I know this project seems to be a never ending project, trust me I feel that way on some days myself. Please remember this room has been a collection point for not only our stuff but the stuff of friends and family for years.
You are only seeing the trouble spots, aka: the whole room, a small segment at a time. That’s because the whole room photo would have made it look like we are hoarders, something we definitely are not. We often wonder how we can generate so much trash in such a short time.
We are always hauling something to the donation box, the dump, the recyclers, or burning trash when we safely can.
This particular weekend was a haul off weekend. We started with the recycling. We recycle all we can. That includes plastic, glass, cans, corrugated cardboard and various other things.
Food scraps are recycled through our farm critters and/or the compost barrel.
Friday’s load was a large one, in fact so were Saturday’s and Monday’s. We used the big truck for each trip.
Saturday we were off to the dump with the non-burn stuff and then on Sunday evening we filled the truck with things to go to our local charity on Monday.
While most of the charitable stuff was from the office there were of course items from other areas of the house too as well as two still working vacuums. Along the inheritance trail we had ended up with five vacuums in this house. We kept the two newest and best for the upstairs and downstairs so we don’t have to tote a sweeper up and down the stairs.
The fifth vacuum works well with the attachments, but needs some work on the beater bar. Gary is going to work on it and then it too will be donated. I know some folks would say we should have kept the other three for when the two good ones break down. But how soon would that be and where would we store them? The office is no longer an option. Better to let someone else use them and to help a charity than to be selfish.
This brings us to the subject of this post. Decision making.
When you are doing a cull out process, whether it is a major one like we are doing or just a single box or drawer you are faced with needing to make a decision: To keep or not to keep.
It’s a fine line to walk, if you decide not to keep, you may be faced with replacing it in the future. If you keep too much you are faced with all the problems of clutter. So how do you make the decision?
We work with a set of guidelines while we are culling or purging as some call it.
1. How long since we used it? Some people say if you haven’t used it in six months then it should go. Only life doesn’t rotate in a six month cycle, or even a true annual cycle for everyone. Our rule of thumb is to ask ourselves “When did we last use or need this?” If we can’t remember, then it is history. If we haven’t used it in a very long time. It is history.
2. Should we ever need it again how much would it really cost us if we were to have to replace it? Does that cost outweigh the cost of storing it? This second part is important because people forget that storing things, even in your home, has a cost to it.
You have to pay to heat/cool the item. You lose time in your busy schedule cleaning it and moving it around. If you are a homeowner you are insuring it. You are giving up valuable space for something you would use more often.
The third part of this segment is if we should need it again, could we borrow or rent one cheaper than keeping it?
This works particularly well on those craft supplies you have been hanging on to "some day" use, but really don't like them well enough to use them.
If the item is going to be too costly to keep, or is cheap to replace/borrow/ rent one Then it is history.
3. What is the sentimental value of it? Every mother has something from her child’s growing years that she keeps as a souvenir. This is a normal and good thing, but it can quickly grow into a clutter monster if you don’t control your sentimental side to some extent. I still have my dear daughter’s teddy bear and silky blanket from her infant days and she is in her 40’s. They probably mean nothing to anyone but me. However, my mother and grandmother made the blanket and that bear, a gift from my grandfather (whom we buried on the day I went into labor), saw my daughter through many a childhood event.
They are safely put away in my cedar chest, along with the outfits both children wore home from the hospital when they were born. Those take very little space.
I also have a few special birthday cards, but not many. Some photos of special events are safely scrapbooked, or scanned into the computer. Artwork from their youth has also been scanned and stored. No person can keep everything.
I keep just a few things either in their original form, or scanned of every person or event that has been special in my life, but I limit how much of each item I keep. These items are clearly labeled for when I am dead and gone so those sorting what I leave behind will know why I had a ratty old teddy bear tucked away in a well worn silky blanket. Then the decision will be theirs.
This is probably the hardest category for all of us to sort. But it has to be done. I tend to ask myself what makes it so special. I also asked the kids when it involves them if they want to keep it. Dd has a lot of her childhood stuff with her already, and ds has the responsibility of the storing of some of his stuff.
4. If we were to move again, would it be worth paying the cost to a professional mover to move it? Or is it worth paying a monthly storage fee on? These two questions will weed out a lot quickly when you actually do the calculations on it. If you had to pay by the pound to move that set of 1972 encyclopedias would you? Knowing you can look up just about anything you need to know online these days? Would some school benefit from it more? How about all those magazines?
5. Would another person benefit from it more than I currently am? That could be some individual you know, or a local charity.
6. Would I be ashamed to be seen with or in this? This one works particularly well when you are culling out a closet. I recently did a blog post on this. Yes, you might have paid way too much for that pair of slacks, only to find out they really did make your butt look big and you know you are never really going to wear them unless they are the last pair in your closet.
When considering this one also consider the being seen part really closely. As I wrote in my “Are we making ourselves feel poor?” article wearing stained clothing just because you are staying home does no good if it makes you feel poor. We are after all working on the Princess Plan. I for one am a princess and refuse to dress or live like a pauper any more. Even if I am not financially well off, I can live like royalty with what I have.
So that is the top six questions I ask when I am culling “good” items. I am certain you can come up with some questions of your own. Make a list and then hit that box, closet or drawer well armed to cull more.
Oh and once you have “completely” culled. I challenge you to go through the same box or drawer in six months and see if those items are still as valuable to you. Betcha you cull more.
Jan who says the old saying “Less is more” is really true in OK
INSERT PHOTO OF THE COVER OF THE PRINCESS PLAN ALBUM