Friday, June 1, 2018

2018 Decluttering: May Update

I started off in May with a Challenge to myself to fill a box full with donations. I did expect I would get some help adding to the box, but that did not happen. I have easily mentioned the box every week this month to my family AND it has been sitting out in plain sight for everyone to see. I think at this point it has become a fixture and is no longer noticed!

Drum roll...I added eleven items to the box. A very slow month indeed.

I did sell two other items on eBay.

I deleted A LOT of emails off my computer yesterday, and counted that as five items decluttered.

And then to make myself feel better I deleted the unnecessary pictures on my phone. I counted those as five also.

In total, I decluttered a paltry 27 items. I'm not sure what the other four items were, maybe some boxes I donated to the neighbor for her move? All I know is my 2018 count was 1601 at the end of April and now my total is 1628.

I'm still making progress, right? I should be happy with that. The One Box Challenge was helpful as a reminder to keep looking despite the low return on the investment. And please don't take my paltry results as a reason not to try it yourself. Many people have found it to be very helpful.

I expect I will reach 2018 items by the end of the year. Only 391 items to go and 7 months to find them. That is an average of about 56 items per month, so I will need to step up my game in the coming months. I expect June to be a slow month only because we have guests coming for a visit and two trips planned!

Tell me how your decluttering went this month. What goal or challenge have you given yourself for June?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

2018 Decluttering: One Box Challenge

In order to keep the momentum of decluttering going here at our home, I'm taking on the one box challenge. Have you heard of this? I learned about it from some vloggers on YouTube. It seems to have originated with Rachel at Sweet and Simple Home. A link to her most recent one box challenge decluttering is here.

The first step is to find a box to contain the items I will declutter.

Here is the one I found. I've been saving the box for who knows what I thought I would mail, so it's a good thing this box will be leaving! It measure approximately, 20"x13"x12" when closed, so it is rather big.

I have one item I already know I'm going to add. 

Heck, let me just go get it and put it in there to get this one box challenge started! 

That's a foam roller. And if you followed my thirty bags challenge in the past, you may have seen that I added this, but it didn't actually make it out of the house. Oops! 

I'll be back before the end of the month to count up how many items I added to the box. 

Will you join me and fill one box for decluttering this month? Let me know if you fill more than one box! 

Friday, April 27, 2018

2018 Decluttering: An Update

Whoops! I've been a little absent from updating you on our decluttering progress for 2018.

I ended March with a final tally of 1550 items decluttered since the beginning of the year! So much paper was purged in March. I feel like we barely have any files left. :)

And after such a big purge during the first three months of the year, I honestly just needed a break from that task. Life is about balance right? So I've been focused on other things in April. And I feel really good about that.

As I look towards the end of April, I realize I need to check in with my monthly tasks. I've got some work to do! I've only washed the sheets once each and made our weekly meal plan. The next few days I will attempt to cross a few more (hopefully all) the additional items off the list.

Since one of those is a Goodwill drop off I decided I should pack up the items I have been collecting for donation (or to count and toss). The tally of these and a few other items not pictured is 51! I actually sold six items on eBay in April. I counted them as twelve since I also purged the mailer at the same time!

So drumroll....I have exceed 1600 items decluttered. 1601/2018!! Only 417 more items to find before year end. I have eight months, so I do think it is possible.

How has your decluttering been going? Are you on a roll or in a lull?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Decluttering Projects

Spring is here! Or should be any day now. :) It's very common for us to want to start fresh in some way. For some it's decluttering, others it's cleaning, and likely for others some new goal to focus on. 

Here are a few areas you can declutter rather quickly this spring. Quick projects build those decluttering muscles as well as momentum for accomplishing more! 

  • Christmas Cards - Do you have a pile or stack of these laying around still? If so, for what purpose? Checking addresses? Take a few minutes to find the ones you need to update and add the new information to your database. Next cull through the photos and keep only the ones with the most meaning. Yes, you can put a photo in the trash, no one will be the wiser if you kept it or not!
  • Winter Coats - Are there any that you did not wear this season? Any that your children outgrew that need to be passed on to someone who will use them. Make a mental note to wash any on the next really warm day. And consider, adding a note on your calendar for early June to take any coats to the dry cleaner. And while you are at it go through gloves, hats, scarves and boots. What can you let go of? 
  • Magazines and Catalogs - Did you get a lot of catalogs during the holiday shopping season? Time to pull those out and recycle. If you have a subscription, pull out the older months that you have already read. If you aren't reading these consider cancelling your subscription and have one less thing coming into your home! I've noticed Pinterest often allows me to look at the pretty pictures without buying or subscribing to a magazine. 
  • Pantry/Spices - Dig into your pantry and check your food and spice stores for expired items. This is especially good to do before entertaining. You don't want a family member to pull out the old expired can of corn instead of the one you just purchased. If you come across something you won't use, but is not expired consider donating it to a local food bank so someone can use it. 
  • Under the Sink - Yes, get done on the floor and see what you have under there! It can be a dumping ground for so many cleaners and chemicals. If you don't like how it smells, or how it works, it's time to let it go. Many municipalities have place to drop off these types of things. Make a point to find out where and when you can drop the old off for proper disposal. 
  • Children's Clothing - This is the perfect time of year to go through your children's closets to declutter what they have outgrown, refused to wear or no longer like, or will not fit next season. You are likely to be bringing in new sizes for spring and summer, so check all seasons of clothing and let go of the old to make room for the new! 
  • Bookshelves - Are yours full and overflowing? Are books stuffed every which way? You do not need another bookshelf! As you straighten, and add your new books, look for those to let go of. If you just think you may want to read again, check your library and see if it would be available there if you end up needing it. If that is the case, let it go to make room for the new books. We tend to keep far more than we will ever have time to read. 
  • Linen Closet - Is yours stuffed full? Do you have sheets that don't fit any of the beds you own? Are any too worn to use, or ripped? Yes, these need to go. Donate to a charity, a humane society or thrown in the trash if beyond anyone's use. Generally two sets of sheets per bed is plenty, thus only one extra set per bed should be in the linen closet. Remember to evaluate the blankets and table cloths also, we often use far less than we have on hand. With less in the closet, the easier it will be to find what you really do use and need. 
Let me know if you do one of these quick projects. Tell me how it went! I'm cheering for you. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 Decluttering: Paper Purge Continues

As an organized person, I have to say I did a fantastic job of organizing the paper that came into our lives. But unfortunately, as a lover of the data and information I have kept far too much paper! Or at least kept it for too long. 

I have once again released more files! Yes, I did scan some documents for reference. The odds are low they will ever be needed, but this is the step I'm taking now. I have been ruthless, too. My future self doesn't need to know how much we bought our van for in 2008. It's irrelevant. It's paid for. We have the title. It's in the past. Yes, this is the kind of thing I find interesting and thus the reason I have saved paper for longer than needed. 

I shredded the 27 pieces of paper on the left. 

The pile on the right contains 33 EMPTY file folders which have accumulated over the course of the last month as I have been decluttering paper. I'm not tossing those yet or adding them to the count. I want to complete the entire paper decluttering process before making a decision on them. 

And just before I started to write this post, I went through the college mailings my daughter has been receiving these last few months. I cut the amount in half and found another 15 items to be recycled. 

As of this writing I have decluttered 1422 items in 2018. 
I know I've done a lot of paper, but it's hard work. It is definitely worth counting!!

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 Decluttering: Old Mortgage Papers

I'm so excited! After doing the last two posts showing the files we have, I decided to see what I could  do to minimize the mortgage documents. We've owned three homes, but now currently rent due to military service. The last home sold almost three years ago. I read that you only need to keep documents three years after the sale of the home. 

38 pieces that did not need to be shredded! 

Part of the process was determining what documents were already on file with each county. I figured those are the important documents that would prove we had transferred legal ownership. All documents were correctly filed. Yay! 

I did scan some documents primarily from the last home we sold, since we are not at the full three year mark from the date of sale.  The odds of needing them are pretty slim at this point, but it took no time at all to get them scanned. 

Look at that! 139 pages that needed to be shredded. That is a thick stack of papers!

I did buy a new shredder recently and it does a great job slicing and dicing about 6-8 pages at a time. That means I'll be decluttering my old shredder later this month! 

The final product! Paper out to the trash bin, and three fewer files in our file cabinet. Specifically, that is another 177 items declutter towards the 2018 Decluttering Challenge! 

I specifically saved digitally the HUD statements and warranty deeds and original mortgage loan papers. All other papers were not needed for the two oldest homes. I have other documents from closing of the last house scanned, including 1099S, purchase agreements, and receipts for repairs done for the buyers. Eventually, some of those scanned documents can just be deleted from our digital folders. 

We really do not need to keep as much paper as we think we do! What can you let go of from your paper files this month? 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Minimalism: Papers In Our File Cabinet

I shared the files in our desk drawer yesterday, today you get to hear and see what is going on in our file cabinet. And this is after the latest purge of paper!

This is the top drawer of our filing cabinet. Here's what it contains:
  • Furniture receipts and manuals (only keep ones I can't find online)
  • Birth and Wedding Certificates, Passports
  • Oldest Daughter School papers (Preschool through High School)
  • Youngest Daughter School papers (Preschool through 9th grade)
  • Wills
  • College transcripts, military courses completed
  • Husband non military work documents
  • Health records (one for each of us, includes dental and vision) 
  • Tax records (7 years)

If I push the files tight, this drawer is only 1/4 full. 

I have some thoughts on what is left. The girls school papers are actually more sentimental at this point. I did cull them about two years ago, so they have been minimized. I would like to keep their writings and drawings over the test scores. I will ask them before I toss any further. These files are not the only memories we have.

During the recent purge of papers I let go of my old work documents. I did scan some for reference, but they were all shredded in the end. I want something similar to happen for my husbands file. Of course, I will need his help. 

Health records may be able to be minimized or scanned as well, but for now I feel okay keeping these in their current form. Luckily, we are rarely ill, so the amount of records we keep is limited for each of us. 

Furniture receipts might also be worth scanning. They are for items we own and could use to prove ownership in the event of loss. They were helpful for claiming damage to some furniture during our last move. The manuals we have left amount to about ten that I could not find online. The odds of needing to reference them is slim. 

On to the lower drawer of the file cabinet. Here is what it contains:
  • Military records
  • Military health records
  • Military pay stubs
  • House ownership documents for three homes

These papers take up 1/4 of this file cabinet, maybe slightly less. 

The military files are probably as slim as they are going to get, unless my husband double checks for more duplicates or gets rid of more things that are not entirely needed. He has been accumulating these papers since 1991, so it is expected there would be quite a bit. 

The mortgage files. (We currently rent, and do not own a home.) When I just think about it, I'm ready to let go of the ones from our first home which we sold in 2006. However, when I look at the documents I get a little sentimental! Our first home!! However, if I keep any it should be far less than I have now. The other two are more recent sales and since we deducted mortgage interest on at least one of them, I feel the need to keep as a sort of supporting document. Honestly, with these documents I am erring on the side of caution and keeping what seems right. But boy, legal sized documents are a pain to store because of their size.

And yes, you have now seen all of our files. Do we have mementos and keepsakes that are likely paper? Yes. Those are stored elsewhere and will likely need some work to minimize someday when we are up to the task. 

So tell me. What documents do you keep? Do you keep things I have not listed? I'm especially curious, if you tend toward minimalism, what documents you have.