Random impromptu decluttering works too


Faithful books, I do not need you anymore. Begone to the secondhand shop!

Sometimes I surprise myself with a sudden rush of activity that is maybe necessary but low priority. Today, hours after Mr Trump became President Elect of the USA, I made huge inroads into my cluttered, dusty, illogical bookshelves. I ignored items #1–5 on the to-do list and did #99 instead.

  • 26 books for Arty Bees, Wellington’s phenomenal second hand bookstore
  • 30-odd utterly random books on a take-or-exchange shelf for my AirBnB guests
  • 20-odd wrinkled, yellowed, musty books into the paper recycling
  • 12 books earmarked for Christmas gifts

As if that wasn’t enough, wham! I adjusted some shelves and a couch so that books are more accessible and in their rightful place. Work-books in the study. Poetry in the sitting room.

Identity clutter and all that

Lots of redundant possessions are tangled up with identity, aren’t they?

  • Keeping old books by my friends meant I was a Good Friend. But if they are falling to bits or if I’ll never re-read them, better to send them to another happy reader.
  • I had a lot of good books about content management, the internet, web design and business strategy — but I’m not a Business Woman any more. That identity is gone forever.
  • For years I’ve had certain special interests which now I am ready to let go. For example, I will never again be a Noh Playwright, I think we’ve established that. One Noh play is sufficient for my portfolio.

Most decluttering advice urges us to be super-systematic, super-organized. I see the point, but it’s great to outwit yourself and rush at it like a bull at a gate.

Gosh I did well: item #99 is more than half completed. O-kaaaay, now for to-do items #1–5— piece of cake, I’m on a roll!

Election-connection? No idea. Any suggestions?


Random selection of books for AirBnB guests

22 thoughts on “Random impromptu decluttering works too

  1. Joared says:

    I had no idea it was okay to skip numbers on the to do list … and to go so far down the numbered list is just incredible. Maybe now I can finally get going with my list — just pick a number and go with it. Thanks!!!

  2. Sometimes you just have to go wild! By the way I don’t really have 100 items on my to-do list — this was just in the some-day bag 🙂

  3. Amy says:

    I like your style. I’ve had my best success with decluttering in a similar way. Don’t over think it – once you start thinking too hard the inertia sets in. I’ve been playing the Minimialism Game (it’s a month-long decluttering challenge) – lots of dashing about at the end of the month when the challenge amp up.
    Oh clutter and identify, I know what you mean. I loved giving away my business clothes, as I am now free from that role. I found it much harder to give away the clothes that show I’m not as slim as I used to be! I also had this revelation that I am hoarding for the environment (hmmm – a bit inconsistent) and many other things. I’ve been charting it all here – https://moretimethanmoney.co.nz/tag/minsgame/.

    1. Hi Amy, good to meet you. The Minimalism Game must have helped many people and I’m enjoying your blog on the topic. Business clothes, me too! I just gave away my cute little tweed suit without a qualm. The time was right!

  4. I want to be one of your AirBnB guests! Maybe someday. 🙂

    1. Please do when you visit Wellington!

      1. I do have friends in Wellington–well, in Breaker Bay–but their house is too small for guests, so if I ever do get down there to visit them I will certainly stay at your AirBnB! 🙂

      2. Great idea!

  5. Val says:

    What a good idea putting books for take or swap for your AirBnB people. There is a thing in some parts of the UK that is a bit similar – people build a hut for outside or nearby their home and put unwanted books in it. People (public) come by and take some books and leave others of their own. Sort of a community library.

    I have some clothes from ages ago that I’ve kept as kind of ‘artwork’ rather than clothes as I can no longer wear them. I just love them to much and it gives me pleasure looking at and holding them and remembering good times wearing them. Generally, though, if I don’t wear something on a regular basis at least part of the year, it goes.

    1. During the Christchurch earthquakes, the Gap Fillers would park empty fridges in the streets as swap-libraries. I often just leave books at a bus stop

    2. Clothes as art works – I get that!

      1. I keep some of my mother’s clothes as art works. 🙂

  6. Intense activity is always a good way to distract yourself so the election probably helped you in that way. We cleaned out most of our books about two years ago. Surprisingly I haven’t missed any of them and I parted with some treasures.

    1. That sounds like a convincing theory! Glad you haven’t missed those books. At one stage I got rid of about 3000 if I remember rightly. I was about to go live in a hovel — all good fun.

  7. Gail Rehbein says:

    The random, impromptu clean-up might just outsmart my ‘must-be-organised-in-this-process’ self 😀
    Thanks for the tip!

    1. Good luck! It’s worth trying. But

      1. As I was saying, but don’t try too hard!

  8. candidkay says:

    Decluttering is sanity. No matter when you do it. It lightens the mind, spirit, energy. I love that you used anxious energy to do something positive. I have my eye on my son’s desk:). Little does he know it will be so much more organized when he helps me tomorrow.

    1. I agree entirely. Have fun with the son’s-desk project!

  9. Robyn Haynes says:

    Getting rid of the old to make room for the new? From someone who can’t separate herself from her books without surgery.

  10. karenrsanderson says:

    I love my books…but…I’ll be moving again in about three years (my son retires from the Air Force and we’re moving south, I follow the grandchildren!), and I’m already thinking about cleaning out a lot of my books. I don’t want to let them go, but even more, I don’t want to pack and move them again. I have books that I haven’t looked at in years and I’m tired of dusting them. Already planning a huge yard/book sale for next spring with a few pals.

    1. Your own book sale: great idea. We have an annual one here which raises funds for the City Mission, and it is an enormous success.

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