So we’re now 48 days into our daily decluttering experiment! Woo!
And spoiler alert – I’m never stopping :)
I get a high every time I throw something into that donation box! Haha… And I keep finding stuff too, despite being a practicing minimalist.
Here’s a list of everything I’ve removed from my house so far:
(“removed” = gave away, sold, donated, gifted, or if not applicable, trashed)
- Book: The Intellectual Devotional – Modern Culture
- Half broken lamp
- Bag of chocolates & candies
- 6 old Zip disks
- 4 old Floppy disks
- Un-installed three apps on my phone
- Never used Bluetooth headset
- “Doggies” book (duplicate)
- “Freakonomics” book
- Old kid’s art (*gasp*)
- Old Motorola phone + coin magazine (donated to tiny library!)
- Old iPhone + Android phone
- Marine Aquarium CD (remember when you could buy screensavers?? Haha…)
- 41 old CDs (backups of files, music, resumes, other no longer important stuff)
- Cannon Ink Cartridge (brand new / no longer have the printer!)
- “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely
- Old Flip video camera
- Hurley T-shirt
- Box of old school $$$ books
- Box of unused journals
- “The Happiness Project” book by Gretchen Rubin
- Old iPhone battery pack (haven’t owned an iPhone in 4 years!)
- Unused scarf
- 4 Koozies (does anyone ever use these? Haha…)
- Easter basket w/ fake grass
- Old desktop computer
- Old Laptop #1
- Old Laptop #2
- Wife’s old laptop #1
- Wife’s old laptop #2
- Duplicate toy airplane
- Civil War book
- 2 never-used belts bought online (remember that experiment? Didn’t work out so well…)
- Cleaned up old/dead links on the blog
- More bags of kid’s snacks/candies
- 2 gold necklaces and 1 silver necklace
- 3 other assorted necklaces w/ pendants
- 1/2 karat diamond earrings!
- Two pairs of sunglasses
- A few collectible coins
- Never used volleyball
- Two (super) used baby bjorn-type apparatuses
- Holey pair of boxers (hole-y, not holy ;))
- Email “drafts” decluttering (I’m known to store them up)
- Ugly onesie
- Dress that doesn’t fit the wife
- Old headband
- Small tote bag
I literally had no idea I still owned half this stuff… (And the other half I kept putting off trying to figure out what to do with over the years!)
Which leads me to a bunch of realizations so far:
#1. Lots of unwanted stuff is hidden in drawers and cabinets!
It’s easy to sort through the stuff you can see in plain site, but to REALLY find the hard stuff you gotta look in all the nooks and crannies of your house. Particularly drawers and cabinets and any other containers where things can easily hide. We’re good at forgetting about the stuff we can’t see!
#2. A lot of items *take time* to figure out what to do with
One of the biggest surprises – and benefits – to this daily challenge, was actually having *the time* to sort through some of these harder items in your house. Knowing that every day you had to find at least one new thing to get rid of (and after the first two weeks, it gets harder and harder! :))
The biggest areas for me here were a box of old laptops and cell phones (so much data on them, couldn’t just throw out for any ol’ hacker to find, right??), as well as decades old, and valuable, jewelry we no longer wear anymore.
But by focusing on just *one* of these items each and every day, I was able to get through every last one of them and even LEARNED something in the process! Like that you can take laptops apart and pluck out their hearts (hard drives) and then connect them to a chord thingie to retrieve all your lost files! And then more importantly, *wipe them all clean* so you can finally ditch them!
More on that in a bit… (it was actually pretty fun playing Computer Doctor, as well as for my kids who wanted to help dad “investigate” too :))
#3. The more valuable an item is, the harder it is to get rid of!
The hardest part isn’t always deciding on *what* to keep and what to finally get rid of, but it was actually the “how to get rid of?” part once you DO decide to no longer keep something! Particularly with all our old jewelry again. I didn’t just want to throw out or donate the valuable stuff and not recoup any money, but on the other hand I also didn’t want to spend gobs of time trying to hawk them either with the limited free time I now have as a stay-at-home dad. Which lead me to another important realization…
#4. Sometimes it’s better to just accomplish the mission than try to optimize every last outcome (or profits)
After days of trying to figure out how to get rid of this jewelry, I decided to say “F it” one morning and just get them out the house as fast as I could before stashing them back in their box for another dozen years. I went straight to a local jewelry store here in town and asked how much they were willing to give me for the gold and silver chains, and while the answer was not a lot ($160), it was certainly “enough.”
Probably not be the best plan for getting rid of valuables, especially if they’re SUPER valuable and/or you really need the money, but it did the trick for me and just like that they were off of my mind and out of my house!
(This “done vs perfect” mentality also goes for other things outside of decluttering too, such as launching projects or organizing the house, or even publishing blog posts ;) We can get so sucked into the details of the task and wanting to make everything perfect, that we’ll often take double the time allotted for it, or worse – never finish the project at all! So sometimes it’s better to just get it to “good enough” and then call it a day.)
#5. Lastly, sometimes you need multiple rounds of decluttering to finally take action on your stuff.
This is the part I feel like most people overlook in their minimalist journeys. The impression you get when you read about this stuff is that you should be able to look at something you own, and then make a decision right away and move right along to the next item. But the reality is that not everything is so black and white, and sometimes it takes a *few* rounds – or even years! – to finally be comfortable making a call on something.
An item like this for me were my once-beloved 1/2 karat diamond earrings I used to strut around in back in the day ;) They skipped the first rounds of decluttering when I first got sucked into minimalism with the idea I might wear them one day, but as the years passed – and I got MUCH too old to be wearing such things – that window slowly closed, and it wasn’t until this final round here that I was finally willing to give them up. Of course, not before wearing them one last time just to double check it was the right decision (“yup – it’s time!” said the wife, after noticing what my kids were giggling at ;))
So don’t get too hard on yourself if there are a few items here and there you’re struggling with – it’s normal! And perhaps the next round or two will give you the insight you were hoping for.
(Where did I end up sending these earrings? Ironically enough, a coin collector friend of mine had mentioned his wife lost one of her 1/2 karat earrings he had bought her years ago, so she will now be receiving a replacement and at a fraction of the price this time ;) A pretty good win-win-win, if you ask me!)
So needless to say, this has been another eye opening experiment for me this month! And exactly why I keep doing so many around here – YOU CONSTANTLY KEEP LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF!!
Which all infiltrates back to your daily habits and spending and accumulating, and so on and so forth.
It’s a magical thing :) And one I hope you’ll give a shot too!
Here’s a look at the main categories we hit with this decluttering round, as well as the # of items in each:
- Memory disks/CDs (42)
- Books (19)
- Clothing and accessories (8)
- Pieces of jewelry (7)
- Computers/laptops (5)
- Bags of old candy/chocolates (4)
- Old smartphones (3)
- Things that belonged to someone else ;) (14)
A good smattering across the board! With again, the hardest being the computers and related items, along with the stash of jewelry. Feels so much FREER finally tackling them all!
Oh, and I had mentioned playing Computer Doctor and breaking out all those hard drives… Here’s a few pics of me in action:
The main tools I used were REALLY tiny screwdrivers, larger screwdrivers, gloves, and then a set of pliers because half the time I didn’t realize how to get to all the different parts of the laptops, haha… (This was my very first time EVER trying to get into my computers like this… it was actually pretty fun!)
If you’re wondering why the keyboards were ripped out of some of them, it was because my kids requested to have them so they can “type like daddy” and do some of their own “work” ;) And then again because I had no idea what I was doing, I told them we needed to “do some inspecting” which helped answer all their questions as to why I was breaking things left and right with pieces flying all over, haha…
But I was successful in retrieving what I needed!!! Here are all the hearts (hard drives) – aren’t they pretty??
From there, it was moving on to figuring out just *how* to get all the files off these guys so I could finally ditch everything once and for all.
And to do that (after some quick Googling), I had to purchase this bad boy which directly connected them right up to my (working) laptop via USB port. So easy!!
[This is a Sabrent USB 3.0 TO SSD/SATA/IDE 2.5/3.5/5.25-INCH Hard Drive Converter that ran me $22.99 on Amazon – which proved to be worth much more than any of the files I ended up finding on the computers, haha… But still – I ACCOMPLISHED THE MISSION!! I got those files off of there and then wiped them clean! (aka reformatted them)]
Of course, it would have been much easier downloading everything and wiping the computers clean when I FIRST STOPPED USING THEM!, but hey – sometimes you don’t feel like doing that when you’ve got a shiny new one to play with :) Plus, half the time they crash on you anyways not even giving you that chance! So all in all I was pretty pleased with myself here as a non-techy.
I also learned that you could still *use* all these hard drives too just as you do “normal” external ones! They’re basically the same thing, only without prettier cases and the high price tags! But again since this mission is about getting RID of stuff and not keeping everything, I decided to offload those bad boys as well when I was done with them…
So yeah, good times throughout this month! Less stuff AND an education in computer wizardry! ;)
If you decided to follow along and do your own daily decluttering with me last month, I’d love to know how it’s turning out! I got a message from one of you that you got rid of 30 things all in *one* day! Haha… Which technically does accomplish the goal, but I’m more curious to hear what you’re learning throughout the process ;)
So let me know! And if you’ve missed any of our previous experiment recaps lately, here they are again below… Try any of these out and your wallet/life is bound to be happier!
- What I Learned Tracking My “Wants” For 30 Days!
- What I Learned Waking Up Like Benjamin Franklin For 3 Years
UPDATE: Looks like fellow bloggers Waffles on Wednesday also took up this challenge :) Check out their recap (and success!) here: Decluttering Challenge: One Month, One Item Per Day
*Links to books and computer chord thingie above are Amazon affiliate links…
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!