Transformation Tuesday: Mins Game Round-Up

How did everyone fare last month playing the Mins Game? 

I started pretty strong, actually setting aside many things for the first week or so. I started with items that I needed to return to people ... the things that had somehow become a clutter "fixture" in the house because I was done reading it or just never used it (we all know how this goes!) so it was a good  time to get these things returned.

Then I went through the kitchen pantry, reviewing duplicates of pans, bakeware, cake decorating items that I just didn't need to keep extras of. After that, I did a sweep of bathroom/travel toiletries, tools/hardware, then the storage unit in the garage.

I wanted to see how long I could play for and it was incredible how all the tiny things added up that were in drawers, shelves, cupboards throughout my home. I made it to about day 26 or 27 before asking my partner to help contribute some items to the purge (mostly the random hardware that I had no idea what they were from/had never used).

 
 

My biggest takeaways were that I need to review paper more often (quarterly at the least) and make a point to not let project donations end up in my home. I work with amazing people who I'm helping through the declutter and reorganizing process. Often times they will offer items they want to donate to me or if I have friends that might need it. Maybe 20% of the time I think "hmm I know someone who might be able to use this" or "this is cute, how could I use it" ... but I rarely end up using them unless it's a consumable or sorts (like paper cupcake liners or a notepad).

By the end of the month, I did experience some purging fatigue - it was harder to look at things with a critical eye and not just start tossing things to meet the number to purge that day. After making it through the month, I'm looking forward to my next challenge - the digital declutter and then emergency action planning.

If you have questions/ideas/comments on either of these topics, let me know! I'd love to hear what tips you have for tackling either of these areas or find out what you'd like to work on - we're in this together, friends!

Transformation Tuesday: The Minimalist Game!

After doing a major household purge and KonMari-ing my things over two years ago, I didn't think that I had too much left to let go of.

Think again! While I am much more conscientious about what I bring into my home, there were still little things I held on to without realizing it.

I decided it would be fun to play the minimalism game to kick off the new year. You can follow the adventures of purging on my Instagram and play along!

The quick run-down on how to play:

  1. Get rid of one thing on the first day of the month, two things on the second, and so on
  2. Anything can go! (this is helpful when you are purging over ten items a day and need to clear out paper/receipts)
  3. Whoever keeps it up the longest, wins

While I don't feel like I have big, bulky items taking up space, the small things really add up:

  • Baking accessories - frosting tips that were duplicates (or triplicates!), extra pans that I don't use (and I have a fabulous neighbor I can always borrow one from)
  • Tools - so many duplicates and random items that still need to be sorted (need to go through a bin with my partner in case he wants to keep any items)
  • Fridge - right after the holidays, it was great to feel like there's a fresh start and really think about using up what I have (and doing a clean sweep of expired stuff)
  • Office supplies - again, so much excess!
 
 

This challenge has also helped me get rid of a couple items I let linger in the garage, namely some shelving and a water filter that I was recycling for a client. I felt accountable to getting as much out same-day as I could so I made a point to schedule time to recycle the wire shelves at the transfer station and make my way to Whole Foods for their filter recycling program.

These were nagging tasks that were taunting me because they were staring at me every time I used the car! I'm also thinking more about my gut reaction toward things I'm keeping - do I really love it? How useful is it? If I need it again, can I borrow from a friend?

253 items have exited the house so far! If I keep this up through the 31st, the house will be 496 things lighter - WOW! 

Are you playing the Mins Game this year or have you played before? How long did you last? Let me know in the comments!

Handling Holiday Gift Clutter

For those of us that have been downsizing, minimizing, and generally decluttering the things around us, birthdays and holidays can be tricky to navigate. While you might be in the process of paring down so that you have less to maintain, your family and friends might still be eager to buy you the next best {insert whatever it is here}.

I've talked to several friends about my thoughts on giving and receiving gifts. It can be really hard to educate others on this newer lifestyle change of allowing fewer things into the household while respecting their generosity and desire to give. The biggest challenge I see is that those around us want to celebrate us and show they care through gift-giving while we are still trying to keep clear surfaces, continue purging closets and anything new in the house feels like a step backwards in the organizing process.

 
spruce-with-rachel-hoiiday-gift-clutter_.jpg
 

If you are feeling anxious about how to handle the potential holiday gift clutter, here are a few tips:

  • Do a pre-holiday purge to make room for a few new gifts that you are planning on getting (or hoping that Santa will send your way)
  • Plan ahead with friends and family on gifting this season - is it an option to draw names in a larger group or do a holiday potluck or happy hour in lieu of gifts? Try to shift the focus to creating a fun experience 
  • Make your list and check it twice! Have a mix of practical and "splurge" items that you would be happy to receive so that you can share these lists with the people in your life that will buy for you no matter what you say (we all know someone!)
  • Accept the gifts with grace - thank the giver, take a picture of the item being worn or in use, and then let it go so that it can find a home where it will be enjoyed/put to use. Also check with the local homeless shelters in your area to find out what items are in demand.

It is 100% ok to let others know that you are more intentional about gets incorporated into your home, that you want to focus on creating less waste, use what you have, whatever your priority is with staying on top of clutter.

What has worked well for you in minimizing holiday gift clutter? What have been your favorite experiences that were gifted to you? 

Transformation Tuesday #44: Kitchen Pantry Purge

My neighbor and I were chatting recently when she mentioned that she still needed to find time for organizing her pantry. I worked with her earlier this year on her kitchen cupboards and storage, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to do some more decluttering. 

She has a shelving unit in her entryway closet, stocked with dry goods like flour, pasta, rice, quinoa, and canned goods and various sauces/condiments. She admitted that it was probably a quick project since a lot of items were likely expired and just needed to be purged.

We coordinated schedules so I could get to organizing while she was away at work. What an awesome gift to give yourself - coming home to a tidy home (or in this case, a tidy pantry)! Side note: if you have ever wanted to treat yourself to this or gift this to a friend, let me know! 

In just under an hour and a half, I was able to do a simple purge:

  1. Remove all items while grouping into categories (pasta, rice, soup, sauce, etc)
  2. Check expiration dates
  3. Wipe down shelves
  4. Return unexpired items to shelves, still grouped by category
 
 

Roughly half the items were expired so out they went (items on the left of the top right picture)!

We decided that it made sense to get some handy shelf risers, making it easier to see what's in the back. Otherwise, it's easy to get caught in the cycle of not seeing what's there, overbuying that item, and ultimately having to toss it when it passes it's "best buy" date.

I also recommend when you do your own pantry purge, if you are running low on an item, especially one that you get in bulk, tape a note on the pantry shelf or cabinet door as a reminder. The next time you are checking your cupboards before a shopping trip, you can stock appropriately.

Use the capsule wardrobe approach - what has expired in the pantry, note what type of item it is. This is probably something you shouldn't buy in bulk anymore because you aren't getting through it fast enough or it's just not appealing anymore. 

What tips do you have for conquering kitchen pantry clutter? Let me know in the comments below!