The clutter of collections & letting them go

decluttering selling delilvery parcel boxes clutter collections

About 10 days ago I watched a YouTube video that changed everything for me.

I’d been holding on to a childhood collection for years.

Decades.

Well, since my childhood. Which is over thirty years to be precise.

It’s moved house with me countless times. I’ve lugged that collection in-and-out of more vans than I care to remember.

Yet I never unpacked it.

I just kept that collection boxed up. But, importantly, it was with me.

You see, I thought it was a part of me. That the items in the collection made me the person I am. Considering it was a collection from my early formative years, that could very well be true.

But I’d rarely looked at it since becoming a teenager. The collection was boxed up in the loft of our family home. And then it moved to the loft of my own home. And to the next home. And the next.

I didn’t use it.

I didn’t enjoy it.

I didn’t even look at it.

And when I watched a video by Ronald L. Banks last week, I realised something.

I didn’t need it.

The video is titled Minimalism for Collectors. If you have a collection, yet aspire to maintain a minimalist lifestyle, I highly recommend you watch it.

Just because Ron’s video inspired me to clear out my childhood collection, it doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience. Because, in equal measure, the video validated me in keeping some of my collections. The things that do add value to my life.

But it also allowed me to look at that childhood collection with fresh eyes and motivated me to make a change.

I realised that collection was more of a burden than something I cherished. Worse still – I felt guilty that its condition was deteriorating because I wasn’t taking care of it.

It was time for that 30+-year-old collection to go.

One week later I have an empty cupboard the size of a wardrobe (yes, that’s how much space the collection took up!) and I have made over £1000 selling it off.

I don’t know what happened to me while I was watching Ron’s video, but I no longer felt sentimental about the collection. There was no nostalgia, no memories of happy times playing with it in childhood. I could simply see a stack of stuff that I didn’t even want to touch.

But just because this particular collection was no longer something I wanted, it doesn’t mean I’m against all collections now.

In fact, thank goodness for people with collections, as they are the ones who bought my childhood collection from me.

I picked out the few pieces that meant the most to me – the things that made me smile – and kept those. But all the rest is gone.

I feel so much lighter, happier and at peace, knowing that the collection will continue to be cared for by someone who really wants it.

The decluttering journey – Deciding what to keep

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Despite my desire to follow a minimalist lifestyle and the many years of downsizing and decluttering I’ve already put into my life, I still have a lot of stuff.

I just don’t know how it accumulates.

One month, I can feel perfectly satisfied that I have decluttered successfully and only own the things I need and love. I have the bare minimum.

The next month, I can feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter I still have in my home.

It’s not that I’m going shopping or bringing new items into our home. I’m simply looking at it with fresh eyes. Perhaps more critical eyes.

I could do more.

Maybe I exhausted myself before I had truly finished decluttering last month? Perhaps I was ‘soft’ and allowed myself to keep things that I didn’t really need?

Whatever the reason, the process of decluttering sometimes seems never-ending. (When will it end? Will I be in an empty room, thinking about taking down the blinds?)

So, exasperated with myself, I started looking for motivation to do more. To declutter further. To minimise more.

I uncovered a quote that I hadn’t heard of before and it made a massive difference to how I look at my belongings:

“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away.”

Francine Jay

MIND. BLOWN.

Unbelievable though it seems, I hadn’t heard of Francine Jay until now. I know, right? Where I have I been for the last decade?

Don’t worry, I’ve put that right – and I now have her ‘Miss Minimalist’ book on my Kindle.

This quite came into my life at exactly the right time. Just when I was getting despondent about my minimising efforts. It has given me a new perspective on decluttering and I am diving back into the task with renewed vigour.

I’m going into every room and thinking in reverse: ‘If this room were empty, what would I put into it? What would I keep?’ Then it’s simply a case of removing the rest.

So I thought I would share this quote with you today, in the hope that it might make all the difference to you too.

Have you discovered an inspiring quote that helped you on your minimalism journey? Has someone said something to you that made you stop and think? Let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

We’ve all got boxes we haven’t unpacked

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Which is the perfect excuse for decluttering when you’re becoming minimalist but don’t want people to think you’ve gone to the extreme.

I found myself saying this when my husband mentioned a recent minimising session to some friends of ours. I immediately jumped in with “Yes, well, we’ve got boxes in the garage that we haven’t unpacked since we moved three years ago, so we probably don’t need them.”

Our friends nodded knowingly and agreed that they too probably had the same in their loft. We moved swiftly on with the conversation without any mention of minimalism. Phew.

Now, I don’t know why I didn’t want want to make a big ‘thing’ about our journey into minimalism. In fact, I’m usually rather happy to share my opinions on how less in more and that we don’t need to buy so much stuff.

I mean, I’m writing a book about it now, for goodness sake.

But at that moment, I felt a bit weird about it. Probably because I wasn’t where I wanted to be with minimising our belongings at that moment and I didn’t want people to come into our home and be surprised by the amount of stuff we still have.

On the other hand, I already felt a bit extreme with the amount of minimising we had already done and didn’t want to admit to the vast volume of donating, shredding and clearing we’d already done.

I felt like my innate minimalist urges might not be understood and I didn’t really want to get into a discussion about the mental wellbeing I was uncovering as a result.

My conversation swerve worked. I got away with it. I’d downplayed it enough and made it relatable enough that it appeared wholly sensible to clear out those boxes.

Because we ALL have those boxes in the garage, the loft, under the stairs, under the bed. The boxes we haven’t looked at in years.

Those boxes make it easy to understand why someone would be getting rid of their stuff, and the mere mention of those boxes usually elicits agreement in anyone you discuss them with.

So if you find yourself being questioned about your minimalism journey and want to help someone understand why, just casually slip those boxes into the conversation.

Because we’ve all got them.

And none of us need them.