Decluttering Project Week Three

Momentum is building – I need to get rid of 126 items this week!

Day 15 – Assorted Books

 We have a good sized library in our house, I’m trying to thin them out.

  1. Cookbooks – It is so much easier to look up recipes on the internet than it is to go thru cookbooks in my opinion. 
  2. How-To Books – Same thing. You can go on You-tube to find out how to do just about everything. These books fed my homesteading thoughts; building ponds, making wooden toys, farming, etc.. all sounded good and were interesting to read, but I can let someone else dream about that now by donating these books.
  3. Misc – Fun books like Weird Michigan, Horoscopes, and Self Improvement books were all good reads, but nothing I need to keep.

Day 16 – Old Tax Forms

 This one was embarrassing. You need to keep copies of tax forms and receipts for five to 7 years, not 20 years! 

In the last few years, I digitized everything tax related and don’t keep paper copies at all. This was a good thing, but I never went back to purge my old records.

Day 17 – Games, Games, Games

 I’m an odd duck, I don’t like to play games, especially board or card games. I would play them with the family for the social aspect but I didn’t get excited about it. With kids, you accumulate a lot of games over the years. It was high time to clean out the game cupboard. This was one of my favorite decluttering efforts so far!

Full disclosure, I did keep a few games that we play when the family is in town.

Day 18 – Popular Mechanics Magazines

 I liked to subscribe to magazines (before they were available online). If they had interesting articles or projects I would keep them around for future reference. I found these stored in the rafters of my pole barn. I don’t think I need to keep them anymore.

Popular Mechanics was a tradition. When I was growing up my grandfather subscribed to this magazine. I remember looking at all the cool projects (he didn’t throw out there old issues either – they were on a shelf in his workshop). Maybe that’s how I got in the habit of savings old magazines,

Day 19 – Justin Items

 This brought back many memories about my son growing up. We used to go out to the workshop when he was young and make things. As he got older he started making things on his own. A couple of good examples were the homemade stilts and the custom walking stick.

He taught himself to ride a unicycle, my daughter also taught herself to ride on this same cycle. Now it just sits around so it’s time to donate it for someone else to have a chance to learn.

The rest consisted of several participation trophies, and a bunch of items from grade school. I have a picture to remember them by and that’s good enough!

Day 20 – Horse Items

 We had horses for a few years before we had children. Horses need a lot of stuff, which we mostly got rid of when we sold the horses, but for some reason this box of items still remained in the rafters of the barn. There was a bridle, several lead ropes, a halter, a couple of stall fences, fly repellent, gate handles for electric fences, isolators, and connectors for electric fence wire. The horses were fun, but a lot of work.

Day 21 – Nana Items

 When my grandmother moved to a nursing home many years ago we packed up her ‘knickknacks’ and I put them up in the rafters of the pole barn. She loved to collect this trinkets and it was an easy thing to buy if you didn’t know what to get her for Christmas. I went thru and picked out a couple of small keepsakes and will give the rest of these to Goodwill.

A funny memory; the tiger in the background was from the 1950’s. It has the legs glued back on after my younger brother knocked it off the shelf in an angry rage when he was about 3 years old. 

Decluttering Project Week Two

I’m getting some traction now, 77 items to get rid of this week!

Day 8 – Neckties

 After working in the corporate world for 40 years I had accumulated a lot of neckties.  When I started working in the office, casual dress was considered not wearing a suit. Minimum requirements were a dress shirt, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes. Over time the dress code eased and the last few years were quite casual, with even jeans being acceptable. I got rid of some of my ties over the years, but decided to reduce them to a few that I would need for formal occasions. I will really miss my ‘data’ tie, which was about as ‘radical’ as you could get back then.   

Day 9 – Charging Cables

 Seems like everything you buy has a micro USB charging cable with it. Since they are universal fit, so I don’t need a different cable for each device. Keeping a couple for back-ups is a good idea, but I don’t need this many.   

Day 10 – More Office Clutter

A number of items today: Scrap paper, 2 USB hubs, 3 microSD card adaptors, 1 tray, 1 magnetic holder, 1 stylus, Invisiglass cleaner. 

The scrap paper was given to us about 10 years ago, but we barely used it. The scarcity mentality crept in, not wanting to waste something by throwing it away even though you are not using it.

 The USB hubs were free gifts from one of the many technology conferences I attended. I could easily end up with a suitcase full of junk at these conferences, almost every vendor booth had some free trinkets they were giving away if you stopped and talked to them. It’s great if you have small children, it felt like Christmas to them when I got home with all the free items.

Day 11 – More Cables!

 2 ethernet cables, 2 audio cables, 1 printer cable, 6 chargers 

More technology clutter. With most connections being wireless these days, the need for cables has been greatly reduced. Most electronic devices today use standard connections so the chargers are interchangeable, eliminating the need for specialized adaptors.

Day 12 – Magazines

 I subscribed to Mother Earth news for years. I liked the back to the land / simple life theme. It was a good balance to my high tech day job. It was nice to go back and re-read articles, but I seldom did this, and now the articles are online anyway so I don’t need to keep hard copies around.  

Day 13 – Nut & Screw Drivers

I’ve been ‘collecting’ tools for a long time. Either from garage sales, items from friends or relatives, gifts, or items from other tool kits. Unlike tech items, tools don’t become obsolete so it was harder for me to get rid of them. This group was sitting in a drawer out in the barn and were not being used. Time to get rid of them. There are only so many screwdriver I need.

Day 14 – Decks of Cards

 My mother and brother both love to play cards, they use a deck a few times and then get rid of it, since they always want to play with a fresh deck. To me, these cards still looked like new so I took them. They were nice for the kids to play with when they were younger, but I had nearly 30 decks of these cards laying around. I picked the 14 most used ones to get rid of and kept the rest for now. If I have a hard time finding enough items to get rid of near the end of the month, I can reduce this further. 

Decluttering Project Week One

This week was easy, I only had to find 28 items to get rid of! Here they are:

Day 1- Bag of Chinese Finger traps.

A few years ago the company where I worked was coming out with a new recognition program where you could earn points for being recognized and could redeem the points for prizes. Managers were the only ones able to give points and were limited in the amount of points they could give out, so it was hard to accumulate points quickly. To make matters worse, It could be months before you accumulated enough points to redeem them for something good . It reminded me of when I took my kids to Chuckee-Cheese and gave them a bunch of tokens to play games with They would come back with wads of tickets they won playing the games, we would go to the prize counter and all they could get were some Chinese handcuffs because the good prizes needed hundreds of tickets.

Anyway, I thought I would start my own recognition program. I bought a bag of Chinese handcuffs for $10 from Amazon and when someone I worked with did a great job I gave them a sincere thank you and a set of Chinese handcuffs, joking that the handcuffs were worth more than the points they would have received thru the recognition program. Many people thought it was funny and were actually excited to get them. But, after a couple of weeks I discontinued my personal recognition program since I didn’t want to ruffle too many management feathers. This bag has been sitting in a cabinet ever since

Day 2 – Old Computer Mice

These are leftovers from old desktop computers I’ve had over the years. They still work fine, and I didn’t want to get rid of them, but I use wireless mice or the touchpad on my laptop now. I haven’t used these for a long time so they really need to go.  

Day 3 – CD’s and DVD’s

  I accumulated these several years ago, they were great for burning music albums, copying videos, and backing up my computer files.  Now, movies and music are streamed, my computer files are backed up to the internet automatically and for anything I want to copy from my computer I use a USB thumb drive. This little thing holds more than this whole stack of CD’s and DVD’s. Another example of ever improving technology rendering older tech obsolete.

Day 4 – More Office Clutter

More things I found in my office.  The keyboard was from an old dell desktop computer. Same as the mice from Day 2.

The DVD cases went along with the stack of blank DVD’s that I go trid of on Day 3.

The 4×6 photo paper was from a time when I thought I would save some money printing my own photos, but after trying a few I found out it used a lot of ink, took more time to print and didn’t turn out as well as the professionally printed photos I could get for 30 to 40 cents.

I don’t remember what the laminating sheet were for, but I haven’t used them for a long time. As luck would have it, right after I got rid of these I would have had a use for them to laminate my COVID vaccination card!

Day 5 – Calculator, Phone, Cables

 The printing calculator was great for garage sales, you could print a receipt. But, who needs a receipt from a garage sale? A pencil and paper worked just fine.

The phone was from my mother in-laws apartment, it didn’t work anymore and we bought her a replacement. We kept the broken phone for some unknown reason.

The 3 power cables were left over from a few old desktop PC’s we had over the years that went to recycling after we were done with them since they were so old they were of no use to anyone.

Day 6 – Assorted Blueprints

 My grandfather was a draftsman and he taught me how to do technical drawing. These were the original blueprints for my current home, the blueprints from my brother’s home, blueprints for my sun porch addition, designs I drew for a potential vacation home, and a random blueprint from one of my friend Ben’s homes that I used as an example when drawing the vacation home prints. I took photos to digitize these before getting rid of them.  

Day 7 – Altoids Tins

 I like Altoids, the strong mint flavor really makes my mouth feel refreshed. They come in these unique metal tins that are hard to throw out. There were lots of posts on the internet of things you could make from Altoids tins. Organizers, first aid kits, survival kits, etc..  I tried a few of them , but I found out re-closable ziplock bags were more compact and easier to deal with than a metal tin. For some people they may work well, but not for me.

The 1 Month De-Clutter Project

There are many YouTube videos, books, and blogs devoted to de-cluttering / simplifying your life and I’ve browsed though many of them over the years. I was listening to a Minimalist podcast episode recently and was intrigued by the idea of the 30 Day Minimalism game that they talked about. Essentially, you get rid of 1 item on day one, 2 items on day two, 3 items on day three, etc.. It sounded like a good method to eliminate some of my accumulated stuff by starting slowly and gaining momentum every day. I’ll post a weekly summary of what I’m getting rid of as well as some background on the items, where applicable. As with all projects, below are my Purpose, Reason, Timeline, and Ground Rules!


Purpose: Eliminate at least 496 physical items that are cluttering up my home.

Reason: I have too much junk laying around. We have been living in the same place for a long time and things have accumulated slowly, like a snowball rolling downhill it just kept getting bigger without noticing it. It’s so easy to put things in a drawer, closet, or garage and forget about them. This clutter is stressful to have around and If we move to a different place in the future I don’t want to deal with packing up this junk.

Timeline: 31 Days

Ground Rules:

  • All of the items will be out of the house by the end of the month.
  • The items will be donated or disposed of.
  • They need to be items that I was personally keeping around. It has to be MY junk.

Starting a Project

Any time I start a project, I make sure to list three things about it: a purpose, a reason, and a timeline.

The project purpose is simply what I want to create. This could fall into a few categories; A physical item, a virtual item, an experience, or a process. Following are some examples:

  • Physical Item – A printed book, a hand crafted table, a planter box.
  • Virtual Item – A web page, a digital photo, an app.
  • Experience – A vacation, a birthday party, a physical challenge.
  • Process – Automating monthly bill payments, an exercise routine, a morning ritual.

The project reason is why I want to do this project. If I can’t come up with a compelling reason why I’m doing the project I shouldn’t waste my time starting it at all. Having a compelling reason motivates me to push thru the inevitable challenges that always occur when working on a project.

The project timeline give me a planned start and end date for my project. Not having an end date can allow a project to linger half done for years. Having an end date forces me to focus. With many projects, difficulties can arise pushing out the timeline but that’s OK. Making adjustments is part of the project.

Once I have the above three items defined I then setup some ‘guard rails’ for my project. These are usually constraints I have for the project. A couple examples would be: My budget is $300 and I can spend 10 hours per week working on this project.

Then I start listing the steps I need to complete the project. these may be at a high level initially, depending on how familiar I am with the project.