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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Rhys's New Year's Resolution: Decluttering
RHYS BOWEN: Hank asked us last week about our New Year's Resolutions. I have a special note book and every New Year's Day I sit down and write the highlights of the last year, my plans and dreams for the upcoming year. Then I check off last year's plans and dreams and check the ones I accomplished. Also checked off items on my bucket list. Recently my expectations have more to do with enjoying life, staying healthy, spending more time with friends and less being stressed about my writing. Yes, I'm moving into a Zen-like state.
One of my decisions for the new year was to de-clutter. I love coming to our condo in Arizona because it was new when we bought it. I furnished it with light Skandanavian-style furniture( okay, I confess, Ikea) and we keep a minimum amount of clothing and books here. It's easy to clean and looks uncluttered. In contrast to our home in CA that has accumulated thirty years of family living, far too many book cases of books, as well as boxes of vinyl records and cassette tapes that will never be played, clothes that will never again be worn, photos that will never get put into albums.
So I'm started a serious clean-up campaign. I've been weeding out clothes that are still good, still timeless--like those dark suits kept only for New York visits--and yet are rarely worn. Or the bright jacket with palm trees on it worn only on trips to Hawaii. Or shoes that are good but actually hurt me after twenty minutes. I've been through my toiletries and ousted lipsticks and mascara that must now be too old, bath products I've been given but really aren't my scent, medicines that are past their sell-by date. And books. I'm being sensible about books. Even if I loved it, I'll probably never re-read it (the exception to this is Agatha Christie. She's my go-to comfort read. As is "Our Hearts Were Young And Gay.") And if I do decide to re-read there are libraries and Kindle. And do we really need my forty-year-old daughter's high school English paper comparing the Heart of Darkness with Lord of the Flies, even if it did get an A?
But the serious de-cluttering is being done on my computer. I get at least 100 emails a day. And most of them I didn't want, didn't ask for and don't need. All the on-line stores at which I bought one Christmas present, charities I donated to at Christmas, and now think they can send me weekly updates. Every cruise line in the world because we took a cruise last year. All the publishing-related sites like Shelf Awareness that are actually interesting but I simply don't have time to read. Yahoo groups to which I've belonged for years but again are neither helpful or relevant. Jokes that friends think I'd like to read. Snippets from the BBC and English newspapers that my husband thinks I should know about.
So I've been going through ruthlessly with the UNSUBSCRIBE button and hope to end up with about twenty important and relevant emails per day. And ruthlessly eliminating apps I never use on my iPad and phone too. So how about you, Reds? How do you handle electronic cluttering? HALLIE EPHRON: I did all my holiday shopping online, but once the packages were delivered I UNSUBSCRIBEd, so my email doesn't need to be de-cluttered. I do go in occasionally and delete email folders I no longer need, or move them a layer down so I don't see them every day. But I've done it often enough that I'm afraid to do too much deleting for fear I'll lose something I really need. JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I do the e-de-cluttering for both my laptop and for Ross's computer, so I tend to make it a regular task. (Unless anyone mistake me for a Highly Organized Person, I will say this is probably the ONLY decluttering I do regularly.) Like everyone else, I also get a gazillion unwanted emails, which usually filter into the trash, so all I have to do is empty it on occasion. I tend to save most of my non-commercial email, unless it's something that's otherwise saved online, like newsletter subscriptions or our Jungle Red listserv. I have my mail program set up to automatically delete attachments when I delete the original email, and that saves a lot of time and space. The part that continues to overwhelm me are my kids' pictures and music files. Having never taken photos with film, they've never learned to carefully set up one or two shots and take them; instead they snap away on their phones and cameras like professional papparazi and upload EVERYTHING. Begging them to sit down and edit their files has been...less than successful. So when I can, I try to slip in and delete most of the blur-of-motion, finger-over-lens and feet pictures. Not my favorite chore by far. HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: You are such an inspiration! I have just spent a joyous half hour unsubscribing. It's funny--every morning I check my computer, and spend several minutes just deleting stuff, unread, and being annoyed. Why didn't I think of unsubscribing? It's fabulous. Thank you. I am such a clutterbug, and am working so hard to stop. I made a nice basket to put all the to-do bills and stuff in. So I could be organized and pretty. The basket filled to overflowing. So much for THAT idea. But suddenly I am madly throwing stuff away. I don;t know what got into me. When the mail comes, Jonathan looks at each piece, and then just puts it down. Recently I started (sweetly) requesting that he *deal* with each one instead: Action file, storage file, or toss. Gotta start somewhere right, so might as well be with him. :-)
RHYS: While I'm ruthlessly eliminating I've been searching sites for useful decluttering apps and one of my favorites is EVERNOTE. This is what is said about it. I find it amazingly useful:
Evernote - Decluttering + Organization
Also during the search, you may find a lot of papers in various locations. Whether it's important documents, warranties for appliances, or recipes handed out in grocery stores, these all add up to one giant mess. Enter Evernote, which has the capability to scan these papers into a into digital form which can then be accessed anywhere the internet reaches. Evernote is also handy for making lists, reminders, calendar events, documents, and more to make the ultimate home binder. Free - Available for iOS / Android / Windows Phone
And if you have reached the desperate stage in real lie decluttering need then this is the app for you:
up a bit, the homestead now has a lot of new possibilities. Rebirth that living room by shifting the layout around, but save your energy with a little digital ingenuity. MagicPlan takes your room's dimensions with your smartphone camera and creates a flattened room layout to play with. Add in furniture and move it around to see what can go where. Free - Available for iOS/ Android
Unfilth Your Habitat - Maintaining Cleanliness
Once everything is done, maintain cleanliness and order with rigorous discipline. Some of us excel in this department, while others weren't born with Martha Stewart instincts when it comes to household maintenance. Enter Unfilth Your Habitat, a tough love app that when used correctly guides users towards less obvious chores around the house. Select a random one that takes either 5, 10, or 20 minutes, use the pomodoro timer to get productive (20 minutes of work, 10 minutes of rest), or create a list of tasks to accomplish. $2 - Available for iOS /Android
So, dear Reds and Readers: what decluttering tips can you share with us? Any more brilliant apps?