Eliminating the Maybe // Spring Clean

>> Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So, let's back up for just a minute. Did you know that there's a mental cost to clutter? Like, it has the power to make or break your daily life? I suppose I knew this on some intuitive level, but after doing more research + purging of my own -- I can truly tell you, it's true! For example, I'm a very visual person, and seeing lots of stuff around is actually quite over-stimulating and distracting.

And think of it this way: If you have lots of crap in your attic, you literally have weight hanging over your head. Then come the feelings of guilt or even embarrassment when, say, you can't open your garage door without everyone on your block seeing your mess. Oh, yeah, and it's nice to finally know where my birth certificate is because, well, I didn't know for the bulk of the last year -- talk about stressful.

I mulled over all this during our spring cleaning escapades last week. How did we have so much stuff? Why did we have so many bins of things I wasn't quite sure if I could part with? And why -- after having major cleanings before -- did the things keep piling up year after year?

Then it clicked. I wasn't truly letting go.

When I've organized and cleared out in the past, I've approached it by creating piles.
  • Trash
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Keep
  • Maybe 
The thing is, that maybe pile kept getting carried over and over again every time I'd go to organize. (And, seriously, this whole minimalism thing is about so much more than just material objects. I'll get to that in my feelings post.) We schlepped a lot of maybe things from our college days to apartments. We schlepped a lot of things from old apartments to our first house. We then schlepped even more maybe things from our first house to our current house.

The maybes kept piling up and up and up.

What was in these boxes? Clutter -- in this order -- from these categories.
  • Clothing
  • Someday Stuff
  • Gifts
  • Forgottens
  • Sentimentals
. . . Maybe someday those size 2 jeans will fit me again.

. . . Maybe I'll find a use for that fancy vase I've still not taken out of the box.

. . . Maybe I'll want those hundreds of photos of people I can't remember.

. . . Maybe we'll start entertaining outdoors more and need that patio dining set.

. . . Maybe that stained chair can be reupholstered if we save our pennies.

. . . Maybe I'll want two different baby gyms for Baby E.

I think you see where this is all going. It's a clutter purgatory of sorts. So, when we did cleaning this time, we eliminated the maybe category and had to get a lot more decisive about all this stuff we had been carrying around from place to place for the last decade or more. Mostly, the answers became:

Get rid of it.
I haven't looked at that in years.
I totally forgot about that.
No, I have no desire to exercise and diet to fit into all these old clothes.
We have too many dishes already.
Etc., etc., etc.

For our clothing, we tried a modified KonMari approach -- both of us -- where we simply held the item, decided if it "sparked joy" (not necessarily if it was practical to hold onto or anything like that), and said a hard YES or NO from there. And now my seasons of clothing fit neatly into narrow sliding containers. I have 25 items in my closet currently -- but I won't delve too deeply into this part because I'm pregnant and it's not the best time to talk about a capsule wardrobe.

There was no special trick to letting go. It was more of a mentally ready moment. And this idea can actually carry over into other areas of your life. I mean, how often do we say MAYBE when we really mean yes or no? Whoa. That gets deep!

This post got much longer than I intended. I have had such great feedback with sharing about our journey to wannabe minimalism, I may add a few posts to my original plan. (Like -- tomorrow will now be that post on how we got rid of everything.) I hope that's alright! If you have questions or comments -- leave them down below. I'm happy to answer anything and everything.

Happy Wednesday!

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