We are in the process of severely de-cluttering our townhouse. Even though we’ve been in the habit of regular-ish trips to the Salvos/Anglicare/Vinnies, the stuff just keeps mounting up. Or to quote Himself “we’ve brought in more than we’ve got rid of”.
The decision making of what to “get rid of” and what to keep has been causing me lots of grief over the past months, not least because it seems like a sisyphean task – you know how you’re pushing a very large rock up a hill and you’re in imminent danger of an avalanche. I’m consoled by the fact that I’ve been feeling increasingly weighed-down by our belongings in recent months (years?) and so decluttering will shed that big rock and let me fly…well perhaps float a little.
One strategy might have been to consider the following questions should a severe cyclone come round:
- What would we take as precious-to-us items?
- What would we want to replace if the items were lost?
- What would we not miss at all, and perhaps be relieved we were shed of them?
However there are less extreme rationales to use when decluttering. Entirely coincidentally one of my friends shared this post on Facebook and it’s been wonderfully helpful. Appropriately it focuses on books, which along with papers, are the bête noir of this household. I was so relieved when I read this story as it made the process so much clearer. Hence, my strategy is going to be similar.
We will be keeping:
- Most of my family history reference books.
- Coffee table books which we particularly love.
- Books which are relevant to our own personal history.
- Books we want to re-read again and again.
- Books that changed how I/we see life, or which made me say “me too!”
- Any books which are not held elsewhere in Australia (there are a few).
We will be releasing:
- Books we’ve enjoyed but would only look at occasionally in future.
- Books which no longer have relevance for us eg our Kathmandu collection.
- Books which have been superseded by new information/new editions.
- Ones I know I’ll be able to find in a local library (mostly fiction)
- Ones that may be in a reference library I can access – provided I don’t use that book regularly.
- Ones I’ve started to read but can’t get into.
- Books I feel I should read but just never get to.
One of the big questions I’m dealing with though, is whether to keep some of my childhood books which I’ve only just re-acquired in the past 18 months. Like everything else children’s book fashions have changed massively since dinosaurs roamed the earth so they don’t suit the grandchildren’s reading styles.
Do I treasure them a little longer, purely for the memories? Or do I tell myself, you didn’t have them for 40+ years so why will you miss them?
Rather than just sending the unloved books to a charity store, I’m thinking of which of my friends would really love that particular book. Hey, don’t good friends share things – even clutter?! Others of our poor rejected books will go to the casual “library” of pre-loved books which Mr Cassmob set up at work and which has been quite popular.
Wish us luck – Himself will need more than me as my study is FULL of books. Perhaps that’s why it’s freaking me out more?