A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Motivators for Minimizing a Monstrous Mess

I’ll be honest. I get tired of decluttering. In order to motivate myself, I decided to make a list of all the things I’ll be able to do once this unpleasant decluttering task is complete. If you have an area that you’ve been putting off because it seems so overwhelming, maybe this list will help you too or you can sit down and make your own.

My Motivators for Minimizing a Monstrous Mess:

We could be saving a lot of money. We are currently paying for two storage units that are both half full. That is costing us $292 every single month. Wow, those charges sure add up! I refuse to add up how much we’ve spent on storage over the last couple years because it’s just too depressing. I can’t wait to get rid of that bill!

I could take a nap once in awhile. I love naps and I sure do miss them. A lot of my decluttering efforts have to happen when my daughter is sleeping. Unfortunately, that means my potential quiet time during the day is spent going through boxes. I just might sleep for a week once this mess is gone.

We could have our weekends back. Weekends filled with being tired because you played too much are great. Relaxing weekends without a care in the world and with no obligations are even better. I’m looking forward to weekends like that again.

Spontaneity would be possible. I can’t remember the last time we could just pick up and do an unplanned activity without a care in the world. Sure, we still plan activities and take trips away. There’s just always this nagging thought at the back of my mind that the work is waiting for us when we get home. It will be great to rid ourselves of it once and for all.

More vacations could happen. Saving money and getting back more time means more chances to take more family trips. I want to spend our limited time we have with our kids investing in their lives and building memories. I don’t want to spend it preoccupied with pointless things like cleaning and decluttering. I’m going to start planning our next trip now as a way to add to my motivation.

Family time would become fun again. Our kids like to help out and spend time with us whenever they can. But honestly what kid wants to help clean out storage sheds? Sure it’s fun finding a long lost treasure, but there are many more fun activities that we’d all prefer.

The freedom to do nothing would return. Ah the freedom to do nothing at all. That is a favorite pass time for me. I love to write, sit by the fire or swing on the porch. I love having the quiet surround me and let my thoughts jump from one thing to another. Clearing out clutter and clearing out my schedule is equivalent to clearing out my mind and letting freedom return. I truly can’t wait.

Finding the Endurance to Declutter

I am comforting myself that this is the last big hurdle for our decluttering efforts. It’s really a bummer that we decided to make this last big push during the holidays. It’s hard to dig deep and find the endurance to finish the unpleasant tasks when there are so many other things that we’d rather be doing. It is setting us up for a great start to the new year and I’m excited about that. Delayed gratification is worth it, if you can push through to the end.

Do you need some motivation today? What area is your monstrous mess? What are you looking forward to at the end of the clutter? I’d love it if you’d share and we can help motivate each other.


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photo by soundgroov

Article originally published on 12/14/2010

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  1. Faith, you captured my internal motivations and struggles completely here!

    I do the declutter hustle everyday. I put somethings a side and debate several days on if I should get rid of it or not. It’s a battle just to get rid of it, but once it’s gone- I don’t miss it so it’s one hell of a paradox to me!

    I loved how your focus is on your family and creating memories that will form your kids life forever. Wow, strong responsibilities us parents have, but it’s worth it!

    I would also add one of my fights right now. Home ownership. It seems I’m constantly raking leaves, mowing lawns, unclogging plumbing etc. Renting would be so much easier to just pawn those responsibilities off on the landlord, but I battle with the fact of my son not having a place to call home.

    Thanks for sharing your struggles!


    • What Eric said.

      Although I’ll throw it out there, that’s exactly why we rent, when everyone else is telling us we should buy a house. Our job/homeschool/hospitality would be significantly affected if we had home ownership tasks to deal with. For us, renting instead of owning is a part of our minimalism. Our kids don’t know the difference right now, this IS home, but they would notice right now if we were less available.

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi Eric,
      Trying to juggle decluttering with family life is tough but staying on top of it every day is key. I’m determined to not be one of those parents that leaves their children with piles of pointless crap when they die.

      I agree with the others who have replied here, home ownership isn’t everything. We’ve got the house we moved out of still on the market and it just feels like a noose around our neck. Home is where you make it…it really has nothing to do with what kind of house you’re living in.

  2. You’re almost there! I too was sick of the decluttering as we hit the home stretch. Thought it would take a week to get our 1100 square foot condo in shape. I was so wrong. More like two months. I have a few projects left for 2011 but they are small.
    You are right – it will feel great to have that extra time back. I am so impressed that you can write this great blog, home school and work on minimali-izing!!

    • Faith Janes says

      Projects have a way of taking way more time than originally planned, don’t they? I’m looking forward to 2011 being a different kind of busy. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this motivational list. I needed that today!

  4. That is a great list!! I’m just starting to really get going on the decluttering, yet I do have areas that I’m a little nervous to tackle. Having the end game in mind so helps me get through the mini-battles!! Thanks for sharing this list!!! 🙂

    @Eric – We sold our house earlier this year and I worried about our next place not feeling like “home” to our kiddos but I have to say that I’ve realized “home” is where you are as a family…it can be an apartment, a rental home or a room at a relatives…as long as you are together, it is home. 🙂

  5. Get a professional organiser! They do the work for you!

    • Faith Janes says

      Oh I wish it were that simple cause that would be money well spent. Unfortunately I can’t ask someone to decide if something should be saved or if it needs to be donated or just trashed. Organization is the least of my worries for now. 🙂

      • And really, there is no need for *major* organization once you reduce the amount of stuff you have. True in a family with kids you need some organization, but just getting rid of the sheer bulk of stuff is like a weight lifted off your chest!
        My kids are almost grown and I am now working to declutter as we want to vagabond around the US in a few years. My oldest daughter has 6 kids, ages 2-10, and was blessed to be able to buy a home 18 months ago. Unfortunately they have ended up with a lot of stuff and it has recently been weighing heavy on her. She has started trying to reduce the amount of stuff they have, going thru things. I am going to send her over here to read you blog as I think it would help her a great deal!

        • Oh Faith – I’m feeling this! Keep going… it will be worth it. I’m definitely nearing the end with my decluttering but not quite there (but a weight has been lifted already allowing me to turn my attention elsewhere – my to-do list) – where I am pushing on is the to-do list. Hoping to clear it by Friday (including tax return – which I always put off till last minute) so the holidays are completely clear for me to dedicate that time to my two children. I’ll be thinking of you! Good luck! Jo

        • Sorry last comment went in wrong place! I got side tracked reading Bernice’s comment sorry and it landed here! The reason I got sidetracked is I am really intrigued. Noticed Bernice you are a Grandma but are planning to go vagabonding. I would love to hear more, is there any info on your blog? I am a mid-30 Mum of two simplifying my life and making major progress – but I do have the house, car, commitments etc. When I was childless we had a camper van and did a lot of travelling and loved it so much. The plan is when the kids are independent to sell everything and travel/live out of a camper until we have grandchildren and start on round two of rearing!

  6. Oh, to have free time again. I can’t imagine what that’s like. If I’m not at work, or taking care of our little one, I’m cooking and cleaning and trying to declutter along the way, and then, oh, working on a Ph.D. At least when I’m done minimalizing my crap, I’ll have more time for my family :0) and my homework :>/

    • Faith Janes says

      That is quite a load to handle, Clara. Every time my boys tell me they’re bored, I look at them and tell them, “I would LOVE to be bored again. What’s that like?” 🙂

  7. Thanks all for the replies to my concerns on homeownership and the feeling of “home” for my son. Perspective is coming to me slowly and I thank you for your insights.

    I also get a mental spike when I think of the money saved selling vs. renting. We could probably take in an extra $800 a month by renting.

    The wife and I will come to an agreement soon enough, maybe showing her your site Faith would help;-).

    Awesome discussion!


  8. Faith,
    Oh my goodness at the amount you are paying in storage! Maybe an organizer isn’t feasible, but maybe hiring a mother’s helper or a babysitter to take care of the kids while you get some good work sessions in? If you could get some focused work done without kids interupting, you could possibly make a real dent in stuff much quicker. Just a thought! You’re not in Atlanta are you? I have an 18 year old who could help out!
    Keep it up! You’ll get there!

    • Faith Janes says

      Thanks Bernice. We are a south of Atlanta. So sweet of you to offer help. 🙂

      I went over with both my parents while my hubby was stuck at work today. We made a huge dent in one of the storage units. We are racking up quite a pile of things to donate. I need to find an organization that would be willing to send a truck to our storage unit and load it up from there.

      Thanks for all the support everyone!

  9. Thanks for the list Faith….I kind of feel like I fell off the wagon with my declutering-with the holidays near. I have spent an inordinate amount of time “making” things (rather than “buying” which is good!)

    I am going to make a list too.

    keep pushing on~I love reading your blog!

  10. I do need some motivation to get going again. I’m going to make myself a list. Thanks for the idea and for your blog.

  11. Those are some good motivators. We’ve been rewarding ourselves a little differently. We’ve been selling much of our purge on eBay, craigslist, and recently at a garage sale. We took a long weekend mini vacation last month and paid for the room with our eBay sales. After our garage sale we went out to eat twice in one weekend. The breaks are good for rejuvenating, and the fact that our clutter paid for it makes it even sweeter and keeps us excited to continue the purge.

  12. Faith – I just discovered your blog today, and although I’m not a mom myself I’m enjoying it very much!

    Eric – I lived in an apartment with my parents until I was 6. My parents sacrificed a lot to move us into a house at that point. Having a yard was great and lots of good memories were made painting walls, raking leaves, and cleaning out the garage. It was good to have that stability. I think the key is managability. Small yard, small house. Some maintenance, but not enough to take up every weekend. Just my 2 cents.

  13. Hang in there! At times it will seem overwhelming but it is so worth it!

    Can you break it up so that you don’t burn yourself out? I usually did my tossing in spurts and then relaxed and celebrated…

    Good luck!

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