Month of Decluttering

Disclaimer: Lately I’m getting into Tiny Houses and Minimalism. I’ll write about these topics atΒ in German and reserve for work related musings. As I had already started the following post, I’ll publish it here anyway, just this one article.

To make space for the baby, my husband and I defragmented our flat prior to the birth. We’ve thrown away what feels like half our furniture (probably was about 1/6th).Β We could easily have outfitted at least one other household with all the stuff we got rid of. I was afraid the living room would look cold with so little furniture, but instead we love the new spacious feeling. Somehow, tidying up and getting rid of stuff is good for the mind and soul, too. At least my mind and soul πŸ˜‰

This clean out gave way to an intense interest into Tiny Houses. This movement’s central question of “What do you really need?” ultimately led us to Dusseldorf’s 1st minimalism meetup. There we got introduced to the “Month of Decluttering” challenge: On the 1st day of the month throw away 1 thing. On the 2nd day 2 things, until on the 30th it’s Bye-bye for 30 things. We decided to start right away in February so that we only have to go up to 28 things.

When I told a friend she immediately exclaimed “That’s gonna be hard!” I didn’t agree, because you ease into it, flexing your “Throwing away” muscle every day more. And we still had sooo much stuff. Now, on the 17th day I’m more cautious. It would have been really easy if we hadn’t already cleared so much out. We’re running low on crap. We’ve arrived at things that carry at least some meaning. But once they’re gone we don’t really miss them, so good riddance. Still, it’s getting harder every day. Here’s an account of the stuff I got rid of:

  1. A scarf – some sentimental value as it used to be my mom’s – not pretty, only for sports and only when my main sports scarf was in the laundry
  2. Books from my “Be impressed by how well read I am” shelf: Der gallische Krieg and Die Buddenbrooks
    Already set aside 5 Insel-Books for Day 5
  3. Bag of clothes I already set aside for tossing out a year ago because they didn’t fit my color scheme. Rescued 2 shirts I had actually missed. Not sure if overfulfilling (because more than 3 pieces) or cheating (because the bag was destined for good will anyway). Doesn’t matter, got rid of stuff.
    Additionally I send a box of books to a friend and included the very nice Extremely loud & incredibly close I’ve had just finished reading
  4. Sun screen, some knickknacks
    First time I thought I might part with the corsage I was married in…
  5. 5 Insel books I already set aside on day 2. (I love the beautiful design of these books. First real sacrifice.)
    Supported T by spitting the turkish tea glasses that were great together with the samowar (that we had already given away)
  6. 5 technical books, 3 DVDs (decided not to store anything for the next day)
  7. About 9 pieces of clothing I’m never gonna wear again, including – point of pride and nostalgia – the corsage I wore on my wedding day (I’ll never fit into it again)
  8. Went through my underwear drawer. Hauled out enough to last for days 9 and 10, too
  9. see 8 – Helped my husband with his
  10. see 8 – Helped my husband with his: We threw away lots of stuff from the storage array, e.g. christmas ornaments and soldering equipment
  11. It’s getting harder. Mostly books (never did like Goethe anyway and we had Faust twice)
  12. Kitchen stuff, 2 cups each, fake tupper ware that doesn’t close properly, salad spinner ditto
  13. Got coat hangers. Went through entire wardrobe to replace old dingy black plastic hangers with nice wooden hangers. Tried on every piece in the process and threw away all that were too short
  14. More clothes, table place mats, garden gloves, our wide assortments of carpet knives (kept a generous 4 of 12)
  15. Uups – lazy day
  16. I wanted to skip 15 and continue with 16. Tobias convinced me to do 15 and 16. And we both made it! I went through the balcony and gardening things + some art supplies. Tobias went through the electronics box and found a 5th and 6th box of my soldering supplies. I swear, I never knew I had that many soldering irons and electronics stuff…
  17. Decluttered the “Photos & Frames” boxes. There is now 1 box where there once were 2. Yay!
  18. Decluttered the “Knitting & Sewing” box with 10 things extra that I’ll carry over to day 19. Merged this box with the “Photos & Frames” box.Β  There is now 1 box where there once were 2! Oh, am I repeating myself? πŸ˜‰
  19. Started on the soldering boxes that appeared on day 16. Didn’t succeed because baby
  20. Cook books. Continued and succeeded with soldering box. There is now 1 box where once were 6 (Inconceivable!).
  21. Lazy again
  22. I’m reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” and used its discarding criterion “Does this spark joy?” to go through my underwear drawer again. Surfaced with enough for day 21. Day 22 was mostly books.
    By now there’s lots of space in all of our drawers and cupboards. We can easily see what’s there and take stuff out. Feels like the things we kept now have space to breathe. I wouldn’t have expected it to make such a difference in how I feel, but it does πŸ™‚
  23. Started and got about 5 things, then the day was suddenly over.
  24. Tobias pointed me towards a shoebox with cosmetics that I had stored in his wardrobe (we store all towels in mine, so it’s okay that I use some space in his). Although this was already a very reduced box, all but 3 things in it could go. Which leaves me with 24 for today. It’s 10:30 pm as I’m writing this. Better get started…
  25. Of course I didn’t get started. That meant 49 things for day #25. I finally opened my secret weapon: 6 Pampers boxes full of hand-me-down baby clothes. Jackpot! Out of there I hauled not only my day #24 and #25 but also Tobiases #25 plus an excess of 25 things, which translates into only 14 things tomorrow for each of us. And there are 2 boxes yet unopened πŸ˜€
  26. Some paints and brushes. Some old rags.
  27. Lots more baby clothes. A few books and DVDs.

To be continued …

It feels really good to let go of so many things I don’t really need!


Published by Corinna Baldauf

Corinna Baldauf has filled every Scrum role there is and then some. Currently she spends most of her days writing and occasionally facilitating retrospectives. She's interested in lean, agile, coaching, leadership & UX. You can follow her on Twitter, subscribe to her (Retromat) newsletter and buy her books.