This Time Last Year………….

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……….well almost.  It was actually 15th October 2013 that I published  this post which was the beginning of a series based on Francine Jay’s book, “The Joy of Less”.

I re-discovered it recently when I was working on adding back the photos to my earlier blog posts.  The series is now complete with photos and I would encourage you to take the time to read all of the posts.  I think there are about a dozen of them.  Even though I wrote them, there were some revelations which have inspired me to keep going on my journey to let go of more ‘stuff’.

The original catalyst for the series was the purchase of a new refrigerator and the fact that it required me to open the door of the overhead cupboard every time I needed to access the refrigerator.  We did have the doors re-modelled and this is what it looks like now.

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My Life Laid Bare

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On Sunday we cleaned and sorted the open concreted area under the house.  This is a large space and The Duke unwittingly took a leaf out of Francine Jay’s book, “The Joy of Less”.  You can read more about the principle of ‘Starting Over’ here.

Everything, and I mean every single thing, was moved and put out in the backyard.  Hence, the rather dramatic title to this post.

Stuff in the backyard

We set about sweeping up the leaves, dirt and other debris then The Duke used the high pressure cleaner.  This process managed to remove all of the paint drips and splatters from when we had painted the fenceposts.  Some people would be appalled at the waste of water but we knew that we had plenty of tank water so that was not a problem.

Under the house
In true decluttering fashion, we wanted to make sure that only things that had good reason to be under the house went back there so we critically assessed the various piles.  It was very easy to see those things that did not deserve to stay.  We actually both made our decisions independently and then when we compared notes it was no surprise that we agreed on what needed to go.

The final step was to rearrange the items that were to be put back.  Since we have finished painting fenceposts, we relocated the scaffold up the the back area and have stacked the posts, rolls of wire and the old kitchen sink on it.  Don’t laugh – we are planning to use the sink.  The plan is to have the sink set up close to the vegetable garden so that we can use it for washing fruit and vegetables.  We cleaned the hanging chairs and once they are rehung we will be able to relax in our refreshed space.

As well as cleaning the area and decluttering a few things, we have been able to identify the things for which we have a planned use.  This has led to new enthusiasm to get some projects done and the materials used rather than stored.

STREAMLINE – All Surfaces Clear

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Today’s gem from Francine is pretty simple to say but not quite so easy to achieve.  Keep all surfaces clear.  Clear surfaces provide us with possibilities.  Somewhere to eat your dinner, prepare a meal, pay bills or simply to sleep.

She also reminds us that surfaces are not for storage.  If you have too much stuff for your available storage spaces perhaps it is time to let some it go.

This is one area with which I have had partial success.  For instance, my dining table always is clear apart from a doyley and vase which provide a decorative element.  I am also pretty good at keeping the vanity bench in the bathroom as well as the laundry bench clear.

Dining table

The study desk is generally a failure and the kitchen benches range from good to bad depending on the day of the week and work in progress.

Kitchen bench

It takes time and effort to achieve the state of a completely clear surface.  Like all changes you need to start small.  Don’t expect to turn the study desk which is overflowing with stuff into a minimalist’s paradise overnight.  If you have sufficient storage in the bathroom, I think the vanity bench is a great place to start.

The dining table is also a good one to tackle because anything that is on here is definitely in the wrong place – a dining table is to sit at to eat a meal.  Since most of us eat 3 meals a day there are plenty of opportunities to make sure that it is clean, clear and ready for use.  Since it is also a public part of your home everyone will benefit from it being clear and ready to use for its designated purpose.

Please let me know – do you have any constantly clear surfaces of which you are particularly proud?  What are the areas that seem to defeat you?

Tomorrow we will move on to something a bit more interesting than my kitchen bench.  Modules – containing what you have.  It is definitely a new twist on rushing out and buying containers to store your stuff.

STREAMLINE – A Master Plan

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The first and most important thing I need to do with this post is to acknowledge that it is not my own idea.  This is the basis of the book, “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay.

I have mentioned the book previously in a couple of posts here and here.  “The Joy of Less” is a book that I keep going back to and it continues to inspire me.  That is no small feat as it seems that everyone is writing a book on organisation, minimalism and/or decluttering.  Many of them do not offer anything new but “The Joy of Less” really hit a chord with me.  In particular, I liked the philosophy in the early chapters.  This helps you to understand what clutter is, how it affects us and our relationships with it.

However, today I am going to focus more on the actual process of creating a minimalist home which works for you.

S – Start over

T – Trash, treasure or transfer

R -Reason for each item

E – Everything in its place

A – All surfaces clear

M – Modules

L- Limits

I – If one comes in, one goes out

N Narrow it down

E – Everyday maintenance

This is the step-by-step process that Francine uses and to do justice to the information, I plan to discuss each point in depth in separate blog posts.  There will be one every day or so, depending on my workload so keep watching to get the full story.  Some are reasonably clear but other concepts need more explanation.

The important thing to remember about minimalism and decluttering is that it can fit any situation and be as much or as little as you want it to be.  However, if you are reading about decluttering, there is a very good chance that you are feeling the need to unburden yourself for some of your stuff.  Don’t hijack your goals by thinking that you will declutter your house on the weekend.  You can certainly make a start but don’t ever imagine that it is a one-off weekend job!

Tomorrow we will “Start Over”.  I look forward to hearing about your goals and achievements with respect to decluttering and minimalism.