Tag Archives: decluttering

Saturday Random: Decluttering, Cleaning, Dejunking, and a Bad Haircut

I have an unexpected Saturday today—it’s a long weekend here and Dylan doesn’t have any dance classes today. I figured I’d relax today but when I woke up I got bitten by the decluttering bug.

Which was surprising, because when I was composing my list of current nonfiction reads, I’d totally forgotten about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is also on my to-red list.

life-changing magic of tidying-up

Even though I haven’t read it yet, I remembered from reading other reviews of it that one of the questions Kondo urges you to ask when decluttering is, do you love it?

So I tried to do that as I went through the clothes in my chest of drawers. I ended up with two reusable shopping bags full of clothes to give away, and lots of room now in drawers which I previously dreaded reaching into, even though it was required if I wanted to get dressed for the day (another good reason to declare a pajama day, I always think).

Some interesting things I learned:

  1. For someone who is always lamenting about not exercising, I have a LOT of exercise wear. I kept them all. Call it wishful dressing, if you like.
  2. I haven’t gained as much weight as I’d been thinking. I tried on all of my cropped pants, and they all fit except for one pair which had been too small for me last year. Hurray for that!


Every few years I go through this, and I wish I’d remember to Just. Not. Do. It.

What am I talking about? Getting my hair cut short. I normally wear my hair long, but every now and then, especially if I’ve not been that diligent about getting my hair trimmed, I get tired of the long, lanky mess of hair and decide I’m going to get it cut short. And every time I do this, I deeply, deeply regret it.

I’m now sporting this wedgy bobby thing that’s longer in the front, shorter in the back and I hate it. So today I’ve been trying to focus on being grateful that my hair grows fast (about an inch every three to four weeks).

On the bright side, I was helping my daughter move into her new place yesterday and her new roommate’s mother, on being introduced to me by Hayley as, “This is my mom, Belle”, exclaimed, “Oh!” and then laughed. It turned out she’d thought I was Hayley’s friend.

So I guess the cut makes me look younger. But it doesn’t suit me at all.

Grow, hair. Grow! Please?

Dealing with Digital Clutter


Dealing with digital clutterPhoto credit: Pixabay

I spent so much of December thinking about my goals and decluttering so many aspects of my life. But I realized today, there’s one area of my life I hadn’t given much thought to: digital clutter.

I came to this realization this morning when I looked at my phone and saw this:

Mail icon

The thing is, you see, I’d cleared out my inbox maybe four or five days ago (confession: I used the handy dandy “mark all as read” button). So how did the number of unread emails climb back into the three-digit territory?

Actually, I do know how. Now it’s really just a matter of dealing with it.

Anyway, it got me thinking about all of the other digital collections I have, and the rather messy state most of them are in.


Decluttering my email will be my top priority, as I use it all the time. It’s going to be a hefty job, though, because in the past I’ve often decided to “get organized” and as a result have a gazillion labels which I probably don’t need, plus a ton of filters that are fine, only I’m probably better off unsubscribing to things rather than filtering them. I found this system particularly interesting, and will probably be incorporating some form of it with my email.


My Evernote account is another disaster area. I started off with too many notebooks, and then I read about a system that used only a few notebooks and lots of different tags, which I decided to implement. And then a little down the road I read of a different system which said to use one main notebook, the “inbox” and I thought, oh, what a truly splendid idea, so I implemented that system instead. Of course, the crux of that system is that you need to go into Evernote regularly and sort through all the stuff you’ve added. Which I obviously have not been doing. And the situation now? Everything is in my Inbox notebook but hardly anything is tagged. Plus I have tags like “book” and “books” and need to sort that kind of thing out.


I love my Pocket app. I use it all the time, so much so that Pocket sent me a nice little email at the end of the year letting me know I’d won the honour of being in their Top 5% of Pocket readers. And they even did up a nice Webpage of my stats here. But the thing about all my activity on Pocket? I have a wonderful archive of articles I’ve read – and nothing is tagged! I typically just send stuff to Pocket, and then when I’m reading, I kind of read from newest to oldest of the unread, and that’s about it. It would be nice if I at least tagged the articles in my archive …

Google Drive

The main Google Drive account I use actually isn’t so bad, mainly because I don’t have that many things in it. But I have another account which has used up almost all the space Google’s given me, probably because I used to use it to store my old iPhone photos. I’d upload them without much thought, either, so there are photos being stored that shouldn’t even be stored, such as blurred patches of ground and other camera mishaps. And I didn’t know then what I know now, that you can upload your photos to your Google+ account, and as long as they’re under a certain size, they don’t count against any of your Google Drive storage space!


I started backing up work files to Dropbox for “just in case”, but until recently I didn’t really have any particular system. I did the same with my writing files – but not all my writing files – and again, I kind of just uploaded rather haphazardly rather than using a particular, well-thought-out folder system. I have no clue why I did this, as I’m pretty good with the file system on my hard drive. But anyway, things are a real mess here. Luckily, organizing Dropbox is something that can be done through Windows Explorer, so I don’t anticipate things being too difficult. And I don’t have to tag anything, which is very nice. One very odd thing, though – I use the Carousel app to automatically save my iPhone photos to Dropbox (a necessity, because I only have 16G on my phone) but sometimes, I can’t find them on Dropbox. I’m hoping decluttering will help me solve that particular problem.

So these are my digital “problem areas” when it comes to decluttering.  How organized are you, digitally? Do you have some digital decluttering to do this year?

A Life Lesson from Decluttering

Photo 2011-11-22 11 26 27 AM My new office – with lots of bookshelves!

We have finally finished the massive amount of decluttering we had to do because of our move into the city. (Well, okay, maybe “finished” is a bit optimistic; there are still bits and pieces at the house waiting for disposal.)

It’s been quite a chaotic six weeks (including a closing date which kept getting extended – but everything’s now set to close by the 14th at the very latest. Yay!)

After the movers had loaded up their truck on our moving day last month, Ward slipped behind the wheel of our car and remarked to me, “The house doesn’t look any less full.”

He was speaking the truth.

At first, it was hard, the decluttering. For me, it was mostly books, books, books. We gave away enough books to stock a small bookstore. Not only were there books on all those bookshelves of ours (and we had many bookshelves. Many.), we also discovered boxes and boxes and boxes of books I’d stored away in every nook and cranny of the house.

But as the days went by, I found myself becoming much more hard core. It became much easier to part with things. I only have so much space for books at the condo, so I had strict criteria: Will I ever reread this? Can I buy it in ebook format? Will I ever need the information in here? Can I find similar information online?

After I finished going through all my books, there were all the other things. And that’s when this whole decluttering experience became a real learning experience for me.

I learned about me. About the things I yearn the most for. Because I discovered so many things that had seen so little use. Art supplies. Magazines. DIY kits. Puzzles. Tools. Interesting knickknacks.

As I sighed and carefully packed each almost-new thing into the giveaway boxes, I realized how often I’d tried to satisfy my need for more time with things that I could buy when I had a spare moment here and there. Things which then sat around, waiting for me to have the time to do something with them.

Time which never materialized.

It was a big lesson.

I owe a lot to this whole decluttering/downsizing experience. I feel like a different person – I have far less wants now, and I’m really happy with all the things that I have. And I know the one thing that I really need – more time to do the things that I want – and I’m making that a priority in 2012.

I also like to think about all the money I’m going to save from now on. Because I seem to have developed a resistance to buying things. I’ll go into a store now, and ooh and aah over something, but have zero inclination to buy it.

And honestly? I’m perfectly happy fulfilling any need I have to accumulate or collect things by romping through Pinterest every morning; I pin something and it feels like I “have it”. Strange, but true.

It’s perfect timing for me to experience this lesson, too, with the holidays being so near. My Christmas wish list this year is very small, and it’s filled with things that I know I’ll use, enjoy and make time for.

So decluttering isn’t something that’s on my 2012 list. I’ve already done it! And I have no intentions of ever getting into a situation where I’ll need to declutter again.

This is the Difficult Part

So Ward’s home from Okinawa now, and almost all rested from his jetlag.

Which means it’s time to start:

1. Packing the things we’ll be moving with us.

2. Listing things on Craigslist and Kijiji.

3. Giving things away.

4. Getting things ready for storage.

And it also means …

tackling the difficult part. Meaning, this:

Living room bookshelves

These are the bookshelves in our living room. They are packed to the brim with mostly non-fiction books (the bookcase on the far right holds fiction).

Some of these books have been with me for nearly twenty years. There are plays, art books, essay collections, biographies and memoirs, garden writing books, food writing books, new age books, quantum physics and math books … and many, many more.

I’m not sure how I’ll hold up, sorting through the titles and deciding what to take with us, what to give away, what to store.

It will be hard.

My husband has his own dilemma:

Cookbook shelves

These are his cookbook shelves. He ran out of room earlier this year, so he’s also started another collection in a smaller bookcase to the right of this one.

And then there are these – my To-Be-Read bookcases. Yes, I have two of them.

bookshelf3 bookshelf4

These two bookcases are also problematic because, well, obviously I haven’t read the books they hold yet – and I still want to!

I also have another three full bookcases in my office, filled with writing and reference books (I’m not showing you a picture because that part of the office is unbelievably messy and I don’t think you’d be able to see the books through the stacks of paper piled in front of the bookcases).

All of this – after I’d already sorted through several bookshelves full of books earlier this year. At the end of that first round, I ended up giving away about 20 boxes of books, packed nine for storage and four to take with us.

I thought that was painful. It did take care of all the bookcases upstairs.

This is the downstairs. And just like before, it’s going to be really, really difficult.

My only consolation is – ebooks! I did find it easier to give away my books earlier this year, knowing that eventually, if I want them back, I can order them in ebook format. Much easier to store, ebooks.

But still …

A Bookworm Declutters


We have started the process of decluttering our house, in anticipation of putting it up for sale sometime this summer – and I have to say this:

Decluttering is a painful process!

Painful especially when it comes to my books. Over the past 20 years, I have amassed many, many books. Looking at the stacks and stacks of books I’m now weeding through, it occurs to me that I have bought books the way children buy candy.

I’m being ruthless, though – because I have to be. Our plans are to initially move into a condo, so we already know we won’t have much space. We will be renting a storage unit, but there is only so much room we can rent before it gets ridiculous, if you know what I mean.

So far, I have packed two “keeper” boxes of books to move with us, four “storage” boxes destined for the storage unit to await unearthing when we have settled into a large enough space, and four “give away” boxes which we will either list on Craigslist or just drop off at a local donation bin.

Getting those “give away” boxes packed took a lot of steely determination on my part. In the end, I also created smaller, temporary stacks of books destined for specific friends and family – it’s odd, but putting aside books for, say, my nephew Julian who’s 12 and loves to read, is much easier and not at all painful. There’s something about passing along books to someone you know will enjoy them that makes all the difference.

For all I know, the books in the general “give away” pile will languish on a table somewhere, unloved, waiting for all eternity for someone to come by and pick them up with interest.

And that’s what makes this decluttering so painful …

At the same time, though, with every book that gets put in the give away pile, I feel an extra bit of lightness.

Life is strange. But at the same time, very, very beautiful.

Photo Credit