I all but live in my car... legitimately. Last year I put almost 35,000 miles on it (super glad I had a hybrid or the gas would have killed me!) between work, side hustles, choruses and folk dance, and errands around town. There were two small road trips in there to be completely fair but they were both only a couple days long so didn't make a huge impact on that number. All that is said mostly so that you understand why I have so much stuff in my car. :)
This year I'm trying to keep my car organized, clean and clutter free. I haven't done super well on that if I'm honest but as part of the KonMari challenge I set for myself I thought that my car should count as a space that needed de-cluttering. Unfortunately I lost the footage for almost all of the actual sorting and organizing part of the challenge (nooooooo!) but I did manage to get footage of the afters and in some cases I had photos from in progress. That's the case for my car thankfully.
When I cleaned out my car I really only had things in the trunk and center console surprisingly so this was the fastest area I de-cluttered in the entire process. It's rather cold here at the moment so I brought everything inside onto the couch to go through.
The coat and 'Heather' bag both have places they should be living other than in my car so they were put away immediately which left me with a minimal amount of sorting and some folding to do. The first thing I did was go through the trunk organizer (the blue contraption with white daisies on it). In it I had a lot of things that I haven't even looked at in a year including some medications. Oops. Those obviously had expired so they were disposed of as well as a package of dried out hand wipes, old papers and notebooks from classes and seminars, and various odds and ends that must have seemed important to carry around at the time I put them in my car.
Next up was my emergency hygiene kit. You'd be surprised how often I have to break into this. Since I'm away from the house so often having a travel size of a few important things like makeup wipes, toothpaste, tissues and a deodorant in my car along with an extra pair of contacts and some feminine hygiene items means no worries or last minute dashes into a drug store if I'm in need of something. This saves me time and money and has been a part of my emergency kit since I was a teacher.
This kit is stored in the front pouch of my trunk organizer bin for quick access. On the side pockets I have sun screens- in case I have little ones in the back seat- and a bag carrier tool that I haven't had a chance to try out yet. I may end up getting rid of it but I do want to see how it works before I do that.
I put all of the bags, ID tags, and shirts for side hustles I'm trying out into the Favor pizza bag so that they would be available if I had time to pick up a shift. That is stored behind the organizer on top of where the car's battery is located. With a hybrid my trunk space was basically halved from other cars of the same model so there is a ledge that is perfect for storing items like that bag. Then I added a first aid kit, my Bible, a bag with pencils & highlighters (for chorus rehearsal), and the car's emergency kit (road hazard triangle, tools, jumper cables, and etc.) in the front two compartments of the organizer and an insulated cooler bag went into the last compartment. I used Marie Kondo's method of folding to fold all of my reusable grocery bags into the cooler bag and I was good to go. I don't believe she actually has a tutorial on how to fold reusable shopping bags but I used her method of making a rectangle, tucking in any bits that overhang it and them folding in thirds. Here's a video showing how I did this.
The entire process took about half an hour and having a clutter free car trunk has actually helped keep me accountable to my goal of keeping the rest of the car clean and organized. Right now I have to get it washed and vacuumed but other than that I would say it's clean and presentable. I just took a new hire to lunch in it and had no second glances from him or anxiety from me about the state of my car and I didn't have to make sure it was clean the night before. Steps in the right direction for someone as prone to a cluttered car as I have been known to be in the past.
Did you include your car in your de-cluttering efforts? Let me know, I'm curious if I'm the only one who prioritized that space or not.
Until next time,
Continuing on from last week’s clothing decluttering post we’re moving on to the second task on Marie Kondo’s list: Books.
I used to have a ton of books. I had three bookshelves stacked two deep in books while I was in college. When I got engaged had found a job in Dongducheon, South Korea to be near my ex I realized that the logistics of me storing all of those books for an indefinite amount of time was just not going to work. So I gave away and donated about half of them. After coming back to the US and unpacking two households (my college apartment plus our joint things from Korea) I once again consolidated the books, halving them again as there was simply no way we could continue to bring them from home to home. All this to say that I’m not new to decluttering books… but I’m also good at collecting them. I love books. Curing up with a good book and a cup of tea on a cold evening is one of my favorite pastimes.
This time around I had a full bookcase to begin the decluttering process with. In Marie Kondo style I started pulling them all out of the shelves. I didn’t have enough room to take down the teaching books (that I also actually needed to keep whether or not they brought me joy… a departure from her method) so those stayed on the shelf. Oops, not a perfect KonMari decluttering here either but it worked nonetheless.
The KonMari method would have had me ‘wake up’ the books by touching them all then, without opening the books, hold them and decide if they ‘spark joy’ or not. If they don’t then you discard them. Simple, quick and you would think fairly easy. I found this one less easy than it sounds on paper because there are books that I have not for regular use or because they bring me joy but because they are useful- a concordance, sheet music, teaching materials and books, etc. There are also some books that don’t themselves bring me joy but doing the activity that it helps me to do does bring joy- singing the songs from my music collection, cooking, etc. I also have books that I am saving for when my nieces visit, for use in my classroom and for my future children. None of those really felt like they fit into her plan for decluttering books. Perhaps I misunderstood her idea of sparking joy here but I definitely kept books that didn’t spark joy when everything was said and done.
Books were just hard and to be honest I didn’t like her method when applied to them. It did force me to think about the books I kept though which I’m going to take as the lesson of the day and move on to another area. I had some books that don’t fit my life any longer- ballet books for instance, I no longer teach ballet and don’t see that in my immediate future or cookbooks full of recipes that contain gluten… I’m never going to use them, I can’t- all of those made their way to the sell & donate piles as well as a few others. Another handful of books are heading to my sister for the girls to enjoy now rather than when they visit. All in all I got rid of a large box of books, I would estimate 25-30.
Next up is supposed to be Papers, and we’ll get to that next week, but I actually did a quick declutter of my car first as I was about to go out of town and all the decluttering and organizing had me itching to put it to rights before I left. I’m actually not sure if the car would be considered part of Komono or not part of my home at all actually but I spend quite a bit of time in my car commuting to work, chorus, dance and doctor’s appointments so having it cluttered can actually affect my whole day.
Until next time,
Since most of my belongings were in storage for nearly two years while I was trying to find and buy a home I had a LOT of stuff that I really didn’t need and was not likely to use again anytime soon. Finishing the unpacking coincided everyone’s suggestion to read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as one of my 12 non-fiction books for 2019. I finished the book in just a few days and, of course, started using the KonMari method to declutter my home.
Her process is simple: gather all items together that are alike and sort through them, deciding which items ‘spark joy’ and which don’t. Those that do not you thank for their service to you and let go from your life (often in donations). That’s my summary, on her website she lists them as:
There is also a specific order you must go in if you are following her method of decluttering, and it doesn’t follow a location system but rather goes by item categories:
Since the first step was clothing that’s where I started. I had recorded the entire process but unfortunately the footage was corrupted so I lost it all. Instead I recorded a video of the aftermath of finishing the decluttering showing you my closet and all the drawers holding clothing so that you can see her filing system. I also discussed some of the things I did differently than she suggests. They are:
That’s pretty much it though. While it did take a long time, I enjoyed the process and found a lot of value in going through everything. My local charity also found value in me doing it as I had a backseat full of bags just from the clothing (which includes shoes and accessories as well) over haul. Finally, the process of going through all of my things has made me more mindful of not only what I purchase clothing wise but also why I am purchasing it. I needed a new pair of slacks and I almost didn’t get them, despite needing them, as they didn’t really meet the need of ‘sparking joy’ that is, they weren’t really my favorite style. I did end up getting them as I actually needed them and hadn’t been able to find a better alternative but I was mindful about it and the incident has made me realize I need to be more pro-active in my clothing purchases rather than reactive so that I can find things that really suit my taste and budget as well rather than just making a purchase out of necessity that I may not be happy with.
Next up was books, which was a fast but insightful evening. We’ll talk about that next week though. Have you tried decluttering your closet yet? What did you learn if so? Did you have any tweaks like I did?
Until next time,
P.S. As a bonus for this week I have an extra video on how to fold plus size clothing using Mari Kondo's filing method of folding clothing in drawers. I really like this method and have used a similar method for years (her method has one additional fold than mine did). Here it is if you, like me, find yourself needing to tweak the folding method on some items to get them to fit into the drawers better... or if you just want a run through of how to fold with her method. I tried to be comprehensive.
We have our first guest post today which is exciting. Alice has some wonderful recommendations for keeping a clean and decluttered home. Check out her tips below and come back next week for the beginning of a new series... I've started decluttering my own home!
Having a decluttered home may seem trendy, but it can improve the quality of our lives. When we aren't surrounded by things, we can focus on what matters. However, throwing items away is not the answer. Recycling and reusing what we can keeps our planet and our houses healthy.
Keep the Home Clean
Having a decluttered home is only as freeing as how clean it is, so you'll want to maintain that fresh feeling. However, when you clean, you need to use things that are good for you and the environment. From reusable cloths to non-toxic chemicals, there are choices for everything. One way to incentivize yourself to stay on top of cleaning is to get a good vacuum. A high-quality vacuum with the capacity to quickly remove dirt and grime can make cleaning a breeze. Since there are different models to choose from, check out online reviews to ensure you’re getting a great one.
Simplify Your Furniture and Appliances
Larger goods can often be difficult to dispose of in an eco-friendly way, but it's not impossible. In fact, it can be downright easy if belongings like bedding, large electronics, and more are in decent condition. Many donation centers will come and collect big items, even if they aren't perfect. Take advantage of neighborhood yard sales as well, or list an item online as free or for a small price. Make the caveat that the buyer needs to pick it up themselves so you don't need to worry about transport. If, for instance, an old refrigerator no longer works, you still have options to explore. Companies like Best Buy will take electronic goods and appliances at no charge, but call and ask if your local store has a similar policy.
Sell What You Can
Sometimes, it's worth our while to not just list something as free but to make a little extra cash from it. This doesn't just apply to things that are in pristine condition. With a bit of time and effort, you can restore or transform older goods into something completely new. For example, you could put a fresh coat of lacquer or paint onto wooden tables or stools. Or, get a swath of colorful fabric and repair the seat of a computer chair. There is no end to what you can do, as even mismatched dining room chairs can be transformed into a chic bench. If you love what you've made, keep it. If not, list it on a site like Etsy or eBay and make a tidy profit.
Paper clutter is pernicious and can invade every room if we're not careful, which is why it's a good idea to go digital, whether that's bills or storing photographs online. Plus, you'll save paper waste from rotting in a landfill. However, make sure you know which cloud service offers what you need. Some are free, while others are paid but provide additional services. You might need a storage service that syncs continually or a cheaper one that only does it manually. If you have large files, you'll want architecture that allows for unlimited capacity. You also shouldn't rely solely on one service, so have backups on flash drives or external hard drives to be safe.
Rethink Your Media
Are you going to re-read that book that's been sitting on the shelf for years? What about the movie you bought on a whim, watched once, and only thought was okay? One solution is to go digital. You can store your movies — even books — on your tablet or laptop. With the availability of different streaming services, owning physical movies is another form of clutter. This is especially true if you're hoarding a load of VHS tapes just in case, as outdated forms of media rarely come back into vogue. It's time to clean up and upgrade your entertainment.
We don't need to live our lives in hectic chaos. By decluttering our homes, we simplify and relieve stress. You don't need a house full of things to be happy. Instead, only keep what truly makes you joyous, and let the rest go.
Image courtesy of Pixabay