17 July 2010

How to Start

De-cluttering has always been a huge issue for me: I'm a biblio-addict.

I used to read and re-read Dan Aslett's books, although generally I used them to help me organize and then clean around my clutter.

With the two kids starting to create messes on a daily basis and to accumulate clutter of their own— and ungainly clutter that can't be simply contained by weeding through my books shelves, or perhaps buying another bookcase— I have been feeling overwhelmed while trying to keep the chaos under control. I want to be able to have people over without apologizing for the mess and whereas before I didn't really mean the apology (if someone objects to piles of books and magazines, they aren't really my sub species anyway), now I do: toys and dolls and crayons and drawings and DVDs are exploding throughout the apartment.

Even though our latest move decreased our living space by 30% (and our storage space by more), that's not really the issue: we are a family that uses things and we need to pare down and to organize. We don't have the luxury of space to hide our excess and there's nothing more annoying than having to purchase something to replace something that I know we have— somewhere! That's particularly so when we are dealing with adaptors and transformers and foreign appliances and power cords and appliances.

I was wandering through the NY Times and ran across a fascinating article about legacies and clutter and losing one while trying to get rid of the other. The comments were even more interesting than the article itself and in the comments I ran across someone who started a Downsizing blog. I really enjoyed reading about it and I am going to take him as a model.

I don't expect to post every day, particularly as we will soon be leaving for a month's vacation. Nor do I expect to be able to necessarily be able to downsize/de-clutter on vacation. But I'm going to go at it seriously, I will post at least every week, and I hope to de-accession at least one item for every day, even if I need to do it proactively or after the fact. I also won't be counting ordinary recycling: here in Germany (as it should be everywhere), organics, metal, plastic, paper and packaging are recycled daily and as an ordinary part of life, not requiring any acknowledgement. I will count anything that requires me to go to a special recycling facility though.

Let's start with what I have been able to do:
  • I have a large number of books listed for sale on Amazon. This has netted me some results, but not nearly enough because I'm not willing to sell for a net loss. Clearly those who can sell books for less than it costs me for postage are smarter bears than I. I have shipped off about 15, though.
  • Through kijiji.de I was able to sell patio furniture (two loungers, two chairs) that we can no longer use as we no longer have a roof.
  • Also able to sell a milk pump- glad to get it to someone who could use it rather than to just recycle it at small appliances.
  • Attempted to off load some furniture for free, but when two sets of people did not show to pick it up, we carried the Ikea computer desk to the local recycling facility and, after breaking it apart, recycled it.
  • On Thursday, I gave two pairs of T2's dress shoes (therefore in great shape as not frequently worn before she out grew them) and two outgrown shirts, also in good shape, to the younger sister of T1's friend, a year younger than T2.
Big items coming up:
  • sell a Nikon D70s and 18-55 lens (this may wait until I get back from the US)
  • find a non-profit that wants English language books to donate mine to
  • get rid of the lights from the old apartment that no longer work in this apartment, including a children's overhead with three lights and a dining room three halogen hanging light: very nice, very formal, but we aren't re-wiring this living room for it and it is fragile and uses precious space in the cellar.


Curtis said...

Letting you know I've been by. Also thanks for the info on my profile...problem fixed. Glad someone knows what I don't know what I'm doing. Did that makes sense? Oh well. Yes I agree with your list of important places to be you left in my comment section. Ok I've done my reading here and I must say you have been busy. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

G in Berlin said...

Thanks Curtis- I know you had a good weekend too:).