Decluttering support thread



  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    This reminds me - when I was studying, another student from my course stayed with me for a few weeks before finishing. She left her study folders with me and said she would come back for them. But then she moved to Canada and messaged me to ask if I could post them to her. I said no, that it was too heavy for me to carry all that to the post office, which is a mile away and I have no car. I said she could collect them when she came back to England. But she hasn't, and that was eight years ago, and she is now settled in Canada with a job and a family and is happy in general and hasn't mentioned the folders. I wonder if it would be very wrong of me just to chuck them out!
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    I personally find it's the decision-making that goes with decluttering that is so very wearing, because the mere action of throwing away, stowing in its place, or boxing for charity is very low energy activity. If someone else were to have made all the decisions and just put things in piles, I could have gone through and boxed up my mother's hoard collection in a week.

    While I was clearing out my house in New Hampshire twenty years ago, I came across a cartoon that expressed my state of mind perfectly

    It showed a classroom with pupils and a teacher. One boy has his hand raised and is saying, "Mr. Osborn, may I be excused? My brain is full.
  • fineline wrote: »
    I wonder if it would be very wrong of me just to chuck them out!
    Folders? What folders?

  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    D. and I are being driven crackers at the moment because my brother and sister are taking such an age faffing about with the stuff in Dad's house, 99% of which probably isn't wanted by any of us. They seem to be concerning themselves with minutiae - like what to do with photograph albums (which should probably be kept somewhere) and carousels of slides (some of which might be of local interest, but most which wouldn't), which they could easily have taken away themselves and worried about later.

    Admittedly a couple of friends have cleared the garage and workshop (a mammoth task which probably merited immediate sainthood), but if it had been up to us, we'd have got a firm of auctioneers in to clear the whole place and got it on the market, and it might have been sold by now.


  • I am enjoying my clutter-free study, with all the clutter boxed up and stuffed into a cupboard. I took two boxes out, decluttered them into one box and returned that one box to its cupboard, so that is progress.
  • To be more serious about your question about cataloguing books, there was mention on the old Ship here
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    I wonder if it would be very wrong of me just to chuck them out!
    Folders? What folders?

    Let her know you are going to chuck them out. If she doesn’t want you to she needs to pay for postage - and courier from your home, in advance. Give her a deadline.

    If you get no reply or she goes past the deadline, chuck them out.

  • Looking for something important that I misplaced!

    Other than that, I'm making progress.
  • Cleared the pantry yesterday. How does one family accumulate so many tins of chickpeas?
    We used to laugh at my mother when we discovered how out of date things were. Dear Lord, I've turned into her!
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    Heh - I would still use out-of-date chickpeas. Lots of my cupboard stuff is out-of-date and fine to use. Sometimes it's out-of-date when I buy it, because you get big discounts that way - I am currently enjoying some out-of-date black quinoa, which is rather nice. I got some multicoloured quinoa too. I'd never heard of such things before - only the regular whitish quinoa.

    I have one room in my home which is now decluttered. I had to declutter it for redecorating, for an insurance claim for a leak in my ceiling. The leak was fixed and they put new wallpaper in the room, so I had to take everything out of the room (it is now cluttering another room). Now I have a nice, decluttered room, just four pieces of furniture in it, and with nice new wallpaper. I don't go in there though - I want to, and I thought it might be nice to have it as a prayer room, but it feels too weird. I apparenly prefer my very cluttered living room.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited October 2018
    Tinned stuff keeps for years and years.

    I have just decluttered ‘that’ cupboard. There was nothing in it that I actually used. 🙄
  • I have just called heir to some almost out of date tins that tnr food bank can't use because their shelf life is theoretically short. Nothing wrong with them.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    Yes, it doesn't go bad. It's a 'best before' date rather than a 'use by' date. Where I live, Tesco is giving its out-of-date food to charities like women's refuges, rather than chucking it out. You can also buy out-of-date food online from Approved Food, and get really good deals. They sell it cheap to stop it being thrown out - so much food gets chucked out that doesn't need to be. I buy fancy tea leaves from there - they are out-of-date but they still taste lovely.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    fineline wrote: »
    ... I am currently enjoying some out-of-date black quinoa ...
    You are sure it's supposed to be black, aren't you? :astonished:
    Fredegund wrote: »
    ...How does one family accumulate so many tins of chickpeas?
    Could you send some over here? I was searching in the supermarket the other day for tinned chickpeas and couldn't find any. :mrgreen:

    When D. and I moved from Belfast, we decided a declutterance of the spice jars was long overdue*, and started with anything that had a price label from a grocer's in Orkney, as it would have been at least 15 years old ... :blush:

    * and we couldn't take opened jars of spices into Canada anyway
  • My handyman repaired the clothes rod in my bedroom closet today, so everything had to be removed. I removed a couple of things for donating to the thrift shop as I was emptying the closet and will vet every item carefully before putting it back. Next month I'll be having several rooms painted, so I'll go through the same process as I clear each room for painting and again as I put things back.
  • I have similar plans. Now I have moved I have an older but new to me wardrobe. The hanging rail is far too high for me to reach.the wardrobe is bi and on legs. So I will be looking closely at what I replace when son fixes it.
  • Have now just about returned everything to where it belongs after the redecorating is done. Managed to decide to send a few items to charity shop, and amazingly DH has just produced a pile of 15 books he can bear to get rid of!
    Must now look at other rooms with a view to getting rid of a bit more stuff of mine, though DH is adamant that he must keep almost everything in perpetuity.
    I do feel incentivised to try to keep rooms tidier now.
  • I have decluttered my baking cupboard and thrown a lot out; rock hard fondant icing, colours and flavours well past their date. Some of the stuff, like sugar strands, may well have been still usable, but I just don't use that sort of thing now the kids are grown up and away and I don't want to risk out of date anything on baking that's going to church socials.
  • For the record, we ate a tin of chickpeas yesterday and lived. Now for the sushi rice and semolina. Not at once, naturally.
  • Back from a fabric swap, to which we took 13 or 14 lengths of fabric - a full and heavy large tote bag, mostly dressmaking but also some furnishing fabric and a few patterns. We returned with precisely three pieces of fabric that we have plans to use. We also didn't feel too guilty as all but 4 pieces of fabric had gone when we left, an hour and a half before the end, and someone was dithering over three of the lengths that were left.
  • Well Done Curiosity Killed.
  • I’ve decided to declutter my books and get rid of two bookcases!

    I’ll do half a shelf a day, starting today.

  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    I'm not sure that books count as clutter, unless (a) you have more than one copy of the same book; or (b) you've read a book and found it to be rubbish*.

    * See Fifty Shades of Grey :naughty:
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    I never read Fifty Shades of Grey but I once spent an entertaining couple of hours reading the Amazon reviews.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    You really didn't miss much. :mrgreen:
  • I can't bring myself to declutter books. Or perhaps - just maybe - some of Chilperic's very out of date science text books. By the same logic, I should get rid of my medieval history books - I'm never going to read them again. But I can't. Why?
  • If I didn't thin out my books regularly there wouldn't be room for anything else (including me and my dog) in this house.
  • I have always thinned out books to stop them taking over. Until the forced decluttering earlier this year it was a losing battle with unread teetering piles of books 📚 in a several places.

    Currently there is space and to spare for all the books, but I do occasionally search optimistically for a book that was decluttered. Last night it was a book of friendship bracelet patterns as I've been volunteered to sort out some donated embroidery silks and tapestry wools into usable/saleable kits.

    We are sort of planning a craft day as a fundraising effort. And, sadly, the Guide District biennial craft fair is early next year, although the categories for that are not out yet. Sadly because the crafts to be entered are usually nothing practical or anything I want to do with Guides.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    Fredegund wrote: »
    I can't bring myself to declutter books. Or perhaps - just maybe - some of Chilperic's very out of date science text books. By the same logic, I should get rid of my medieval history books - I'm never going to read them again. But I can't. Why?

    For me sometimes its a matter of what they represent, or how important they have been to me in the past. I don't re-read my copy of Madeline or a book my father gave me but I don't want to part with either of them.
  • {{{{{{{All of us}}}}}}}

    I'm making some progress.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Well done Golden Key.
  • I have one special book, but it’s not a readable book.

    It has stuck together pages, it’s hollowed out in the middle and is full of letters from my Mum to my Dad. My Mum worked and grandma looked after us while Dad went to college in London to become a minister. There are lots of references to us kids and our everyday life.

    Apart from the books I might read again I have no particular attachment to the others. The children’s books have already gone to the twins.
  • I have also been weeding out books. Down now from 6 bookcases to 3, and one is just cookbooks. I enjoy reading cook books as they always have happy endings. I do plan to weed out the cookbooks next. This will take a while as I will go through and copy out favorite recipes before passing the books on. I will never give away any written by friends as somehow that just seems wrong. It seems I have been hanging around with a number of authors in my life, several of whom have passed away, so the books are all I have left of them.
  • I enjoy reading cook books as they always have happy endings...

    You wouldn't think that if I actually cooked one of those recipes!

  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    I enjoy reading cook books as they always have happy endings.
    I think that's one for the Quotes File! :smile:
  • Also, my son has suggested we catalogue our books, weeding out as we go. Has anyone done this? Is there an easy way of doing it?

    I had misunderstood my son; or perhaps he was not exactly clear as to his intentions. He has a librarian friend who wanted to try out a programme. The Loon and his friend visited and catalogued 800 books in one day, with plenty of tea / computer game breaks. They then catalogued a further 300 in an afternoon. There hasn't been much weeding out so far, as only one duplicate book was discovered, but they dusted as they went along, and the book shelves they have done look much brighter and more orderly. They are planning another visit at some point. It will be interesting to know how many books we have. I'm fairly sure we have over 2,000, but not sure how many over.

  • CruntCrunt Shipmate
    I have enjoyed reading this thread (2,000 books, btw, is not clutter, it's a library), and I tip my hat to those who are dealing with family members' clutter as well as their own.

    My last remaining parent died recently, and of course, all her stuff has been weighing on everyone's mind for a while now. Mum took the initiative and started distributing her jewellery around the family ages ago (Ooh! do you like my gold puzzle ring?), but the stacks of furniture, clothes, furniture, office supplies, books, paintings, ceramics, blown and cut glass and general knick-knackery and are not so easy to give away. And then there's all the rubbish.

    Two of us siblings live overseas, and the middle one remains in the home country (same street as mum, even), so guess who did all the heavy lifting (answer: the middle one). Not just caring for mum and taking responsibility for her healthcare, transport, daily needs, social needs, but also clearing up the house after the other two of us jetted home from the funeral. We are both very grateful for our brother for basically putting his life on hold for several years while mum's health declined. Mum's not an 'easy' person either, so hats off to the middle sibling for dealing with mum for years, and then sorting out her house in a couple of weeks!

    The downside of the story (apart from the sad demise of our mum) is that the constant need to take care of mum (as well as earning his living) has taken a toll on my sibling's own home, which had become a health hazard. He's a good cook, and I've no problems eating food prepared in his shocking kitchen, but I'm sure that living in such overcrowded, messy and rarely cleaned conditions must weigh heavily on the mind, and I worry about his mental as much as his physical health.

    I think that clearing out mum's will have been cathartic for him, and while I was home we cleared out loads of junk and had a big clean up at his house. His house is actually 'our' house, but I haven't lived there for a very long time. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the sitting room scrubbed up once we dumped all the rubbish. I'm hopeful of a turnaround. I forbore to ask my bro to Whatsapp me photos of the sitting room every week in order to make sure he doesn't revert back to using the lovely sunny sitting room as a dumping ground again. There's no point in me micromanaging his domestic routines because apart from the fact that it wouldn't work, it's not really my business. He did send me a picture of the cat being stupid on the new rug (like you do), but all I could see were the beer bottles just inside the frame also on the new rug.

    Surprisingly, during the times we have shared houses (apart from growing up), we have always managed to find middle ground and been able to cohabit peacefully. In the last two and a half years, though, I have been actively de-cluttering, and I have come to enjoy the wide open spaces of a relatively neat and well organised home. I am not sure how well that mindset will play out with someone who enjoys the company of things (even though they might not have been touched or used or looked at for a very long time).
  • We had a handyman at our house several times and he always stopped to admire a painting my husband had done for my birthday several years ago. My husband always makes a print of all of his work so he asked our handyman if he would like a copy. He said "Yes, very much." So we planned to give him the copy on his next visit. I thought you know I am 80 why not give him the original. He was thrilled, I am so glad I decided to do that. I think it has encouraged me to give more things away. It was so much more special to see his face light up rather then just taking things to a thrift shop.
  • @Graven Image that was such a lovely thing to do. <respect>
  • @North East Quine what software were your son and friend using? I helped someone catalogue a church library and I was quite impressed by the free software she used. As a librarian I've come across a fair range of library software, some rather better than others. Even so I've never thought to catalogue my own books, my husband thinks I'm geeky enough as it is. BTW anyone wanting to declutter books if you have a charity bookshop near you they'll be happy to take them off your hands. I keep my hand it now I've retired volunteering at one and we are always happy to take donations.
    @crunt respect to your brother and all the work he's been doing.
    @Graven Image it's lovely when you give someone something they really want. That sounds much the best way to declutter.
  • Sarasa wrote: »
    BTW anyone wanting to declutter books if you have a charity bookshop near you they'll be happy to take them off your hands. I keep my hand it now I've retired volunteering at one and we are always happy to take donations.

    I regularly (twice this past week) drop off my I'll-never-read-them-again books at our Library. They have a secure bin, similar to a mailbox, so that I can just drive up and drop them in. The Friends of the Library have a used book room within the Library, and several times a year they have a used book sale.

    In the same complex as the Library is a Senior Center, where I donate used jigsaw puzzles (once this past week).

    From there I went to the cleaners and gave them some of my clothes hangers for recycling. The next day I took chunks of Styrofoam, a bunch of plastic bags, and some old appliances to my city's Zero Waste Day, where they will accept just about anything that can be re-used or recycled, as well as hazardous waste (e.g., old paint cans) to be properly disposed of.

    Next week my painters are coming back so I have to empty several cabinets (dinnerware, knick-knacks, etc.). I hope to do some major thinning out in the process.
  • I've no idea, Sarasa. It might be something that my son's friend has modified. They were working in tandem, with two screens open. I just let them get on with it. I was surprised by the speed at which they worked; they took regular tea breaks and stopped for meals and computer games and still managed to remove 800 books from their shelves, catalogue them, dust the shelves, and replace them in better order in one day.

    They also found a book I had "lost" - I had remembered the inscription written inside it, but not which book it was! I was rather pleased when they found it.
  • Came across something that may be useful:

    30 Day Decluttering Challenge (with Over 40 Instructable Ideas!) (Instructables)

    Some are about how to get rid of things, like meds. Many are about how to repurpose various items.

  • CruntCrunt Shipmate
    Useful. The 'how' of getting rid of things usually concerns me only as far as 'is there any useful alternative to the rubbish or recycle bin for this stuff?' Re-purposing is a whole other level. I do worry though, that turning clutter into crafty clocks or wastepaper bins just adds to the general junk.

    I suppose anyone reading a message board discussion on decluttering will be well aware of the wardrobe trick of sorting through your clothes, and then when you put everything back in the cupboard, you hang the clothes hangers back to front (with the open end of the hook facing toward you). When you return something to the wardrobe after wearing it, you hang it back in the regular fashion (open end of the hook facing away from you).

    I did this this year, back in March I think, and I'm pleased to report that there is only one item still hanging back to front; a tai chi group polo-type shirt from a club I used to belong to. I also did the same with my drawers; cramming everything into the bottom drawer, and only returning it to the top drawer after it had been worn/washed.

    I'm getting quite good at preempting clutter as well. We took an after-work jaunt to the material shop this week because my colleague wanted some material for cushion covers. While we were there I saw some nice plain cotton in colours that I like. It was tempting to get a few metres and drop them off at the tailors for a couple of cheap and nice (and fitted!) work shirts, but my mind wouldn't stop going back to the eleven perfectly good work shirts already hanging in the cupboard, and especially the four or five that rarely get worn. So no new shirts for me until some of the others are ready to fall off my back.
  • I realise now that my major block to decluttering is the decisions I need to make - until now I had no idea how indecisive I am. I still find tackling a small area now & then, when I am there, is the best way.
    Yesterday, when retrieving the Christmas tree, I continued to declutter the roof space with most clutter (battered craft resources for a life I no longer live) going into the bin or recycling, some (Christmas ornaments identified last year as no longer needed) to the charity shops, others (rainy day crafts) to a young family nearby.
    The utility room is a focus at the moment, as I try to create enough space to have a loo installed. Pinterest is providing interesting ideas for better storage for what I feel I need to keep.
  • We've found a clothes swap tomorrow as part of a council waste reduction initiative, which means various pieces of clothing that are good condition, fair trade organic cotton or with a good label but don't fit (jacket), suit (skirt), match anything (shirt) or are too hot to wear in summer, take too long to dry in winter (big cotton jumper) are in a bag to leave the flat. We may swap for something that will be worn instead, or just leave without taking anything.

    This is partly in response to seeing how little that we have given to the charity shops in town actually got sold, particularly some shops - I was signed up for gift aiding to Cancer Research and suspect that 80%-90% of what I gave there went to landfill.

    Latest pattern testing is using an old sheet from the stash, needing sorting out. I dyed it navy blue last night and am planning to try out one pattern for me and my daughter is trying out the coat pattern she wants to make in wool today.
  • ferijenferijen Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    We are...finally... getting closer to moving (it’s been going on since late March) and whilst we’d originally planned to declutter after we’d moved (we are considerably upsizing, even having the space to go through stuff is a luxury which is hard to create here) but the cold hard stare of removal company surveyors has made me try to do a bit. I’m hampered by being mostly holding the latest addition to the family, but my challenge is to get rid of one bag of stuff for the last 40 days of the year. I’m five “ahead” already...
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Good for you, Ferijen! Just make sure you don't declutter the Latest Addition ... :anguished:
  • Does anyone know of somewhere that could use antique buttons? These are random mostly single buttons made of wood, metal, mother-of-pearl and very ancient plastics. I'm sure some are made of bakelite.

    We sorted out the button collection, two tubs full of buttons now sorted into one tub containing washable sets of buttons for making clothes and/or spare buttons for mending and a second tub of buttons that will need to be used on dry clean or hand wash only clothes (wool coats, suits, silk dresses). I have sewed the sets together into little cylinders of buttons, so I can find sets when next searching for buttons for a project.

    However, there is a bag of oddments: authentic buttons from all periods, including some 50s and 60s buttons, and I can see museums or dress restoration places really wanting these buttons, but don't know where to start contacting them. One tub came from my grandmother, whose sewing stash was dumped kindly donated to me some time ago, and I'm gradually sorting out.
  • My painters (interior) are here again. A couple of weeks ago they did the rooms in the front part of the house, today and tomorrow they're doing the back part. Lots of dishes, knick-knacks, pictures on the wall, etc. to be packed away. As I packed them up over the weekend I put things aside to donate; as I put things back out I will thin them out some more. It's amazing seeing my kitchen decluttered -- not even any magnets on the refrigerator!
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