Category Archives: 100 Day Challenge

24 Bankers Boxes

UPSwampThat’s what I have in my living room right now. Two dozen cardboard boxes full of papers from my mother’s house. Unsorted, miscellaneous, mostly-but-not-all worthless papers, just the way I found them while we were clearing out the rooms. Forty year old bank statements, income tax records, recipes she clipped out of newspapers (thousands of recipes), deeds to property, receipts from her doctor’s office…

And, of course, the usual furniture you expect to find in a living room: chairs, sofa, table, a desk. You can’t get to the desk or sit in two of the chairs at the moment; there are bankers boxes in the way. All in all, it looks like one of those TV shows about hoarders who have piles and heaps of Things, with only narrow lanes left clear to let you navigate through the piles.20150817BankersBoxes

This has to change.

And the problem isn’t only my mother’s stuff. I learned my lessons well – I’ve never been good at throwing things away. It’s time to master that skill, time to sort through all the junk I’ve kept for no good reason and get rid of it. Then I’ll probably need to sort through things I think I do have good reason to keep and dispose of a lot of them. The idea of all that work and decision making gives me the shudders, but looking at the handful of spaces I have cleaned so far makes me happy. Being happier with an emptier house – that’s the goal. Now, how to get there from here?

As I’ve mentioned a time or three, I intended to start this project last New Year’s Day. I was supposed to spend a hundred days cleaning out my own house and be finished by early April. Instead, my husband and I kept working on my mom’s house and bringing more and more boxes home with us, while I got more and more exhausted.

Well, now that my mother’s house is finally cleared out and sold and off my hands, and now that I’ve had a few desperately needed weeks to rest, I can start that long-delayed project. We’re in the middle of August now, and in 100 days it will be Wednesday, November 25. So I ought to be all done the day before Thanksgiving. Good timing. I don’t plan to cook a turkey dinner while I continue with major housecleaning – and being done with the Great Emptying would certainly be something to be thankful for.

I wonder if there will be snow on the ground by the time I finish cleaning?

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Best Laid Plans (1)

UPSwampAbout a year and a half ago, I started cleaning out my mother’s house, and almost immediately learned that keeping stuff “because I might need it someday” or “because it’s too good to throw out” is a bad idea. Clearly, it’s time to dejunk my own home – but I had to finish my mother’s first. Days and weeks and months went by, and my husband and I kept filling up trash cans and lugging dozens of big black trash bags out to the end of her driveway to be hauled away. Over and over, I thought we were almost finished; we never were. As soon as we cleared away one mess, we found another hiding behind it.

But at last, when 2014 was almost over, the end seemed in sight. And I had such great plans. I knew exactly how I was going to spend the winter – at home, cozily busy indoors, discarding piles and piles of my unneeded, unwanted, unloved junk. Bags and boxes on top of bags and boxes, out the door and gone with the trash collectors. And when spring came, I was going to look back on months of accomplishment and look forward to a new, streamlined life.

So much for plans.

The trouble was, even after a year of work, I still didn’t realize how cluttered my mother’s house was. There was still stuff behind stuff, all sorts of stuff, three different types of stuff. Some of it, my parents valued but I don’t have enough room to store it or any desire to own it – but maybe someone else would. Then there were perfectly good things I don’t think they realized they had, like half a dozen can openers, ten or twenty or thirty years old (judging by the price tags), still in their original store packaging. (These first two categories were easy; they could be given away or sold.) And finally there was stuff, lots of it, that they might have valued once, and shoved out of the way someplace or other, and never touched again while it deteriorated and became unusable.

And I had no time or energy left to tackle my own mess. Instead, this house got more and more cluttered as we brought home boxes of papers – as many boxes as the back of the car would hold – that I didn’t have time to sort through while we were at my mother’s house.

So much stuff, and so little of it any use to anybody.

100 Day Challenge

UPSwampWhat do you do when you have too much stuff? I’ve got more than I have room for. I’ve been nibbling at the edges of it all for some time without making much progress, even though I’ve come across various ideas for reorganizing and decluttering.

One group of approaches started with the “100 Thing Challenge” – cut down to 100 possessions. More or less. Depending on how you want to define a single possession – for example, apparently some people have decided that all their socks count as just one thing. (Hey, this is easier than I thought! I’ll just call all my books one thing, and all my clothes one more thing, and all my furniture a third thing, and…if I count each of my categories of things as just one item, I’m not sure I have 100 things to start with!)

Then there’s the “Reverse 100 Thing Challenge” – get rid of 100 things in 30 days. It’s a lot harder to bend the rules on this one; if you get rid of ten things on Day 17, or 50 things on Day 23, well, that’s nice – you still need to dispose of something else the following day. I tried this one some time ago, barely made a dent in the Stuff in my house, and forgot about the whole idea until my friend Beverley at My Wonky Life posted that she’s going to start it again to declutter before Christmas.

Good luck, Beverley…meanwhile, I think I need to take a more intense approach. I’ve spent the past year decluttering my late mother’s house, and it’s been an eye opener. Before, I had no idea how much my parents had kept (for decades and decades), all jumbled together, and I want to stop copying them. I need to get my house stripped down as far as my husband and I can stand, and I want to do it right away before I run out of steam.

So here we (get ready to) go – The 100 Day Challenge. The idea is pretty simple to describe: get my house cleared out and thoroughly cleaned in a hundred days, starting January 1.

Why January 1? Not because it’s New Year’s Day. Really. But by the end of December, all the Christmas preparations will be over and on top of that, we should finally be done decluttering and cleaning my mom’s house. With those jobs out of the way, I’ll have enough energy left over to deal with this place. Besides, starting with the new year means I’ll be tackling the worst of the project in January and February, the depths of winter, when I don’t especially want to leave the house more than I can avoid anyhow.