Minimalism, by an ex-hoarder (Part 3)

In my last post, I discussed how I began the decluttering process with my wardrobe. I started to re-assess the clothes I owned and decided to start donating/selling items that I didn’t wear or didn’t love anymore.

Looking to be more minimal in 2019? Then, read on!

What happened next?

As well as my wardrobe, Mr Fox and I turned our attention to other areas and set out on our journey to declutter the whole house. In our weekends and evenings, we spent our time carefully considering what items we really needed in our lives. The items we no longer had use for were either donated or sold.

There are plenty of fantastic resources out there that you can read about how to approach tidying/decluttering. Some argue that you should work on one room at a time; others advice focusing on an entire item category, no matter where it is in the house. Everyone has their own unique approach. Some people advocate only keeping objects that are essential and have purpose; others recommend also keeping items that give you enjoyment – even if they don’t have a practical application.

For us, we used a mixture of both techniques. I found focusing our attention on a section of a room (e.g. the kitchen drawers, the bookcase, the bathroom cabinet) less of an upheaval and it helped organise our decluttering into manageable chunks.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I read (from: ‘Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo) was to save your sentimental belongings until the end. It’s a lot easier to get rid of things you care about less first and, as you progress on your journey, you will become more prepared to deal with the tricky emotion-inducing items when you get to them!

Kondo’s advice came into play when it came to my book collection, which I saved until last. When we started decluttering, I was absolutely adamant about keeping every one of my books. I was a real bibliophile and got great satisfaction from seeing a stacked bookcase in a room. However, as we got rid of more things and my mindset began to shift, I realised that I rarely re-read anything and the books were taking unnecessary space. I ended up reducing my collection from 250 books to only 15 of my favourites. As more months passed, I got rid of all of them entirely; I invested in a kindle and support our local libraries instead!

At the height of our decluttering, I worked as a Manager in a local charity shop. Every day, I’d drag a suitcase uphill to work to donate the items we no longer had a use for. In fact, after the shop underwent a refurbishment, myself and Mr Fox virtually re-stocked the entire shop with our possessions. In total, our unwanted stuff generated around £1400 for the charity! As well as this, we donated to many other sources: clothing banks, electrical & recycling banks, refugee projects and we also made a decent amount of pocket money from selling items on eBay and Gumtree. We used FreeCycle to give away larger items that were too difficult to transport by hand (rugs, large paintings) to happy new homes too.

Without a car, we had to carry bin bags or wheel suitcases to drop off our old stuff continually. At points, it seemed like a never-ending nightmare! The physical labour of getting rid of things made me realise just how out of control our consumption used to be and I was determined to never get in that position again. With every item we purged, I felt nothing but relief.

In total, I estimate we got rid of:

  • 300+ books
  • 40 bin bags of clothing/shoes/bags
  • 5 boxes of kitchenware (including, appliances and crockery)
  • 10 boxes of general oddments (including, ornaments, candles)
  • 3 boxes of craft supplies
  • Wall hangings, throws, bed linen, curtains, 3 floor rugs
  • 2 bin bags of cosmetics/bathroom supplies

Throughout the process, I’ve learnt that decluttering a lifetimes worth of stuff is damn hard work! You can’t go into it thinking that changes will happen overnight – even if some people may advocate hiring a skip and doing it over a weekend! It’s cathartic and liberating, but it can also be painful as it forces you to confront a number of different emotions. It’s a constant work in progress so be kind to yourself and try not to get disheartened when it feels like you’re getting nowhere!

It has taken us months to get the point where we are today. In the summer, we were finally able to downsize from a three bedroom four-storey house into a zero-bedroom flat. We are living proof that, with enough determination and effort, minimalism can be achievable for anyone – even the hoarders amongst you!

It may not be an easy journey but, if you persevere, the reward will be worth it in the end.

Coming up:

  • The biggest benefits of a more minimal lifestyle.
  • Minimalism and money saving.
  • How minimalism can help YOU reach your goals (or get to them quicker!)
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7 thoughts on “Minimalism, by an ex-hoarder (Part 3)

  1. Great article, but I’m confused when you say you downsized to a “zero bedroom house”. Does this mean you have something akin to a studio flat now? Or sleep on a pull down bed in the living room?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your first thought is correct, we live in something akin to a studio flat. The ‘bedroom’ is within the same space as the living room, if you were to sit on the sofa and look to your left you’d see the bed. We have a totally separate kitchen (which is rare for such a small place) and a separate bathroom, so it doesn’t feel like we live entirely in one room.

      Plus the closing door for the kitchen really helps keep the cooking smells at bay! – Mr Fox.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, congratulations! Sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey. I was never a hoarder but even so it’s taken years for me to get my possessions under control. Now that we’ve been doing the Month of Minimalism game by The Minimalists I finally feel like things are better. I can’t wait to Marie Kondo our house, but since we’re moving in a few months I think it’d be better to wait and Marie Kondo the new place right from the start. Thanks for writing about this, it’s an important topic that’s only just starting to gain the awareness it deserves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just a quick thought. If you minimised a few of your possessions prior to moving house you would have less stuff to pack, lift, transport, unpack. When you do unpack things its an ideal time to question what you actually require.

      Perhaps leave it all in boxes until you need it (Label each box with whats inside) then you can see what you actually use and what you do not. These can then be sold, donated or given away if you choose to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great point, Alex!
        Minimalising before moving would make the moving process easier but, as its a stressful time, that may be too overwhelming to do so I really like your idea of categorising boxes to make it more manageable!
        – Mrs F x

        Like

      2. Good idea. Now that I’ve finished reading the Marie Kondo book I understand that there are two separate parts – discarding and organising. It would definitely help to do the decluttering part before we move house – might save us some money too since we could probably end up fitting all our stuff in our friend’s van so we wouldn’t have to hire a lorry! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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