Decluttering in Action

Somehow, we’re already into February. Since I last blogged, we’ve been making excellent progress on our lifestyle changes. We’ve bought very few items as we’ve narrowed our focus to be strictly on what we need rather than just things we wanted. It’s been extremely helpful as we march ever-forward toward our move-in date for the new house! At this stage, it’s looking like that’s going to happen at the end of March and we’ve been trying to prepare as best as possible – identifying what new IKEA furniture we’ll get, what sheets, what towels, and sorting through our long list of ‘things to get for the house’ to identify what’s absolutely necessary to start with and what is something we’ll think about later. This eventually led to us considering how the move would go. We envisioned (here, in the UK, they’d say ‘envisaged’, but I haven’t gotten to that level of British-ness yet) something like the following:

  • Weeks/days leading up to the move: pack up our remaining belongings and order the necessary furniture to be delivered.
  • Move-in day: bring all the boxes into the new house, unpack whilst waiting for furniture to arrive, then spend time building said furniture.
  • Days following: unpack, declutter, unpack, declutter.

But didn’t seem to be the best order in which to do it. The more we thought about it, the less sure this plan seemed. Firstly, we don’t know when we’re getting the key to the place. Is it on move-in day, known here as ‘completion day’? (Seems to be.) Well, then, what time would that be? Late in the day, meaning we wouldn’t be moving on the day we expected to? With no key, we can’t schedule IKEA to come bring us our new furniture within a window of time on day one – and hey, does IKEA even allow you to schedule the delivery on a specific day or time? (We’ve yet to find out.) So, we thought we should come up with a new plan.

The new plan involves decluttering now, rather than later. This way, we’ll have had time to refamiliarize ourselves with all the belongings we’ve brought over and it also gives us a chance to declutter as we uncover. Then, once we move in the theoretically-fewer boxes (since decluttering obviously means we’ll be moving in less stuff), we’ll have a good idea of where those items should go and whether or not we’ve brought anything with us that’s on our existing ‘need-to-buy’ list! Clearly, if it is, then we have no need to buy yet another item.

So last week, we got to work. We pulled out seven of our boxes that are in the garage and went through every single item we’d packed.

Sorting through our stuff…

We found quite a few things that we’d classify as part of our collections. As we’d been living without looking at them for a year now, we started to ask ourselves if we needed to hang onto them. Did they really add more value, more joy to our lives? Were they just nice to look at? As we sorted, there were only a handful of items we looked at and said, OH! There’s that thing! Most of the time, we regarded our stuff with new, questioning eyes. Did this item belong in our new home? Why does it belong? If we’re going to keep it, where will it be kept?

By the time we’d gotten to the end of it, we’d donated half of our glassware. (Why did we think we needed the 20 mugs we brought over?) We’d uncovered my old manuscript and the university publications I’d worked on (those stayed until I could consider ways to digitise them). We’d found an entire box (and then some) full of DVDs and Blu-rays that we couldn’t even play here because we’re no longer part of Region 1. When we’d packed them, we thought we’d buy a Region 1 player to view them again, but we couldn’t even remember which ones we’d even brought over (save Lord of the Rings and the entire Xena: Warrior Princess collection). We parted with many items within our various collections, including some memorabilia. As we worked, the pile of stuff to get rid of either started to exceed the pile of items we’d decided to keep. From the seven boxes we’d sorted, we only kept 2.5 to be moved into our new home.

What to do with the excess stuff, though? Well, some of it went straight into the bin, but others were being sold or donated! As it turns out, our clutter turned into some a good amount of cash. A number of Tea‘s old gaming devices and a few items from his collection sold at an antiques and collector’s fair we attended with his parents. We walked away from that with £156. The things we’d been selling on eBay have totalled £274 (so far) and we’ve still got more to sell. And last Friday, Music Magpie swung by the house and picked up all those old, dusty, unusable DVDs and Blu-Rays (and a few books) for £146. Another £45 earned through selling off more books via WeBuyBooks. That brings us up to £621, which is more than enough for us to buy the sofa we’d been eyeballing at IKEA.

When I started this journey, we committed to donating items that weren’t likely to be high-value things (namely, a fat chunk of my book collection and clothes) so they could go on and give joy to others. They’d done their job by being useful to us and adding to our lives, but their time with us had passed and they were mostly stashed away, collecting dust. It was time for them to give more joy to other people. I took this same thought process and turned it toward other items within our collection, such as the lovely Firefly cargo crate subscription I’d signed us up for last year. Whilst I originally wanted the crates for the figurines (all of which are proudly displayed on our bookcase), there were quite a few things that I wasn’t expecting to use or display that came with them. Thankfully, there are plenty of browncoats in the world (and at my work) who are gladly able to give these items a better home.

Seeing how these items can spread joy to others? That just warms my heart and makes us happy to share.

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