Random Release of Stuff 5

So this was a bit of a strange one. I haven’t tackled any particular category, I just wanted to see the 700 number on my things gone list, so I pottered around the house picking out things that could go.

Today I also managed to get Boy1 to donate 10 toys to poorly children in exchange for a foam sword that he desperately wanted. So despite all the difficulties I described when I started my plan to reduce toys, it turns out there IS a way 😉

What I did notice while walking around looking for things that could go is how far I have come. Wowee – there really isn’t much in our house that we don’t use on a pretty regular basis!

Once I’ve got the toys a little more under control I’ll write up a house tour with some pictures, so you can see how we really live now. I’ve got some great photos over the years of all the clutter, so it’ll be nice to put up some “after” pics to balance them out.

So, where do I go from here?

Well, we still have a scary loft that we haven’t touched, and a pretty frightening garage. I also think that we can further reduce what is left in the house. I’m not sure yet what the next steps will be.

I feel a little like I am on the verge of a big precipice and I’m not sure what’s out there. I know that further reduction at this point is way beyond what anyone in our family or social circle would class as “normal”. But I’ve never considered myself to be particularly compliant to the given norm, so that’s not such a bad thing 😉

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the latest list of things out:

  • 1 glass bottle I was saving (for what?)
  • 3 pairs kids slippers
  • 1 pair kids cut-down shorts
  • 1 pair baby shoes
  • 1 kids hat
  • 1 kids jumper
  • 2 kids smart suits (trouser, waistcoat, bow-tie)
  • 1 kids shirt
  • 2 kids PJ tops
  • 2 shoeboxes
  • 1 china mug
  • 3 biros
  • 1 bean lizard
  • 2 small teddies
  • 1 wind-up toy
  • 1 plastic fire-engine
  • 1 plastic police car
  • 1 argos catalogue (!)
  • 4 cars with trailers

Total out

30 items

Ongoing total

700 items!

1000 Items Out – Possible?

As I creep closer to donating/throwing out/selling/giving away 700 items, I’m starting to wonder about making it to 1,000.


Already I know that the collection of things I have left is going to run to much less than this, (in fact, probably less than the 670 things I have already gotten rid of), so I’d have to be moving onto household things or children’s clothes and toys. However, I’m pretty certain that there’s more than enough stuff still around the house to get to this number.

And the more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of.

I really want to streamline everything and only have items around that really do get used.

I’ve dealt with so many items over the last few months that have been sat on my to-do list forever. It’s now easier to tidy up, easier to find things, and easier to search for things if we do misplace something.

Not only that, but I am noticing changes in how I feel about other people, hobbies, habits, socialising and planning for the future.

Everything is shifting under my feet as things continue to leave the house and most of the time I am loving the ride.

So – a big push to get to 1,000 items is coming. There are a couple of personal categories (jewellery and papers), which I’m reluctant to deal with, so instead of spending (yet more) time on things that are going to cause me emotional angst, I’m going for easier targets and hopefully with the clearer path ahead, the more difficult items will be less daunting further down the line.


Quitting Facebook Part 2 – Social

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

quitting facebook

After extracting and deleting all my data (see Part 1), I wanted to ‘unfriend’ everyone before requesting deletion of my empty account.

I needed to warn people that I was going to cut them off, so I simply put up a status that said,

I am leaving facebook. It has been fun 🙂

Reactions were instant:


Are you ok hun?


How come?

Hey, it took 30 years for us to get back in touch!

But I love reading your status updates!

I wish you luck and happiness in your life xxx.

You’ll be back.

Why why?

I was touched by the sudden influx of messages from people all wanting to know why I was going away.

And I wavered for a bit:

How was I going to keep in touch with these people?

Was I cutting myself off from them?

Losing friendships?

Actually, no.

Unfriending each person in turn gave me a chance to evaluate how much contact I had with that person and what I wanted to do going forward. All of the people on my facebook friends list were people I know in real life. Here’s how I went through the list:

  1. First off, I deleted a handful of ‘deactivated’ profiles. These people had already gone.
  2. Next I deleted the people that never used facebook, e.g. the ex-colleague that said hello in 2010, but who hadn’t posted much since. I didn’t bother to contact any of these.
  3. Next I deleted the people who used facebook regularly, but who I personally had very limited interaction with, e.g. old schoolfriends who I didn’t know well at school (but we had enjoyed nosing around each other’s lives for a while). Again, I didn’t bother to contact any of these.
  4. Next I removed my few family members. I know them all and speak to them regularly, so didn’t need to worry about losing them!
  5. Next I removed my true friends – people that I meet up with and see on a regular basis. These people I text and email and see regularly in person, so I had no need to worry about maintaining contact.
  6. This left a difficult category of people who I genuinely liked, and who I swapped comments and updates with regularly, but who I had little or no contact with outside of facebook. These were the hardest people to unfriend. In these cases I contacted each of them individually and we swapped email, twitter or linkedIn details where we had them. For example, my old university flatmate who lives in Canada, my best friend from primary school who lives the other side of the country, an old work colleague who has just had a baby. These people have lives full to the brim and are just as busy as we are, so yes, in some ways it will be sad that I won’t be seeing their pictures and updates any more. But I think I am marginally more likely to meet up with them at some future time if we are in one-to-one contact. And if I don’t, then I can accept that I can’t keep up with everyone and that maybe that little bit of extra time I was spending on facebook looking at their lives should go to strengthening the relationships I do maintain in real life.

You can still message people on facebook, even if you aren’t actually linked as friends, so once I’d sent off my messages I unfriended the last batch of people and I was almost done.

It was only later that day, when I sat down to read a couple of replies, and purely out of habit I clicked on News Feed, that I truly realized what a big change it was.

My news feed was empty.

There was no way for me to know what people were doing.

Unless I actually texted or called and asked, everybody had become invisible to me.

For a minute it seemed like I was cut off, in the dark, missing out…

I needed to know what was going on!

But I didn’t at all.

Immediately after that, came a feeling of what I think I can identify as relief.

I couldn’t see what people were up to. I didn’t need to know what everyone else was doing five times a day. I knew that when I spoke to them next I would probably be more attentive and ask more questions because I wouldn’t have seen a recent summary of their day in two lines.

With relief, I could see that I had done the right thing :-).

In Part 3 I’ll talk about the positive lessons that I have learnt from using (and then quitting) facebook and how I feel that leaving it has actually enhanced my social life, not limited it.

Quitting Facebook Part 1 – Data

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

quitting facebook

I recently wrote about some of the reasons I was thinking of quitting facebook.

Well, I did!

This is the first in a four part series covering my experience of opting-out of the world’s biggest social networking site after 6 years of membership and almost 1600 status updates.

Funny enough, after I’d written the post about quitting, making the decision was easy. It was something I’d been contemplating for a long time, so it suddenly seemed obvious that quitting was exactly what I needed to do.

What didn’t seem so easy was my actual exit plan.

In the 6 years since I joined facebook I had bought a house, got engaged, got married and had two children. All the emotional ups and downs, and frustrations and rewards of these events are catalogued in my status updates, along with encouragement, support and laughter from my closest friends.

I couldn’t just delete that information – I had to extract it somehow for my own records. But how?

Well, it turns out there is a very simple way to request your facebook data (status updates, photos, videos and messages are all included, but your comments on other people’s pages are not):

Go to Account Settings from the gear icon menu on the top right.

At the bottom of the list of settings there is a small link that says Download a copy of your facebook data.

Click on it, enter your password, and wait.

It takes them a while (several hours), to create a downloadable archive of all your information and you get a notification email when they are done.

When I downloaded the archive I was initially pleased – everything is laid out in web page format, just like a basic facebook, but it’s all on your own computer.

However, a closer look revealed that 9 months of 2012 statuses were totally absent. Not only that, but I *think* that some of my early updates from 2007-08 were missing.

Facebook has no real support, so to obtain the data from 2012 I expanded that year on my facebook page to include all stories, and then expanded all the comments too (yes, this took ages). Then I saved the entire web page by right clicking in Chrome and selecting Save As.

There wasn’t anything I could do about 2007-08. I guess that they may have irreversibly cut down those early years to just highlights (to save space?), or lost them in a system update, but either way I didn’t feel that I’d lost too much, as I could only remember a couple of things that were missing.

I now have all my statuses and all comments saved in html format on my local drive (and backed up to a remote location, of course 😉 ).

After finally getting all of my data out of facebook, I went through by hand and manually deleted everything from their website (yes, this took even longer).

I don’t 100% trust that a request to delete my account would really delete everything (I’m kinda paranoid like that).

Once my data was all out, I announced I was leaving.

I talk a bit more about the data I saved and it’s significance in Part 3, but next up is Part 2: the social aspect of leaving Facebook.

Getting Serious About Minimalism

minimal toiletries

I took this photo in early 2003. I was staying in a hostel in Sydney, part of a round-the-world trip, and these were my room-mate’s toiletries. I never saw him/her (venus razor in blue, right guard deodorant… gender unidentifiable) in the two nights I stayed.

But this little collection of the bare essentials really impressed me.

I’ve been decluttering for around 10 years now. In fact, the photo above probably marks the point for me where I actually realised I wanted a much simpler life (it was such a major moment for me that I actually took a photo of someone’s toiletry bag).

I come from a hoarding family, so keeping things “just in case” has always been a big problem.

It’s taken 10 years, but now I live with a collection of items which are all useful, instead of like this:

lounge clutter

My problem is… I still think there’s too much of it.

I’ve been reading Tammy Strobel’s new book, which talks about how she gave away everything to live in a tiny house.

And I think I’m ready to take the next steps.

My possessions at the moment fall into the following:

  1. Clothing, shoes and bags
  2. Exercise gear and equipment
  3. Toiletries
  4. Jewellery
  5. Books
  6. More books
  7. Electronics and gadgets, including cameras, computers, mobile, ipod, etc.
  8. A collection of sentimental things
  9. Some ornamental bits and bobs
  10. Joint household equipment (from hoover and ironing board to cutlery, DIY and gardening tools)
  11. A large filling cabinet of household filing
  12. DVDs
  13. Computer games
  14. Everything children-related (this is actually a massive amount of stuff, as many mums will agree)

I don’t really own much in the way of obsolete-hobby equipment (I gave it all away after having kids and realising all hobbies would have to wait at least a decade). All my music is digital. I’m not a collector of “things” (like owls, or mini houses, or stamps).

But it’s still too much.

I crave simplicity.

So I think I’m going to take the next step. I’m going to pare down my things beyond what we have already done.

So that I can free up time and emotional energy.

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