Monday, 1 December 2014

The Lure of Storage

I’ll admit that on many occasions I have been convinced that storage would be the answer to all my problems.  Well, maybe not all my problems, but those that relate to the mess and chaos in my home.  If only I had more storage everything would be organised, tidy, ordered – things would be so much simpler.  A place for everything, and everything in its place.

It seems surprising, but it really didn't occur to me that removing some of the excess might be a better solution.  When struggling to maintain some order over all those possessions, how can adding more items help?  Drawer units, cupboards, chests, boxes, crates… whatever form the storage takes, it is using up valuable space in our homes.  It also becomes something else to maintain.

In my experience having more storage doesn't very often solve the problem either.  It starts off well – contents neatly positioned and tidy.  Then, over time, those neat ordered contents seem to breed and throw a messy old party in there!  (Tell me it’s not just me!)  I've found that no matter how much storage I have, I manage to fill it to bursting anyway.  We spread to fill (and overflow!) the space we have.

I'm not saying that we don’t need storage, but that we should get to the crux of the problem before running out for more.  If we donate, throw out, or sell some of the items that we don’t even use, then we might find that we've got more than enough storage already and that it’s a lot easier to keep things organised.

I still believe that you should have a place for everything, and everything in its place.  However, that’s a lot simpler to maintain if you have less clutter and junk to find a place for.  Before defaulting to ‘more storage’, I try to think it through first.  What am I trying to store?  Do I use it?  Do I need it?  Is there another option?

There is no reason not to keep hold of the things you love, use, enjoy.  The important thing is making space for them by removing those items you don’t.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Decluttering - Making a Start

'Decluttering' is quite the buzz word at the moment and it's something I've been trying to do for a while.

What's the problem?

It seems that a lot of us are feeling bogged down by all the possessions we have crowding our homes.  Surfaces covered, drawers and cupboards stuffed full.  Finding anything becomes increasingly difficult and more frustrating.  Then there are the items in the depths of those drawers and cupboards that haven't seen the light of day in quite some time - a lot of them completely forgotten about.  It begs the question, why do we even have them?

Think how much space and effort is expended storing these possessions, maintaining them, tidying and organising them (when we do eventually tackle those messy storage spots).

What's the solution?

Only one thing for it - a good old clear out!

At the beginning of this year, I embarked on the project 'Less 365'.  The idea is to try to get rid of one item every day for a year.  The way I approached this was to print out a 2014 calendar and cross out a day for every item I remove from my home - whether it be to give it to charity or to throw it away (depending on what it is and its condition).  I have decluttered clothes, books, CDs, DVDs, amongst a lot of other random bits and bobs.  I didn't wear, read, listen to, or watch them any more, so it was a great feeling to know they were no longer taking up valuable space in my home.

Rather than remove an item a day, I have clear-out sessions where I tend to purge multiple objects - that means I can cross quite a few days off the calendar in one hit.  This helps to tide me over on the days (or months, ahem) I don't declutter.  Sometimes I'm ahead of the date and other times I'm behind it, but I will make sure that by the time 31st December arrives I have crossed every day off the calendar!

The calendar could be considered unnecessary, but I enjoy marking the dates off (because I like that kind of thing!) and it's a record showing that I'm achieving what I set out to do.  It also helps focus me to have a goal of a certain number of items that need to be removed.  Without that, I'm not sure I would have stayed disciplined and kept on purging.  However, it's down to what works for you individually - there are no rules!

Some argue that this method of getting rid of one thing a day isn't enough.  New articles are brought into our homes on a regular basis, and we need to do more than this.  My view is that it is a good way to start off.  Something achievable.  The new possessions would have come home with me anyway, but I'll still end up with 365 less things in my house than I would have had.

Stopping the influx of items into our home is a topic for another day, but for now here are my tips on making a start on tackling the clutter currently taking up space in our homes:


  • Attempt to declutter an item a day, but don't be constrained by that - you can purge as much as you like!  Or if you'd rather set a lower goal, maybe aim for 30 items in 2 or 3 months - pick an amount you feel comfortable with.
  • If you are feeling daunted, start small.  Clearing out just one drawer is achievable and will make you feel as though you are making progress.  Experiencing how much simpler it is to use that drawer afterwards will spur you on to tackle the next spot.
  • Have a box or bag in an allocated place to fill with items for charity.  Next time you know you'll be passing a charity shop, grab it and take it with you.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself - every item you remove is progress!  Work at your own pace, there are no deadlines.

This is just skimming the surface when it comes to decluttering.  It is just the start, and only applies to physical possessions.  In future posts I hope to look into the other aspects that are cluttering our lives, our minds, and our time.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How it Began

It all started with clothes.  A wardrobe bursting at the seams, drawers overflowing, and yet that same thought every morning, "I have nothing to wear!"

I began researching capsule wardrobes online, how to have fewer clothes but more outfit options, how to get rid of the excess to leave items I'll actually wear.  Reading about minimising in this area naturally led to articles and posts on minimalism in general.

I'd always thought that 'Minimalism' was a style of interior design, consisting of very bare rooms with the odd lone item here and there. It turns out it can be a way of life, and not necessarily one consisting of cold empty rooms!

I've felt for a long time that the modern world is far too busy and hectic.  Everybody rushing around, trying to fit too much into too little time, feeling stressed and harassed.  For what end?  Do we really need to be doing the things we're frantically trying to get done?  Could we all just calm down, slow down, and take things a little easier?

From what I understand of minimalism, it's all about simplifying and getting rid of the clutter in our lives.  This clutter isn't just the abundance of possessions that we have, but can be the demands on our time, the emails in our inbox, the worries going around in our head... the list goes on.

Minimalism is getting rid of the excess so that we have time and space to enjoy and appreciate the important things in life.

I plan to explore minimalism (see what I did there?!) and see whether I can adopt some of the principles and ideas into my life, with the aim of living more simply and more contentedly.  I will in no way take minimalism to the extreme - I've read of people paring their belongings down to just 100 items - ain't gonna happen!  All respect and admiration to them, but it wouldn't make me happy.  I would like to obtain a balance that works for me, and I will share how successful (or not!) I am on this blog, along with any lessons I learn along the way.  I hope you will read along and perhaps get some inspiration and tips which could help you make some positive changes in your lives too.

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Nothing I've put here is new - in fact it seems I'm quite late to the party!  Some of the blogs which have opened my eyes to minimalism are:

Project 333
Into Mind
Becoming Minimalist