Aug 18, 2008

Staying on course with the DeClutter Challenge

Jeff jumped on board with the DeClutter Challenge this weekend (yippy skippy!) and began going through the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of music CD's we have. Last month he bought us both 8mg Mp3 players (he's such a sweetie), and now we're moving the music we love off the CD's and on to the Mp3 players.
Before all my frugal friends think we're crazy for paying money for this many CD's -- we aquire them frugally! Many we have bought at our local library's annual book sale for $1 each, and others are copied from CD's we borrow from the library. Of the hundreds we have, I doubt we paid full price for more than three! We've worked this out to a real system because we both enjoy much of the same music, but also have music we love the other doesn't share. So we got out three empty boxes. First, Jeff goes into the CD cabinet and chooses about 20-30 CD's he wants to put on the Player. When he's done recording them, he puts those CD's into a box, and puts them on my computer desk. Meanwhile, I choose 20-30 CD's from the CD cabinet that I want to record, put them on my Mp3 player, and place them in a box on Jeff's desk. I go through the CD's he's given me and pick out what I want to transfer, and the rest goes in the 3rd Donation box. This way we both get to pick and choose the music we want without having to wait for the other person and without missing out on any CD's, plus the system keeps us geared toward donating the CD's. I taped an index card to the donation box, and we keep a running tally of the number of CDs going in the box for tax purposes! Between the two of us we added 60 CD's to the Donation box on Saturday and Sunday. We'll both continue to work on this as we have time. I'm fascinated with the causes of "clutter" and trying to learn from this declutter challenge so I am more aware of what is causing the clutter in our house and how to prevent it. I found two statements about clutter that I really like: 1) Clutter is anything you possess that doesn't enhance your life on a regular basis, and 2) Clutter is the result of put-off decisions. The "put off decisions" is hitting home the hardest, I think. Why do I put books that I've already read and will never read again in bookcases? Because putting it in the bookcase allows me to put off the decision about what to do with it. Why do I have clothes in my closet that no longer fit or are out-of-date? Because after doing laundry, I re-hang clothes rather than make the final decision to donate or throw away. I think I have a tendency to live for tomorrow -- as in, tomorrow I'll go on a diet and that skirt will fit again; or tomorrow I will donate that winter coat I want to replace; or I may need those almost-dead batteries tomorrow, so I'll put them in the junk drawer today. The other problem I have that's tied into the "tomorrow factor" is that it's difficult for me to declutter ONE item, but much easier to declutter MANY items. Books are a great example. I can't see myself driving to Goodwill with ONE book. I will wait until there are 20 or 30 books to make the decision that they need to go. Or I will wait until my closet is full of clothes that I don't wear before going through them and gathering a donation box full. Are there people out there that continuously declutter one item at a time? I'd love to know how they do it. Last, I have to realize that trash isn't the same as clutter (see definition 1). I know when I cleaned out my junk drawer and the drawers in my desk, that I found little pieces of trash -- an empty battery package or a pamphlet I acquired somewhere and never looked at. When decluttering, there are times I'm actually just collecting trash. This is a habit I need to break! If you've not joined the DeClutter Challenge yet, I urge you to do it! The rules are SO easy -- get rid of ONE ITEM per day. You don't have to clean out an entire closet or declutter your entire family room -- just get rid of ONE ITEM each day that is cluttering your home. There is no one that can't find five seconds in their day to put one object in a donation box or the trash! You can sign up for the Challenge at My Simpler Life blog or Organising Queen's web site. It doesn't matter that you didn't start on August 1st! You can join in at any time during the month of August. And if you're lucky - as I learned I was today! - you may even win one of their three weekly prizes to help keep you organized!


Lisa said...

I think most people keep things around thinking they will use them again - like the clothes and the books you mentioned. And then one day you realize that you will never use something again.

Regarding clothes, I've heard other people say that they do this seasonally. They rotate their clothes twice a year and then weed out clothes with stains, holes, or something they won't wear again. Much easier to keep a neat closet or dresser when several years of clothes are not backing up.

Oh, to be that organized!

tipper said...

The cd mp3 thing is something I so need to do! I liked what you wrote about clutter-so true.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on winning.
Your point about clutter being a "put off" decision sure rang true with me. Thanks for giving me something to process regarding decluttering. I need all the help I can get to chnage me mindset of "collecting."

Laurel Plum said...

It sounds like you have come a long way. I love the points you made about putting decisions off and about the difference between trash and clutter.

You mentioned that you would love to know how people declutter one item at a time. I have a couple of suggestions you may want to try. For books my favorite is It is a book swap site. For other things, try Both are free to use and great for one at a time additions. There are other similar swap sites you can run a search, these are just the ones I prefer. I hope you (or your readers) find this helpful.

Good luck with the challenge. Looks like everyone wins even if they do not claim the prizes.