enough to wear to work.  Condition was poor enough that I would not want to donate them.  A person with no shoes would probably be happy to have them. So, instead of putting them on the floor of my closet for ten years I decided to throw them away.  Before doing so I tied the laces so they would stay together.  Then I wrapped them in a plastic bag to protect them from the garbage.  And then put the bag in the trash bin.

I don’t know how garbage is processed, but I imagine there could possibly be an opportunity for someone who works for the garbage company.  That worker might see them and know someone who has no shoes and the same size feet as me.  This is the kind of stuff that runs through my head.

Eye Glasses

November 29, 2009

All the eyeglasses I’ve worn since I was in 6th grade are still in my storage.  The frames that is.  There was a pair of loose lenses that were removed from a set of frames and replaced with newer lenses (no idea why I kept the old ones).  Those lenses were thrown out during the Great Purge of 2008.

I had three pairs of “reading glasses” that came with an eyesight improvement program I bought.  They had been in my car for a couple months along with some empty glasses cases.  The intent was to put them in a drop box next to the grocery store, to donate them to charity.  I finally did donate them last week (minor declutter victory).

By the way, I do have an opinion about these programs that claim you can improve your eyesight with exercise and relaxation techniques.  I was able to move my prescription from about -8.00 to -7.25 over 1.5 years, so there is some truth to the idea you can change the shape of your eye through natural therapy.  However, most of the eye’s structure is developed while a person is young and their body is growing.  So for an adult with very bad eyesight like myself there is a limit to how much improvement is possible.  Therefore I believe natural vision improvement therapy is most useful for children.

So I have all these old eye glasses.  These are kept for two reasons – they can potentially be used as spare glasses, plus they have a sentimental value from being a part of how I looked for the years I wore them.  There’s only six pair (instead of like 15 or so), because there was a period of time in my 20’s when I just wore contacts.  Also during the time I was down and out, when new glasses were needed I couldn’t afford them.  Only six of them now, but maybe they should be given to charity too.  I only wear the most recent pair.  Keeping one extra as a backup might make sense, although keeping spares isn’t very minimalist.


September 13, 2009

Some things I have held onto for a very long time, recently was able to let go and give them to a church fair.  I put them in the box of donations, and even then could not believe I had done that, perhaps thinking of just taking them out again, restraining myself and letting them stay.

Telephone – This was the last wired land-line phone that I had.  A nice quality AT&T phone in perfect working order.  The house where I’m staying had a cordless phone system installed a couple years ago, so it went into storage.  I probably kept it this long because I’ve been using it since the early 1990’s, and it could potentially be used as an emergency phone in case the cordless phones stop working.  But there are other phones in the house to use in emergencies.  I also have a mobile phone which is my main number.  So this telephone was not necessary.

Clothes Iron – The old metal ironing board from my Grandmother’s house is still here.  But I decided to let the iron go.  It was not something I chose – the iron was given to me when my Mom got a new one for herself.  Most of my clothing was chosen partly because it does not require ironing.  If I start ironing clothes again someday I’ll get a new one.  Maybe now I’m closer to being able to give away the ironing board?

The pile of audio tapes I had set aside for donating went to the church.

Also, just found out that someone at work is collecting books to sell as a fundraiser for charity.  When I read the sign I thought about my “on the cusp” pile of books that I still want to keep but would not be devastated if they were gone.  I decided while I was at work that I’ll just donate the whole pile.  Not looking at the books helped to make the decision.  Never finished reading some of them, but I really don’t have room for them all here.

It seems easier to give things away if they’re going to benefit a church or raising research funds to fight a disease.

A key principle of clutter creation is saving things for later.  Examples:

  • Getting mail, looking at it once, then putting it on a pile of papers to deal with later.
  • Buying a book that looks interesting, even though you have no time to read it, figure you’ll read it someday soon.
  • Recording a TV show that you can’t watch right away, putting the tape with your library of things to watch later.
  • Skimming through email subjects, intending to devote time to reading them all later.  Hundreds of unread emails building up.
  • Buying a set of pots and pans for the new larger kitchen that you hope to have someday.
  • Getting new clothes that don’t fit, so you’ll have something to wear when you lose weight.

It’s good to plan for your future, but … come on!

The mail could in theory be handled right when it comes in.  Open it, pay bills, file paperwork.  But that requires the energy and mental focus to deal with it at any time, which for me is rare.  I get mail after work, burned out from the day’s effort and only have energy to look at the envelopes.  If the energy is there, the focus may not be – because of the distraction of the mess and piles of things I’m responsible for doing.

Data Clutter

March 25, 2009

Ten days ago I was sitting with a pad of paper, trying to organize my thoughts on how to approach the clutter caused by the damp things spread out to dry.  After I while I just wrote: “At the end of today I want the bedroom to be in a state where I can leave it as-is for one week.”

That was accomplished.  It was all consolidated in one area, half-packed boxes stacked up along one wall.  Shoes, books and things piled underneath card tables.  The chaos was still present, but contained.

It occurred to me today that I didn’t feel motivated to finish packing the dry stuff back into boxes and storing them.  It’s not as offensive now to see these things, compared to when they were damp and musty.  As if the stuff is blending into the landscape of clutter in the bedroom, so that I am not seeing it anymore.  Soon I’ll need to pack it up so I can reclaim some floorspace.

I want to upgrade my computer.  But it worries me.  Where will I put the old computer?  Where will I put all the stuff that comes with a new computer?  (disks, books, cables, boxes)  How will I consolidate all my data so it can be transferred and then backed up?

Data, like objects, have been collected by me and saved for a long time.  I still have text files that were downloaded to a Commodore 64 from a BBS using a 300 baud modem!  Also most things I’ve created on computers – including programs written in college that won’t run on any system I have now.  I did throw away the paper printouts of those old school projects, but I probably still have the data files.

I have all the pictures taken since I got a digital camera.  That collection is getting pretty big now.  Data takes up little physical space, but there are media like CDs, DVDs, Zip disks, flash drives, external hard drives.  That crap takes up real space.

Flooded Basement

March 14, 2009

A week ago the basement at the house flooded.  It was a rare warm day in in winter, snow and ice melting, plus it was raining.  Water level in the basement rose to about 8 inches and stayed there most of the day, slowly draining out overnight.  I’m told this is a rare event, the basement had been damp, but no flooding in the last 20 years.

I was storing about 30 cardboard boxes down there, many of which were sitting on the bare concrete floor.  They were stacked three boxes high.  A few of the lower ones changed shape when they got soaked, causing the upper ones to fall down and get wet.  I discovered it the next day, when the furnace wouldn’t turn on I went down to look.  The whole floor was a wet mess, with boxes and plastic cans knocked on their sides.

This past week I went to my job every day like normal, then rushed back to the house to work on saving as much as I could.  Things that got soaked were clothes, shoes, books, and paper files.  Bedroom is super cluttered right now, with piles of clothes on chairs, card tables, and hanging up on hooks, damp books arranged on any available flat surface to dry, and shoes all over the floor.  The musty smell is making it hard to sleep there.  Haven’t opened all the wet boxes yet, due to lack of workspace.  Trying to hurry and get things dried out before they can get moldy.  Planning on finishing it this weekend.

Sadly, most of these boxes are things I am storing for someone else.  If it were mine I’d rejoice and heave the wet junk into the dumpster and be done with it.  But since it’s not mine and I am responsible for it, I feel obligated to save as much as possible.

I was thinking the other day, as insane as it is to store things for friends, it actually does help me with decluttering my own stuff.  Being able to compare the physical volume of my stuff with the stuff belong to other people, gives me a perspective that changes the way I look at things I feel attached to.  Other people have an emotional or memory attachment to their own things which I don’t share.  Looking at junk I’m not attached to, and then looking at my own things, allows me to view my own junk as if it were someone else’s.