The Trap of Perfection

I’m getting married in a couple of weeks. I’d just had a long day of shopping with my mum, looking for my son’s page boy shoes and preparing for perfection on the big day. I felt pretty good. I had the perfect table decor, the perfect hanging heart, and ordered the perfect shoes for my son. But, even after all that, I felt very upset after my chosen wedding hair got bad reception from family.

With just two weeks to go and feeling hopeless and ugly, I felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction, and suddenly found myself questioning all of my choices. Perhaps the cute jars I had ordered for my flowers were too small. If only I’d ordered bigger. I should have paid for welcome drinks, even though it was going to cost hundreds of pounds extra.


Photo is my own

My wedding wasn’t going to be perfect and neither was I.

That evening, as I sat downstairs with my husband-to-be, thinking about what else I could buy, and what else I could do to perfect myself on my wedding, a TED talk came up on Youtube and started playing in the background. For those of you who aren’t sure what a TED talk is, it is a inspirational talk usually done by successful people, or people who have an important story to tell others.

This TED talk re-opened my eyes to my perceived ‘problems’. It was as if it was put there for me to see, as if some other force was trying to give me a good shake and wake me up.

In it, a guy was telling his story about his battle with throat cancer, and his ailing relationship with his wife and daughter. All this guy could only think about was how awful his situation was and how his success had been jeopardised. He was angry and bitter.

One day, he met a homeless guy, who he originally hated looking at because he thought ‘how dare he, he should get a job’.This homeless guy turned out to be his mentor, or perhaps, his guardian angel in disguise, because he ended up teaching him a valuable lesson about what life is really about and how he was treating others. At the same time in his life, a little girl who was being treated with chemo in the same hospital as him, taught him about his flawed outlook on life.

After those very sad, touching and inspiring life lessons from the most unexpected sources, he was a changed man. The whole way through this TED talk, I felt a lump in my throat, and realised I had been straying far off the path that minimalism was teaching me about.

Photo by Franz Harvin Aceituna on Unsplash

Life’s not about money, fame, or perfection, but about being there for others, giving people the time of day, and not judging people on first sight.

Here I was getting upset about my wedding hair, and acting as if it was the most terrible thing in the world- and it really isn’t. It doesn’t even register on the scale of ‘problem’. It is something I will be throwing more money at to fix, for a single day,  to look perfect in front of dozens of others and my husband-to-be. Yet just doors down from where I am getting wed, and going to be eating like royalty, sleeping in crisp sheets and bathing in a hot tub, there are homeless people in filthy clothes who nobody stops to help.

The real deal in life is to help others, to have great relationships and to get over our egos. Not to be concerned with status or pursue endless material gains.

I realised, when I was listening to that man, that even though I am minimalist and talk about helping others, I had the same mindset as he did, “I will earn more than them one day and then I will give them the excess’. But what they also need is human connection and to be shown humanity. They need time from others.

We run away and aim to be as far away from that situation as possible, even though the pursuit of fame, money, and stuff is empty. At the end of the day, stuff is meaningless, and beauty comes from within, not from the most perfect hairdo or most porcelain skin.  

It’s frighteningly easy to sleepwalk through life with this blindfold on, listening to the expectations and the imaginary chatter of others, getting pulled downstream with the rest of the fish and forgetting what’s important.

Weddings can quickly become about beauty and perfection instead of the main reason for getting married in the first place, just like life can become about obtaining shinier and shinier stuff instead focusing on the people around us.  

I was forgetting that the most important thing would be waiting for me at the end of the aisle, and not on a store shelf or in bridal hair magazines. The most important thing for my wedding day will be the person I am marrying, and the journey we will share together.

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

For those of you who are interested, here’s the link to the TED talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g72SmMdFBpk



Managing Chronic Illness With Minimalism

If you have a chronic illness I can’t stress how beneficial a simpler, minimalist lifestyle can be for you.

I was diagnosed with both Fibromyalgia and M.E in my early twenties- conditions that cause chronic pain, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms. Before I became minimalist, cleaning and tidying was a nightmare. So was making decisions. I was frequently exhausted, burnt out, and upset. I couldn’t keep on top of the housework, devote as much time to my son as I wanted, or even see friends. All of my energy was going on maintaining my stuff.

You want your higher energy days to be focused on the things which are important to you such as career, hobby, family, and self-care.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

When you have an energy-sapping condition you want to make the most of the days where you have more energy, and not waste it on all-day cleaning and tidying marathons. Neither do you want to be burnt out with your schedule or with endless decisions.

Since adopting a minimalist lifestyle, it has changed my life for the better and helped me to manage my condition much more easily. While minimalism isn’t a cure, I now live a slower, more peaceful life and have less bad days than before.

Below are some of the minimalist ways which helped me to conserve energy and live life at a much slower pace:

Remove your excess of trinkets, books and other miscellaneous objects. By having hardly any trinkets to dust under and cutting my books down by 85%, dusting is now a cinch and takes five minutes as opposed to half an hour cleaning under and around everything. Downsizing the amount I own has also made some furniture redundant which has given me lots of floor space and made vacuuming much simpler.

Owning less also means that rooms rarely become messy, and when they do, it’s quick and easy to go around and put things back where they belong. You’ll never need to worry about your home looking a mess for visitors, or turning people away because you’re too embarrassed.

Decorating in soft, simple colours reduced the assault on my senses, which frequently get overwhelmed. Whites, greys and soft pastel shades are far easier on the senses than bright, bold colours. When you choose more neutral colours, it’s also easy to match objects and stick to a colour scheme.

Downsizing and curating your wardrobe will decrease the amount of laundry as well as make it easy to put clothes away and see what you own. It also means less decision fatigue and spending minutes in front of the mirror unsure if to wear the blue bag or the grey, jeans or cargos, and whether red suits you afterall.

You’ll only be left with those clothes that you love, for who you are now in the present.

Consider a simpler hairstyle which will be easier to maintain. When you have a chronic illness getting washed or maintaining your hair can be difficult. You can also buy 3 in 1 shampoo and body wash to save you time, space and the number of times you reach across for different products. You’d only need to use it once, rinse and be done.

When you go out, take a very light bag with only the things you need such as keys, wallet and phone. My personal haul I need when I go out is my wallet, phone, keys and laptop (my laptop is very light and portable). As a parent, I remove my laptop when I’m with my son and put in spare clothes and wet wipes instead.

Consider the type of bag you take out. I’ve found that I’m more suited to backpacks as they distribute weight evenly and reduce the chances of a pain flare up. By getting a backpack, you don’t have to sacrifice style or look overly casual; there are loads of backpacks out there from leather, to chic, to simple and elegant.  You can even buy 2-in-1’s that change from backpack to handbag on more formal occasions.

Minimise your wallet and spend less time fumbling around at checkouts, and looking for receipts. We live in an age where an app exists for almost everything, so if possible use an app instead of a physical store or loyalty card, and throw away unneeded receipts. In fact, with the invention of services like Apple and Google Pay, you don’t always have to take your wallet and can rely on your phone, instead.

Order shopping online instead of going to the shops. This might mean you miss out on cheap and reduced foods that have minor defects or are close to the sell by date, but it will save you energy and time.

If you go shopping, make a list and stick to it. This will prevent you from wandering up and down random aisles, draining your energy and buying more than you need.

Declutter your schedule. If you’re one of those people who says ‘yes’ to everything or can’t say ‘no’ to friends, it’s time to learn how to decline. People are more understanding than we imagine, and if they aren’t, you should think about what value these people are truly bringing to your life. I’m not saying to never do anything for anybody (that would just make you selfish), but looking after yourself is paramount.

Remember, the things you do for others don’t have to be physical. Being a good listener or taking the time to call someone can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Declutter toxic people from your life. By that I mean, people who only take from you without giving back (not talking about physical objects here), people who’re never interested in your feelings or what you have to say, and people who consistently bring you down or make you feel guilty.

If you know anybody like this, I recommend evaluating your relationship with them and either reducing the time you spend with them, or phasing them out completely. This is by no means, easy. You attract the kind of people you want in your life, only when you love and respect yourself and your time.

Consider altering your job or career. I could no longer cope full time, so I made the painstaking decision to only work part time. If you’re chronically sick you may have to reduce your hours or talk to your boss to reduce the number of or sort of responsibilities you have.

The financial implications of this kind of decision are huge, even if you have a supportive partner. However, when you’re living with less and become more mindful about your buying habits, you only need worry about the true necessities such as food, rent, and other essentials.

And when you realise you don’t need stuff to make you happy, it will be much easier on your mind and soul.

Cut out social media and delete all distracting apps from your phone. I fully deleted my Facebook account and put far more value on speaking to my friends face-to-face instead of my screen. As a result, I found I no longer needed an expensive phone contract where I was paying £38 a month.  Instead, I now pay less than £5 a month- the price of a tea and a cake.

It helps when you realise you don’t need the latest model of phone to live a happy life, because we aren’t what we own. We are what we do and how we act.

Take time to sit in pure silence and read a book or just enjoy doing nothing. With the ‘always connected, always busy’ culture, too many people have lost this vital skill to take advantage of being idle and in the moment. It’s amazing how much digital noise, constant exposure to screens and constant busyness can drain your energy and wreak havoc with mental health.

Once you adopt this practice you will realise how rejuvenating it can be, but it takes practice. This is because constant exposure to stimuli such as screens and digital devices will rewire your brain for the need to be doing something at all times.

Take time to show gratitude. It’s so easy when you have a chronic illness to see all that is wrong in your life, but if you take the time to appreciate the things that you do have, you will find you feel much happier and need far less to be happy than you originally thought.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Take charge of your relationships with your stuff. When your stuff no longer owns you, you can put more energy into relationships with people. With improved relationships, the people in your life might also learn to understand you more – this is even more important when you have a life-altering illness.

Realising you don’t need lots of stuff to be happy and that you don’t need to earn thousands to live a comfortable life can reduce your stress levels and in turn, reduce the number of flare ups.

Simplify meal times by buying versatile ingredients that will go with most foods, and preparing meals the evening before. Investing in a slow cooker can save you effort, as can swapping cooking days with other members of your family. Choose simple meals over complex, gourmet events and prepare meals the day before.

Be careful that you don’t get caught up in ordering takeaway meals every couple of days. Not only is it incredibly unhealthy, but a major drain on your finances.

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

Now, be aware that the list above is not exhaustive and not everything in it will necessarily apply to your situation. Everyone is unique with individual circumstances, but I assure you that by adopting at least some of the aforementioned minimalist ways, you will start to notice a difference.

If you need to talk to me about chronic illness or have some nuggets of wisdom, please leave a comment and I will reply within 24 hours.



How To Declutter Your Shed and Garage For Good

Here in the UK, summer is fast approaching and people are merrily mowing their lawns and having spring clearouts. What a perfect time to clear our sheds and garages!

Just like with attics, sheds and garages tend to accumulate years of stuff. Sheds that once held a collection of gardening tools and a toolbox, suddenly have enough odds and ends for every possible scenario.

Cars are cast out of the garages that were meant to shelter them because objects without a home have taken up every bit of floor and wallspace.

I’ve written about garages and sheds in the same post because people treat both of these places like overspill rooms to store all the additional stuff there’s no room for anywhere else. If you don’t have a garage, you can ignore that section (unless you want to help a friend).

I remember when my nan went inside her shed shortly before she had to move out to be cared for. Incredibly, there was the old bike that my dad used to ride to work, complete with the seat I sat in as an infant. Dad used to take me up to nan’s on that bike to be babysat while he went to work. Sometimes, when it was raining, he would leave the bike in her shed.

One day, it was put in there where it rested for 25 years – a relic of the past.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

When unused things are left in sheds and garages indefinitely, finding that drill set becomes an event. And who wants to put the screwdriver back when it’s toolbox is behind a tower of paint cans and garden chairs?

Below, I have shared some tips to reclaim the space in your shed.

  • To make a big impact, you should bring everything out and organise it into categories. For example, gardening tools together, nuts and screws in a pile, screwdrivers and other tools in another pile, and so on. By doing so, you will see exactly what you have and how many of each thing.
  • There’s nothing wrong with keeping spare screws and wall-fixings, but a handful will suffice. If any are rusty, throw them out.
  • Do you really need 3 hammers and 20 screwdrivers? Keep one of each tool, and one of each type of screwdriver.
  • Hanging gardening tools on hooks will give you back floor space.
  • Get rid of old and unused paint. Be sure to dispose of it in a responsible manner and check your local recycling.
  • If you’re keeping gardening furniture, how much of it do you really use? Could you keep it outside with a protective cover?
  • How long has it been since you used that bike? If you haven’t touched in a year, sell it on.
  • Donate or discard anything you’ve not used in a year.
  • Get rid of those things which you’re keeping for that ‘someday’ project – ‘someday’ never comes.


Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash

And here are some tips for the garage:

  • With garages, adopt the same strategy as the shed and bring everything out of it. Garages can end up like attics with all kinds of equipment, decor and trinkets, and because they’re bigger than sheds, can be overwhelming. Ideally, you want nothing in your garage except  your car and a shelf for car maintenance.
  • If you have trinkets in your garage, think about donating them. Afterall, if they’re hidden away in boxes they’re not serving you and are likely being kept because of guilt or sentimentality.
  • For outdoor sports and play equipment, only keep the ones that you or your family use regularly. Don’t fall into the ‘someday’ trap. ‘Someday I will invite friends over for that tennis game’, ‘When I have time, I will make use of that golf set’.
  • Instead of keeping rarely used sports equipment, why not make use of your local leisure centre if you have one?
  • Some people keep all kinds of workout equipment in their garages but don’t get the use out of them. Equipment like this also tends to fall prey of the ‘someday’ mindset. If you don’t work out regularly, save the space and take long walks instead, or make use of your local gym if you have one.
  • Don’t keep stuff for hobbies you no longer take part in. It’s easy to cling to your past self ‘just in case’, but it’s calming and freeing to make space for the present ‘you’.
  • Don’t look at the garage as extra storage space. Just like buying more storage boxes gives a mere illusion of having more space, treating a room like a giant storage box simply adds to your clutter and your stress levels.

And there you have it. If you declutter your these spaces fully and stay mindful of your freshly created space, you’ll never have to declutter them again. Everything you need will always be in easy reach.

If there’s something I’ve not mentioned, do leave me a comment and I will respond in less than 24 hours.

On a side note, I aim to post every Thursday or Friday but this post was later than usual because I’ve had an incredibly busy few days with wedding prep.

I want to thank every one of you who reads my posts and hope that they help in transforming your space and your mindset.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash


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Decluttering Memory Lane

It’s time to take a trip down memory lane; this time to confront the emotional and sentimental objects in your life.

Sentimental objects are things which typically have memories attached or represent a happy or sad time in your past. For example, you might be keeping your old prom dress, a trophy you won back in school, or jewellery from an ex.  The hardest ones to deal with, however, are those you obtained from departed loved ones.

Before we go ahead, I would like to point out that there’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two objects of sentimental value to you, but once you own more than you can count on one hand, that’s when it starts to become emotional clutter which can keep you from moving forwards.

Most sentimental objects end up in attics, crammed to the back of drawers or line our shelves with an aura of wistfulness and guilt. Mine were mostly in the attic, hidden away in boxes which were buried under other boxes.

Last month, I started thinking about my old typewriters I kept as a kid because they reminded me of the time I first started writing. At the time they were painful to get rid of because of the words I had punched onto paper, but I’ve since realised that getting rid of my typewriters never made me any less of a writer, nor did I need an object to remind me of who and what I am.

However, I kept other piles of sentimentality stashed away.

I kept old school work because I liked to look back on positive teacher feedback to be reminded that I was a capable human. I also couldn’t bear to throw away years of work.

I kept boxes of old Christmas and birthday cards, some of which I didn’t even remember the names written in them. I even kept cards from where I was first called ‘Sister in Law’, and ‘Daughter in Law’, because it felt amazing to be accepted into my fiance’s life.

I kept objects from past relationships, even old jewellery which had long since tarnished.

I kept a Dick Turpin mug which once belonged to my uncle and which I was terrified of as a child. We made it into a constant joke as I grew up which is why I kept it – to remember the smiles and laughter we always shared.

I kept my old Woolworths uniform because I had been so sad when it shut down.

I kept my old school shirt from when I left school. It had yellowed with age and gone damp from being kept in the attic. School was not a place of happy memories for me, yet I clung to the memories with this top.

When I became minimalist and finally confronted my sentimental items, I felt so light inside that I could have floated away. For the most precious objects I ordered a beautiful ,small memory box to keep them in.

With a small memory box, I would be far less inclined to fill it with every passing moment instead of the warmest, most treasured memories.

Here’s how you too, can release the anchors of the past, and let go of the guilt:

Cards and letters

We tend to keep cards and letters because they remind us of the people we care about or once knew in our lives. Some even remind us of significant milestones in life such as moving house, having a baby, or passing exams. Others might be written by people who have passed away.

We imagine we will revisit and read them in years to come, but of course, we never do. Over the years these written treasures stack up and take up lots of space in your home and your heart.

With cards and letters the best thing you can do is to go through each one slowly. If you no longer remember the person whose name is in the card, or they’re no longer relevant in your life, recycle them.

It’s amazing how fast time passes and how our lives change so dramatically in that time, not just with circumstances but with people and feelings.

You don’t need to keep cards from milestones in your life such as passing an exam or moving house. They would’ve made you feel great at the time, but if you got rid of them, does that mean you’ll no longer have your qualifications or the roof over your head? Of course not!

If, however, a specific card or letter warms your heart, you can do what I’ve done, and keep them in a photo album alongside photos of the person or happy times. Not only will they be protected, they will present beautifully for your pleasure in the future.

You can also keep them in a memory box for those days you’re feeling especially nostalgic.

A nostalgic, yellowed pile of old letters and photos

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Objects from loved ones

Objects from loved ones can be some of the hardest things to deal with, so if you struggle, take your time to evaluate each once. Don’t rush and don’t feel as if it all has to be dealt with in one day (unless that’s how you operate and you know that leaving it would lead to procrastination).

Accepting that part of your life or that a person is no longer in it is difficult, but when you let go of the objects that are tethering you to those times, you will instantly feel as light as a passing cloud.

For the longest time I kept an old teddy bear keyring that my childhood best friend had bought me from holiday. We grew apart once we went to secondary school (which upset me a lot at the time) and I held onto that bear until I was in my late twenties.

As soon as that bear was donated to the charity shop, I found I didn’t even think about it or feel the guilt I imagined I would.

Stuff from people who have passed away will require deeper contemplation. In my previous post, I talked briefly about furniture belonging to passed away loved ones.

If it’s kept in an attic, it will eventually get warped by heat or damp and mildew, so if you don’t plan to use it, it’s better to pass it on rather than waiting for that inevitable moment you find it damaged.

Like with cards and letters, we cling onto such objects because of the memories and the people we associate with them. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a few objects like grandma’s sentimental necklace or aunty’s favourite teacup, but if you aren’t mindful you can end up with a shrines worth of stuff accumulating in your attic and other parts of your house.

When this happens, your home can end up becoming a portal to the past rather than a place to be present and aim for the future.

Rest assured, by letting go of the objects you’re clinging to out of guilt or fear of losing those memories; you won’t lose the memories and you aren’t dishonouring the person by passing their things on to people who could give them a second chance.  

What would be sad would be to hide it away, unused, unloved and with an aura of stress and guilt attached. Objects that mean a lot to you should be being used or displayed in some way, or stowed in a small memory box, and if they aren’t they’re serving as nothing but an anchor which others will have to deal with when you’re gone.

You can preserve memories of sentimental objects by taking photos and either putting them in an album or storing it digitally. That way you can look back on the sentimental stuff and instead of taking floor or cupboard space it takes up data.

Remember: people aren’t their stuff just like you’re not your t-shirt or your CD collection. Strip your favourite things away, and you’re still the same person you always were, with the same traits, same people you love and same values.

You wouldn’t suddenly forget your uncle because they gave away their thirty-year-old vinyl collection, so why assume you will lose memories of them if you do so? The true memories are in your heart.

Family heirlooms

Family heirlooms are similar to dealing with objects from people who have passed away. That antique mirror may have been in your family for generations, but if you don’t like it or will never use it, try asking others in your family if they would like to take ownership. If not, that’s a sure sign that it can be donated or sold on.

Don’t keep the object out of guilt, just waiting for it to be passed on to the next generation who may feel obliged to keep it and continue the cycle of guilt.

Old hobby equipment

As the years pass our hobbies and interests can change. I used to be obsessed with fossils as a child and kept a tin of them along with some pretty stones I had collected on the beach with my parents.

I no longer collect fossils, and know that if I wanted to see some, there are plenty of museums near me to satisfy that itch.

With the pretty stones, I repurposed them into an eye-catching display on the window ledge in my hobby room. It just so happened that their pastel shades matched my colour scheme perfectly, as well having joyful memories attached.

Letting go of collections for old hobbies is freeing because it allows you to let go of your old self to fully embrace the present you.

For example; I used to like working out and applied for a gym membership, but my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome meant I had to treat my body much more gently. So I eventually let go of my workout clothes and now take weekly walks, instead.

You might simply lose interest in a hobby and that’s perfectly normal. If you’ve owned the related stuff for over a year and can’t see yourself going back to it, pass it on so it can be useful to someone else with that hobby.


Photo by Justin Bashore on Unsplash

Old clothes

When I was doing a clear-out of my attic last year, I discovered bags upon bags of maternity wear and baby clothes. In a strange effort to hold onto the memories of carrying my little boy inside me, I had kept those clothes, and then kept the clothes he wore up to his first year.

The sad thing was, some of them were too damp and smelly to pass on, even when put through a wash. And it wasn’t as if I’d ever gone up to look back on them, or that either of us would be wearing those clothes again.

You might keep sentimental clothes for similar reasons, or you might keep clothes as a reminder of when you were a certain weight, or attended a memorable event.

Clothes take up a lot of space and if they aren’t stored correctly, end up getting damaged or unwearable. Not to mention, they can cause endless frustration when stowed away and mixed up with all your current wear.

The bottom line is, if you don’t wear it, donate it. Make space for the new and the current.

And if there’s a special t-shirt you simply must keep but no longer wear, why not iron it and put it in a frame? It would make a deeply personal and unique decoration in any room you desired.

On a similar note, if you’re especially creative with crafting, you could cut up and repurpose old clothes into new objects.

The purpose of this article isn’t to get you to give up everything you love, but to help make the space in your heart and your home for the things that you do.


Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

If I’ve missed anything or there’s something you would like advice on, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. It may even end up in the next post. Next week, I will talk about sheds and garages.





Decluttering Your Attic

This week I’m taking you to a dark place in the decluttering process: the attic.

There may be several reasons you want to declutter the attic: you might want to let go of the past, you might dread going up there every time you need something, like my mum, you might feel that you’ll be too old one day to access your stuff. Or perhaps you just want the satisfaction of a nice airy space above your head.

Whatever your reasons for tackling the attic, they’re one of the most terrifying places to start the decluttering process, and not just because of the cobwebs and spiders. The attic should be the last place you declutter because, for many, it’s such a monumental task that it can drain all motivation before you even start. Just looking at years of accumulated boxes, mystery bags, and cramped walkways is enough to make most people retreat back down the ladder and vow never to look at it again.  Attics also tend to be full of emotional and sentimental objects, including those from loved ones who have passed. Items like these will need significant time to evaluate, which is another reason this room should be dealt with last.

Because attics can be so claustrophobic, and it can be difficult to know where to start, I recommend starting with one corner and bringing the contents down to be sorted through immediately. Notice I didn’t say ‘later’ because the temptation will be to just ‘pop it into the storage room for now’. And ‘now’ becomes days, becomes weeks, becomes years, until your spare room has become a second attic. This is because dumping clutter into one spot tends to act as a magnet and attract even more clutter. Therefore, it’s imperative that you sort the attic bit by bit, just like every other room, but quick enough that it doesn’t become a pile of procrastination.  

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

So what kind of stuff do you usually find in an attic?

  • Festive Decorations
  • Photo albums
  • Old journals
  • Baby and kids toys
  • Old school work or art from yourself or your child
  • Old books
  • Bags of cables
  • Objects that never got used eg.old workout equipment
  • Old furniture
  • CD’s, DVD’s and videogame paraphernalia
  • Family heirlooms and sentimental objects
  • Unwanted gifts
  • Rolls of leftover carpet or wallpaper
  • Old clothes
  • Suitcases

First things first, lets deal with the most common stuff.

Photo albums

I could go right ahead and say that these days everything is digital, but I am a minimalist who loves to flick through a good physical album, so I’m not about to tell you to scan your photos and bin the rest (unless you feel that would be best for you).

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a stack of photo albums boxed up, some of them not even completely filled.

To minimise a physical photo collection, invest in a high-quality photo album which holds as many photos as possible, then sort through your collection in chronological order. To free up even more space, feel free to discard of duplicates or those which didn’t turn out very well. How many photos you have will determine the time it will take, but in the end you’ll find that you’ll be down to just one or two high-capacity albums and can donate or recycle the rest.

If you still intend to keep your photos in the attic, be sure to store them in an acid-free storage container which can withstand extreme cold, damp and heat.  

Old furniture

Furniture, especially wood or fabric, won’t keep well in attic environment and is vulnerable to mould and mildew. Dismantle and recycle old furniture which isn’t looking so great, and sell or donate pieces which are still in tip-top condition. If they’re in the attic in the first place, let’s face it, it wasn’t likely you were going to use them at any time in the near future.

But what if that dresser belonged to your dearly departed grandma? In that case, have a long, deep think about what it really means to you. Is it doing any service to you in the dark confines of the attic, never to see another sock or trinket ever again? If the answer is no, and you’re never going to use it, think: was my grandma personified by this dresser or was she a human being who lit up my world for who she was? If the answer is no, take a photo of it and donate it to someone who will love it just as much.

If, on the other hand, you have great memories attached to said dresser, it makes you smile and you can’t bear to part with it, consider replacing a piece of your own furniture with it. And if you have trouble blending it in with your current decor you could even repaint it, breathing new life into an much-loved piece.

Whatever you decide, don’t keep it up in the attic where it will be subject to the extremes in temperature and humidity. It’ll only lead to guilt and upset when you go back to find it damaged.

Festive Decorations

Festive decorations, whether it be for Christmas or some other holiday can mysteriously grow in size over the years. Before you know it, you’re bringing down bags and boxes every year with no idea which decoration is in each. Every Christmas I would just rifle through my lucky bags of tinsel, baubles and other Christmas themed trinkets, some broken and some yellowed with age.

Empty out all your decorations and only keep the ones you consistently use every year. If you add any new ones to your collection then remove an older one. By doing this you will pare down your decorations and keep them at a consistently manageable amount.

Baby and kids toys

If you don’t have children you can skip this part, but if you do have kids, it’s inevitable you will end up storing outgrown toys, books, and perhaps their cot and old baby clothes. There’s a myriad of reasons you might do this including ‘saving them for baby number 2’, or being unable to let go of their babyhood, although the latter is harder to admit.  It happens, and it’s completely normal.

The thing to remember is that children grow up and you want to enjoy them as they are in the present rather than clinging onto objects from the past. The years are fleeting and are gone before you know it, and those old baby clothes and toys will get damp in the attic when they could be serving a less fortunate family.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two things from that period in their lives (I have a beautiful baby memory box with the special things in which are warming to go back to). A potential issue arises when you are keeping a hoard of their old stuff which they have no chance of returning to. Just as your value as a human being is not tied to your stuff, your child’s true essence is,ultimately, in their personality, actions and love for you.

If, however, you’re keeping the stuff for another child, you’re best not to keep these things in the attic unless they’re tightly sealed in an acid-free container which has no chance of damaging the contents.

Photo by Lauren Lulu Taylor on Unsplash

Old school work or art from yourself or your child

I used to keep every bit of my old schoolwork in several boxes. I rarely looked back on it but it was there because I was clinging to that painful part of my life. I liked to look back on the praise I had got from teachers because I had such low self esteem, and I liked to imagine a happier school life and what I would do differently.  More on this part of my story here: https://minimalistmojo.blog/2019/02/04/anchors-of-the-past-my-hoarding-story-and-how-i-woke-up-to-my-mess/

If you’re keeping old pieces of your own work, keep only one or two pieces which really mean something to you, otherwise just let it all go. I guarantee you won’t miss any of what you do let go, but you will appreciate the lightness, especially if it was linked to unpleasant memories or being used to fill a void.

When it comes to your child’s schoolwork (if you have children), keep a few meaningful pieces or curate it all into a scrapbook for pleasant viewing. I recently bought my child a scrapbook and printed a personalised cover for him and he loves it. When they get older you can ask your child which pieces they want to keep and then arrange them into a beautiful, personalised scrapbook which they can browse at their leisure or show off to friends and family.

When special pieces of work are kept in a beautifully presented way, they don’t even have to be kept in the attic and can be kept on a bookshelf, in a cupboard or in your child’s room. As always, if you choose to keep it in your attic, keep it in an acid-free storage box just like you would with photos.

Objects that never get used eg.old workout equipment

You know the kids of stuff I’m talking about here: those weights you kept ‘just in case’ you decided to work out, that guitar you’re saving for when you take those lessons you will get around to ‘someday’.

Here we are again with the ‘just in case’ words that derail every attempt at decluttering and simplicity. If such items are in the attic, the chances are extremely high that they will still be there for the next generation to sort out after you’re gone. Such items are kept for the ‘dream version’ of yourself (which we all have to some degree) and quite often doesn’t align with who you really are. I kept my work out clothes for a few years, seeing a version of myself jogging through my neighbourhood with headphones on and my running trainers pounding the pavement as I got fitter and fitter. It never transpired, and I realised that with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, it wasn’t viable for me. I’m not saying it’s not doable for anyone else with a chronic condition, but for me, personally, that vision didn’t align with the gentle pace I have set for my body.

Do away with anything you’re keeping from the you in an alternate reality and breathe in the space for the person you really are.

Unwanted gifts

I know how hard it is, when you receive a gift and feel too guilty to get rid of it so you keep it on display for a while then stow it away in the attic.

By storing unwanted gifts you are storing negative emotions including guilt and obligation. In most cases, the giver wouldn’t want you to feel this way, and it’s mostly in our minds. If you know that the giver would be offended, it might take some more careful consideration and some gentle words, but you should never be forced to keep something which doesn’t add value to your life. People who are easily offended when it comes to gift giving may well have issues with showing their emotions and attach their feelings to the stuff they give and receive, so do be sensitive and mindful about the process if you’re in that kind of situation.

Otherwise, lift the burden by regifting to someone you know will love it, or by donating to a charity for the less fortunate.  

CD’s, DVD’s and videogame paraphernalia

This kind of stuff, particularly discs, will not do well in an attic. For starters, discs eventually get what’s known as disc rot, and will eventually cease to play. Being stored in an attic speeds up the process as I discovered when I looked at some of my old PSOne games. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-dvd-rot-1845719

Electronics that are of value to you shouldn’t be stored in an attic if you can help it due to the extremes in temperatures. Recently I decluttered my gaming room https://minimalistmojo.blog/2019/04/04/how-i-minimised-my-gaming-room/ and that gave me the space to bring down and display my beloved Sega Mastersystem II.

If you don’t have any such space, and you know you rarely access or even love the item ,then sell it on or donate it. Otherwise, invest in decent storage that will protect it in a harsh environment.

Old clothes and books

Over time, in an attic, clothes will get damp and grow mildew, and books will rapidly yellow.

Last year I came across some bin liners of old quilts and maternity clothes, and they weren’t in any fit condition to be donated. Not only were they damp, they stunk. Even the seasonal clothes I had been keeping in plastic containers had a funky smell to them.

For that reason I suggest you keep seasonal clothes on top of your wardrobe in a wicker storage box or under your bed. And for any clothes you’re keeping for the ‘alternate reality you’, don’t. Just get rid.

As for books, if you’re keeping them in the attic, you’re not likely to ever read them and they will quickly degrade if not stored in an acid-free container. Books are there to be read, to impart knowledge and entertain, and they aren’t doing much of that in your attic – donate them.

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

I could go on with the many other categories of stuff you find in an attic, but some, like sentimental items and heirlooms, deserve their own post.

The benefits of decluttering an attic are whatever you make it. You can revel in the newly created space, relax in the knowledge that your family won’t have to deal with it all when you’re gone, feel the lightness as you live for the future, and enjoy accessing your treasures.  If you wanted to and you had the money, you could even convert your attic into a study or a spare bedroom for guests.

I hope this post has given you the boost you needed to climb that ladder and come back down it a lighter person. As always, if there’s anything you want to ask, please drop me a message in the comments session. In my next post, I will be talking about dealing with sentimental items.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash