“The average American household contains more than 300,000 possessions.” ~The Minimalists
I’ve heard this statistic regularly on The Minimalists’ podcast. The number seems staggering especially given this is an average which would include mansions with hundreds of rooms (ok, maybe not hundreds but a lot) to a single person living in a studio apartment.
I had dabbled with decluttering and keeping track of the items for a month each in 2013 and 2014 but began in earnest in June 2017 so 2018 was my first full-year of keeping track on a daily basis. The two greatest inspirations for me are The Minimalists and reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’ve probably read at least 30 books on methods of decluttering and organizing; many of them sat on my bookshelves for years, thus becoming clutter…lol! I stumbled across a YouTube video by someone using Marie’s method, which had become a noun or verb depending how it is used (The KonMari method or I’m KonMari-ing my home), then another…and another. “This book has changed my life” is an accolade one hears in many book reviews so I was a bit skeptical, thinking Marie’s book to just be another on this topic, but I can honestly say this is an amazing book/method. Many organizing books suggest purchasing a plethora of organizing tools first and, after acquiring said tools (necessitating shopping trips in the days before on-line ordering or on-line altogether), I would be overwhelmed and stop at that point – after adding more unnecessary items to my “stash.” Conversely, Marie Kondo has a very simple approach; a few examples being her contention that house-cleaning is so much easier and faster without clutter; advising not to buy any organization tools while going through her method but, rather, use items for storage one already has – an example being shoe boxes – and presenting a simple, concise, structured approach (I like structure!) to decluttering. I was delighted to see a new series on Netflix called Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. It is fun watching Marie demonstrate her method while helping various families declutter their homes.
The Minimalists are great fun! I listen to Josh and Ryan, the two men who together comprise this team, via podcast but they have a myriad of resources including their blog, documentary film they made, Ted Talks, several books, YouTube videos and their website that pulls it all together and is a great starting point. The guys are childhood friends originally from Dayton, Ohio (ironically the city where I was born and lived until age 13), they worked together in the corporate world for years, becoming quite successful in the process albeit being miserable, stressed, and unhealthy, and are like a comedy team on their podcasts – they can get me laughing so hard which, in their words, “brings value to my life.”
The total number of items in my household that went out the door in 2018 was *drum roll please* – 2,392 plus 1,000’s of emails.
Month of greatest amount of items culled – A tie between June and July at 624 items each. Incredible the numbers are identical but this was the time period just before my apartment was inspected as required to receive a Section 8 Housing Voucher so I was deep cleaning and decluttered in the process.
Month of least amount of items culled – February at 9 items
Month of zero items culled – May (I must have been resting up for the June/July marathon.)
Average items per month – 199 excluding the emails
Comparison with previous year – I began this process in June 2017; total for those six months is 700 items/average per month 117
Each item counts toward the total but items are not equal; two pieces of furniture are going to make a noticeable difference while thousands of pieces of paper of various types aren’t, especially if they’re in filing cabinets. When I posted this on one of the sites I frequent, someone said she counts 10 pieces of paper (ie. old bills, medical records, letters, etc.) as one item. I decided to stay with counting each item as “one” regardless since the paring down of paperwork is visible to me and all removed items produce a “lighter” feeling in me.
During the months I was ill items have once again landed on my kitchen bar, the top of my printer, and scattered about on the floor. Time to move forward!