One Year On

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It is almost exactly a year since I wrote this post about decluttering emails in October last year.

I was astounded to see the number of emails which I mentioned was well in excess of 4,000 in all folders at the time.

I had regularly kept it to around 500 or less since then until it blew out of control a bit while we were on holidays and I have not been super diligent since our return.

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Last night I made a start on clearing out the emails and made some more progress with the task this morning.  After being at about 1,900 emails we are now back to a more manageable 470 or so.

Despite the number of emails, I am pleased that I have generally been better at regularly cleaning and culling my inbox and have renewed enthusiasm to keep it this way in the future.

During the process of tidying up the emails, I have also taken the opportunity to action some emails that I had been hanging onto as I needed to ‘do something’ before deleting them.  Sometimes this was as simple as adding some details to my ‘Contacts’.

Digital Declutter

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Today I had a clean-up on the computer, most specifically, emails.

2015-10-30 01Our regular email address is with gmail and we also run one through Outlook.  I have been trying to unsubscribe from several sites which regularly dump emails in my Inbox as well as deleting ones that are no longer required but clearly that strategy was not working terribly well as in the category of “All Mail” there were 4,443 items!!  It was time to get ruthless so GMan and I set to work.  “All Mail” now contains 273 emails – a reduction of 4,130.  This will be further reduced in a couple of weeks as I am holding quite a number of emails until after we have been to Adelaide for the memorial service.

The Outlook mail was a much smaller bundle but it is now down to less than 50 items.

As always, one thing leads to another and I have also sorted/deleted/filed the bookmarks and downloads as well as our documents on the computer.

However, before you start thinking how virtuous I am, let me remind you that the photos are still a huge work in progress along with dreams of cataloging the music.  They are still ‘one day’ projects.

Just like physical decluttering, my efforts today make me feel much better.

Decluttering 101

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I have been decluttering for over 10 years now but I am not really sure when I started.  In fact, I had never even heard of the word until, perhaps 5 years ago and the concept of minimalism only entered my consciousness even more recently.

There are as many ways to approach decluttering as there are people on the planet.

I have heard of instances where people have decluttered their whole home in a weekend.  They ordered a skip, almost stripped their home bare and threw the excess in the skip.  I do not know what their long-term success rate was like but I suspect that it was a bit like a crash diet. The rebound effect brings you back to the same point as where you started or worse.

The slow and steady approach is my way and it also fits with my philosophy of minimising waste and making do with what I have.  I had numerous mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser from hotel visits.  I have gradually used them up until they are all gone.

I have no doubt that the key to successfully decluttering your home is to stop bringing more stuff into it.  Unless you can get rid of the endless stream of possessions coming in, nothing is achieved.  It is time to alter your mindset and cease the constant inflow.

Although I do not write regularly about what I have decluttered, rarely a day goes by without me moving something out. It may be physical items or even that very insidious junk – digital clutter.  When was the last time you checked your email inbox?  Is it overflowing with offers, freebies and emails that you haven’t even read?  Get set with the delete and unsubscribe functions!

Here are some of the things that I have re-homed recently.

Large chest of drawers – sold on Gumtree
2 suitcases – given away via Freecycle
Mirror in frame – given away via Freecycle
2 zips – sent to a friend
Paper napkins – sent in response to an online request
3 men’s polo shirts – given to op shop
Skirt and 2 tops – given to op shop
4 cookbooks – given to op shop

What have you decluttered recently?

A Year in Review

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Here we are, almost at the end of another year and as usual I try to take time to think about what I have done and my plans for the new year.

I was looking back at some of my posts from around 12 moths ago and although I have achieved a lot this year, some of my lofty ideals did not come to fruition.  You can check out my goals here.  The photo project was an epic failure but everything else (and much besides was done).

The organising for Christmas also fell by the wayside but it was all achieved before 25th December.  My goal is to do better in 2013.

The important thing when you find that the achievement did not measure up to the goal you set is to simply pick yourself up, dust off and try again.  That is what I love about a new year – it is a clean slate.

I have my 2013 diary and have resolved to use it properly this year instead of cluttering my brain with 1001 things I have to remember.  An Excel spreadsheet is set up to record our spending so that we can see where the money goes.  The emails are sorted/deleted/archived/actioned/unsubscribed as required and I will keep this up-to-date each week.

Our holiday in March is planned and booked.

How was your 2012?  What do you plan to achieve or do differently next year?

Minimalism – Everyday Maintenance

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Minimalism and decluttering should not simply be an excuse for a massive clean-up followed by more of the same – buy, buy, buying of stuff.

Downsizing, voluntary simplicity, minimalism – whatever terminology you wish to use – is a complete change of mindset which requires constant vigilance to ensure that clutter does not creep back into your life.

I try to do something every day to streamline my life and enhance the way we live.  Yesterday I unsubscribed from 2 email mailing lists so that is several more emails that I do not have to delete every week.  It is much easier to eliminate things at the source rather than constantly trying remove unnecessary intrusions, regardless of their form.

There is so much we can do to simplify our lives but it is important to remember that we did not acquire all of this ‘stuff’ overnight, so it is a ridiculous goal to attempt to clear out the excess in our lives in a short space of time.    Slow down and appreciate the benefits of the space (mental and physical) you create with every small step.

By creating space you are able to embrace special opportunities that present themselves.  I am looking forward one such occasion tonight.  The Duke and I are going to a show with Belle and Missy.  It will be great to spend time together as a family doing something that means a lot to all of us.  This possible because we have plenty of space in our schedules which is often unusual this close to Christmas.  Over the past few years we have eliminated many of the Christmas functions which we attended due to a feeling of obligation rather than a real desire to celebrate.  Now we do exactly what is important and meaningful to us and a lot of the stress has been removed.

Have you simplified aspects of your life?

Digital Decluttering – Part 2

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I am having a break from sorting photographs but my focus over the past 48 hours has been the emails.

A few things had conspired to ensure that my emails were out of control.  Not the least of these was the change in format of Gmail.  I kept putting off finding out how to effectively use the new format and although I had deleted many emails as soon as they hit the inbox I am ashamed to confess that the total emails was in excess of 1500!

The first thing I did was to unsubscribe from several sites which sent frequent emails that we really do not need.  My mantra is, “If I want something, I will go and find it.  I don’t need to be constantly bombarded by offers.”

Then it was a matter of deleting the old, unwanted and irrelevant stuff and finally creating folders for the ones I wanted to keep.

I have promised myself that I will keep my digital mail filed and tidy just as I would ‘snail mail’.  This is particularly important as we try to receive as much correspondence as possible via email to reduce the environmental impact of posted mail.  There are often emails with critical information that we cannot afford to lose amongst a pile of ‘junk mail’.

As with all of the organising projects I have undertaken, I hope to have made the email filing simple and effective so that I can maintain it with the minimum of effort while moving on to tackle other projects.

My project for tomorrow is to finish a linen blouse that I started making during the week.  I will post a photo of it when I finish it.