January purging: 111 things in 1/11

My friend Jenny over at her blog Words on Wendhurst has started a fantastic January initiative. She emailed me last week, inviting me to participate in a month of purging. The idea is to get rid of 111 things in January of 2011.

At first I hemmed and hawed. But then I thought about it. 111 things in a month is only about 30 per week. I already knew there were some pairs of shoes that could go asap, but had been hanging around causing trouble and taking up space. And suddenly, the fire was lit. I started zipping like a whirlwind through my house piling up stuff to get rid of.

Within half an hour, I had a pile of 30 things.

There were things to pass on to Goodwill such as this cruet. I kept it because I grew up in Spain, where everyone and their mother has a cruet. Keeping the olive oil and vinegar handy is 100% necessary to the daily salad.

However, I rarely serve salad, so I just hung on to it for about 6 years. Enough is enough, I say! Out with the salad! Out with the idea that my Spanish heritage is tied into the objects I own!

Then there was hair paraphenalia that I hadn’t worn in years. A plastic measuring cup (we switched to glass). A hideous bowl from my college days that used to house pounds upon pounds of Ramen noodles and Easy Mac.

I could never get those hair sticks to actually stay in my hair anyway. Good riddance!

This velvet hat was just too tight on my head. The purple sunglasses are fun . . . but the last time I wore them was Wild West Days 2003.

As I piled the stuff into a bag, I realized I was looking forward to zipping through the house the following week, scrounging up another 30 things.

I wondered if I was cheating because I wasn’t getting rid of ‘big’ things. But then I realized that it’s not the big things that tend to clutter things up–it’s the little things. Like old make up in my make up bag that I just can’t part with. Jewelry from high school that is no longer my style. This little ceramic bowl bestowed on me by a bed and breakfast in Mexico.

It’s especially important for me to establish myself as firm ruler of the clutter monster, because my Mom’s side of the family has passed on a series of genes that make me particularly prone to saving things I don’t need. We spent the money, so we might as well hang onto it in case we need it in the future. Or It may not fit quite right now, but who knows, maybe it will later. Hah! Do I expect my feet to change shape magically to better fit those shoes? Do I really think one day I’ll resurrect that old mangled and yellowed bra? Lies, all lies!

I will dominate my clutter. I hereby proclaim it.

So cheers to January and Jenny’s intiative! If any of you want to participate, by all means let me know in the comments!

I can’t wait until next week.

I just have to ask myself if I have the strength to get rid of my old college coursework papers . . .

50 thoughts on “January purging: 111 things in 1/11

  1. Cindy

    I’ve just thrown out three garbage bags of stuff (don’t know how big your municipal bags are, but ours are huge) and I feel totally liberated. Well done Jenna.

    Reply
  2. Circe

    Over the break I cleaned out my storage locker, and ended up throwing away a ton of stuff, mostly flower pots…I used to have a huge balcony, and I used to have a gorgeous container garden, but now I live in a unit that doesn’t have a balcony, so I have no use for any of it, pots, chemicals (that had started eating their way through the bottles) all of it is gone, except the pots that might be used for house plants. It really did feel good to lighten the load, and the added benefit is that some of my other things that I can’t get rid of, but may need on occasion (the dog’s crate) can now be stored in the locker. The added bonus is that the pots got a new lease on life, I left them beside the bin, and within a few days every single pot had been claimed by one of my neighbors.
    I hadn’t thought about doing it as a challenge, but it is appealing to think about 30 useless items leaving your home every week, and since I also have a tendency to “pack ratism,” I think I will join you and your friend. Thanks for the ideas, I am now flush with ideas about where my clutter is hiding.

    Reply
  3. SoupAddict Karen

    I’m totally doing this! This year, I’m going to purge like it’s never been done before. Grrrr. (That’s my purge chant.) I definitely got rid of more than 30 things last weekend, so, I’m right on track, and am already gearing up for this weekend: a trip to IKEA for some organization tools, and then home to the closets, basement and attic!

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Thanks Emily! It’s funny how I really do connect objects to my heritage–l feel like if I get rid of them I’m ‘betraying’ someone or something. I really need to change that mentality and shake myself free!

      Reply
  4. Rowenna

    Jenna, what an awesome idea! And I have the perfect solution. Move house! Husband and I just moved…and I think we met or exceeded our 111 things quota :) So liberating to find things a new home in the Goodwill bag or the Dumpster or the recycling bin. Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      I totally know what you mean–moving always results in highly satisfying amounts of purging! We moved about a year and a half ago, and got rid of a bunch of stuff. It felt awesome.

      Reply
  5. Christy

    Oh, Jenna, I’m with you in the fight to get rid of college papers. I worked so hard on them, and I cherish the comments from professors (one of whom died recently). If you have any moments of clarity, feel free to pass them on.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      I’ll definitely let you know–I’m kind of secretely hoping I can avoid that bin of paper . . . I keep telling myself I may use it if I teach in the future, or something. But that’s just silly–it’s been 6 years and I haven’t looked at that stuff a single time!

      Reply
  6. Virginia

    I should have counted the stuff in my bags and boxes sitting in my car waiting for their trip to the Salvation Army! I went through ALL of my pictures and albums that I’ve been neglecting to organize and purge. It took me a full day and I pitched a bunch of stuff, but I feel muuuuuch better!

    Reply
  7. Eva

    “I will dominate my clutter.” I love it!! I also come from a clutter-keeping family, so I feel your pain, it’s hard to change our ways– but it feels so much better to be free from the clutter monster!

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Amen! And once you get started, there’s a kind of tornado effect that keeps you going that makes it easier, and fun. Starting is the hard part . . .

      Reply
  8. Wendi

    Great start on your goal. Now would you please come to my house and tackle the clutter monster? My husband’s Army gear has taken over our very tiny house but I cannot convince him to get rid of any of it. Perhaps a third party would have better results.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Hah! I think both my sisters are starting to have to cope with the army gear ‘issue.’ =) I remember being impressed with the amount of gear necessary for their army husbands, and I also remember thinking ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that!’ On the other hand, I have to deal with piles upon piles of new books every quarter for my student of a husband . . . I guess none of us can completely escape the struggle.

      Reply
  9. Twinky

    Sigh… the cruets….
    Perhaps NEXT year when I can get at my stuff because it is finally in a house and unpacked, I will then tackle the decluttering. Of course by then it will be 112 items, not just 111!
    One other way to handle the clutter monster is to simply not shop! It cannot become a monster if you never acquire it to begin with =). Now remind me of this principle regularly!!

    Reply
  10. Sarah

    way to go! i recently got rid of ugly christmas decorations we inherited and don’t like. it felt so good!! and- for the first time ever- when we got a few christmas presents that weren’t our style, we put them in the goodwill bag immediately instead of shoving them in the back of the closet… because really, is that aunt ever going to ask about the salt & pepper shakers? NO! :)

    Reply
  11. Sarah R

    Can you count a pair of shoes as two items? :) We did our annual purge a little early in preparation for holiday guests, and I’m pretty sure we made it to 111. However, this weekend I’m going to purge my pen cup/bin. There are so many dry or broken pens, pencils and markers in there that I’ll definitely exceed the 111 goal. Real Simple has loads of these ideas if you’re looking for places to purge.

    Reply
  12. Veronica

    Wow, I love this idea. I’m seriously considering joining you but like you, it’s hard for me to part with things b/c I’m convinced I’ll need/use them later. It never happens, though! I think hoarding runs in my family too. One thing I could NEVER get rid of is paper memories. Don’t ditch those papers! I relish looking back on the little amount of school work papers I still have. I’m sad I didn’t keep them all! I now start a box each year with the year on it and put all the paper stuff I get that year (cards, letters, programs, etc) in it. That way when I will never be bored in my retirement–I’ll just relive the “good old days” lol.

    Reply
  13. ches

    Awesome start to getting rid of the extra stuff in the house. I look forward to seeing what else you purge this month, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  14. pinkingshearsandbroccolispears

    Good work Jenna! I’ve started purging things but will probably not get around to documenting it. If you want an extra super boost of motivation, watch an episode of “Hoarders.” Andrew and I stumbled across the show a couple days ago and it was so horrifying that, even though it was around midnight, I immediately went downstairs and started cleaning up my kitchen and reorganizing a couple of cabinets that had been bothering me.
    I like to think that I’m generally good at keeping on top of the clutter monster, but papers/information are my weakness. “What if I need that information one day and can’t find it?” I always think. Andrew’s idea: scan in or type up papers with useful information, even with things like old drawings/paintings and stories you wrote in middle school, and then get rid of them. With objects that might be sentimental for some reason, take a picture and then get rid of it. I’m using this strategy to tackle my “school papers etc” pile.

    Reply
  15. Carrie

    Oh, those old college coursework papers… I’m still clinging tightly to those, as I know my memory will not serve forever, and I’ll need to revisit them in order to consider myself worthy of my degree. But, yeah, typing up information worth keeping and throwing away the evidence is a great idea. Assuming my hard drive doesn’t crash again… erg…

    Reply
  16. Carrie

    P.S.
    I’ve tried getting rid of clothes before, but the problem is… I take them to my alma mater’s student wives’ boutique, where everything is free, and have a tendency to take away at least as much as I brought, if not more. Not really a good plan.

    Reply
  17. Liz @ It's Great To Be Home

    Oh my goodness, I inherited those genes from my mom, too! I can’t tell you how much crap I have because of that – and it drives my husband CRAZY. I’m enjoying getting rid of stuff through this challenge, but I can’t seem to make myself get rid of some of the things that I KNOW really need to go. Baby steps, right? :)

    Reply
  18. Kelsey

    111 in 1/11, that’s great! I’m about to declutter and clean this place – I hear you on the stacks of books. Problem is, we don’t have anywhere to put the old ones, yikes. I went through my college things this summer, it was much easier to do since I hadn’t looked at them in a while and realized that I had a digital copy of most things. I got mine down to just a small pile of paper things and now I can actually find it if I need it!

    Reply
  19. Julie

    HI! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Not sure if I have 111 things to get rid of. I am not a keeper of things. My husband is…can I get rid of his things? :)

    Reply
  20. Amy @ Serve At Once

    I started purging at the beginning of January, Jenna. I cleaned out my bedroom and had EIGHT garbage bags full of giveaways and throwaways alike. I couldn’t BELIEVE the amount of clutter I had laying around, and I feel so much better now that it’s out of the house. I don’t want to be someone so attached to “things” because material possessions aren’t what it’s all about anyway.

    So cheers for our January purgings!

    Reply
  21. alongtheohio

    Kudos to you! I went through a purging thing right after Christmas myself. I like the systematic approach you are going with…and I love the photos :) Wish my clutter was as interesting! haha…but I love the tie between your Spanish heritage and your old Spanish items. Happy New Year!

    Reply
  22. Erica

    woo hoo for purging!!! that’s one of the many things i love about the army- keeps us purging all the time.
    love you, kiddo!

    Reply
  23. Morocco

    Count me in! I’ve been wanting to simplify my living since we’ve moved to a bigger house. I was so overwhelmed while packing all the “stuff” we had!

    Reply
  24. June

    As someone with those same cluttering genes… Way to go! I think those with Mama Kitty Genes should have an annual purging… Or, as your fabulous mother pointed out, we could stop shopping. Right? Never mind. Back to the purging.

    Reply
  25. Kristy

    Doesn’t it feel wonderful? Clearing out the clutter makes my heart, my head, and my house feel lighter. And once you get started, its so easy to keep going.

    I started tackled my over-abundance of Christmas decorations this weekend.

    Reply
  26. Pingback: Purge in 1/11: Installment #1 « Overflow

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  28. Layla

    I’m back!! I’m starting to blog (and had to come here for a link to include in my blog, to credit you) about my 114 process, which I’m going to start NOW, and have finished before January, since I’m expecting that month, and would like the house to be more clutter free for another baby in the house!

    Reply

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