My Favorite Minimalism/Decluttering Books (Part One)

I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite books on minimalism and decluttering. This is named “part one” as I’m always picking up new books, so I’m sure I’ll do a “part two” in the future.

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Does it even need to be said? The granddaddy of tidying books that helped start the minimalism trend. KonMari’s method is an excellent one and her gentle, encouraging voice really comes through, even in the translation.
  • Goodbye, Things – Fumio Sasaki’s book is part memoir of his own journey to minimalism and the happiness it brought, part list of tips and tricks on decluttering. The bonus photo section is a joy to look at.
  • Everything That Remains – Another minimalism classic. The Minimalists are the fathers of American minimalism and this is my favorite book of theirs (Although the other two are also good.) They call this their “Why to” book.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of not Giving a F*ck – If it’s your calendar you need to minimize/declutter and you like a generous serving of cursing with some excellent advice, Sarah Knight’s book is for you.
  • The Joy of Less – If KonMari isn’t for you, you might enjoy Francine Jay’s STREAMLINE method.

Hope you enjoy this list! Get to reading! (And remember – if possible, get these books from your local library rather than purchasing – that’s why I didn’t include Amazon links.)

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

5 Mini-Decluttering Projects to Take on This Weekend

Although I’m a big fan of the KonMari method, sometimes ain’t nobody got time for that. Or perhaps the thought of going through ALL of your belongings all at once makes you break into a cold sweat. No worries – any small steps you take toward decluttering are better than getting overwhelmed and not doing any tidying.

Here are some small projects to either get you started or reassess your belongings this weekend.

  1.  Clear out the junk drawer. If you have multiple junk drawers, see if you can consolidate enough to empty one.
  2. Go through your jewelry box. Toss any broken items or earrings without a match (yes, even if you SWEAR you know where the other one is. Do a search. If you can’t find the other one, out it goes.)
  3. Clean out the medicine cabinet. (I actually need to do this one myself.) Since medicine expires, this should be done at least a couple times a year anyways. Dispose of non-narcotic medicines (OTC medications, antibiotics, etc.) in used cat litter or coffee grounds and set any narcotics (Vicodin, Valium, Percoset, etc.) aside for your local drugstore’s or police station’s pill reclamation day.
  4. The Closet.  Every home has one: THE closet. Empty it, vacuum and dust it, and put only what you need back in. (Depending on how cluttered and/or large the closet is, this may NOT be a small project – the first time I decluttered my office closet it took over a week. If the worst closet is too much at this time, select one that is smaller and/or less cluttered.).
  5. The Workbench. If you have a workbench or even just a lot of tools, gather them all in one place and sort through them. You might find you have 3 5/8 wrenches but no wood glue. An organized workbench will make the next project or home improvement that much more enjoyable.

Have fun this weekend!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

 

Gifts for Minimalists

It can be difficult to find a gift for someone who is trying to declutter and reduce the number of their possessions. What do you give someone who doesn’t want “things?”

Here’s some ideas:

  1. Subscription Boxes – There are now subscription box services for nearly every interest. I would recommend one that comes with perishable items that must be used such as YumBox, which sends a box of snacks from a different country each month.
  2. Food Box Service – On a similar note, a meal subscription service such as Blue Apron may be much appreciated for busy people.
  3. Dinner Out – Either taking them out for a meal to catch up and enjoy each other’s company or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
  4. Babysitting Services – For those who have children, a homemade “gift certificate” for a night of babysitting will be much appreciated.
  5. Other Services – Know someone who hates to mow their lawn? Hire a yard service for them or show up with your lawnmower every couple weeks. Housekeeping, handyman work, and other services are other ideas.
  6. Tickets – A gift card to the local cinema for a movie night or tickets to a show they want to see or museum they’ve been wanting to check out.
  7. Discarded Item Disposal – If they are in the middle of decluttering (especially an “all-at-once” KonMari-type of decluttering), offer to take away their discarded items for them. As discussed in my article a couple weeks ago, this can be one of the most difficult parts of tidying. Offer to make that dump run, drop-off trip to the thrift and/or consignment store, or even put items of value up on eBay or Craigslist for them.

I’d love to hear other ideas that you may have, so please comment below!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

5 Free Things To Do This Weekend

I’m on Day Two of no sleep (chronic insomnia), so we’re going to keep today’s entry short and sweet.

On the weekends it’s easy to default into hitting the mall, seeing the latest movie (even if you’re not particularly interested in it), or eating at the same mediocre chain restaurant for the 50th time. (Note with the last two it’s about quality, not the fact that money is being spent.) It’s especially tempting right now with most of the Northern U.S. still in a winter weather pattern. (I’m sitting here looking out upon a snow-covered Shire as I type.)

So, here are some (indoor) ideas for those of us in places where it’s too cold to do much outside, but there’s not enough snow to ski, snowshoe, etc.

  1. Embrace the Hygge: If you can still stomach it after all these months, instead of fighting the weather, put on your softest pajamas or sweats, make some tea or hot cocoa, and curl up with a good book. (I’m over this myself, but hey – if you can do it, go for it!
  2. Host a Movie or Game Night: (Also quite hygge!) Being stuck inside at home is a lot more fun with company – host a horror (or your favorite genre – perhaps chick flicks and wine is more to your tastes) movie marathon or a poker night with some good friends.
  3. Explore a New Trail: This one is outdoors, but a lot of us are wanting for fresh air, so if you can, bundle up and find a trail you haven’t explored before. Or perhaps drive out to a different neighborhood and walk around – you’ll be surprised at what you notice when you walk rather than drive.
  4. Spa Day: Get some friends together and have a home spa day – manicures, facials, and good conversation with some wine. Only fluffy bathrobes allowed!
  5. Plan your Summer Vacation:  Start putting your next vacation together – the dates, the location, what activities you want to do. This will give you something to look forward to. Bonus points for making a mini-vision board of it to look at until spring comes!

Hope this helps my fellow Northerners still in the throes of winter.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

The Right Amount of Things to Own

Yesterday Dr. MinimalistHobbit was inspired to sort through his bike jerseys. (Following KonMari’s observation that the best way to get others in the household to tidy is to tidy your own belongings.) After a while, he looked up from his pile of clothes and sighed, “I like all of these jerseys,” giving me a look of expectation for some words of wisdom or criticism with the “correct” number of jerseys he should keep.

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“Then keep all of them” was my quick answer, and so is my belief. I agree with the Minimalists and KonMari (and a lot of other minimalists I follow) that there is no magic number of items to own because we all live such different lifestyles and have different tastes. Dr. MinimalistHobbit owns around 40-50 t-shirts, but they all spark joy for him and he also wears t-shirts every day all year round, even when it’s -30F outside. I own a bookcase full of Pop figures because they make me smile when I turn around from my computer for a quick break from staring at my computer screen.

Conversely, I own almost no “real” pants because I work from home and live in yoga pants and Dr. MinimalistHobbit owns precisely one suit because he only wears a suit 2-3 times a year. Neither of these would probably work for someone who works in a business formal office all week.

So do not worry about the actual number of items you keep as long as you, to use the old William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Nine Categories to Declutter for Spring

Although Hobbiton, like most of the Northeast, is locked into a winter weather pattern, in most other parts of the Northern Hemisphere Spring has sprung and with it, Spring cleaning and decluttering.

Here are some categories to declutter while preparing for Spring:

1.) Garden implements – Do you really need three hoes and two rakes to get the yard back in order? Probably not,

2.) Dresses and skirts – Although shorts season may be a while off, while you’re exchanging your warm pants for cute dresses and skirts, make sure to consider each one before automatically adding them back in your closet.

3.) Cleaning supplies – Since it’s cleaning season, what better time to go through all your cleaning supplies? Throw out anything you no longer use, anything past its prime, and any extra rags (you probably don’t need ten unless you’re running a cleaning business).

4.) Sweaters – Just as it’s a good idea to sort dresses and skirts as you dust them off for the season, declutter any sweaters that got stained, developed holes or pills, no longer fit, or that you just didn’t wear this past winter before putting them away.

5.) Cars – No, I don’t mean declutter how many cars you own (if this is a thing you need to do, you’re probably not my intended audience, and I commend your opulence). Both clutter and dirt can build up over the winter. Spring is a great time to clear out the car and give it a thorough cleaning!

6.) The coat closet/entryway/mudroom –  A hard, long winter can leave your coat closet, entryway, and/or mudroom looking like a war zone, especially if you have children. Check the winter coats to see if they’re good for another winter, toss any mittens without a match, and donate any winter items that have been (or will be by next winter) outgrown. Bonus points for emptying everything out for a thorough dusting and mopping!

7.) Papers – With tax season just ending it’s a great time to go through your papers. Remember to toss 2010 tax papers! (In general – consult with your accountant of course.)

8.) Air –  This one may sound like I’ve smoked a bit too much pipeweed, but after being closed up all winter, air quality and humidity indoors absolutely plummet. Open up the house for a thorough airing as soon as you can. My personal limit is 50F for opening the windows, but your mileage may very.

9.) Yard/Garden – Once the snow melts, a lot of broken branches, literal garbage, and even lost items can be revealed. A quick run-through with gloves and a garbage bag can improve the look before you can even garden.

Hope this list helps you do some seasonal decluttering and cleaning!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Book Review: The 100 Thing Challenge

I’ve always been fascinated with extreme minimalism, so when I had the opportunity to pick up David Bruno’s The 100 Thing Challenge for under $4, I grabbed it right away.

The Good: Bruno spends a lot of time detailing the thought process that led to him doing the challenge and how he prepared for it for an entire year ahead of time. (Hint: As discussed in my previous post, discarding items is no easy feat, and he needed to get his down to 100.)  I also liked that he included specific lists of what his 95-100 items were at various points – although everyone’s lifestyles and requirements are different, they help to provide a jumping-off point.

The Bad: One of the positive attributes of the book also leads to one of its detriments: I felt there wasn’t enough focus given to the actual challenge and the lifestyle changes and difficulties it created.  Now in all fairness one of the points Bruno makes is that his life didn’t change much, but I would still have liked to have seen this section fleshed out.

In Summary: Although not one of my favorites, it is a quick easy read and may inspire you to do your own extreme (however you define this – as Bruno says in the book, his number was 100, others may have a different one) minimalism challenge.

The extreme minimalism video series that I like best is by one of my favorite Youtubers,  The Bad Minimalist. Check it out – they not only go through what they keep, they address a lot of the underlying emotions that can come out during a challenge like this. Watch the entire playlist below:

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Sell/Donate/Toss – Actually Getting Your Decluttered Items Out the Door

In my experience, I have found that while it’s easy for me to declutter, figuring out what to do with the items I’ve decided to let go of is difficult. It’s especially hard when the items have enough value that you’d like to get some money for them.  It would be so nice if there were a magic button you could push at the end of a big tidying spree that would magically take all the items away!

So, let’s break down the three general options and when each is most appropriate:

Sell –  I personally prefer eBay for this option. Living in a small town, there’s no Craigslist and few local buyers. I especially appreciate how eBay has the buyer pay shipping costs and you can purchase and print out the shipping label at home – no trip to the post office needed. However, it’s a lot of work and not an option for larger pieces such as furniture.

I also used Phobio.com to trade in my old iMac. Although the initial online “paperwork” to get an estimate and shipping to them (they send you a pre-paid box – super easy even with my 27″ iMac) was great, I have not received my estimated payout yet, so cannot fully give them a glowing reference yet.

Some people may also consider holding a tag/yard/garage sale for all of their items large and small all at once. In general, the large amount of time and labor involved is not worth the small amount of money you’ll make. (In per hour terms, well under minimum wage.)

My rule of thumb is I only sell single items, and only those I’ll get at least $50 for. Otherwise it’s not worth my time and I will just donate.

Donate – Another good option, although some places can be very picky about what they will accept. I am very lucky that the local animal shelter holds an annual tag sale to raise money and are happy to accept anything reasonable year round for it.

Some ideas:

Clothes: These are actually very difficult as the “fast fashion” industry has created a global glut of clothing and many places won’t accept them. Definitely ask first before dropping off at the thrift store. There are charities that accept prom dresses and business/interview clothes for those less fortunate. Here’s a great article on options: https://www.moneycrashers.com/where-donate-clothes-charity/

Books: Libraries and hospitals.

Toys: Preschools and children’s hospitals.

Baby Items: Women’s shelters

Unused Toiletries: Shelters

Old (Ragged) Blankets, Bedding, and Towels: Animal shelters (Used for bedding.)

Cellphones: Wipe the data and send to a soldier or domestic abuse survivor: https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/Donate-your-old-cell-phone-to-a-good-cause

Toss – This is obviously the last resort, but some things (like old CRT televisions, BELIEVE ME I HAVE TRIED) just can’t be sold or even donated. Recycle what you can (sometimes breaking down items into components will help with this – I was able to recycle most of an old humidifier this way), and bring the rest to the dump to make sure it is disposed of properly as some things (like refrigerators and other things with freon) have to be disposed of properly.

Hope this helps in your decluttering journey!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Decluttering the Guilt around Gifts

I received an interesting comment on one of my Instagram posts from a follower last week stating that her biggest roadblock in minimizing her possessions was gifts. It is a difficult dilemma, and one I struggle with myself, in particular items from my partner since we live together and it’d be hard for him to not see what I’m discarding.

It is easy to say, “it’s the thought that counts” and “It’s the giving of the gift that matters,” when it comes to decluttering gifts, but in practice…not so much.

The first step to addressing the issue is to dig into the reason you’re having trouble decluttering the item. I find that with gifts it usually falls into one of the following categories:

  1. Concern that the gift-giver will notice its disappearance. If the giver is only an occasional visitor, I can assure you that they won’t notice. However, to set your mind at ease I suggest doing a trial run. Put the item away in storage and if its absence isn’t noticed in X (I’ll let you set this number) amount of visits, you can discard confidently.
  2. Attachment due to the giver’s passing.  This is a much more sensitive issue. I would recommend gathering all the gifts, letters, photos, and other sentimental items from that person (almost like a mini-KonMari category). Once you’ve done this, it’ll be easier to pick out the items that mean the most to you and best represent that person and your relationship with them.
  3. Items from exes. In almost all cases, discard. KonMari likes to say that holding on to old relationships doesn’t leave room for new ones. And really, do you want to have items around that remind you of that person?

And as a final note:

Regifting.  It might be tempting to recycle gifts no longer wanted by regifting them. I personally think that the trouble involved – making sure it’s given to someone who doesn’t know that it was a gift to you, having to explain a lack of gift receipt, etc., makes it not worth it. I would simply discard or donate like any other item.

I hope this helps with what is a very difficult category of items to declutter. Definitely add any of your tips below!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica