Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 9 -- Sick as a dog

Now I know why I felt so unmotivated yesterday; by evening I had a nasty sore throat. Today, fever and non-stop nasal drip. Nothing like a cold during a heat wave.

Have I whined enough to account for the fact that I did no clutter-busting today? I spent the morning in bed. I spent the afternoon doing some emergency re-staking of our tomato plants; dabbing my nose; and entertaining my son with the least possible effort (we took our dog for a long, slow walk).

I did download my garage sale photos, starting with my personal favourite:

How many generations does it take to assemble a cradle?

We left these stragglers unattended
for two hours after the sale.
Nothing moved.
Then we donated them. 

After the sale, a bit more basement floor than the week before.

Formerly the 'garage sale merch' corner of our basement as seen last week.
Now, breathing space!

Finally, thanks to a great idea from Tanja Hoagland's 30 Day Clutter Bootcamp, I sold some CD's that had been taking up space. As I prepared for the garage sale, I listened to my CD's that were neither obvious keepers nor obvious tossers (I'd already donated the obvious tossers). I discovered one gem that I didn't even know I had(!), and identified about twenty that I don't enjoy anymore. I'm only a few chapters into it, but already I'm loving Tanja's book and her practical tips. 

After the CD's sold, my sister-in-law said, "you did copy them first, right?" Uh, no. I didn't think of that. And in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't. If I don't enjoy them, why waste my time or my hard-drive with them? Still, it's an option and I'll keep it in mind for those CD's with just one great song (you know who you are...). 

The best thing about parting with the CD's was seeing others smile. My brother-in-law put an old Smiths CD in his car and pumped it up in our driveway. I was immediately transported back to my late teens. It almost made me want the CD back, but not quite. I don't want to go back to my late teens in my own home! On his deck, with a beer in my hand, from time to time, sure. My very youthful seventy-something mother-in-law grabbed a handful of the CD's too. Turns out she's a Dwight Yoakam fan.

Another twenty bite the dust.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 7 - Rest; Day 8 - Restart

On Day 7 of my four week clutter-bust, I rested. I painted pictures with my son. I did a little baking with my son. And I spent a relaxing afternoon by the pool with my (husband's) family. It was all good.

Now it's already Day 8 and I find myself oddly exhausted. I dragged myself to yoga where I was irritated by my inability to stand up straight to my teacher's satisfaction. Each time he pushed my body into perfect position I forgot the position as soon as I moved. "Don't forget your pelvis," he keeps reminding me. I remember my pelvis -- I just can't remember exactly where to tilt it. Sigh. Back home and still feeling blah. Perhaps I'm feeling the effects of too many Palm Bay cocktails this weekend. Perhaps I'm just uninspired by today's task. I want to clutter-bust; but I have to clean up this place...

So, since I'm also trying to clutter-bust my mind, time for a little meditation. Then a lot of cleaning. I'm predicting that the meditation will leave me even more tempted to spend the day under the covers, but the cleaning will energize me. Time will tell!  ;-)

On the upside, I'm still really happy about the clutter-busting my progress I made last week, and can't wait to continue. My hubby told me how happy he is about our improved basement too. I'm going to post some pictures from the weekend shortly.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 6 -- Garage sale!

We did it; we had a garage sale.
Was it worth it? Uh, no, probably not. We made just $130. The sale lasted for four hours, as planned. Plus all the prep time buying change (no, we didn't need to do that, in hindsight); buying price-tag stickers and a fat marker and foam board (could have skipped all of that); making and posting signs (probably worth doing); and setting up (unavoidable).
Dollars for time, no, it wasn't worth it.
But did it get stuff out of our basement and into the rest of the world? Yes, oh yes!
Could I have done that without the garage sale? Sure. But would I have done so at the same pace? In all honesty, probably not.
I learned a few things.
If you're going to go to the trouble to make signs, make more than 4.  More signs probably would have meant more traffic. Our traffic was pretty light. In that regard, it might have been prudent to wait until September.
I also learned that price-tags are optional.
We priced everything in advance, which took a long time. Then I spent the first two hours of the sale worrying that the prices were too high. My husband and father-in-law said no.
Then my girlfriend and my mother-in-law showed up. They told me to take the price-tags off. While my mother-in-law was speaking from her church-sale experience, where profit is not a priority, my friend had just made $300 on her garage sale. So I took the price tags off.
We did sell almost everything, within our intended four hour period. And yet, perhaps my father-in-law was right; perhaps our asking prices were not too high. After all, had we started with lower prices we would not have sold any more things -- we sold almost everything as it was. Had we started with lower prices we would almost certainly have sold for less. So in the end, perhaps our asking prices were appropriate. And yet, if I did it again I would probably skip the price-tags, if only to save time.
Of course, I probably won't do it again.
Awesome thing: almost everything went.
We are left with the two "big-ticket" items, because we didn't want to let them go for low prices. A nearly-new tent, that's now listed on-line. And a cradle which, once we reassembled it, tugged at my heartstrings until I didn't want to let it go. It was the only child-related thing in our sale, and it didn't sell.
We are also left with one burden -- a big, heavy, scratched TV stand, which we literally tried to give away.
We sold everything else except for a handful of flower pots, books, etc., which my father-in-law took away to donate to the church bazaar.
The best "sale" of the day wasn't a sale at all -- it was someone taking our tube TV after I put a big "free" sticker on it. This saved us a drive to the dump and tipping fees. Sadly there is no market for a good quality, working, tube TV. Funny how perspectives change.
I was also very happy to receive $25 for two large, heavy framed pictures, which will look pretty in someone else's home.
Best of all, there's now so much room to move in our basement. 
There's still plenty of clutter to bust, but I am definitely on a roll.
We are grateful to two good friends who helped us out. I'm grateful that my mother-in-law didn't get too upset that we sold a vase she gave me for Christmas a few years ago. And I'm hoping that I didn't alienate everyone with my garage sale angst, in which case it really wouldn't be worth it at all. Oh, dear. I think I need to take another walk in that more-spacious basement now. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 5 -- Prep

Well, it's been a busy day with no time to post, but the neighborhood is dotted with signs advertising our sale, and the house is full of things dotted with price stickers. Yes, we're having a garage sale (carport sale?) in the morning. I'm doubtful we'll make much money, but I'm glad that so much stuff is going out tomorrow.
My four weeks of decluttering are off to a good start. There's a lot more space in our basement now. There are still lots of things to go through -- tools, photos, and papers come to mind -- but I'm eager and excited to carry on. Just three weeks left in my four-week project.
Time to rest up for tomorrow morning!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 4 -- Oops

Yesterday I was so smug about my garage sale plans. Sigh.

My beloved (and incredibly supportive but stubborn) husband has brought me down to earth. "I'm not moving that #*?! TV up the stairs and back down again." This in response to my intention to Craig's List the TV if it doesn't sell in the garage sale. In the end, we've reached what's probably a better plan -- it's going in the garage sale, and if it doesn't sell, we're getting rid of it this weekend. He's right that I should be prepared to toss or give away everything that goes in the garage sale. All of which makes me wonder if we shouldn't just skip the garage sale and give it all away...

I took a moment to find out if the local Salvation Army store accepts donations on Saturdays -- they do, but no TV's more than 5 years old! I'm laughing out loud at myself now. That baby's going to be bargain priced if we do try to sell it. If not, straight to the dump.

Either way, I'm heading back down to the basement now, to keep culling more stuff. If nothing else, the looming garage sale deadline is motivating me to go through as much stuff as possible.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 3 -- My way

Six months ago, when I took some "before" photos of our rec room, it looked like this:
February, 2011 "before"
February, 2011 "before"

This morning, it actually looked much worse:
This morning
This morning

I've got lots of explanations and excuses, but in a nutshell, disorganized clutter looks worse than organized clutter. I seem to disperse my stuff before I finally part with it. 

That's okay -- I'm thrilled to say that after three hours of work today, there are signs of progress:
This afternoon
This afternoon  
I can see the floor again! There are more empty bins! 

Garbage out!
Best of all, I threw out two bags of garbage and a box of recyclables.

Perhaps most intriguingly, I'm building a pile of merchandise for a garage sale this Saturday.

Common wisdom seems to be that garage sales are a clutter-busting no-no. It's true that as long as it's in the house, it's still clutter. 

For me, though, the garage sale is totally motivating. Until I got started in the basement today I wasn't sure that we would have a garage sale this Saturday -- I didn't know if we'd have enough stuff to sell. But as soon as I got started, I realized that having a garage sale in three days is tremendous incentive to cull as much clutter as possible, as quickly as possible. The key is that the sale is imminent. There's nothing like a deadline.

I won't know until after the sale whether it's worth the hassle, but I'm hoping to avoid a few trips to the Goodwill and gain a little cash. I'm particularly hoping that we can sell a couple of large framed pictures and an old TV, because I don't like moving heavy glass things. 

Yes, we'll have to hang out in our driveway for the morning, but that seems a lot more fun than fielding Craig's List viewings, or hauling breakable stuff to charity. Lemonade, anyone?

It occurs to me that trash is the easiest way to clutter-bust, but my conscience isn't happy dumping useful things.

Garage sale merch
I can't wait to see how big this garage sale pile is by tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Four weeks: Day 2 -- Bust and wash

Well, Day 2 of the great(?) four week clutter-bust was just that -- a bust. Lots of previous commitments; one trip to Walmart; no clutter-busting.

I did clean the bathroom, since it was needed. I'm often frustrated by time spent cleaning, which is so temporary, when I'd rather be making permanent changes. However, I've finally realized that there's no such thing as permanent housekeeping. Even my clutter-busting project will be useless if I can't maintain it. Cleaning is maintenance and I need to learn to embrace it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Four weeks to more space: Day 1 -- Kickoff

It's been another month, and I'm getting geared up again.

I just spent a week visiting my father, which always makes me want to de-clutter! He's not a hoarder -- far from it -- but he's got more stuff than places to put it, and may be somewhat overwhelmed by it all. That's my story anyway, and I'll just project it onto him (sorry Dad!).

My father has been through so much in the last few years. After a brief happy retirement, my parents' focus suddenly became my mother's valiant battle with cancer. Sadly, it was not a fight she could win. I can only imagine what my father has been through. He wants to create more space in his home now, but how hard it must be to review things acquired during their life together, alone.

We came home from my father's on Saturday night and I actually managed to unpack and wash and fold (or rather my dear husband folded) all of our baggage the very next day. That's a first for me. I am usually more the throw-the-dirty-clothes-in-the-basement-and-trip-over-the-half-empty-suitcase-for-a-week kind of traveller. But now that I'm home, and our summer vacations are over, I am just itching to get at our clutter.

I've felt pretty bad about the incredibly slow pace of my de-cluttering project. My ability to procrastinate something I've wanted to do for years has been eye-opening. I tend to do a flurry of clutter-busting just before I won't be able to do any for a while -- working to the deadline.

Several times I've questioned clutter-busting as a priority. I've felt guilty de-cluttering as opposed to, say, parenting. There are so many valuable things I could be doing with my time. That thought alone is often overwhelming.

But I want to do this, and the rewards will be huge. I remind myself that a clutter-busted home will mean more space, more time, more productivity, more peace, and therefore more happiness for our whole family.

Already there have been rewards...  My three-year-old loves the way we organized his (edited) toys into bins. He was so happy to be home yesterday and played with almost all of his toys, one bin at a time. My husband's relieved to be able to store Tupperware and pans without the use of force or puzzle-solving. Our serene guest room continues to draw friends and family.

Personally, I want my very own workspace -- as opposed to piles of books, boxes of papers, and a filing cabinet hidden behind a maze of clutter in the basement.

So, I've decided to give myself four weeks to de-clutter our house.

I started this project months ago, and I've had some successes, but my work so far has been the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Now I'm going to tackle the rest of it in a fraction of the time. Can I do it? Yes, I can!

Unfortunately these will be the last four weeks of summer, so not the best time to hunker down in the basement, but there's no time like the present. And frankly, I love autumn, so there's incentive there too -- in four short(!) weeks I'll be able to do outside projects in beautiful late September. And when winter comes, our home will be that much more of a haven.

I got started today by adding a box of clutter to the trash at the curb, just before the garbage truck rolled up.

Wish me luck...