As part of both Jim and my goals for 2013, we really want to purge our entire apartment top to bottom. Living in NYC, you don’t have a whole lot of room for stuff, and all in all we’re not as bad as most people. But considering we’re both kinda OCD, our stuff is at this point negatively impacting our psyche and we’re never relaxed around the apartment.
So we’re making it a point, little by little over the course of the next several weeks to get rid of our crap. I know that’s a strong word, but that’s what it is.
We both kind of came to the sudden realization we’re minimalists. If we don’t absolutely need it, or absolutely love it, it’s going.
We want our home to be a place where we are surrounded only by things we really, really love and enjoy. That goes for our furniture, books, art, keepsakes, etc. Considering our apartment is only around 650 square feet, it shouldn’t take us too long to do what we’re setting out to do.
We’re trying to tackle max one to two rooms at a time, so our focus to start is our kitchen and office. Both at the start of the year were horribly cluttered. As we’ve been moving through the process, here’s a few things we’ve learned along the way.
We Were Going to Need a Storage Space
I’ve never been a proponent of storage spaces. Paying extra each month for an additional “closet” to store your extra stuff you are too afraid to get rid of for fear of needing it at a later date never sat well with me.
In going into this project, the kitchen in particular I really needed to take point on being it’s more or less my domain. I do all the cooking in our household. I’ve literally procrastinated for months in getting it done. Coming into this year and deciding with Jim it needed to be a priority, I took some time to analyze why I had been putting it off. What exactly was making me so uncomfortable with the project that I didn’t want to start it?
The vast majority of the kitchen goods are all brand new and actually worth some money. So they realistically needed to be sold and not donated. In the end I realized I was afraid of having even more clutter around our already small place with all the boxes holding our stuff to be sold.
To solve the issue, we found and got a storage space in our neighborhood with the understanding it will only be used to store items we are selling, and will only be rented for three months. This way we’re photographing, posting to Craigslist, boxing and immediately bringing the stuff over there. It’s out of sight, protected, still easy to access, and makes an immediate difference in our space having the stuff gone. It’s also been nice having potential buyers come to the storage area instead of our apartment for privacy reasons.
We Needed to Streamline Our Possessions to Our Lifestyle
Most of our kitchen clutter was wedding registry gifts from when we got married. I registered like we live in the suburbs. We unfortunately don’t. I also realize now 5 years later that we don’t live a suburban lifestyle at all. I’ve entertained 2-3 times for Thanksgiving and have never, ever busted out my fine china or crystal. I’d much rather find it a home where someone will enjoy and use it, than sit out the rest of its days clogging up my cabinets or in a storage area.
We Needed to Re-Think Our Existing Storage Solutions
Back several years ago when we first re-designed our apartment, we purchased a large cabinet with a glass front on it to display all of our wedding china and crystal. Due to the sheer amount of stuff I had registered for, instead of the cabinet being a beautiful display, it was the eyesore of the kitchen. So much so that Jim hated the cabinet and really wanted to get rid of it as part of this purge.
After we re-considered what we wanted to keep and cleared the cabinet out, we were left with almost nothing in it aside from some stemless glassware and serving platters. The cabinet looked fantastic while minimally curated, so we decided to re-purpose it as a bar. Jim’s always wanted a bar in the apartment, so we turned a piece that was previously an eyesore that we wanted to get rid of into a functional, beautiful storage solution.
We Needed to Identify Systems That Weren’t Working for Us and Fix Them
I love David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system. I’ve been using it for years and attribute it to how I can remain so productive while being relatively stress free. While Allen’s system works well for me as far as task management goes (which I use digitally via my devices and the Toodledoo app), his paper system hasn’t worked well for our household at all. We have this massive filing cabinet in our office filled to the gills and it was so bad Jim and I both would avoid dealing with the mail because we didn’t know where to put anything.
Most of our bills are received digitally, and I scan most important but disposable documentation into Evernote, so it didn’t take me too long to identify I needed a different filing system that would self purge only the important stuff we absolutely must keep originals on. Luckily I stumbled across the Unclutter’s blog where she mentioned the Freedom Filersystem. I purchased one, set it up in part of an afternoon and ever since our mail and filing is no longer an issue. It’s so easy to use, Jim and I both can now easily go through the mail and process our paperwork within 5 minutes.
So far, this is only around two weekends of work put in on the project and already we’ve had tremendous gains.
I’ll continue to post as we progress, and if anyone has any suggestions of things that have worked for you in taming kitchen and office clutter, I’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments.