The Most Dreaded Clutter Purge

03 Jan
by Jenny, posted in Consumerism/Minimalism   |  7 Comments

I have a dirty little secret. There is a room in our home that escaped the rampage of purging and downsizing undertaken over the past two years. It’s a room with sentimental clutter, outdated files and memories of a past I wasn’t ready to let go.

The home office.

We’ve decided to turn the space into a media room for our two sons since we no longer use the room. Deciding to repurpose the space has meant that everything now occupying the space needs cleared out. Everything. Wow.

The extra bedroom we turned into a home office over a decade ago was/is a constant source of stress for me. There is just. So. Much. Stuff.

Two large desks, a book case, memorabilia, two large filing cabinets and a closet full of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-these things. I used the office in my prior (non-minimalist) life. As I tackle the space now, it’s both overwhelming and irritating. I can’t stop wondering how I accumulated all of this excess.

I mean, did I really need to keep every single college syllabus for every college course I took? Do I need every grade school yearbook? When exactly was I planning to wear my high school and college caps and gowns? If I’m not wearing a coat anymore, why is it hanging in the office closet? Do I plan to wear my wedding dress again?  And why, oh why, did I keep so many bank statements, pay stubs and owners manuals?

You get the point.

These are the questions I asked myself as I spent the holidays sorting through the piles and piles of things I need to get rid of. Bags of papers need shredded, valuables, desks and filing cabinets need sold and clothes and coats have been donated.

The below photos were taken after two solid days of sorting and purging. I wish I would have taken some photos at the beginning, but I didn’t. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

The executive desk, chair and book shelf.

The second desk, lateral filing cabinet and miscellaneous files.

The mostly emptied closet — aside from the enormous jewelry box and vertical filing cabinet I need to sell. We plan to make this space into our new tiny office.

Six large grocery bags full of papers I need to have shredded.

As I go through the process of purging, I am reminded of why I choose to live without excess wherever possible. Sure, we can ignore the overload of stuff for awhile. But eventually, we have to deal with it.

We may move, or need the space for another purpose. Or we may just get sick of the attention the life-sucking clutter pulls from us. No matter the reason, the excess will have to be dealt with at some point. If not by us, then by whoever has the misfortune to handle our estate when we’re gone.

Is there a space you’ve been procrastinating clearing out? If so, what holds you back? 

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7 Responses to The Most Dreaded Clutter Purge

  1. Hey Jenny!

    I think most people have those areas that the decluttering just hasn’t gotten to yet – I know I still have some boxes and containers I’ve been putting off going through!

    As for the shredding, sometimes banks have certain days when they let you bring stuff in to be shredded. Otherwise there are shredding companies in major cities that normally service banks, hospitals, etc. Sometimes they’ll let you bring in a bunch of shredding for a few bucks cash.

    Might save you some time. :)

    • Hi Robert! Yes, we have a few companies in the Columbus, OH area that offer shredding services. We even have a community shred day every summer, but I’m not about to hold on to the bags of paper until then! I’m planning to take them to a nearby company, pay $20 and kiss them goodbye! :)

  2. Hi Jenny! This could not be more timely! I have been deep in the middle of decluttering our home office this week too! I actually had a friend (who’s awesome at being minimalist) come over and help me because I have a hard time letting go of things.

    Once I got the hang of it though, boy did we fill up bags and bags of junk!

    I had all my old college notebooks too! With just useless assignments, syllabi and the like. Shred, shred, shred! I didn’t even know I had all that stuff!

    I have now moved my office space from our basement (which was a huge desk overgrown with paper piles and junk) to a small, neat little space in our dining room. I bought some organizing cubbies and only allow office supplies that match the color scheme I have going on to minimize the cluttery feel. I’m not quite done yet, but it’s almost there and I couldn’t be more excited or inspired to start working there!

    Yay for office decluttering! Btw, your new office looks great!

    • Hey Marianne!

      Glad I’m not the only one that was holding on to so much office junk! :)

      Your new office space sounds great! The photos I posted are actually of our current office. I’m going to be clearing the entire space and using the closet in that room as a tiny office (kind of like these). The rest of the room will be a media/theater/game room for the kids. Kirk and I are getting sick of getting kicked out the family room when our eight-year old has friends over, so we’re repurposing the current office into a space that better fits our needs now.

      I’m in the process of listing things to sell on eBay and Craigslist. It feels great to finally tackle that cluttered space!

  3. Those bags of shedding bring back memories. I recently had a clean out of papers at home and did all the shredding myself on a small personal shredder. I decided to “shred as I go” where possible in future? Of course some things have to be kept and you do end up with batches to deal with no matter how systematic you are. In hindsight I would have bought a more heavy duty shredder to speed up the process and avoid overheating issues. I like the idea of paying for a bulk job so you don’t get bogged down within a shredathon.

    • Hey Linda!

      I’m with you. A three-day shredathon is not worth the $25 I would save! :)

      I would rather take 30 minutes, drop off my bags, pay the fee and be done with it!

      I’m almost completely paper-free now, so hopefully I won’t get so bogged down with documents that need shredded going forward.

  4. Eva

    Wow, congrats! You must feel so relieved. It continually amazes me how “life-sucking” clutter/stuff really is.

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