Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking charge of piles

I'm on the (slow) mission to eliminate unneeded things in this house and each day it's a step by step process. My older kids are on the mission to get rid of a minimum of one-third of what they own and it's going remarkably well (more on that another time). But it's true that once the ball gets rolling, it's contagious. They have the incentive of new beds once they complete their task, and I have the incentive of a simplified living space once I complete mine.

By the way, I came across this great article about the benefits of simplifying and minimizing our children's toys, but I think we should all consider applying it to all of the "stuff" that we have. It's true that as my kids (who share a room) have been getting rid of stuff and cleaning up their space, they have started getting along more! It was kind of amazing to watch (or "hear" since I was in the other room not willing to jinx the good fortune of kids getting along so well).

Anyhow, back to my own decluttering.

One of the things that can take over in this house is stacks of paperwork and magazines (a.k.a. "piles"). We have subscriptions to some things (that I hope to turn into e-subscriptions somehow) and I get tons of free magazines from work once they are out of date. Yes, I can choose not to take them, and often I do... but sometimes there is something that I want to read or learn about in one of those magazines, so I bring it home. Eventually it gets added to a pile - come on, most of us have them... whether they are in the bathroom or on the side table, the pile is there. I hate the piles in my house, they are truly my worst enemies. In the past I have left the piles until they get out of control and I freak out and get stressed about them and my partner "deals" with them when I am out. I'm sure there have been tons of "important" stuff in those piles, but when it gets to that point I just don't care. Good riddance!

It's time that I take charge of this situation and keep piles from forming in the first place. So today, I found three piles of magazines from various locations around the house, and I dealt with them. See, some of that stuff I wanted to keep, but not much of it. Some recipes, a few inspiring pictures or writings or tidbits of info.
So I found a folder that my kids were done with and I started organizing. Recipes on the right, "other" on the left.
There, I had all of the info that I needed and recycled the rest of it.
It has been a while since the recycling bin filled up this quickly, but it had to be done. This picture barely shows you how many magazines are really in there.

And to tell the absolute truth, I'm no where near done. We have two bathrooms and I only tackled the magazine pile from one of them (as well as the living room pile). Oh, but the national geographics we are saving... for now. I don't want to get into any habits of collecting things at this point, but my older two kids are just getting to the age where those particular magazines could be a valuable resource for school, etc. I'm also in the process of looking for the "right" bookshelf to put in our living room for family books and games so I think I will make a row of these magazines on it. However, I do reserve the right to get rid of them at any point if I can't deal with them any more.

Meanwhile, I feel a little bit better. It's not THAT different around here just yet, but some cleared up space for the new year will do us good.

Happy New Year to everyone! Here's to a more simplified life in the new year...


  1. I have become quite adept at decluttering, but really only when we moved across the country. It was amazing how many things got tossed, given away or sold at garage sales when it came down to paying 80 cents per pound to move our stuff from LA to Philly. The decision was easy when it came down to paying to move something or not. There is not one thing that I got rid of that I miss or wish I still had.

    I agree that magazines can be really problematic. Each season, I go through what's lying around rip out pages (mostly recipes) to save and recycle the the rest. If issues pile up, I do not renew.

    I have a small stack of magazine pages of recipes to file. I periodically go through them and toss out ones that I know I won't make (seemed like a good idea at the time?) The rest I am slowly inputting into my cooking software on my computer. I use Living Cookbook, which is awesome. I print out my recipes as I use them and put them in page protectors in a binder that I keep in my kitchen. Now if I could just stop buying cookbooks!

    While a lot of magazine material could be useful for school, most of the info can be found online or DVD. The entire 122 yr history of NatGeo is available on disc for $50 with $10/year updates moving forward. If that's not something you want to invest in, I bet your library has it.

    Good luck with the tossing!

  2. I also bring magazines to the library where they have a give away pile, I have brought books there too.