The pain of decluttering

I’ve been good so far, decluttering every day for 15 minutes.  But man, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.  I’m moving from the front of the house to the back, so I started with an enclosed front porch that has been the catchall room for years.  Some things I’ve thrown out:

  • diaries from 2nd grade on
  • old papers and notebooks from college and grad school
  • old papers related to the kids–handouts, flyers, etc.
  • reams of poetry from college/grad school; I kept a copy of a book I made and that was it
  • books (donated to a used book store)
  • a bag of clothes, drapes and towels that had been stored out there and forgotten
  • other stuff I can’t remember

I’ve literally only cleared out about a 1 foot by 1 foot area.  Okay, maybe 2 x 2, but seriously.  See, there were boxes and stuff inside the boxes.  Then there was a stack of books about 3-4 feet high.  And then there was a table to be cleared off.

I’m getting to the hard stuff: pictures, kids’ artwork, mementos from events.  I have a stack of framed photos to go through.  Some I know where I want to put them.  Others I have no clue.  Most of these I’m setting aside in the “keep” pile, with the idea that I will go through the pile and put everything in a place, and the stuff without a place, well, it gets thrown out.  I find it very difficult to throw out pictures and cards, even when I really don’t want them.  It’s like I think the person associated with them will find out.  Sigh.

But I’m plowing ahead anyway.  I think I’m going to be in this one room for well over a month.  I keep reminding myself that it didn’t happen overnight, so it’s not going to be clean overnight.  At this point, I think if I worked for more than 15 minutes at a time, I would be overwhelmed and it just wouldn’t get done.

4 Replies to “The pain of decluttering”

  1. I was just bemoaning the clutter in my house today. Love the idea of starting in the front, working your way back, but only doing 15 minutes a day. My problem is that I get easily overwhelmed by what to do with the stuff I know we no longer need, and then going down a shame spiral about what I’ve let pile up for so long!

  2. “Shame spiral”–exactly! I’m trying not to think about what to do with the stuff until I’m done.

  3. My issue is the sentimentality and the family. Sentimentality because I really hate to get rid of information. I’m amazed that you got rid of ?your? diaries. True, they may never be useful, but, hey, what if you become famous one day, and the historians of the future needed them!

    And, the family. For example, my 8 year old wants me to save his math worksheets. Seriously, those sheets where they fill out what 6 oranges + 3 oranges are? I try to sneak those away and avoid his wishes, but if he catches me, he fishes things out (I’m not being good enough about actually taking things out of the house).

  4. bj, I know, but truthfully, most of them had maybe 10-15 entries in them and they said things like, “John smiled at me in class today.” I have written a memoir where that kind of thing gets mentioned. And this blog has been a “diary” of sorts for me for the last 6-7 years, so I’m good. But I did keep those things around–consciously–for about 30 years. 🙂

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