Efficient Decluttering

Generally speaking for anyone who wants to declutter I would recommend the following:

  • Anything you want to get rid of, get it out of your house now! Don’t put stuff in bags waiting for the right moment you have time arrange a garage sale. Just get rid of it ASAP!
  • Only try to sell stuff you can get some money from, like a sofa. A euro or a dollar here and there for a shirt or two isn’t worth it.
  • Don’t take anything only because you can get it for free.
  • Don’t go to shops (or online shops) if you don’t need anything. Once you have entered a shop there will always be something you think you “need” (i.e. want, not need).
  • Let go of sentimental items. How often do you use them anyway? A friend comes over for coffee – are you going to look at some photos from you childhood? No.
  • Have less storage space in your house, get rid of wardrobes, shelves and closets. Only save the items you really need, they will still fit into this minimalist storage system.
  • The more space you have on counter tops, desks or shelves, the more clutter will pile up on them. Get rid of these clutter zones! How many tables do you need? One? Two?

I Guess I Can Call This a Minimalist Wardrobe

I’m not sure exactly how many pieces of clothing I own, but I don’t find it very interesting as I know it’s not that many. What makes things more challenging with a minimalist or capsule wardrobe is that in my country we have four seasons with large variations in temperature.

Merino wool was the key to reduce the number of clothes I own. It’s possible to wear the clothes made of merino wool for days or weeks and they don’t smell or feel dirty. As I no longer have an office job that would require a certain outfit, like wearing a suit, it made things even simpler. I don’t own any dress just-in-case-of-a-cocktail-party, because I know it’s very unlikely that I would go to any such party in the near future.

My wardrobe consists of this:

  • I have most of my shirts, jackets and pants on hangers
  • Contents of Basket No 1: underwear and socks
  • Contents of Basket No 2: sports outfit, pajamas & random

 

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My minimalist wardrobe. Shirts, pants and jackets on hangers. Two baskets with other stuff, underwear etc.
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Hanger for pants I got from Ikea, saves space.

I haven’t used any specific decluttering method to organize my wardrobe. I have read the KonMari book and I think her ideas are fantastic. But in my situation there is no need to fold the clothes according to the KonMari method – there simply isn’t anything left to fold!

Some Things to Consider Before Buying a Futon Mattress

There are many different materials a futon can be made of. Some of the mattresses are thicker, some are thinner. I wouldn’t recommend to buy one before trying it in a shop. If you want to roll up the futon during the day, some materials are easier to roll than others. The futon I have is quite thick and it’s made of cotton and foam. This combination of materials should make it fairly easy to roll up the futon.

If the futon is used directly on the floor without a bed frame and you want to roll it up during daytime, the main thing is to have a futon that is both comfortable but also possible to roll and move to the place where you want to keep it. If you are using the futon in a bed frame it can be difficult to get the futon out of the bed frame alone. The rolling part is not so difficult, but getting a good grip and being able to get it out of the bed frame can be more challenging. Futons are heavy.

The downside of sleeping on a futon directly on the floor is that even if it saves space during the day when it’s rolled up, the futon itself is so big it hardly fits into any normal closet. Even if the floor is vacuumed regularly there will be some dust, which means that the sheets are dustier compared to the situation where the mattress is in a bed frame. It’s not recommended to leave the futon on the floor for a longer period of time as a lack of air circulation can lead to issues with mold. For those who are suffering from hay-fever it could be useful to check what kind of material the tatami is made of when considering to buy one. It the futon doesn’t fit into a closet and must be left somewhere in the room for the day there’s also a chance it’s collecting even more dust. The blankets, sheets and pillows also need to be put somewhere during the day and they take more space than expected. The pillows and blankets should be covered with something to avoid dust.

The futon I now have is the best bed I’ve ever had. I would still like to have the futon placed directly on the floor without a bed frame, but lately I’ve been concerned about the dust. And it’s not easy to “hide” the futon somewhere during the day. It looks like a weird decoration in the living room…

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Modern design in the living room!
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How can you fit anything like this into a normal closet?

Decluttering Completed!

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What to do with all the empty space?

 

It took about two years to finish the decluttering project. I didn’t use any specific method (e.g. KonMari) and the aim wasn’t to do everything at once. Some items were more difficult than others and that’s why it took time. It wasn’t always easy to decide whether to try to sell something or give it away for free. Some old stuff from the childhood or related to other memories were time-consuming as it wasn’t easy to decide what to do with them, or it took time to let go of things. In sum, I didn’t save much of it, finally I got rid of almost everything. It took some time to get used to the idea, but it was the right decision, thinking about it afterwards. And I like more the Kaizen type of method where you take small steps every day to improve the situation. So in a way the project will never end, because some part of it can always be improved. Of course, to see some quick results, KonMari as a method could be better.

But what next? I have reached a level where I think I now only have the stuff I really need (or there is very little extra of it, yes, some bracelet or kitchen knife that I could still get rid of). The question is what to do with all the empty space? I was trying to find ideas to solve this problem, but there were none to be found. There is much written about efficient decluttering techniques or methods, but what happens when you have reached the point that you are ready and don’t know what to do with the empty space? There is a risk that the empty space is being filled up again with furniture or other stuff. Or is the only solution to move to a smaller apartment and downsizing even more? To buy useless furniture doesn’t seem like a solution. The empty space looks weird. But the good thing about it is that cleaning isn’t time-consuming, or there is hardly any cleaning that needs to be done. I can find everything I need, and with the decluttered wardrobe I have no issues with what to wear. I have changed most of my clothing to clothes made of merino wool that need to be washed very seldom. This means that the wardrobe can consist of less pieces of clothing as it is possible to wear the same pair of socks or the same shirt for several days or weeks.

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Another empty drawer.

Before this decluttering project I always thought the only and logical decision was to move to a bigger apartment or house “as the kids are growing and they need more space”. The kids nowadays need less and less stuff as they are only interested in electronic devices. If I meet someone for coffee it is usually in the city center, not at home. Owning a big coffee table and having sofas around it was some idea from the past, but it isn’t necessary nowadays. To be honest I have thought about getting rid of the sofa. Nobody uses the sofa, it is more like a big decoration in the living room.

I don’t like to pay for extra space I don’t need. Maybe the decluttering will result in further downsizing.

 

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Empty kitchen cabinets. Why pay for all the extra space?

Sleeping on the Floor – Pros and Cons

When I was looking for information about futon mattresses I found websites where people were telling they sleep on the floor (without a mattress) and that they feel it’s better for the back, blood circulation and has various other positive health effects. Some people claimed that they never feel tired in the morning when sleeping on the floor. There were some debates about the pros and cons of sleeping on the floor. The disadvantages usually had to do with dust and that it can be cold to sleep on the floor. Interviews had been conducted with specialists in the area, but they didn’t seem to come to any conclusion. Some said it is individual, others were talking about the flexibility of the mattress that is giving support and enables the right position of the spine. One of the most common arguments why one should sleep on the floor was that our ancestors did it (and they didn’t experience as much back pain as we do nowadays?). Others were arguing that our ancestors were in fact sleeping on dirt floors which can be structured into comfortable forms and that is why it differs from sleeping on a hardwood floor, which was not considered good for the health.

In sum, neither did these experts nor writers seem to come to a conclusion if there are positive health effects when sleeping on the floor. Some said yes, some said no. In my opinion it’s another thing that is individual – not the same solution fits everyone. Sleeping on the floor is cheap and “the bed” can easily be moved to another room if needed. It saves space and doesn’t require a bed frame. Who loves putting together a bed frame? When you move to your new home it will probably not fit into your new house. First you try to assemble it but then notice it will not fit. Try to sell the old bed frame (if someone is still willing to pay for it, otherwise try to get rid of it elsewhere) and buy a new (expensive) one. It looks comfortable with the blankets and cushions, but is it maybe too comfortable – I don’t want to get up in the morning! There are certainly many more aspects that could be discussed, but now to the practical stuff: because many people recommended to start sleeping on the floor I decided to give it a try. I have been sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor (without a bed frame) for a few years and I thought the change will not be significant.  Well, I was wrong. Here is my report:

The first night the hardwood floor felt too hard as a surface to be sleeping on. It didn’t take me much time to realize this. Lying down on a carpet wasn’t helpful either. So I decided to take a thin yoga mat and put it on the carpet. I wasn’t able to fall asleep. I remembered what I had read, people said the first few nights can be difficult when your body is trying to adjust to the new surface. After midnight I was still awake and took a blanket and put it on top of the carpet and the yoga mat. So now I was trying to sleep on a carpet plus a yoga mat plus a blanket. At some point I fell asleep. However I wasn’t able to count how many times I woke up that night. My hips were aching. I tried to put as much of the blanket as possible under my hips, but the surface was still too hard. I was very tired the next morning. I would be pretty sure there were no benefits of sleeping on the floor.

 

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Carpet, yoga mat and blanket. Where are the health benefits?

 

When I tried this for the second night I was already sure I will need the carpet, yoga mat and the blanket I had been using the previous night. And an extra blanket… But I wasn’t able to get any sleep. At some point I have probably managed to fall asleep but I was immediately awake again. Was I doing something wrong? My hips were aching again. This was far from the experiences of the other people “I’m never feeling tired in the morning”. What? I was exhausted. But I wasn’t going to give up.

 

The third night started with the same settings: carpet, yoga mat and blankets. I was trying to be positive about sleeping on the floor and thinking about the potential health benefits. But there just didn’t seem to be any benefits for me. Maybe I fell asleep at some point but woke up I don’t know how many times during the night because my body was aching.

“Change can take time”, I was trying to convince myself. And same stuff again the fourth night: carpet, yoga mat, blankets. Nothing had changed. My body was aching again, especially my hips. After midnight I gave up and moved to the sofa. I was so tired and my body was aching and aching.

Now it’s been some time since this project. I decided to give it another try. Just one more night. No sleep and an aching body again. Maybe more of this later, not now.

New Year’s Resolutions – Are You Willing to Make Changes?

To make New Year’s promises is a common tradition. But are we fooling ourselves by making promises we will not keep? Why would a promise at the beginning of a year lead to results if we have not been able to achieve results already during the previous years? I think many people tend to forget that in order for something to happen, i.e. change to be made, you have to change your routines and start doing things differently. Many people I have talked to dream of a clean and decluttered house as well as a better financial situation. But when it comes to making changes to the current situation, it becomes evident that there will be no change. It is just talk and some nice words. Or “I just can’t do it at this particular moment”.

So I think the first New Year’s promise should be to give a thought to one’s willingness to change things if results should be achieved. Am I ready to go to the gym twice a week from now on? Is it just what I think should be done and my conscience is clear if I list it as a New Year’s resolution? There is a very small chance that hoping and dreaming will change anything. Action needs to be taken for things to change. Think of a company’s strategy. What action must be taken when striving to achieve the objectives? The daily routines of the staff must involve activities that are helpful in achieving the goals. If you make promises about goals and targets, what do you do daily in order to achieve them? Example: My goal is to have a clean and tidy home every day. If the daily routines don’t include cleaning and tidying up after every meal, not leaving clothes on the floor and the sofa, this goal will never be possible to achieve. Then once again before Christmas and before birthday parties there is a feeling of panic and a huge cleaning project ahead. Nothing has changed. The start is usually the most difficult part. When you have done it enough times it becomes a routine and it is a lot easier.

So don’t promise yourself things that will never happen. The only result of that will be disappointment and a feeling of failure. Promise things you will in fact do and start working on them immediately! It is very rewarding to see the results!