Keeping on keeping on

Week 4. This week’s task is to declutter the bedroom. I haven’t accomplished all that much yet, although I’ve managed to fill another IKEA bag full of things to donate.

I’ve gotten up to 350 items decluttered! I must say I love the visual that crossing off spaces on the Nourishing Minimalism checklist gives me.  350/1000 on the first page is quite a big chunk! I haven’t yet made it to the donation drop-off point yet, but the bags are ready to go, and that stuff is as good as gone! (I’m actually really good at not taking things back out of the donation bag. No second thoughts here!)

I’m definitely starting to notice a big difference. There are still a lot of problem areas, as well as areas that start cluttering up again soon after I’ve cleared them off (like my nightstand and the kitchen table) but of course this is a process. The fact that I’ve already been able to keep the living room and hallway pretty tidy with only minimal effort is encouraging and motivating me to keep up with it.

I also had to make a trip up to the attic to bring some chairs up that we need for when guests come — but don’t need sitting around the kitchen! — and I brought down a box of fall/winter clothes to sort through. At least half of it went into the donation bag. It’s always amazing what we store thinking we might need again, but actually do not! And if I were to be honest with myself, I probably won’t use all of those pieces that I kept, but I want to see if I do during the fall/winter season here before I make that decision. I may try the backwards hanger trick – and any of those items that I haven’t used by Christmas will be gone!

Before (and during):

 

After – I didn’t take as many photos and it’s totally only a work in progress, but it is good to see at least a little progress! Also, it is helpful to see it in pictures because then you have an even better idea of what else can go!

 

Again for comparison:

Better but not quite there yet!

It’s totally humbling to see these pictures. There’s SO much clutter! I am not in any way proud of these photos!

I need to find a better place to put my printer. I may also need a better place to hang up our bathrobes because that’s also a lot of visual clutter when the door is closed.

Additionally…the more I see these pictures, the more I want to do something about our crazy unfinished wall behind our bed. We thought it was cool for a couple years (we purposefully took the wallpaper down!) but now I really want a change! Something to think about…

Some more inspiration

Here are some links I loved reading through in the past week:

Simple Living Manifesto – Zen habits

Declutter your fantasy self – Miss Minimalist

Clearing the common spaces

This week’s task in class was to clear out the car and the common spaces in the house. For us, every space is a common space! Ironically, the living room, which used to be the main room we spent time in outside of the kitchen, is currently the least used room ever since it turned into my son’s room. So that takes the living room off the hook for a little while, so it’s good I started in there last week with my initial run-through and easy wins.

  1. Car: I don’t own a car, so instead I decluttered my keys. (Got rid of 5 keychains and quite a bit of weight!)
  2. Common spaces:  For this, I focused on the hallway. It’s certainly not finished, but it feels good to be making progress.

I haven’t taken an after picture yet of the other side of the hallway since I focused mainly on the one end near my bedroom. However, I did take down some coats and put some shoes away so that there was more space down by the entryway.

Projects completed

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have tons of projects going on at once. I’ll start it and not finish it and the project will sit there taking up space for weeks…months…years! Like the sideboard in our hallway that has one white section – instead of painting it, I decided to use white contact paper to cover it. I managed to do one drawer…several months ago. I had to order more contact paper and it’s just sat for months. (We also only hung up that sideboard three weeks ago after having it sit for months in our bedroom, taking up space!) That’s next on the project list.

I also had a pile of clothes that had holes in them and needed to be repaired. I spent an hour last night and watched Friends while I worked, sewing up the holes in favorite shirts, sweaters, pants, and coats. It felt good to be able to get rid of that pile and put away those clothes!

While I had the sewing supplies out, I noticed the triangle bib I’d started in my sewing class just over one year ago that I never ended up finishing. So I got out my sewing machine as well, finished that bib, and also hemmed a blanket I’d cut some tassels off of. That blanket is now on the couch in the living room, and that bib is now my favorite bib to put on my son!

There are a bunch more projects I’ll need to tackle as well, but it feels marvelous to have gotten some things done! Baby steps!

Minimalist inspiration

Thanks to the course Facebook group, I’ve come across some great people with great sites about minimalism. Here are my two favorites this week:

  1. Cait Flanders – Her shopping ban experiments are really interesting! I’ve signed up for her newsletter and have been enjoying those as well.
  2. Nourishing Minimalism – This site is also really inspirational! I’ve been keeping a tally of items I’ve donated/gotten rid of on a post-it note but knew there had to be a better way of keeping track! Then I came across this post about what to do about “just in case” items when decluttering. That’s where I learned the 20/20 rule of minimalism and found out that this site runs a challenge to get rid of 2017 things in 2017. And that they have a free print-out they’ll send you if you subscribe to their newsletter. I’ve printed it out and am now using this checklist instead. 2017 items feels like a lofty goal when starting in September, but I don’t feel pressured. I can always add 1 item and finish in 2018. (wink!)

Starting small

Have you ever started trying to declutter and just look around and not know where to begin because there’s just so much to do?!

That was me this morning. Except I had a rare morning off work and with both kids at daycare, I wanted to take advantage of the time I had to get stuff done. So I pushed past the feeling of analysis paralysis and just went for it by starting small.

I thought it would be good to start in the living room because it’s one of the rooms we use the least at the moment. Our one-year-old is currently sleeping in there as his bedroom since we haven’t managed to transition him to his older brother’s room yet, but wanted him out of our room in the hopes he’d sleep through the night.

So our living room has far less clutter than other rooms in our apartment and I thought maybe I could get things started in there.

This week’s assignment for my uncluttered course was to grab a bag, walk through my home, and throw in “easy wins” – things that are obviously clutter. Afterward, I sorted all of the items in the bag into donate and trash piles.

I ended up with a bag full of stuff – just under 50 things altogether – to donate. I’m going to start tallying up what I’m getting rid of and update that on here. And I cheated on the homework, because I didn’t go through the whole place; I only managed the living room! There’s still so much  more more to go. But as I said, I just grabbed the things that I knew I could let go without thinking about it too much. Just start small. There will be time for the rest.

For now, here are some photos of before my sweep. I won’t be posting after shots just yet, but I wanted to make sure I documented exactly how the room looked before I started decluttering!

         

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Why simplify?

Hello there. I’m Sarah.

I just started back at work again after a year and a half of parental leave. I have two young kids, aged 3 and 1, to feed, clothe, and play with. I have a husband who is possibly on the cusp of a big life change with his career.

Everything just got a whole lot busier. It’s no wonder I feel the need to simplify during this time of life.

We live in a modest, 82-square-meter (that’s 883 square feet) apartment in Hamburg, Germany. We have a large kitchen, three rooms, a little closet, and a small attic space, and it’s full of STUFF. And you know what? I’m tired of it. I want to break free from living with piles of clutter. I want to get rid of things. To simplify.

For a while now, we have been (halfheartedly, because we love where we live right now) looking for a new, bigger place to live. But I wonder, what if we don’t actually need more space, but fewer possessions in our space?

So we have put our house search on hold and, in the last two weeks, we’ve taken several large bags of stuff to a donation box. That has given us the momentum to keep going and get rid of even more things!

Making room for the things that matter

There were a few things that inspired me to try to switch over to a lifestyle of minimalism.

One is that I stumbled upon Joshua Becker’s blog, becomingminimalist.com. I was encouraged and motivated by what I read, and then signed up for his uncluttered e-course and devoured two of his ebooks, Clutterfree with Kids and The More of Less. It all just resonated with me.

Another motivation was having recently visited a new friend’s apartment. They also live in a very small place, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Everything seems to have a purpose, and while of course it is possible that they cleaned up before we visited, it also seems that they simply have less stuff to manage. As a result, they have a cleaner and more beautiful living space. It made me feel quite jealous, actually! “There’s no way I could ever live in a place that nice,” I thought.

But because of the books I’ve read and the encouragement I’ve received by being part of the e-course, I am realizing that it is an attainable goal. It requires a complete overhaul – not only getting rid of stuff, but changing my own habits to prevent myself from accumulating more stuff- and I am now excited to begin clearing things out and gaining more space to breathe. A place where I have peace of mind and my children can grow up without thinking that having piles of stuff lying around is normal.

My biggest motivation is the life I desire to model for my children. I grew up in a home where both my parents kept almost everything ‘just in case’. But as a result, everything was always cluttered. I don’t want to blame my own habits on them, but I also know that I want to teach my kids a different way. A way where less is more, and there is more free space grow and learn.

Because life is so full right now, it feels kind of crazy starting another project – a blog! my own domain! – and adding yet one more thing to my busy schedule seems a little optimistic. But my hope is that this place will be an outlet for me, a place to boldly state my plans and to keep myself accountable, and a place for me to document my journey towards a more simplified, minimalist life.

It will not be easy. But it will be so worth it. I’m so glad you’re here. Come follow along!

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