Over the northern summer I spent my eagerly anticipated month in Australia, relaxing on a much needed holiday break while also consciously thinking about the things I own, how to declutter in a meaningful way and how to spend my time in a way that balanced relaxation with family and friend time, spontaneity and community. I was so proud of the result. I returned to work feeling truly at peace with myself, for the first time in a long while.
The primary goal for the Melbourne leg of my trip was decluttering. That is the heaviest burden of most first-stage minimalists, right? Of course you want to know how that went!
The Game Plan
Well, going in, I had simple goals, some of which were outlined in previous posts like The Real Cost and The Inventory List. By the time I travelled to Australia, there was a very clear game plan, backed up by some simple research into organisations who would find value in some of my donations:
- I wanted to sell my bike and queen mattress online; large, unused items taking up costly space in storage.
- I wanted to clear out and donate approximately 7 out of 9 book carton boxes of kitchen wares and home things, keeping just a few things that have some meaning to me, like my Pyrex collection of glass storage dishes.
- I wanted to try to sell my bedding with my mattress, and donate my older towels and sheets to an animal shelter.
- I wanted to donate as many unwanted books, video tapes, CDs and DVDs as possible, accepting there were some that may not be keepers but I wanted to read/watch first. Libraries, cancer centres and homeless shelters were on my mind as potential recipients.
- I wanted to finally go through my bucket of electronic cables and chargers and old cameras and such ‘stuff’ and along with a bag of pre-sorted e-waste, take it somewhere to recycle it responsibly.
- I wanted to go through my last few magazine articles as well as my travel brochures and recycle as much as I could.
- If possible, I wanted to load up the remaining contents and shift it interstate to my old storage unit by my parents’ place as it’s cheaper and more convenient with better facilities.
I knew, before I arrived, that I wanted to achieve a lot, too much for a short period. But I also assured myself these were some goals I sought to achieve and any that were reached should make me proud.
I located pictures of the things I wanted to sell on my hard drive, and tried unsuccessfully to post them for sale out of the country – that meant I’d have to sort internet straight away on arrival in Melbourne.
I went through my entire inventory list and made a list in my smartphone of things to donate, recycle or sell.
I worked out a 3 day to-do list of things I needed to do as soon as I arrived (see The Real Cost), and planned out how long it would all take to ensure it was achievable. Things like, go to corner store and buy SIM card for data, go to petrol station to fill bike tyres, clean bike, or send away duvet for washing.
I listed all the other appointments, social plans and shopping I needed to do on top of my decluttering.
I made a list for things to do in my home town as well, things like checking old cassettes on my parents’ VCR and working out things I could donate from stuff I had in their house.
Of course, I was also wrapping up my last university subject and working my usual 80+ hour weeks so by the time I actually flew to Australia, I actually didn’t have many appointments or social plans booked in, and no grand plan at all for the holiday itself. In fact I had barely even booked a hotel. But I decided to book a week in a hotel near my city-located storage unit, and go as much as I could to the storage in those initial few days to see what I could achieve. I was pretty confident, given my careful planning, that I could sort through the majority of the kitchen boxes on the first full day, and donate the unwanted boxes the next day in the facility’s rentable van. With that done a huge amount would be gone quite quickly, which inspired a lot of hope in my plans.
I felt pretty ready to face whatever lay ahead. I just couldn’t wait to finally do it.