Five years ago, I wrote a blog post called “The Conquering Clutter Resolution” in which I discussed my wake-up call when I replaced flooring throughout the house, which meant having to pack and relocate everything.
During the process, I could not believe how much “stuff” I had. It was nothing on the scale of an episode of “Hoarders”, it was just mystifying how much I could hide in a closet when it was neatly and efficiently organized.
This prompted me to start a purging habit of getting rid of one cubic foot of “stuff” (aside from the regular garbage and recycling) every week. This was definitely an easy and achievable goal, even on the busiest of weeks, to see slow and steady progress.
Gone were the kitchen gadgets that got little use. Gone were the hobby items that never developed into an actual hobby. Gone were the collectibles that never really turned into a collection.
As the months went by, I patted myself on the back as I felt lighter with each donation and each extra garbage bag. I thought that by the next time something like that came up, moving my “stuff” should be a breeze.
But when I moved this past spring, despite my best purging efforts, my moving van was still astonishingly full. How did that happen? Continue reading
Up until now, my only experience with self-storage has been the occasional viewing of the TV show “Storage Wars”.
As much as I have witnessed self-storage facilities sprouting up throughout the city at a crazy pace, I never really gave them much thought as I assumed that they were just for people with too much stuff.
When my real estate agent suggested that I needed to edit out some furnishings to help certain rooms feel bigger, I didn’t really resist the idea as I trusted that my agent knew best.
Frankly, I relished the idea of trying out the self-storage solution as I knew that this would be an interesting new adventure for me.
Shortly after we put the offer on the house, I called the storage facility company to check on availability, knowing full well that I may need to do some editing. Last summer, a friend of mine was put on a waiting list because demand was so high at that time, so I worried that might be the case for me as well. My fears were put to rest as they said (at that time) that there were many spaces for rent in all sizes.
When the real estate agent gave me her official verdict on the staging situation, when I called to make arrangements for a space, the size I was looking for was no longer available, so I went with the next size up.
The day that the movers came to haul some boxes and the marked items to the facility was also my first time setting foot in the warehouse. With my signed contract already on file, it was just a matter of handing me the keys to my space, showing me around the facilities, and demonstrating the security features to access the space. Continue reading
The moment that we decided to put in an offer on a house, the part that scared the crap out of me the most was the inevitable next step: staging my home.
In most of the pictures of homes for sale that I had seen in recent years, all I could see was empty rooms. I kept wondering if people were still living there given how sparsely they were decorated. And if they were living there, where was their stuff?
I have seen enough HGTV network shows to know that some people have a hard time visualizing themselves in a home. And frankly, I have yelled at the TV in exasperation when buyers reject a whole house because of a paint colour or because the drapes were blue.
But I do understand that during a showing, prospective buyers aren’t interested in seeing the story of André. They need to see their own storyline, and their own needs and wants for the home to strike the right chord. For that reason, some decluttering is needed.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a pack rat, I am not a minimalist either. Like most people, I have stuff.
So the burning question: where does people’s stuff go to make the house look that empty and how much effort will it take for me to get there?
Fortunately, over the last years, I witnessed a shift in my own mindset, less focused on possessions and more focused on experiences. Along the way, I have indeed been chipping away at the stuff, shredding old papers, donating gently used belonging and tossing things that were past their prime for anyone to reuse. Was that enough effort for staging purposes? Probably not.
But where it gets complicated is how much more do I need to edit out, and can I do it without throwing out my degenerating disc in between arthritic flare ups in my hands… the joys of being over 50! Continue reading
When I wrote the blog post “Deleting without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt” a little over a year ago, little did I know that I was on the cusp of a serious change when it came to my TV habits.
In that blog post, I shared the guilt I felt in deleting programs my PVR had recorded but that I did not even watch. Scandalous… I know!
But in doing so, I was (sort of) following traditional rules of de-cluttering: if it’s been sitting there for a certain length of time and I haven’t watched it, will I ever get back to it? When I was really honest with myself, the answer was pretty clear.
When the new shows rolled out in the fall months of 2016, I gave several programs a chance, but I was getting a little more ruthless in my programming choices. I set a boundary: if after 2-3 episodes I wasn’t really loving the show, why was I still watching? Sadly, only a few survived and remain on my list today. Funny enough, “Designated Survivor” is one of them. (Is art imitating my TV life?)
I hate to admit that using that same rationale, even some shows I enjoyed in recent years have dropped off my must-see list. What happened to the kid who used to push up the national average for TV watching?
You could say that without really thinking about it, I wasn’t watching TV out of habit anymore, I was watching TV with more of a purpose.
Once the bar was raised, the available space on my PVR started increasing… and increasing. And in doing so, not only had I freed up space on my PVR, but time was freeing up in my life as well for things that mattered more. It was a seismic shift. Continue reading
As I mentally prepare for this year’s round of spring cleaning, I already dread opening that same box I open every year: the box of trophies and awards. Every year I am stumped with the same questions: keep them, toss them, donate them or repurpose them?
… And then they go back into the box as I defer the decision to the next year, and the next one, and the next one.
What makes the decision so difficult is that behind every trophy is a great deal of hard work, dedication, discipline, and blood, sweat and tears on my part. Of course the latter are just metaphorically speaking; Grade 8 in suburbia was far from “The Hunger Games”.
At the same time, behind every trophy is a judge or a panel of judges, who took time out of their busy schedules to consider my work and to so generously bestow this symbol of recognition.
To me, the trophy represents an act of extreme kindness and generosity, which still humbles me today, still elicits a great deal of gratitude and frankly, “guilts” me into hanging on to this symbol.
And then I consider the possibility that there may be a colleague who worked harder than I did, yet did not receive recognition for their accomplishment. They could possibly be thinking that I am an ungrateful brat for even considering tossing a trophy I received …37 years ago.
But the big question is this: at the time of the recognition, did the judge or panel of judges truly expect me to hang on to the trophy until I am pushing daisies? Continue reading
A couple of months ago, I was off for a few days to take care of some home maintenance. The first day, I was expecting a windows guy to come over to inspect (and hopefully re-insulate) a recently-installed window as cold air was seemingly seeping through. On the second day, the insulation in my attic was getting topped up. Let’s face it, finding drafts and eradicating them is a key deliverable in the job description of being a middle-aged man.
The weekend prior, I did what anyone would do before anyone comes over. I cleaned the house. The error of my ways became evident when my partner pointed out, “Won’t you need to clean up AFTER they have done their work?”
He was right though. Why is it that when tradespeople are coming over, I clean the house to the same extent as I would if I was entertaining guests?
Hmmm… Lightbulb moment!
The fact is that anytime someone is coming to fix or check something in the house, I will make the extra effort to clear furniture out of the way in order to give them lots of room to work, as well as to ensure that there are no breakables within proximity for them to worry about. To me it just makes common sense and helps them to do a better job if they aren’t worrying about “stuff” surrounding them.
But in the process of pulling furniture out of the way, I might possibly reveal dust bunnies lurking in places that aren’t usually in the vacuum cleaner’s path over the course of regular housecleaning. I can’t leave those there… so out comes the vacuum cleaner.
And when I pulled out the furniture, it appeared that I had left a little scuff on the wall, so out came the microfibre cleaning cloths and my trusty all-purpose cleaner.
Of course, once you have one corner of the room spruced up and neat as a pin, you can’t just leave the rest of the room undone. Continue reading
In my journey of exploring life, I have held many interests and tried many hobbies over the years, each attracting its own “stuff”. The problem is that when life gets busy, attention is diverted and in some cases, the passing interest fades but the “stuff” remains and sometimes accumulates into clutter.
I completely sympathize with folks (like those on the television show “Hoarders”) who say that they did not notice it accumulating. (Parenthetically, 5 minutes of watching the show “Hoarders” sends me scrambling to de-clutter something). I admit, there have been moments when I realized I was running out of space and reorganizing the same cupboard or closet for the 20th time when I would stop and wonder: do I have too much stuff?
As a child who frequently misplaced things, the motto “a place for everything and everything in its place” was instilled in me.. um.. well.. at least my parents tried to instill in me to the best of their ability.
When I was very young, there was a firm rule that before my birthday and Christmas I had to go through my old toys in the basement and pick some to be donated in order to make some room, otherwise Santa Claus couldn’t deliver new ones.
Similarly, when it came to clothes, every September, we would get a new set of shirts and pants for the new school year. The set from the year before (if they still fit) became my “play clothes”, and the set from the year before would be up for donation.
Unfortunately, there were times in my adult life I didn’t always have time to apply that logic. Chalk it up to being too busy building a career, busy with friends and family, busy with other activities that were important to me, or sometimes, I was just too tired… staying on top of clutter was not always a top priority, so things accumulated. Continue reading