10 Ways to Simplify – Beyond the Basics.

There are a million and one “10 Ways” to Simplify/Decultter your life lists and they are great, especially when starting out. This list is for the next ten things. After you’ve tamed the mail clutter, the school papers, the wardrobe, the laundry and the knick-knacks, you may wonder what to do next.

  1. Surplus Kitchen Tools.  Pots and pans, spatulas, salad spoons, nutcrackers, giant ladles, and shredders. We had four shredders, eleven ladles, four nutcrackers, seven salad spoons, and a whopping thirteen spatulas. We love to cook but we never use all the tools we have to do it! You can let go of the tools you don’t need and you can determine which tools those are by clearing out a bottom drawer. Put things that are always in the way (bent spatulas, dull shredders) in the bottom drawer. After six months, if you haven’t used those tools, then they are not useful tools – they are kitchen clutter. If they are in good working order send them to the local goodwill, if they are unusable – recycle them.
  2. Seasonal Outside Activity Items. When was the last time you used all fifteen of those Frisbees?  How many soccer balls do you really need? There’s no need for 20 baseballs unless you’re coaching, same for softballs, bats, gloves, basketballs, and footballs. When was the last time you played bat-mitten? Volleyball? How many snowboards can you use at one time? Surfboards? Skis? If you use it as often as you can, then the item is worth the space it takes up. If not – donate it and help someone else discover their love for outdoors.
  3. Art Supplies. Ok, so this is my hurdle. I paint and scrapbook, but only rarely (2x a year or so). Still, I have a whole shelf of paints that are slowly drying up, and a large box of beautiful scrapbook paper. Going through those paints, one at time, and tossing the dry ones would make my painting experience so much better. Why haven’t I done it yet?  Because I love all those pretty colors! This is a perfect example of when it’s most beneficial to set feelings aside. So you love your collection but every time you look at it, you feel a twinge of guilt. I sigh and think, “I should paint more.” But that’s not the positive environment I want to inhabit. The same can be said for the beautiful box of paper. I’m not using those papers. I’ve gone digital, but every time I see them, I think, “I should really scrapbook.” The ‘should’s’ are destructive and I can do without them! So, by letting go of my paints and paper stash I can free myself from the ‘should’s’ of guilt.
  4. Drawn by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. See more of her art at www.dulemba.com .
    Drawn by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. See more of her art at http://www.dulemba.com .

    Books. We are book lovers, and we homeschool. Every bedroom has a bookshelf. We have three in the dining room, two in the living room, and two in the kitchen. We’ve read most of the books. A number of them are textbooks for every grade from Kg – College. If we let go of half of the books in this house we’d gain so much space! And then, we could move on to step 5…

  5. Furniture. How many end tables do you have? Do you have a chair that floats because it doesn’t really have a home of its own? What about bookshelves of books you’ve already read and have no interest in reading again?  Is the couch in the garage/basement/attic/porch really serving a purpose?  Donate!
  6. Wall and Floor Coverings. Who doesn’t love their Grateful Dead/Hamsa/tree of life wall covering? Who really needs it though? Think of it like this – If you saw it in a store today for $50, would you buy it? If the answer is no – let it go. Floor coverings are similar. We have hardwood and tile floors so we had rubber backed rugs everywhere. One by the front door, two kitchen rugs, a laundry room rug, four bathroom rugs, and a runner for the hall. Now, we only have washable rugs; one by the front door as a reminder to take off shoes, and shower rugs. Let me tell you – it is so much easier to clean the floors now. Before, we had to beat nine rugs, then vacuum, then sweep, then mop. Now though – we wash and dry three rugs, sweep, and mop, and that’s it! 🙂  Simplifying has given us more time to do the things we love.
  7. The extra car. My husband says that up to three-fourths of his clients have an extra car just taking up space in their garage. Although I can see the wisdom in having a backup for most things… I cannot see the purpose of maintaining an extra car just-in-case. Maintaining  a car is an expense. The cost of tags and insurance, the oil change (even if you don’t drive it frequently an annual oil change is a good idea). The possibility of dry rot in any of the rubber components may make your extra car unreliable if you ever need it. Turn that space waster into cash or donating it to specific charities can result in a nice tax break too.
  8. Entertainment. So when our kids were little Netflix did not stream. We gathered quite a few VHS tapes and DVD’s that now collect dust in a storage bench in the living room. We don’t even have a VCR anymore, but if… no, we’re never getting a new VCR either. How could we? The last VCR manufacturer is ceasing production the end of this month. Similarly, we have books of DVD’s that we never watch. These have got to go.
  9. Scraps. Crafty as we are, there are bunches of lumber scraps, fabric scraps, odds and ends lurking throughout the house and shop. Never once have we had a project so small that our scraps could do the job. Do you use your scraps, or just collect them? If they are not used at least twice a year, they are not paying for the space they take up. Let them go!
  10. Things to fix. So I had a beautiful gray sweater that I was going to fix. Three winters later, I had not. Finally, I let it go. This is hard idea to get around because we want to believe we will fix stuff (clothes, blankets, fans, lamps, cars, electronics, ect… We have learned that we don’t fix things, especially if we believe we will fix it later. If it’s not important enough to fix right now, then you can let it go. It’s so much easier than filling a box/closet/garage with broken things you don’t really want to fix. Just free yourself from that obligation.

So that’s ten intermediate things you can do to simplify your life. If you have let go of things not on this list please share them in the comments. Until next time, I hope you find some time to indulge in a little simple heresy.

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Confession/Affirmation Time

Part of the reason I opened this blog (and closed the old one) was because I am moving into some new phase of life. I’m a HUGE fan of color and design and have always loved the shiny bright colors of each new season. Recently, however, I am not impressed by the brilliant hues, and patterns of my favorite bohemian rainbows. Instead, find peace with the less is more mentality.

This blog is an expression of the decluttering going on in my real life.

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It’s weird. I can’t claim the ‘Minimalist’ title, or the Zen practice, and that’s ok. I don’t really want a title or label – which is new (and a little unsettling) too. I feel like I’m committing some kind of heresy against myself – like I am un/becoming me? Not to worry though, old habits die-hard…

In search of what to call the emerging simple aspect of me I consulted the online, guru, Pinterest (which was my favorite digital hording site for years). There, I found Acadia’s Fostering Simplicity blog and her “simple living” mentality. Her post about simplifying from the outside in mirrors the journey I’m on, so far anyway. I don’t lay claim to her identifiers but I resonate with her expressions, and that’s nice.

If you’re in flux maybe these ideas can help you too.