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Project Empty

The 2007 winter solstice, according to some mystical calendrical believers, started the five-year countdown to the end of history. Or the end of the world. Or at least the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar. What December 21, 2012 will mean varies depending on whether you ask José Argüelles or Fox Mulder, but I figure, hey, if there's the slightest chance that the world's gonna end, I'd better clean my house.

So began Project Empty: Get Rid of All My Crap.

Here's the goal: By the end of 2008, I have a sparsely-furnished, uncluttered, soothingly empty house containing only the essentials of shelter, comfort, hospitality, and enjoyment.

I figure there are five main reasons why I hang on to stuff that doesn't serve these essentials: it was expensive, it was a gift, it was my [mother's] [grandmother's] [etc.], it's irreplaceable, or someday it will fit again.

I've identified 66 separate chunks of clutter that I think I can clear in an hour or less. That's one for every ten square feet of house. I'll start right outside my front door--the porch, the threshold, the entrance to my domain--and work inward and downward from there to the living room (5 separate chunks), the bedroom (29 separate chunks, holy shit), the kitchen (19 chunks), and so on--bathroom, mudroom, back yard, driveway, basement.

I've also identified some handy Project Empty resources. FreeGeek will recycle my old computer crap for a small fee. The Vietnam Veterans of America will pick up usable goods any time, for free, right off my front porch (also? tax deduction). I can take paint and other toxic leftovers to the Metro Hazardous Waste Disposal Center where they will be properly handled, free of charge. The Rebuilding Center (seriously, one of the coolest places in town) will take usable house parts and lumber.

Next steps:
  • decide on the criteria by which I will allow myself to keep something
  • get some trash bags and a few boxes
  • photograph the 66 zones for before-and-after purposes
  • clear a zone or two for warm-ups
Wish me luck!


Jan. 4th, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
wow. that is really awesome!

i am a notorious hoarder... i do end up using stuff, even if months or years later... but not everything i've stuffed into every nook and cranny. although i do have to say that my room, the porch, my closet and the attic are the worst. i've managed not to clutter up the front room, the kitchen or the back room...

i made myself not buy any christmas clearance stuff this year. it was really hard, but i have so much wrapping paper, ribbons and so many boxes of cards that i'm determined to use it all before i buy more.

i love the way you describe breaking things into chunks. it makes it so much more manageable sounding!

my biggest problem, whenever i do start cleaning up, is that when i clear a spot and move on to another, i somehow end up cluttering up the clean spot again.

i'm going to try to tackle the attic first. my dad has been after me for months and there are boxes up there i haven't touched for years.

the best of luck with your project!!
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
It's so great to hear from you! Happy New Year.

Just the act of not buying sale stuff is a huge step forward, don't you think? Part of this process for me is finding out what I've already got, so that I don't "re-buy" inadvertently. I love the feeling of systematically using up stuff that I've over-bought in the past (I'm working my way through several different moisturizers and shampoos now--I'm terrible about toiletries!).

Good luck with your attic. It was a bit frightening at first, but I can really recommend breaking it up into smaller pieces. My 66 Chunks include slivers like "bedside table, top," which is distinct from "bedside table, drawer," and "bedside table, lower shelf." You wouldn't believe how approachable it becomes that way!



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