As June 30th approaches (goal update)

The deadline for one of my January goals is fast approaching, so I felt it was a good time to update you and, in turn, keep myself on track.

1. I would like to reduce the stuff in our house by 1000 more items by Jan 1st 2015.

  • By our last update I had removed 191 items and added 55. We’re faring a lot better now, but I have been a bit slack in keeping track. Let’s call these numbers approximate.
  • Our outgoing stuff, helped along by the Minimalist Game, is at 635 items. I still have a lot of items in the out-going pile that just haven’t been moved on yet. I hope to focus on that a little these school holidays.
  • Our incoming stuff is at 101 items. This has been added to a lot due to Little Fearse’s birthday and, also, me losing focus a little. I’m getting less good at saying ‘no thanks’. I need to continually remind myself that we don’t need stuff. 
  • So, really, this brings our total for removed items (if I’m going to be strict) back to 534 items.
  • A little over half way at a little under the half way point. Not bad! Of course getting rid of 500 more items is going to be more challenging given the depths we have already gone to in our decluttering. I’ll let you know how I go.

2. I would like to further reduce the number of tubs in the storeroom by at least one 60 litre tub by Jan 1st 2015.

  • I have reduced the stuff in these tubs by half a tub. So, I guess, that puts me at the half way point, too.

3. I would like to maintain a clear dining room surface, permanently. (With the exception of times of high volumes of at home work, such as report writing time, when it doubles as my desk and some clutter is necessary.)

  • Here, you be the judge. Not toooooo bad.Image

4. I would like to sell (or, failing that, donate) all of the items that I currently have set aside for eBay by June 30th this year.

  • I have stopped selling things in eBay due to ludicrous fees and postage costs. I’m thinking about opening an Etsy store for my vintage dresses and BP’s vintage cup cake stands, but this is something I need to investigate further these holidays. I won’t be meeting this goal by June 30th, but will probably reassess and set a new goal once I know what I’m doing.

5. I would like to read 5 books on my to-read shelves by 1st Jan 2015.

  • This is the goal I am doing the best with. I have really prioritised reading lately, especially since BP’s new job means less reading time in the mornings. I use every free opportunity, including getting to school a little earlier to read in the car, reading in the bath, reading instead of watching movies or TV shows, going to bed earlier to read…reading, reading, reading.
  • I have read, since the last update, two more books from the shelves Last Words by George Carlin and Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro. This brings my total to four already!
  • My to-read shelves are now down to 99 books! I can’t remember the last time I had less than 100 books on this shelf. BP asked if I wanted some books for my birthday and it was so hard saying no, but I really want to get down to a less overwhelming number of unread books.
  • I have been borrowing a lot of books from friends and the library, and have been gifted some recent blockbusters which I raced through and passed on. None of these made it onto my to-read shelves, so I need to, perhaps, focus a little more on reading from the shelves and less on borrowing yet more books!
  • With my recent focus on reading perhaps I can set a goal within a goal and see if I can double it – 10 books by January 1st? You’re on!

Mama xo

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Goal update.

Two months on, I thought it might be timely to give an update on the goals I set for our family in January. Here is a recap of the goals I set and a few points about our progress.

1. I would like to reduce the stuff in our house by 1000 more items by Jan 1st 2015.

  • We have removed 191 items from our house since January 1st.
  • On the flip side, we have allowed 55 items to enter our house since January 1st.
  • We can do much better here. In April we are going to play the Minimalists Game for a month. We’d love you to join us on our Facebook page by posting the items you remove.

2. I would like to further reduce the number of tubs in the storeroom by at least one 60 litre tub by Jan 1st 2015.

  • I have made no progress with this, but as I write I have asked BP to bring the tubs in from the storeroom for me to get a start.

3. I would like to maintain a clear dining room surface, permanently. (With the exception of times of high volumes of at home work, such as report writing time, when it doubles as my desk and some clutter is necessary.)

  • I am mostly doing really well with this. Each night I dedicate 10 minutes to putting away the things that have made their way onto the table during the day. I now use the table as desk, which adds a little to the confusion.
  • In general what I have learned from this is that routinely dedicating small amounts of time to difficult tasks can greatly reduce the stress they cause.

4. I would like to sell (or, failing that, donate) all of the items that I currently have set aside for eBay by June 30th this year.

  • I am making progress with this. I have listed 17 items and so far sold 7.

5. I would like to read 5 books on my to-read shelves by 1st Jan 2015.

  • I have read two books from the to-read shelves, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (which, strictly speaking, I listened to on audio book travelling to and from work) and NW by Zadie Smith.
  • I am currently reading a third book, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.
  • I may have pitched this goal a little low, but at least it’s achievable!

I love that these goals are keeping me on track. I would highly recommend setting your own goals if you want to achieve great or small things in simplifying your life this year.

Mama xo

Old goals, new goals (same goals?)

Thanks to the Thrifty Pops for reminding me of my decluttering goals from April. Honestly? Although I had those types of ideas in mind all throughout the year, I had completely forgotten I’d made those particular goals with that particular time frame.

Looking back, they’re not the best or most measurable goals. I spent many years teaching students how to create SMART goals. Obviously none of it rubbed off on me.

Have I been able to achieve any of those goals? Well, we had our Buy Nothing New End of Year (one) celebration BBQ on the weekend. It took us two days to clean the house. I was pretty thorough about putting things away rather than just hiding big piles of mess. Since report writing time in December, followed by a frenzy of book making for Little Fearse’s Christmas present and glass magnet making for friends and family the dining room table has been buried under an ever increasing pile of stuff. That was the most difficult area to clean and I swear I don’t want it to ever get like that again. So, no, by January 1st the house was not tidier or easier to clean.

Generally speaking I think it is easier to find things when we want them. I have systems of organisation for things like bills and paper work and places where other things go. We don’t spend a lot of time hunting for things, other than my keys which Little Fearse likes to hide. I think I’d call this goal successfully achieved.

Right now, right after the big clean up the house feels calm and restful. Even BP said that coming into the “dining” room after I cleaned it made him feel instantly at peace. The biggest achievements I have managed in this area is putting away my clothes after taking them off every single day. This is something I have been trying to achieve since childhood. I always started off well, but would end up lazily throwing them in a heap after about a week. Since my clothes stock take in May I have done this every day. It takes so little time and makes my life so much easier. I know where all my clothes are, I know what needs washing and what doesn’t, my clothes are less wrinkly and dusty, but most of all, the bedroom is much more restful. I wake up each morning not to a pile of clothes (at least not on my side of the bed), but to a calm and clutter free bedroom floor. So, if I had made this goal a little narrower and more manageable, such as having a calmer bedroom then I might have had a better chance of achieving that, too.

In terms of parting with sentimental stuff, I wish I’d been clearer at the time about what I meant. I have recently recycled ALL of my old school assignments and work. In addition I have finally been able to part with all of my university assignments (which almost without fail had very average to crappy marks, were submitted late and “showed promise” but failed to deliver…not great for my self esteem to read back over). This paper work filled one and a half 60 litre tubs, so that’s a real achievement. I have also been able to part with some more letters from old penpals etc and have even done a realistic cull of old photographs of friends or boyfriends past. None of these were particularly painful. The biggest hurdles are my old diaries which are painfully embarrassing to read and would be best off destroyed – but, you know, something stops me. I’d say I’ve made some headway with this goal.

I think it’s timely for me to create some new goals, this time, much SMARTer ones.

1. I would like to reduce the stuff in our house by 1000 more items by Jan 1st 2015.

2. I would like to further reduce the number of tubs in the storeroom by at least one 60 litre tub by Jan 1st 2015.

3. I would like to maintain a clear dining room surface, permanently. (With the exception of times of high volumes of at home work, such as report writing time, when it doubles as my desk and some clutter is necessary.)

4. I would like to sell (or, failing that, donate) all of the items that I currently have set aside for eBay by June 30th this year.

5. I would like to read 5 books on my to-read shelves by 1st Jan 2015.

Let’s see how I go…

Mama xo

My Great Great Grandfather had a monkey, which makes it really hard for me to get rid of my stuff.

As you know we are in full decluttering mode in the Fearse cave. So far this has been mainly driven by the 2-4-1 challenge and a desire to keep ahead of ourselves just in case. I think it is now time to add a bit of focus, as we’ve got rid of a lot of the surface clutter and are digging much deeper now. We all know what lies in those lower levels of junk…the dreaded sentimental junk. Big Poppa has already spoken about his findings in his man cave. In some ways it is worse for him as many of the sentimental papers from his childhood have been laminated. Mine have simply deteriorated over the years until each fold is torn and the print has faded. This makes it easier.

In our storeroom I have a large moving box full of letters and diaries. I actually made a little headway with this recently by throwing away large piles of letters from old friends that didn’t mean much anymore. While reading letters from another old friend I realised that these were more records of her life than things of value to me, so I got back in contact and asked if she would be receptive to me returning them. She was and I did, but I haven’t heard from her since.  I sometimes wonder if they were a bit much for her, as she wasn’t always at her happiest when she was writing those letters to me.

As a child I was as voracious a letter writer as I was (and still am) a reader. I had many penpals over the years from other parts of Australia, all across the USA and even from India. I still have the majority of those letters, and of course I haven’t read them for years. I have more than a sentimental attachment to letters and diaries. When writing them I secretly thought maybe one day I’d be famous and they’d be important. As I grow older and this looks a little less likely I’m wondering if maybe I could manage to part with just some of these things.

Then again…recently my Mum discovered the letters of her Great Grandfather in the Tasmanian historical archives. It turns out that he was close friends with one of the fathers of Australian Federation and although her Great Grandfather wasn’t a particularly important man his friend was well known enough to justify keeping all his correspondence. It was fascinating to read about this man who we would otherwise know nothing. We have photos and we have facts, but how often do you get to learn of the intricacies of your ancestors personalities without a whole lot of guesswork? It turns out he had a great sense of humour, a little distain for his younger brother who was a bit useless and he had a pet monkey.

An excerpt from the letters of my Great Great Grandfather.

An excerpt from one of the letters of my Great Great Grandfather.

Maybe someone I’ve written to will be well-known enough one day to justify having their documents maintained in acid free, light free archival solitude. Honestly, I’d be quite horrified if it were the case. I would hate for my private writing, meant for an audience of one, to become public. There’s no control over that. To save someone else in the far, far future from having to make decisions about what paper work of mine matters and what doesn’t (it all doesn’t) I have to make headway with this junk.

I’ve been doing more reading and this entry has inspired us to set out some goals. This is what we hope to achieve with our decluttering:

We:

  1. Want to be able to find things when we are looking for them. Everything has a home.
  2. Want the house to be tidier and easier to clean.
  3. Want the house to feel calm instead of chaotic.
  4. Want to be able to part with some of the sentimental stuff that has no real purpose.
  5. Want to achieve these things by January 1st 2014.

I hope you’ll help keep us on track,

Mama xox