Category Archives: 60 Day Minimalist Challenge

60 Day Minimalist Challenge: What next?

Well, the planned 60 day challenge turned into a 6 month challenge. With two successful job applications, family visits, Campnano, fitting in extra time with grandchildren, and general procrastination in between, but I got there in the end.
I have been successful breaking lots of old habits when I have energy and time to focus, though occasionally slip up when my mood is low, or when I panic about an unexpected set-back. I am getting better at identifying when I’m not being productive, so I can get out of that mindset.
Sometimes what seems like treading water is progress; I need to rest before I can move onto the next task. Small things like watching youtube or a horror movie, having a lazy day, playing a video game (rather than buying/ hoarding stuff), keep me motivated.

Looking around my house it doesn’t look like I’ve achieved much; the house is looking grubby again after months since the deep spring-clean, there’s still random clutter in boxes and on shelves (though much of it isn’t mine), and I haven’t touched the outdoor areas. The garage and shed are currently a dumping ground as I still need to make a few trips to the recycling centre. I’ll need to be brave with all the giant spiders lurking in there!

I am feeling positive about continuing to chip away at decades of clutter, and I have found it gets easier to throw things out I don’t want or need. Identifying that much of the clutter isn’t mine helps makes things seem more achievable. I plan to tackle my things first then try and then let other people sort out their belongings that seem to have found a home here.
I plan to go through the house top to bottom again as I had set aside  items ‘just in case’; six months later I realise I really wont miss them. Even if I do need to buy replacements in the future, the small cost of having to buy again is worth the peace of mind and saved storage space from not having them knocking about unused for months/ years on end.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went into a charity shop recently and managed to buy work clothes to replace some worn-out items. Normally buying clothes would send my stress levels through roof; I’d have sensory overload, get confused and angry, then walk out without buying anything. Taking what I’d learned from the challenge, helped me find what I wanted, as I looked at what fitted with my style and if it was on my list of items I needed.
I have learned that minimalism is a mindset , rather than just throwing everything out and having few belongings. I do feel freer and less stressed without all the detritus. Once I got over the worry that my future self might need some things-overall it’s been worth it.

eatrunlift.me/minimalism

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60 Day Minimalist Challenge Week 9

DAY57// FOR THE NEXT WEEK SET 20 MINUTES EACH DAY TO CLEAN

Since I don’t have a dishwasher, I already spend 20 minutes each day just doing the dishes & making sure all kitchen surfaces are hygienic. Other than that I’m a bit of a slob when it comes to housework. Unless the carpet is obliterated under a rug of dog fur, I’ll leave it until the end of the week to vacuum. I prefer to dedicate a few hours one morning (I always get up early) to completely blitz the house, so everything’s clean at once (even if not for very long). If I keep picking at single chores during the week, any effort feels futile;things get messed up as soon as I turn my back, so the house never looks tidy.

DAY58// WRITE A NEW MONTHLY BUDGET FOR YOURSELF

I had written out a provisional budget, using this guide: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/Budget-planning

After an unusually busy month where I have had more expenses for days out, vets bills and travel expenses than usual, I need to get back on track. I plan to be better prepared for next year, though with the dreaded C-mas (25 December) getting scarily closer, we’ll have to see.

DAY59// IDENTIFY 20 THINGS YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR

  1. time with family

  2. health

  3. supportive friends

  4. books

  5. internet- ability to keep in touch with family and friends, access information, and fun stuff

  6. music

  7. writing- the monsters in my mind are both terrifying and companions

  8. coffee

  9. a job (that it doesn’t suck is a bonus)

  10. NHS

  11. peace, democracy (latter can be double-edged sword -don’t mention Brexit)

  12. ability to learn

  13. nature- walks, peaceful

  14. weekends with my grandchildren

  15. early morning walks in quiet deserted streets with dogs

  16. freedom to travel

  17. sunshine -it makes me happy (stops S.A.D)

  18. household appliances-what a mess I’d be in without my Dyson or washing machine

  19. Utilities-not having to walk miles for a bucket of water is awesome

  20. TIME- most vital resource; yes, it is wasted on the young; or rather they know how to enjoy it, while we adults get better at filling it with boring stuff

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DAY60// SET YOUR NEXT GOALS

I plan to focus on things I haven’t quite managed from previous goals, plus a few new ones for the next 6 months (starting September).

I feel I need to make a more visible list/ visual display of goals somewhere prominent, so I can keep them in mind everyday. I wrote previous goals in the back of my diary, then promptly forgot about them being there.

HEALTH

do 3 pull-ups/ chin-ups with perfect form

FINANCE

get back in black

HAPPINESS

Tolkien Walk.

KNOWLEDGE

write and edit my next (2016) NanoWrimo novel

The final four days of the challenge have helped me step back and assess what I have achieved so far throughout the challenge, as well as help motivate me to my next steps on my way to minimalism.

The cleaning task, made me realise that some things work better for me the way I’m already doing them; I don’t need to rigidly follow a plan to the letter just for the sake of it.

My budget planning was successful, but in practice not so good. Life isn’t perfect and I can only do what I can. I realised when I wasn’t not doing so well, and am going to take the time to refocus and get back on track, rather than beating myself up over it.

Thinking of things to be grateful for cheered me up. It helps me see positive in any situation, and to focus on how to solve problems, rather than be pessimistic and get stuck in a negative thought-cycle.

Looking back at my previous goals, I have had mixed results in my achievements :

At 41 I finally managed to do my first ever chin-up (reverse grip) a couple of months ago. I can just about do a pull-up (over-hand grip) too.

Budgeting has been an issue, have had to make adjustments for unexpected outgoings and days out. I have now got a permanent promotion at work, which will help long term.

I still haven’t been walking much, not having time to walk to work due to helping out family. I do walk at weekends, but other than a stroll around the park with family before Sunday dinner, it’s getting from A to B in town; not mindful walking in the countryside. I visited nature reserves and parks a few times on days out with the family, and have started organising the Tolkien Walk; still need to set a date.

My editing has been a failure, and my writing sporadic; mainly free-writes and writing-group exercises. I’m getting the fun back into my writing with NaNoWrimo  this November.

60 Day Minimalist Challenge Week 8

DAY50// CULL CLEANING SUPPLIES

I didn’t find much in my cupboards that I don’t use; only a rusted can of laundry starch. I don’t even have an ironing board since my daughter took it, along with my iron, when she moved out over 18 months ago. I’ve always hated ironing and manage to avoid having to do it by buying clothes with crease-resistant fabric, or hanging them in the shower, or popping them in the tumble dryer for a few minutes if heavily wrinkled. Most of the time I’m one of those horrendous shabby people going about in wrinkled clothing.

Judge me if you will; I will judge your judginess.

DAY51// REMOVE DECORATIVE ITEMS OTHER THAN YOUR FAVOURITES

Since organising my bookcase, I only have a few keepsakes which are presents from family member’s travels; and my collection of beer festival glasses and tankards (which are used regularly). Everything fits on a couple of small shelves in my kitchen display cabinet, so it’s self contained and not cluttering up space.

DAY52// IDENTIFY AND REMEDY 1 BAD SPENDING HABIT YOU HAVE

I don’t have enough excess income to splurge on frivolous items. If I want a day out ,or to treat the grandchildren it just means putting off getting planned items until I can afford them. The only thing I could spend less on is food. When I am organised, I find planning menus and writing out a weekly/ monthly grocery shopping list avoids spending on unnecessary items, and works out cheaper than doing daily shops as can bulk buy. (I do count chocolate as very necessary when I’m feeling hormonal; rather like coffee, it’s safer for everyone involved if I have my fix.)

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DAY53// IF YOU HAVE A LOAN OR CREDITS CARD INCREASE THE FREQUENCY OF REPAYMENTS

As mentioned above, I have hardly any excess income, so paying off bills early isn’t an option. I will do this if I ever get on top of the unexpected (and with two senior dogs, ever-increasing) vets bills, and replacing household appliances that have a knack of all breaking at the same time (likely because most were brought around the same time).

DAY54// PLAN YOUR MEALS FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND WRITE A SHOPPING LIST

I usually do work out a menu for the week, and always write a shopping list to make sure I get essentials. However, I haven’t been so organised for a while. I did manage to buy staple items for 2-3 weeks on my last payday, so am getting back into the habit. Though it is difficult when you have one annoying household member (not child) who decides they all of a sudden don’t like meals you’ve prepared to cook, and would rather eat convenience food, despite decades of eating said food.

DAY55// CULL ACCESSORIES (SUNGLASSES/ HATS/ WATCHES/ BAGS)

So, what’s essential? My accessories are already sparse:

1 pair sunglasses (for when wear contact lenses)

1 pair prescription sunglasses

0 watches

2 handbags (one is rather shabby now & was donated by my daughter)

1 LARP bag -sadly I have not been to any events for some time, so now occasionally used as handbag. And yes, I am that lone person who went to an outdoor theatre production of The Hobbit dressed in my cloak.

1 sun hat (hardly worn, because British Summer)

1 beanie hat (now 50% dog fur)-for walking dogs on cold mornings

1 Cthulhu hat/ balaclava- Warning: may cause panic in passers-by when worn in hours of darkness.

DAY56// SET A GOAL OF SOMEWHERE YOU’D LIKE TO TRAVEL AND FIGURE OUT THE COST

St Helena

Being half St Helenian, I would love to visit my Mother’s home country, and meet my extended family. Having researched the cost, I’m thinking this isn’t going to be until quite some time in the future. With the airport only recently being opened and still undergoing test flights for commercial aircraft, travel there means flight from UK to Cape Town South Africa at £500 each way, then by ship on RMS St Helena from Cape town ,which is a minimum fare of £430 each way. Hopefully travel costs will come down once the airport is in full use, though I think I’ll wait for the airline pilots to get some more practice landing in those cross-winds before I consider booking!

New Zealand

Being a massive Tolkien fan and general geek, my dream holiday would be a Lord of the Rings tour. At over £5000 I think I’ll be waiting for my numbers to come up on the lottery, or having a mad moment with my pension fund, to ever get there.

Reality

In the next few years I am planning to go somewhere cheap and sunny with my two children. They’re adults, so can pay their own way. Shared self-catering accommodation is l around £100 each, then cheap flights and spending money isn’t going to break the bank. I’m not in any hurry, as we have two elderly dogs who we wouldn’t want to put through stress of going into kennels, so I’m happy to have stay-cations in UK visiting family for the moment.

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While I feel like I have managed to complete the tasks for this week, I still find myself having set-backs. Whenever something unexpected comes up I have been struggling to keep up; I currently have a new pile of letters waiting to be opened, and bags of clothes I sorted weeks ago waiting to be donated. Setting a holiday goal has helped motivate me to achieve a longer term goal.

Only four more days of the challenge to go…

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60 Day Minimalist Challenge Week 7

DAY43// WRITE A TO-DO LIST FOR THE WEEK

I have got better about planning things for the week ahead, remembering to get my diary updated every Monday, though often have a couple of tasks to carry over to the next week. I’m extra busy next month, so am penciling in dates in advance so can I work around appointments, days out & holidays.

DAY44// UNFRIEND/ UNFOLLOW

I had already done this on Facebook. I unfollowed all but a couple of people. I have manageable amount of friends anyway. Someone would have to do something BAD for me to unfriend them; in which case being unfriended would be least of their worries.

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I found my Twitter feed was getting ridiculous, but again couldn’t bring myself to unfollow, so (as suggested by a friend) I created lists. I can now choose what to catch up on, saving a lot of trawling through endless tweets.

DAY45// LIST 10 THINGS YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR

Remind yourself of these things regularly.

  1. Family, fur babies, & friends (love, doggy cuddles,supportive relationships)

  2. Health (body has so far managed to make it past 40 without falling apart)

  3. Books ( to explore new fantastical worlds, or help make sense of this one)

  4. Music (for escape, concentration, motivation)

  5. Freedom (to make mistakes, explore new things, express myself, without fear)

  6. Coffee (delicious and gives me a much needed kick -has to be caffeinated)

  7. The internet (knowledge, connecting with people, & just plain silly stuff)

  8. My job (stability)

  9. Amenities (fresh water, electricity, heating. It’s easy to take these for granted)

  10. NHS (see 2)

*In no particular order, other than I thought of practical stuff last.

I sort-of did this decades ago, keeping a gratitude journal, inspired by an episode of Oprah.  I found that listing 10 things to be grateful for at the end of every day (could be silly things like having a slice of cake, as well as the important stuff), helped me get out of a slump. I do feel it reprogrammed my brain to focus on the positive. My conversation with myself now swings between being my own cheerleader (rather like having Miranda in my brain)

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and (usually when working out) shouting at myself like a drill Sargent

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, rather than my previous depressive monologue…

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DAY46// IDENTIFY 2 THINGS YOU DO TO PROCRASTINATE & MONITOR THEM

*Hands up*. Yes, I admit to still getting hooked into YouTube. Usually in the evening if nothing is on TV, and my eyes are too tired to write, or read a book (as can just listen).

I have been better at not getting distracted. Though occasionally I still find myself getting overwhelmed and procrastinating about my to-do list, when I should be actually doing my to-do list. 

 How to curb this?

I try keep to designated times/ days for social media, but there’s always those times when I think ‘just watch this one music video’ , then end up walking the dogs gone midnight. I’m going to try doing something  productive like writing or  stretching /Pilates (if I have energy).

Tweaking my nighttime routine may also help stop my nocturnal YouTube sessions, and help me relax so I’m more able to focus on what I need to do during the day. I plan to try going to bed  a little early to read a book or listen to some relaxing music/ guided meditation/ audio book. Hopefully this will help  my brain switch off  so I feel more rested, and get some useful dreams/ nightmares to inspire my writing. 

Current status-writing this blog whilst watching/ listening to YouTube. [Edit:Spending too long trawling through Pinterest and YouTube to find media for this blog, while editing it]

DAY47// SPEND A WHOLE DAY LOGGED OUT OF SOCIAL MEDIA

My phone doesn’t work properly so any social media apps crash, meaning I’m usually off social media when I’m out of the house/ at work.

I did deliberately go off social media completely for a few days. It was no biggie, as my phone broke completely the day before. I only slightly panicked about not being contactable (immediate family do have my work number in case of emergency).

DAY48// START A CHANGE JAR TO COLLECT COINS FROM AROUND THE HOUSE

I already have one. The money goes into my grand-children’s saving accounts . It’s usually only a few pounds, plus some pennies for the 2p machines when they go to the pier or amusement arcades.

DAY49// SORT THROUGH VARIOUS ELECTRONIC ITEMS & CULL

All cables, chargers and random electronic items had already been sorted when I cleared out the man drawer and spider cupboard

This week has been a little hit and miss. As I had done some of the tasks in earlier weeks, and already had a change jar (empty Christmas chocolate tub), I only had a few things to do, but still struggled to complete them.

Staying off social media was easy as I didn’t have access on my phone, so any temptation was limited to when I was at home (not that I had much time anyway).

My daughter got a job, so I had to fit looking after my grand-children into my schedule, which had the knock-on effect that I had to work late a couple of days. Still, I had lots of fun spending extra time with my grandchildren.

60 Day Minimalist Challenge Week 6

DAY 36//DELETE UNWANTED DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHS

Since my phone is now properly broken and now only letting me make and receive phone-calls (like back in the old days) there’s nothing much I can do with the few photos I’d saved on it. I will see if I can get data off it once I’ve sorted a replacement. While it would be useful to be able to text, I’m liking the simplicity of not being online while I’m out & about.

Since previously cleared my hard-drive all digital photos are either on dvds or stored online, so my laptop is virtually clear. I do plan to go through old photographs at some point and chose some to print off to either frame or make a photo album, possibly to gift. That will be something to do in autumn/ winter when it’s cold and dark, for the moment I’m making the most of the sunshine.

DAY 37//CLEAN OUT STORAGE CUPBOARDS

More like clear out the spider cupboard.

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I’ve been putting this off as the cupboard under the stairs is home to a monster spider. I felt like Frodo venturing into Shelob’s lair. Harry Potter didn’t have this problem.

I got there in the end, sorting through the clutter in short bursts where I tried not to let my eyes focus too closely for fear of seeing one of eight-legged fiends, interspersed with giving myself pep-talks. The longer I delved without seeing a spider, the more convinced I was that they must be lurking in what ever box or bag I was about to open.

As it turned out, I didn’t have too much junk in there. Some reorganisation has made it easier to find things in the future.

Though I’m not sure if not finding any spiders is reassuring or worry, as they may be elsewhere in the house.

I’ve also organised the cupboard in the kitchen that was a dumping ground for miscellaneous junk, plus my ‘man drawer’ (the resting place of dead batteries, broken gadgets, buttons and dried out biros). Most of that has been relocated to its correct place, thrown out or put into the garage for my next recycling centre trip.

The ‘dog cupboard’ is now tidy, and now free of old chewed up stuffed toys that had been breeding moths. I still have both my dogs’ puppy collars, there’s so many sentimental items I’m not ready to let go of.

DAY 38//RE-CULL YOUR WARDROBE

Ever the multitasker (lazy), I did another cull whilst packing away autumn/ winter clothing. A little late (June) , but you never can tell with British weather; plus, I’d been waiting to replace the old vacuum bags I’d thrown in the last cull.

I managed to get rid of another bag full (mainly worn/ damaged). Now I’m short on clothes so will have to force myself to do a shop. I still have a couple of scruffy items, but it’s always handy to have some for when dyeing hair or decorating.

DAY 39//CULL DVDS/CDS/OTHER MEDIA

I went through these before I started the challenge. Since I now listen to music online (spotify), any CDs I’ve kept are more sentimental items/ collector’s editions. I don’t have many dvds as I rarely watch anything twice. I have sorted a few cds and dvds to sell, though not sure about Amazon’s new sellers account, which seems confusing compared to their old system.

DAY 40// PHOTOGRAPH RECIEPTS, STORE THEM DIGITALLY AND THEN RECYCLE THEM

I am still unsure about doing this. I can see it would be more convenient than a file full of paper receipts (not that I have many; any paperwork is mainly agreements and documents). I’m not convinced all companies­ would accept scanned copies. I still have a box of paper work from last couple of years which I need to sort through and shred/ file. Perhaps I’ll give it a go in the future.

DAY 41//PRACTICE MINDFUL BREATHING TECHNIQUE­S

I had been in a mild depressive slump where I’m not feeling motivated, but unable switch off. I have been listening to a guided meditation , but most of the time my mind’s racing, stressing about all the stuff I need to do.

I find it easier to think while I’m walking, even if it’s contemplating ideas for my next story, though again I have been too rushed to have the extra time to walk to work. I miss being able to walk my dogs for miles, now they’re getting old I stay close to home as one of them is struggling to get to the park about 500 yards each way. 

DAY 42//FIND 30 MINUTES A WEEK IN YOUR SCHEDULE JUST FOR YOU

Does watching tv count? After work, once I’ve gone shopping, walked dogs, cooked and eaten dinner, I’m just ready to slump in front of the goggle box and nod off ( Charlie Dimmock’s gardening program is quite relaxing).

Perhaps I should do more pilates to relax? I could do with stretching some more. Though I’d rather spend 1 hour watching Game of Thrones, or reading a book (if only my eyes weren’t too tired).

Yes, I know I’m flagging, but I refuse to fail. While it’s been hit and miss with some of the challenges, I have tried most things. I’m needing some advice (see video below) to get out of this slump/ fatigue / recent heatwave lethargy, so I can give myself a final push towards the finish these next 2-3 weeks. 

60 Day Minimalist Challenge Week 5

DAY29// SORT THROUGH BOOKS (CULL/ KEEP/ GIFT

As I already had all of my read books in a separate bookcase, I just packed them into a box to store away until I find swaps online readitswapit or donate at the next NaNoWriMo book drive. If I can get more than £5 for a book I will sell it on amazon, so I have money for…more books! I find swapping books is a great way to get cheap/ free books that are on my wish list, and it’s also a great way to find books I wouldn’t normally pick myself. I have discovered some great reads from requests to swap my books. Such as Miss Garnet’s Angel, which is not in a genre I usually read, but I found very enjoyable and it opened my mind to read other books similar. My usual reads are horror, sci-fi, fantasy and the odd classic.

Not that my book cases look any less cluttered; I had books & dvds double-stacked , so it’s pretty much still full, apart from a shelf I have freed for my grand-children’s toys and growing book collection.

DAY30// SORT THROUGH INBOX UNTIL IT REACHES ZERO

In the decade/s I have had my email account I have not deleted a single email (other than virus threats). Still, I have only used %. With my old blueyonder account soon to be closed, I am going to cherry-pick the essential mailing lists when I swap everything over to a new account, and the rest can be forgotten. I am planning to delete any emails to my new account as soon as they are read, so I can have as near to a clear inbox as possible.

DAY31// DE-CLUTTER YOUR WORK DESK

We have a clear-desk policy at work, so mine is pretty devoid of any personal items, other than some tissues, hand cleanser and the book I am currently reading on my break Zen in the Art of Writing.

I am due to move desks shortly, so will be throwing any unwanted paper work and old pens out of my drawer unit.

My home writing desk is currently home to my desktop pc for playing Tombraider & Shadow of Mordor, though I barely have time to play recently. I have my old note books and files of partially edited stories in there too, but it’s tidy as only recently moved them from drawers in my bookcase.

DAY32// DELETE UNNECCESSARY APPS FROM YOUR PHONE

My old android phone won’t let me use any apps (except letting me use facebook to upload photos) , or delete any existing ones without crashing, so I’m just using it to make phone calls & texts. At least it means I’m not distracted by social media or playing games while out and about. I wondering if I should get a new phone with all the fancy apps and risk being tied to apps all day, or stick with a simple one that keeps me from becoming a mobile phone zombie.

DAY33// PRACTICE STRETCHING OR YOGA/ PILATES

I gave up the hated pilates for a while to concentrate more on weight training, but have found my joints are getting stiff again. I already had issues with this from the amount of walking  I did (before I got lazy), plus I have generally unstable and creaky hips and knees anyway.

I have less flexibility than an average rhino; this is why I hate pilates so much. It’s frustrating and exhausting not being able to get even quarter of the way into the correct stretch position, but putting myself through this stops my joints from seizing up. Also,  pilates can be very relaxing; focusing on my breathing  and form, you forget about day-to-day worries (that is once you’ve stopped stressing about not being able to contort your limbs into position).

DAY34// GET RID OF UNUSED MAKEUP/ SKIN CARE/ HAIRCARE PRODUCTS

Considering I’m not a girly-girl, I do have a surprising amount of make-up. I threw out a few items I never use and any spoiled out of date make-up, skin care and hair products. Loepsie has a good advice on how to tell if makeup has expired. I got distracted (story of my life) and thought it’d be fun to try out some eye-shadow I’d never worn before (bright red glittery stuff). I ended up looking like a circus clown, and managed to spill it all over the floor leaving lovely red stain on beige carpet; which was a bit of a cleaning fail.

DAY35// SORT THROUGH MEDICINES/ FIRST AID PRODUCTS

This had been done during my Spring Clean week. I still have to take the carrier bag full of old out of date/ unused meds to dispose of at the local pharmacy. With all the old stuff thrown out, my 1st aid box is now in need of restocking.

Another good week, though I have been busy with job applications and work, then had grandchildren staying over at the weekend, so have struggled to find time to get things done.

60 Day Minimalist Challenge Week 4

 

Sorry for the delay in blogging this week. I have been happily distracted by grandchildren, and the beautiful English sunshine while it lasted (no sarcasm-we had a barbecue for Sunday dinner).

DAY22// DO AN IN-DEPTH CLEANOUT OF YOUR PANTRY

I had already sorted through my kitchen for out of date food Day 10. As part of my week’s spring clean I went through again, thoroughly cleaning all my kitchen cupboard space. I did find some packets of food that had been lurking at the back of my pantry, which were over a year past expiration date.

DAY23// CLEAN & SORT YOUR LINEN CLOSET

I thought I already had minimal bed linen and towels, but still managed to throw two bin bags of worn out or dated items. Now I need to buy some new duvet covers; making sure they fit with my theme style.

DAY24// CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE/ FREEZER

Again, this had been done previously. I did a thorough clean of my fridge freezer as part of my spring cleaning week. It’s just one of those chores I need to keep on top of. Is it just me that always has spilled peas rolling around the vegetable drawer?

DAY25// CULL THROUGH OLD PHOTOGRAPHS

This was a challenge. It will take an age to go through all of my digital photographs, so for now I’ve stuck to culling my physical photographs.

I went through years of photo albums and wallets, full of photographs. I threw out any that were out of focus, or of pointless objects/ animals. Often trips to the zoo resulted in only a couple of photographs of family, the rest were of animals, which are in zoo guidebooks we have anyway.

I created digital copies of the best photographs, which I also shared with family online,a handful of which I plan to print off to hang in frames. The rest I will later sort into a box each for my children as their own memories. I don’t think it’s cheating to pass on the clutter to other people, if it kind of belongs to them too.

Along with culling old photographs, I also threw out all of my old photo frames. I am planning on grouping some children’s school portraits into larger frames. I also want to replace some old albums that are looking rather shabby and dated.

It felt freeing to get rid of the unwanted clutter, and heart-warming to find forgotten moments to treasure again. It was fun to look through old photographs and recall memories of my children growing up and special family events.

DAY26 & 28// SORT THE FILES & FOLDERS IN YOUR COMPUTER

I have organised and backed-up the hard-drive of my current laptop. I am finding it much easier to find what I am looking for, and so far am managing to keep it uncluttered and save things in the correct place.

I still have a few archives of previous hard-drives to sort through, plus numerous DVDs of emergency back-up files. With files going back as far as Windows 98se, I am sure there are many duplicate files; it will take an age to sort out which is the most recent version. I also have an ancient IDE format drive. It only works intermittently, but I am hoping to get it working long enough to recover the files.

I did have some floppy disks, but am giving them up as a lost cause. I stopped using them so long ago I didn’t even notice when computers stopped having floppy disk drives. When was that?!

DAY27// ASSESS YOUR SENTIMENTAL ITEMS

I had already done this not long before I stumbled across this challenge. I now have a box of items for each of my children; old school work, reports, and random art work and gifts they’ve made throughout the years; plus a bundle of things belonging to my granddaughter I may have to hold onto them for safe keeping for the moment.

DAY28// DIGITALLY BACK UP YOUR IMPORTANT FILES

^See Day 26 above ^

So far, Week 4 has been the most daunting for me. At the beginning of the week the prospect of having to trawl through decades of accumulated clutter; photos, sentimental items and digital files, filled me with dread. I imagined it was going to be heart-wrenching having to throw out items that held personal value, and perhaps depressing looking back and realising how quickly time has past and how old I’ve got.

However, the challenges gave me control over what and how much I got rid of. It wasn’t so bad. Looking through all of the items made me remember happy and funny times, which was uplifting. Getting free of the unwanted detritus was a weight lifted from my shoulders, not feeling tied down to boxes and boxes of ‘stuff’. The challenges allowed me to find treasured items a which had been hidden amidst years of clutter.

Is anyone else trying to become more minimalist, or just wanting to down-size or tidy up?

POST SCRIPT

Having a slight panic that I didn’t find a large Freddy Krueger poster I am certain I had from my teenage years. He’s still the man of my dreams (!?), so hoping it’s in one of the cupboards I have yet to sort.