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View Full Version : Article: Instead Of Decluttering, It May Be Time To Think About 'De-owning'



Ultralight
11-9-15, 11:15am
Thoughts on this?

http://www.wpr.org/instead-decluttering-it-may-be-time-think-about-de-owning

pinkytoe
11-9-15, 1:01pm
I think it makes perfect sense especially because constant attention to decluttering often feels just as compulsive as hoarding.
For me, the kernel is in this statement:

I don’t think people realize how much time, how much of their lives are being taken away by the things they own
For example, I can't count how much time and energy I have had to devote to getting rid of stuff the past few months for our plans to move.
And also how often I think how I wish I had the money back that I spent on such and such, mostly clothes.

Ultralight
11-9-15, 1:24pm
For example, I can't count how much time and energy I have had to devote to getting rid of stuff the past few months for our plans to move.

I totally get you on this. It is because of this that I finally said: Enough! And have worked to "de-own" to the point where I can fit everything into or on my little car.


But, more broadly, I wish there were some facts and figures about how much time the things people own eat up.

ApatheticNoMore
11-9-15, 2:41pm
To those who spend seemingly endless amounts of time "decluttering" their living space, Joshua Becker says it's time to begin focusing on a new goal: Wholeheartedly reducing the number of possessions you own.

to those who truly spend seemly endless amounts of time "decluttering" I would suggest focusing on whatever their real psychological issues are. I don't mean hoarders who have the opposite problem, and I'm pretty darn sure don't actually spend endless amounts of time decluttering unless most of the time is spend debating decluttering rather than actually doing it. I really don't think it's possible to spend boatloads of time decluttering and cleaning as well, and have the place be a mess. I mean sure it might start out that way but unless you are also an absolutely compulsive shopper hitting Amazon and ebay everyday or something, it won't stay that way... Anymore than it's possible to spend endless time at the weight machines in the gym and not build any muscle.


He made two job changes in which he willingly took pay cuts in order to do work that was more meaningful for him.

I don't think pay cuts most of the time lead to more fulfilling work. Ok fine ask the Walmart clerk or the person flipping burgers at Micky D's how meaningful their work is. And the truth will be they are not only paid less but are probably taking a lot more abuse than higher paid white collar workers. And unless you are talking of stepping down from upper management or something with truly punishing hours, that's true to a lesser degree even within white collar jobs. Money is correlated with respect and good treatment at work. So seeking out lower pay will mostly lead to things getting worse EVEN IF you don't need the money. Going part-time may be the exception, but has issues of it's own (ie being considered a less valuable employee ..).

Ultralight
11-9-15, 2:46pm
to those who truly spend seemly endless amounts of time "decluttering" I would suggest focusing on whatever their real psychological issues are. I don't mean hoarders who have the opposite problem, and I'm pretty darn sure don't actually spend endless amounts of time decluttering unless most of the time is spend debating decluttering rather than actually doing it. I really don't think it's possible to spend boatloads of time decluttering and have the place be a mess, I mean sure it might start out that way but unless you are also an absolutely compulsive shopper hitting Amazon and ebay everyday or something, it won't stay that way... Anymore than it's possible to spend endless time at the weight machines in the gym and not build any muscle.



I don't think pay cuts most of the time lead to more fulfilling work. Ok fine ask the Walmart clerk or the person flipping burgers at Micky D's how meaningful their work is. And the truth will be they are not only paid less but are probably taking a lot more abuse than higher paid white collar workers. And unless you are talking of stepping down from upper management or something with truly punishing hours, that's true to a lesser degree even within white collar jobs. Money is correlated with respect and good treatment at work. So seeking out lower pay will mostly lead to things getting worse EVEN IF you don't need the money, going part-time may be the exception, but has issues of it's own.

Hoarders do something called "churning." This is their attempt to declutter. But they really just look things over, perhaps move this or that to here or there. But nothing actually gets thrown away or donated or sold.

I think someone with compulsive decluttering (if that is a thing... which is appears to be from some recent articles) might exhibit a corresponding, though different, behavior.

bekkilyn
11-9-15, 7:44pm
I have a huge love/hate relationship with being a home owner. Buying a house and paying off the mortgage in seven years was probably the best financial choice, but at the same time I often find myself feeling trapped by it and then end up reading articles on the internet about living in a van, etc. Not that I'd have any real clue about how to maintain such a vehicle or even know how to drive it, since I've only ever driven small cars, but I really like the idea of not having to worry about stuff.

Another thing I end up doing is find myself dreaming about living in a monastery, which would probably be more suitable for me than the van idea. I always feel like I'm under a sort of mental duress whenever I make choices though, so whatever I'd choose would likely be wrong.

Ultralight
11-9-15, 7:53pm
I have a huge love/hate relationship with being a home owner. Buying a house and paying off the mortgage in seven years was probably the best financial choice, but at the same time I often find myself feeling trapped by it and then end up reading articles on the internet about living in a van, etc. Not that I'd have any real clue about how to maintain such a vehicle or even know how to drive it, since I've only ever driven small cars, but I really like the idea of not having to worry about stuff.

Another thing I end up doing is find myself dreaming about living in a monastery, which would probably be more suitable for me than the van idea. I always feel like I'm under a sort of mental duress whenever I make choices though, so whatever I'd choose would likely be wrong.

I also dream of living in a camper van! :)

My parents have one -- fully equipped with toilet and shower. Perfect for two minimalists, and even a dog too. I want one! haha

But something to consider might be -- why not keep the house (for now... maybe forever) but still get rid of the excess stuff that isn't doing it for you?

Currently I live with my sis and BIL. I have a small room in the corner of the house with my own bathroom. I also get a little area in the garage and use of the kitchen as I please. So it is a pretty good set up for $400 a month, plus utils.

What I am getting at is that I am a minimalist in a full-sized house with two other people who are major clutterbugs! I still get so much from being a minimalist and living simply even in this context! So much more time, energy, focus, etc.

Obviously, I intend to move out (most likely in the spring). Then I will have my own apartment -- small, extremely well-organized, and no clutter.

But it is a step-by-step process based on -- not just the future -- but my present context.

So I can assure you that if you toss the stuff, you'll still get major gains even in the big house! :)

Gardenarian
11-9-15, 9:24pm
I think the room with just a chair in it looks a little sad.

I am not a fan of clutter, but I don't want to live in a box. There are things I like to do - lots of things - and they require a certain amount of gear.

I think it's good to take stock of your possessions (moving is a great eye-opener) but that doesn't mean everything you own is weighing you down. Art supplies, hiking gear, musical instruments, books - these things all get used and add value to life, not detract from it, though they require some organization and upkeep.

My dh and dd are both less ruthless than I am about throwing stuff out - they have a higher tolerance for clutter. I used to try and organize all their things, or nag them, but now I have taken the path of least resistance and am ignoring their junk. It's another way of not letting the stuff in your house define who you are; just stop worrying about it. It's all impermanent anyhow, and it's the people who matter.

Chicken lady
11-9-15, 9:43pm
I thought decluttering was getting rid of stuff? Moving it around is churning or organizing or sorting or cleaning?

Ultralight
11-9-15, 9:51pm
I think the room with just a chair in it looks a little sad.

I am not a fan of clutter, but I don't want to live in a box. There are things I like to do - lots of things - and they require a certain amount of gear.

I think it's good to take stock of your possessions (moving is a great eye-opener) but that doesn't mean everything you own is weighing you down. Art supplies, hiking gear, musical instruments, books - these things all get used and add value to life, not detract from it, though they require some organization and upkeep.

My dh and dd are both less ruthless than I am about throwing stuff out - they have a higher tolerance for clutter. I used to try and organize all their things, or nag them, but now I have taken the path of least resistance and am ignoring their junk. It's another way of not letting the stuff in your house define who you are; just stop worrying about it. It's all impermanent anyhow, and it's the people who matter.

Ignoring it might be the best option at hand for you. I ignore the massive amount of clutter at my GF's house, for instance. So I get it.

Though I think that clutter blindness is a real thing. I had it in massive amounts as a kid, before I could control my surroundings at all.

Now that I have some semblance of control -- in my room, bathroom, car, etc. -- I have regained my clutter sight. So when I go home I am appalled and repelled by clutter.


I have plenty of stuff -- fishing pole and tackle, bike, ukulele (latest project), a shotgun for the occasional clay shooting outing, my laptop, speakers, etc.

Here is how I look at it, now one would say you had an eating disorder if you strive to eat the most nutritious foods in the proper amounts. Right?

I think that is what minimalism is about: striving to have the most important/loved items in the proper amounts.

Ultralight
11-9-15, 9:52pm
I thought decluttering was getting rid of stuff? Moving it around is churning or organizing or sorting or cleaning?

Churning is not organizing or sorting or cleaning. Churning is just moving clutter around. I think I read about that one in Buried in Treasures, though it might have been one of the other books on the topic. I cannot recall exactly.

bekkilyn
11-9-15, 9:59pm
But something to consider might be -- why not keep the house (for now... maybe forever) but still get rid of the excess stuff that isn't doing it for you?

...

So I can assure you that if you toss the stuff, you'll still get major gains even in the big house! :)

I've already done the tossing, so there's not really anything left in that regard. I also have to be careful since when I'm experiencing higher than my normal level of anxiety, I end up tossing things that I'd really rather have kept during more normal levels. Not clutter, but stuff that I actually like and use. I think my largest amount of clutter currently is too much responsibility, and the house physically represents it in some odd sense.

Ultralight
11-9-15, 10:03pm
I've already done the tossing, so there's not really anything left in that regard. I also have to be careful since when I'm experiencing higher than my normal level of anxiety, I end up tossing things that I'd really rather have kept during more normal levels. Not clutter, but stuff that I actually like and use. I think my largest amount of clutter currently is too much responsibility, and the house physically represents it in some odd sense.

Sorry to hear about the anxiety.

The house physically representing the clutter is intriguing though.

kally
11-9-15, 10:24pm
I just rent stuff. i buy things, books, pots etc. for pennies at our local hospital auxilliary (which supports our hospital in a big way. Then about 3 months later when I no longer need the item, read the book, enjoyed a short term ownership of some kitchen gadget, I just give it back to the thrift shop.

They sell it again, I kinda enjoyed having the thing temporarily and everyone wins. ha ha

bekkilyn
11-9-15, 10:27pm
Sorry to hear about the anxiety.

The house physically representing the clutter is intriguing though.

I view clutter as both physical and mental (and perhaps spiritual), and while I've already dealt with most if not all of the physical clutter, I haven't been as successful with the mental clutter.

Ultralight
11-9-15, 10:31pm
I view clutter as both physical and mental (and perhaps spiritual), and while I've already dealt with most if not all of the physical clutter, I haven't been as successful with the mental clutter.

I agree. Clutter can be everywhere -- even in digital formats.

bekkilyn
11-9-15, 10:40pm
I agree. Clutter can be everywhere -- even in digital formats.

I finally digitally decluttered my desktop computer a few months ago and it took me quite a long time to get through all the files. I need to do the same with the laptop before things get too much worse. Digital clutter is very stealthy as it can build invisibly for a long time!

Zoe Girl
11-10-15, 12:11am
For example, I can't count how much time and energy I have had to devote to getting rid of stuff the past few months for our plans to move.
And also how often I think how I wish I had the money back that I spent on such and such, mostly clothes.

That was the hardest part of my 2 major downsizings. I didn't have a problem owning stuff, or even cleaning stuff too much. I think that would have changed as my kids moved out of the house about then. I actually missed the large space as my kids came back a couple times. In any case the huge amount of work was overwhelming!! I spent months cleaning and moving and making decisions and throwing away tons of stuff. Trips every day to goodwill, dump, storage. I am not even sure how I got so much stuff, and I had dreams of selling some of it like you hear you can do (but in reality doesn't really work out for many people). I can see how that continual de-stuffing and organizing can be just another way to spend excessive amount of time on STUFF.

After both downsizings I did not get more stuff, I didn't have the space. I lived in a very small space when my kids were born, then we lived in California so our house was well under 2,000 ft2 (tiny by my midwestern family standards). I had a large suburban home for awhile and now smaller and smaller.

Ultralight
11-10-15, 8:45am
I can see how that continual de-stuffing and organizing can be just another way to spend excessive amount of time on STUFF. .

I think that in order to continually de-stuff one would have to continually re-stuff. ;)

There have been a few women that came through the minimalist group that I am part of with this pattern. They wanted support in de-stuffing so they could re-stuff. Out with the old, in with the new. One woman said: "I just want to be able to let go of these things. My time with them is over -- they can go to someone else. This way I can get new things and not be overcrowded. My mom and I spend our quality time shopping. I am just running out of space from all the shopping trips. I need to learn to let things go."

Chicken lady
11-10-15, 9:32am
No, I get that churning is not decluttering. My point was tht none of those are actually "decluttering" to me - organizing is also moving clutter around - only with places to put it. Cleaning is making the clutter less messy/dirty, sorting is grouping the clutter.

What he calls "deowning" is what I consider actual decluttering - getting rid of the clutter. So when I read that it's like he said "stop being physically active and burn some calories"

Ultralight
11-10-15, 9:41am
No, I get that churning is not decluttering. My point was tht none of those are actually "decluttering" to me - organizing is also moving clutter around - only with places to put it. Cleaning is making the clutter less messy/dirty, sorting is grouping the clutter.

What he calls "deowning" is what I consider actual decluttering - getting rid of the clutter. So when I read that it's like he said "stop being physically active and burn some calories"

Ah, yes! You are right. Excellent distinctions. In the minimalist community we say "most organizing is just well-planned hoarding."

pinkytoe
11-10-15, 11:05am
DH is a camera nut. He has gear stuffed everywhere and gets a lot of pleasure messing around with his cameras. The sheer amount of bags and boxes stuffed with all the paraphanalia that goes along with film cameras does not make for a minimalist space. But these things bring him great joy so it would be a real struggle to "de-own" them. All I have said is "we are not taking ALL of this camera stuff to the next house". We'll see how that goes...

Ultralight
11-10-15, 11:17am
DH is a camera nut. He has gear stuffed everywhere and gets a lot of pleasure messing around with his cameras. The sheer amount of bags and boxes stuffed with all the paraphanalia that goes along with film cameras does not make for a minimalist space. But these things bring him great joy so it would be a real struggle to "de-own" them. All I have said is "we are not taking ALL of this camera stuff to the next house". We'll see how that goes...

This is purely my opinion, so no need to take is seriously. But it might be something to think about.

As everyone knows, I like fishing. In the spring time I have been known to go fishing five evenings a week. I also sometimes do "two-a-days" where I fish the morning and evening. I also do marathons where I will fish 8 hours, by myself, in the more hard-to-reach and remote parts of a lake or mucking along the bank in rubber boots. I'll go out fishing as soon as the ice is partially melted in March.

What I am saying is that I am into fishing. But I have a fraction of the gear that my BIL has. He has a rod and reel, a fly rod, several tackle boxes full of all sorts of stuff. He also has a kayak, waders, rubber boots, and a handful of other items. He often borrows some of my stuff if he is going fishing when I am at work.

I probably have about half of that stuff. Pound for pound we catch around the same amount of fish (I go fishing a lot, he goes fishing occasionally).

My philosophy is: "Less gear, more fishing time."

Admittedly, I got this fishing philosophy from my dad, who over the years downsized dramatically from a tin boat and all manner of gear to just one pole, a pair of hip waders, and a little pouch of tackle in an unsightly fanny pack. haha

I think that this idea can be applied to many hobbies. So if this idea could catch on in your husband's mind then maybe only a portion of that camera stuff will go to the next house. Just a thought...

iris lilies
11-10-15, 11:37am
Reading this about hobbies, ugh. I have embarked on one of those hobbies that uses a lot of accompanying "stuff." By "embarking" I mean I am now doing it seriously, whereas before I was doing it casually. It is floral arranging and egad does that encourage the collection of "stuff!!!" It doesn't all have to be purchased, I get a fair amount of it from dumpsters, from DH's workshops, and from plants around my neighborhood but it all accumulates.

The one saving grace is that I know I can jettison 3/4 of it in one day if I ever decide to do so. Remaining pieces could go to others in the hobby. I am emotionally attached to very few.

And I don't save the stuff that was purchased or made for one single floral arrangement like the stupid plastic parrot I used once or the foam sculpture
I made for a specific assignment. those all go to the trash when it's over.

Ultralight
11-10-15, 11:44am
Reading this about hobbies, ugh. I have embarked on one of those hobbies that uses a lot of accompanying "stuff." By "embarking" I mean I am now doing it seriously, whereas before I was doing it casually. It is floral arranging and egad does that encourage the collection of "stuff!!!" It doesn't all have to be purchased, I get a fair amount of it from dumpsters, from DH's workshops, and from plants around my neighborhood but it all accumulates.

The one saving grace is that I know I can jettison 3/4 of it in one day if I ever decide to do so. Remaining pieces could go to others in the hobby. I am emotionally attached to very few.

And I don't save the stuff that was purchased or made for one single floral arrangement like the stupid plastic parrot I used once or the foam sculpture
I made for a specific assignment. those all go to the trash when it's over.

Seems to me like you have simplified this to the most optimal point. :)

pinkytoe
11-10-15, 1:16pm
We have had the quality vs quantity conversation many times. Sell all the various old cameras and buy one really great one, etc. It's the photographer that takes great pictures not the equipment etc. But he isn't there yet and I've learned not to nag on the topic anymore. I think it all brings him great comfort as he will literally "fondle" his old cameras. Men are weird sometimes.

Ultralight
11-10-15, 1:28pm
I think it all brings him great comfort as he will literally "fondle" his old cameras. Men are weird sometimes.

:laff: