Monday, 20 February 2017

Making a Start on Subtraction

Like many people, I've accumulated a lot of material "stuff" over the course of my forty-something years.  In that way, I don't think I'm much different to a lot of other people my age who live in relative wealth in a prosperous, first-world country. I don't think I'm alone either in feeling the burdens of some of this superfluous stuff. 

The oppostite process to the accumulation of stuff is the subtraction of it. I'm not sure where I first read about the idea of subtraction. Not the mathematical operation that leads to a lesser total, but the minimalist concept that leads you to more. To me, the mindset of "less is more" could lead to some very worthwhile equations like these: 

* less to clean/less shopping for even more stuff  =  more time
*less stuff taking up room in your house/life  = more space
*less money spent buying 'unnecessary' stuff  =  more money
*less stuff to keep clean and to worry about = more energy (physical and mental)
*less confusion about what is really important = more clarity
*less need to accumulate/consume even more = more contentment with what one has

+++++++++

So, like fellow bloggers before me (Cheryl over at A Simply Good Life, Chris at Gully Grove and Fiona at Stay Home Instead), I have begun that process of subtracting unnecessary stuff from our home and my life. Rather than beginning with whole rooms , I began with a single drawer in my kitchen:

Before
(What a mess!)

Sorted 
(The things I decided to keep.)

After.
(Much better!)

I thought carefully about every item in that drawer. Was it broken? When was the last time I used it? Did I use it often/at all?  Did I have another one lurking somewhere? Could I re-purpose it somehow so that it would become useful? Anything that didn't "pass muster" (extra cookie cutters, melon baller, coasters and the like) went into a box for the op-shop  destined, hopefully, to become useful to somebody else. 

The challenge now is to continue this subtraction and not to accumulate any more. There are many more drawers, cupboards, bookshelves and closets to do. Given that I can be prone to procrastination with most bigger projects, I find the most important thing is to make a start ... and then just keep going!

Are you undertaking some subtraction yourself?

Meg









16 comments:

  1. Ha! I started with my kitchen draws too, it's probably the least overwhelming place to begin!
    My decluttering process continues slowly but surely, last week I tacked 3 shelves in my big linen closet, it was stuffed full to the brim. I'm a bit of a hoarder of old towels and linen "in case" they come in handy for cleaning, craft or sewing...but this time I toughened up, they had been filling my cupboard for years unused, so out they went! I literally culled the contents of that cupboard by more than half!
    Bags and bags of items donated or thrown away, even I was gob smacked!
    And the outcome is it is so much easier to put things away in their place, and keep that space tidy, and like you, that saves me time!
    Well done Meg, keep going! :)

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    1. It was a pretty easy place to begin, Cheryl:) But I think, even doing one drawer or one shelf at a time, will still get me there in the end and will allow me time to really focus on each item and evaluate whether I really need it or not.

      The hardest thing to do will be the study, full to the brim of over twenty years of teaching materials and books. I have done some half hearted culls of things, gave away four tubs of math and language games and materials to a fellow teacher/friend a while ago, but I know that I need to be even tougher. Best I practice on one drawer at a time first;) Meg

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  2. Now that it is cooler I need to get going with this Meg. I need to get rid of things like cookie cutters which I never use and am not likely to. The only problem is my hubby is a hoarder so doesn't like throwing things away in case they come in handy down the track :-)

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    1. I don't like throwing things away either, Chel, especially to landfill. I'd much rather take things down to the op-shop or give them away to someone who can then put them to good use. I'm glad of the cooler weather too, such a welcome relief! Meg:)

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  3. That was a good start, it looks so much more organised and calmer somehow.
    I started in the guest room where the 'present cupboard' is, so that room was easy and pretty quick. The next was the sewing room, it took 3 days, not just bags and baskets and boxes of quilting fabric and supplies but yarn and books too. Some boxes had years of postcards, letters, documents and photos.....hours and hours of sorting, just as well I had visitors coming as a deadline or I would have given up.
    I did the whole house in 2 weeks in the heatwave.
    Lots of recovery knitting was involved too.
    Since then have toughened up my attitude so will be doing it all again when it's cooler...not so much dithering next time.
    Hope you enjoy your progress,and sharing your excess with friends and charity shops.

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    1. Hi, Margaret. What an effort to get all that done in the middle of a heatwave. I'd have melted into a puddle! I am trying to be very 'tough' as I'm decluttering so that, when I'm finished, I'm left just with what is truly useful to us. Meg:)

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  4. It must be that time of year as I have just gone through every cupboard and drawer in my house, and now have two overflowing boxes ready to go to the op shop. Good luck, it's a big job, but worth it.

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    1. It is a big job, Jan, and I expect it's going to take me a while, after all it took years to accumulate it:) I believe wholeheartedly that it will be worth it and hope that there will be others who will be able to make goo use of it all. Meg:)

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  5. This decluttering bug must be going round :) I've been doing the same thing for a few months now and I've been enjoying the feeling of liberation of not holding onto things that aren't needed.

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    1. I think it is going round, Pip. There are a lot of people who are thinking more about the "stuff" they have accumulated over the years and whether they really need it or not. For me, I am trying to live more simply and subtracting stuff is just part of that. Meg:)

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  6. I need to do that too Meg. My kitchen drawers are so packed it is hard to find anything in them.

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    1. I have quite a few drawers like that too, Debbie. I'm slowly cleaning out each one, makes things so much easier to find! Meg:)

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  7. Several years ago, we had to clean out my mother's house. She had saved so much stuff and was moving to a much smaller place due to the death of her husband. It took us weeks to clean out her house but we got it done and she was better able to let things go after that. I remember hearing someone say "you don't want to leave a legacy of clutter" and that has stuck with me. We've been downsizing our "stuff" and always have a bag that we fill up when we come across something that we don't need or has been outgrown by the children, etc. When it gets filled up we take it to a local thrift store where the profits go to an organization for homeless animals. Makes me so happy to get rid of things now. So many people live without that it makes me feel guilty having so much. xo

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hi, Wendy. It sounds like your downsizing and decluttering is going well. I think one of the benefits ofsubtracting "stuff", whether that be material things or otherwise, is that it can leave you feeling lighter because you're not carrying the weight of it anymore. Meg:)

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  8. That's a great sorting job. Like lint, stuff can collect before we know it. What might have been useful once, may not be used any more. And so it goes. I enjoyed reading your points about less, equals more. :)

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    1. Hi, Chris. I am hoping my kitchen ends up as organised and clutter-free as yours! Meg:)

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