Receiving gifts and words of affirmation are my love languages.
This translates into me wanting to keep every gift and note ever given to me.
As I accumulated more over the years, I must’ve subconsciously told myself:
“It’s not my fault I love people and actually care about what they give me and things that remind me of them. That’s not a bad thing! It looks to me like hoarding is just my love language. There’s no changing that.”
In order to prepare for my big dream of living in a tiny house, I was challenged to face the fact that if I didn’t get rid of “stuff” then my tiny house would always be a big mess!
For the month of June, I decided to try a new idea I’d heard.
Actually, the reason I tried it is because my sister said she put in the newspaper that she was having a 3-family yardsale and I was one of those families! I had a week to gather items. I took some stuff my mom was getting rid of, but it still wasn’t much. I was working full-time, so I committed to simply get rid of 10 items a day. Bam! I’d have 50 by the end of the week.
It worked so well that I decided to continue for the rest of the month. Some nights after a long day at work, I would spend a mere 10 minutes getting rid of more than 10 things…partly due to the fact that it was boxes of stuff from college days.
I didn’t stick with it completely, but I still got rid of about 100 items that I had little emotional attachment to. Even though I was enjoying the freedom of having less, I still have plenty I’m attached to. What made this way of decluttering work for me unlike anything else had before?
I didn’t have to spend grueling hours sorting through boxes of papers to see if I should keep them. I didn’t have to make a decision about every item. So much thinking! No, I just glanced around and said, “Hey, why do I still have this? It can count as one of my 10 items.” Or, “I won’t use this for years, and it takes up lots of space. I bet someone will buy it, and then I can get another at a thrift store or online if I miss it.” I only focused on the stuff that would be easy for me to get rid of.
However, after a month, I was tired of that method. I may go back to it again, but for July I decided to join some groups of people getting rid of a bag of stuff a day. It seems similar to what I was already doing, but my approach this time is to first of all list the sections that need attention. Then I take a close up “before” photo of it like so…
I’ve done plenty of decluttering before without taking pictures first, and I’ve even done it once when I took only one picture of an entire room. I had way less motivation then. To declutter by taking “before” pictures works like never before because I wanted to see the “after” picture.
I knew it could happen in a day (partly because I had the day off but also because I had chosen a tiny section to organize). Taking the picture was worth the effort. It made me want to transform the rest of my room.
It has been helpful for me to join decluttering groups online because after I’d done all the hard work, I had something to show for it. I could share it with people who wouldn’t be negative about it. At the same time, I was able to motivate them. I wouldn’t invite tons of people inside my entire room, but I was ok with showing the part that I had cleaned (even though I also shared the messy picture). This accountability in decluttering was like nothing I had tried before because online communities among strangers haven’t always been so common. Take advantage of it! I’m continually getting comments on what I’ve done which is encouraging me to keep going with it.
I know it’s hard to find time, which is why I had to make this a priority. If you’re feeling the same way, you can sign up for my newsletter at the top right of this page where I’ll continue posting about my journey. I’ll then invite you to join my Facebook group: Tiny House, Big Mess! 🙂 That way you can show me your “before” and “after” pictures to keep me motivated.