The last time I shifted houses was because I got married and the one cupboard I allotted to D was just not enough to keep the house looking sane. I had bought a chest of drawers to empty my stuff from that the one cupboard, but we still ended up having stuff lying around in the generously sized 1 BHK we were sharing.
So to a new 2BHK house it was. The first few weeks, my legs actually ached from all the extra space we had gained (Only Mumbai people can know what it means to go from 650 sq ft to 900 sq ft carpet area. Everyone else would probably laugh).
It has now been close to two years and a couple of months ago, I got the nagging feeling that we had two many things piled up on our second favourite clutter spot – the dining table. Freshly ironed clothes, handbags, a shoebox looking for a spot, newspapers and so on. This was partly on account of the fact that the folks were visiting and the first favourite clutter spot – the guest bedroom could suddenly not be used to stow junk away out of sight.
Yet it made me think if I really wanted to go back to the time when we had to pick our way through stuff scattered on the floor. And if we would have to find a bigger house in an expensive city.
That’s when I decided that I was going to reduce our possessions by 25%.
The good thing about being a corporate slave is you can come up with percentages that are randomly chosen. It seemed like a good number though – not pushing us into the hermit zone with barely enough to get by and yet enough to create space and provide a sense of achievement.
The process began slowly about a month ago. Item number 1 on the agenda was to stop buying stuff till we got rid of some stuff. Quite commendable given my shopaholic tendencies.
In the meantime, I attacked the biggest culprit – clothes. Clothes are one of the toughest things to throw away. You know for sure that there are a few items in your wardrobe that predate you by a couple of crucial kilos. No matter how pessimistic you are about the economy, your job, your life and so on, the one thing you are optimistic about is going back to being your thinner self.
I convinced myself that if I threw out the old clothes then I could go shopping for new ones if I ever lost weight and that would be a good incentive to lose weight.
I began to look for a worthy charity till mom pointed out that charity begins at home and told me to just give everything to the bai. I had been doubtful if her daughter who is half my height would fit into my tops. It turned out that we share a shoulder size. Bai was quite teary eyed when she thanked me (surprising since I have regularly passed on sarees but she has never been quite so moved. Talk about motherly love).
Filled with a warm glow, I have gone back to culling out more clothes. Last evening was spent in trying out favourite t-shirts and tops that highlight my burgeoning paunch. Now another pile awaits the bai’s daughter.
The next on my list are the electronics cupboard and the book shelf. The first one has built up through sheer neglect – headphones that no longer work, electronic phones that don’t work either and so on. Books, on the other hand, have been survivors of failed culling attempts in the past. This time, I am planning to give them away to a library so atleast I know they have found a good home.
This set off a much needed round of decluttering at work. After clearing out several piles of important looking papers that largely comprised the company strategy for 2008, training materials from 2009 and so on, I have discovered enough space to move my mouse.
The biggest decluttering at work though, will have to be my mail box. I have mails from 2010 which I had been undecided about at that time and which stayed on. Now, I have mercilessly started deleting mails on which I have been clearly copied in as irrelevant-but-just-in-case person #5. I have started dealing with daily mails before the day-end. As for the exploding archive of old mails, I have been sorting through 30 or so in a day.
My ambition is to have only 10 mails in my inbox at any point. This seems like a tough order and going by my progress, an impossible task. Yet as Farhan Aktar says in ZNMD – ‘Koshish karma hamara kartavya hai’ (it was used in a cute way in the movie)
So if there is a New Year resolution for 2012, it is ‘Declutter’. Now that I have got a headstart on it, I am hoping to see it through next year too.