Clutter is subjective. This blog receives comments on how decluttering is a waste of resources. My friends do not think my home is cluttered. They infact love it. They even protest every time I let go of something. For the record, I did not give away everything I own ! I am not buying new things while giving my old things away. I am not living in a white washed home. I do not only wear black and gray. I am not putting myself through some sort of punishment. Its all organic, slow and voluntary. But from my experience, you can make some mistakes :
1. Know why !!
Its currently trendy to cull and feel like you have donated your crap to some one needy. A study even found that culling released the same hormone as buying. It may be tempting to throw things away. But if done without some introspection, it may lead to a relapse. Do it slowly at your own pace. Keep a record/journal. And know why. I did this so that I can live in tiny homes and travel. I can pack and move in 4 hours. Its worth it for me.
2. Internet Peer Pressure
Everyone is doing it. All the bloggers are doing it. It may be tempting to follow the trend before you are ready for it. Do it at your pace. Or dont do it at all. Everyone’s priorities are different. There are many ways to live. Do not do it if it’s not for you. I do not like Project 333. I will not take it up. And its fine.
3. “I will wear it out instead of letting it go”
I owned a lot of Zara clothing three years ago. After a few washes, they looked shabby. I told myself ‘I will wear them 20 more times and donate them’. This made me feel less guilty about buying bad quality in the first place. I would save all my good stuff and wear the shabby ones to wear them out. And there was a period when I looked rather shabby. People would tell me that to my face.
4. Idolize minimalism. And it has a face. An aesthetic. And a number.
The internet is flooded with white washed rooms, monochrome clothing and striped tops. Project 333 is extremely popular. If less is the new more, how are we keeping score ? By counting and flaunting the number. Do not fall prey to the numbers. Do whats right for you. The right amount for you. The aim is to get over this sort of show.
5. An all consuming obsessive need to declutter
It’s addictive. Every time something left the house, I felt really good. And I wanted to do more. While this was good in the beginning, I needed to stop after some point. My friends started to ask “what will you wear if I take this away”. I would walk around searching for things to give away. As of today, my time is more precious to be constantly engaged in this game.
6. Being stuck in the cycle of cull and buy
I “wore out” most of my Zara clothing. And bought replacements. If I keep donating and buying, on repeat – my life would suck ! I now understand quality and no longer need to constantly replace things. This saves me time, energy and money. I will not chase a more ‘perfect xyz’ item. In fact, I am so content that I gave up shopping altogether for a year. I am loving it !
7. Not knowing what to hold on to !
Get over the guilt of owning some keepsakes. That 5% that hardly gets used. Or saving some excess for backups/replacements. Don’t fall trap to the game of numbers or think your needs are just like someone else’s. I gave away my maps from our travels and I deeply regret it. I was caught up in the game of letting go. I read an article on the stupidity of collecting souvenirs and immediately adopted their philosophy for a second. Once the second ended, it was too late to get them back. Its okay to have a few keepsakes. Its okay to have a few unused things in storage. Not all of us can be happy leading monastic lives.
8. Your partner’s stuff
I realize I am the one reading blogs and books online about zero waste and minimalism. He isnt. I am in a different frame of mind when it comes to stuff. I once tried to get him to give away some of his things and it did not go well. If someone asked me to give away my perfectly fine usable things two years ago, I would not have agreed. Respect his decisions and judgement. Do not declutter for your partner.
9. Items I repurchased
I gave away my MAC 108 makeup brush to a good friend of mine. I hadn’t used it in five years. And then figured out that it would be perfect for dispensing DIY dry shampoo on to the scalp. I couldn’t ask her to give it back and repurchased a brush of the same shape. Yes, I cringed (a lot ) when I had to spend the money the second time around. But this is quite rare and I will write it off as a mistake. There was a time I sold a perfectly usable item for a more perfect item. I had a pair of suede black loafers that I could not keep clean and stain free. I replaced them. Yes, mistakes can happen.
10. Extreme Minimalism as the ultimate goal
I see these sort of comments online : “We are a family of 5. We do a lot of bulk shopping and my garage is full of items from Costco. I would like to have an empty garage and lot of space. But Costco saves money for me. What should I do?”. “My baby is a toddler now. I kept all of her clothes because I know I will have another child in the future. Should I declutter?”. Nobody is asking anyone to throw away useful things that are not needed in the moment. The minimalist bloggers have created a definition of what minimalism should look like. I feel the pressure too. My favorite minimalist has a tiny wardrobe and everytime I see my closet, I felt guilty. Instead of enjoying it, I beat myself about it. Enough of that already ! Do whats right for you. Nobody else knows your needs. You don’t know theirs. Period.
Decluttering is still trending. You read so much about other people’s experiences that it’s hard not to be influenced. Half of the decluttering advice I read online doesn’t make sense. When I see someone decluttering and shopping, it makes me angry. When someone suggested Project 333 for food, I was enraged. I didn’t see why one should restrict vegetables to a number. I still don’t. So I won’t follow it. Its been two years since I started downsizing and I am happier. I don’t miss anything I let go except for my maps. I sold my limited edition copy of the book ‘An Unknown Hipster’ when I realized it’s a compilation of the website. The book currently costs 10 times the selling price, which makes my selling it a bad investment. Other than these few instances, I did good for now. Ten years down the lane, I can not guarantee that I won’t repurchase something I gave away. Also, these posts are not a how-to guides. But my experiences. Please don’t feel pressurized to follow the advice.