Thursday, January 8, 2015

Next Step: Unstuff the kitchen

Not too bad, right?

The kitchen is a good next step for me because I don’t have an overabundance of things in there (I think), and I’m not emotionally attached to most of the things. And, now armed with the questions from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (especially “Does it spark joy?”), I can make easier decisions about things and respectfully let some of them go.

What’s in my kitchen, anyway? 

The computer-in-residence needs a new home!
The fruit needs a proper container.

After clarifying what I use the kitchen for (its intended use), the next step is a visual assessment of what’s on top of counter tops and ‘fridge, the visible stuff. I listed every item on the counters and ‘fridge, then took photos of everything. Wow. There’s more there than I thought. Most of it has become invisible, just part of the scenery. Some of the stuff I don’t even use; it has just taken up residence. The first step in this section of the process is to get real with myself. What do I really have? And do I really use it? And is it in the right place for use? We (DH and I) did the counter top clearing on New Year’s Eve.

So far so good. However, DH awoke on New Year’s Day with the suggestion that we go ahead and tackle the rest of the job this morning. Mellen, the author of Unstuff, recommends that you set aside two consecutive days for the emptying-cabinets-and-reloading-storage job because: One, when you empty all the cupboards and drawers, etc. the kitchen is in total disarray (disrupts your life), and two, you need to get the job done (a psychological issue). We had nothing else planned for New Year’s day and the day after.

Is enlisting spousal help a good thing?

DH’s offer of help turned out to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he has no patience with my need to delve into all the detail and theory offered in the book, especially if I try to read some of it to him. I needed to read through it so I’d know where we were heading, and how we were going to get there. He wanted to get to the part where we started doing something. He was ready for the action. In hindsight, I should have sent him for coffee or something while I finished reading the theory and got to the action part. I’m sorry to say I got a bit cranky.

Boxes ready to be filled
On the other hand, DH was very willing to do the lifting and find boxes for donations, and was really a willing helper. He also has great ideas (as mentioned in a previous post), and made a suggestion that we move the dishes from this cupboard to that cupboard and switch the things from that to this. Brilliant. This arrangement may help solve the log-jam of people (even with only two of us) that occurs in one corner of the kitchen. We’ll have to live with it for a while to see.

Shall we deviate from the plan laid out in the book?

Unfortunately, in the interest of not having the kitchen in disarray for very long, we only did about half the cupboards, the upper cupboards, and put the kitchen back together for use again. I say ‘unfortunately’ because given the way we did the job we missed some of the useful steps of assessing and eliminating some of our stuff outlined in the book. We did fill a rather large box for donation; but we only looked at and rearranged the upper cupboards, so the job still has to be completed.

Of the stuff we did get rid of, we agreed on most everything we wanted to donate. We do have a nice, rather large collection of stemware (we got from Arby's a decade ago) that has been awaiting the possibility of entertaining that never happens. We’re both reluctant to let them go, but don’t like to use them on a daily basis. So, it’s time to let someone else have them to entertain 12 of their closest friends. I can live with that.

Moving on to the rest of the stuff

Meanwhile, now that I've finished reading the chapter, I will send DH out to get coffee or something for a couple of days, and try for a whole-kitchen “Sorting-Purging-Arranging” and “Reloading the Storage.” It shouldn't be too difficult now that we've made a first pass. I just won’t get the full effect of ALL our stuff out at once.

According to Mellen, it is important to have all your stuff out so you can take stock of what you own, what you’re steward of, what you've accumulated. Ask yourself, “How do you feel?” “Are you feeling abundant… wasteful… sad… disappointed?” Sit with whatever for a few minutes (use a timer), and then move slowly and deliberately through your sorted piles. Pull out everything that you are certain that you don’t need, haven’t used, don’t know what it’s used for, and add it to the container for the thrift store.

“The beginning of the task is the identification of something obsolete. The end of the task is when it’s no longer in your possession. So it doesn't matter how you feel about any of this, it matters only that you finish!” 

So, it’s time to get in there and finish!


  1. I love that quotation. A very good thing to remember when 'weeding' through one's possessions. I'm a pretty good cleaner outer - and have been known to have to go back the thrift store a week later to buy back something I'd donated *smile*. One can move too fast sometimes *smile*