Friday, September 17, 2010

The Sullivans De-Junk

John and I decided to replace the carpet in our house.  It's the original carpet from 1990.  First, we thought we might do the downstairs only, just to put off the work necessary to move everything so we can recarpet and then move it back.  Then we decided to get it all done.  We decided to declutter as much as possible as part of this process.

We started cleaning out last weekend.  All we have are weekends and evenings, and we had a lot of commitments to keep last weekend.  We're spending an hour or two each evening, working together to de-junk, and it's going much better than I expected.

In the past, one of us would start and get paralyzed by not knowing how important the items were to the other person.  We started our hardest spot last night, a little "bonus room," like a large closet, that was full of kid stuff, computer stuff, old books, you name it.  There's even a Passap in there!  I absolutely thought that would be the worst room, but it wasn't so bad.  With us both there, we mostly wondered why we had kept a lot of it.

I've read all kinds of books about getting organized, but we are hard cases.  Here are some things that are actually working for us:

1.  Give some things away.  Once you give a certain amount to charity, there's more documentation needed for a tax deduction.  So, instead of a thrift store and bothering with a tax deduction, we are using Freecycle to give good things away that we won't use.  It really helps us hoarders to realize that someone is going to get some good out of an item.  I loved imagining somebody else's kid playing with kites, models, and the like.  My friend wants the cuckoo clock DH doesn't want - I think she'll get a kick out of it.  Suddenly, dejunking is fun.

2.  I'm filling boxes of a certain type of item to give away, for instance, kiddie books, clothing, school supplies.  That way, someone who needs items of that type will find it worthwhile to drive to my house and get a whole box of related items.

3.  Start out with a mountain of empty boxes.  Without containers, you lose momentum.

4.  Have a deadline.  Those carpet guys are coming, and our time is limited.  Previous dejunking battles involved house-on-the-market deadlines.

5.  Repeat after me:  "Make a decision!"  We are helping each other decide, egging each other on, but whatever arbitrary rule (haven't used it in two years, some else will use it more than me) works to help you make a decision is probably a good rule.

6.  Guess what - it started to feel good after a while!  I felt overwhelmed at first, and I dreaded the job.  At some point last night, I suddenly realized that we are getting back a perfectly good little room.  We could use it for a desk, or a knitting machine, or a reading nook, instead of a messy, jumbled in-house storage area!  I had forgotten that it's a nice little room, and bigger than I thought - the junk that used to fill it seemed to make the walls sneak closer together..  I feel almost like the junk should have been paying us rent for using up our house.


  1. Good Job! I will check out Freecyle to get rid of some of my clutter. Thanks to you, the knitting machine that I was storing for 25 years is no longer clutter.

  2. Thanks. Saturday morning, and I'm at it again. I'm putting some cool stuff in the "sell" pile, some KM related. Freecyclers are driving by and picking up items they can use.

    I understand that if you break a sweat, it's good exercise. I'm getting my exercise!

    One of my other passions is financial literacy. I believe that being thrifty is very environmentally conscious. Buying a used car keeps a decent car out of a landfill (boy, was I against Cash for Clunkers, where they treated the motors so they'll never run again). These items are being reused without any processing.