Category Archives: Decrappify!

Spring Is Coming, My Stuff is Going!

Yesterday was a great spring day, just a couple weeks early.  There’s less snow on the ground each day lately, and no appreciable accumulation in the next few weeks.   The imminent return of spring has me thinking of spring cleaning.  Or more accurately, cleaning out.

It’s once again time for a possessions purge!  I have purchased three very inexpensive plastic storage bins from a nearby dollar store.  Each is going to be designated for a specific category: keep, donate, and dispose.  I’m going to go into each room in the house and sort the things in them into these three bins.  If I need to fill a bin more than once, I will bag up the contents and start over.  Stuff to donate will go straight to the back of my truck for transport.  Stuff to dispose of will go out to a shed pending trash pickup (or recycling if appropriate).  Stuff to keep will be put away immediately after the sorting is done.  Then, on to the next room.

The trick to successfully using this three-bin method is that nothing in a room is exempt.  If there is a secret to keeping stuff out of the house in the first place, I apparently have not found it!  I have minimized my purchases these past few years, but stuff still seems to accumulate.  Perhaps it’s a variation on the old adage that nature abhors a vacuum.  With all that said, I will implement a 72 hour purchase cooling-off period for purchase of non-essentials and see how that goes.

Now, it should go without saying that the foregoing does not apply to bikes, since the appropriate number of bikes is (N + 1) where N = the number owned at any time.  🙂

Useful or beautiful, or gone.

Useful or beautiful, or gone!


Making Mornings Simpler

There are things which I do to simplify my mornings and make the start to my day a bit easier.  I suppose that some of them may border on obsessive compulsive disorder, but I prefer to think of them as being efficient.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

First, I have a two-level closet in which my shirts hang above my pants.  I’ve culled my wardrobe such that any shirt either matches or coordinates with any pants.  This way, each morning I just grab whatever is furthest to the left on each level and I’m good to go.  No need to stop and mull over the possible combinations.  An added benefit is that it does not matter in what order I hang them up.

Second, I have my breakfast mostly ready to go the night before.  My basic coffee maker does not have a timer, so I fill the basket with grounds and the water reservoir so all I have to do is turn it on.  I also prepare my food the night before.  I often have steel cut oats which take a while to cook, so I leave them soaking overnight.  Then all I have to do is add some nuts and berries and microwave them for a minute.  I also like to make tofu scramble with veggies, so I make a large pan ahead of time and microwave a serving.  And so on.  I may not save lots of time overall but it certainly feels less hectic to me.

Third, I frequently get up an hour early and in the winter, I do 30 minutes of spinning on my indoor bike trainer.  In warmer weather, I like to go for a bike ride outdoors.  I started doing this in the summer of 2017 when I discovered the joy of cycling.  I admit, I need to be a bit more consistent about getting up early and riding, so it’s a bit of a work in progress on that front.   Tangentially related to this is my avoidance of the morning news on TV or radio for the past couple of years.  I have no need or desire to begin my day on a sour note by consuming what passes for news these days.

So there you have it.  These are the three main ways in which I simplify my mornings.  I’d enjoy hearing how you simplify or streamline yours.

             Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.

Ups and Downs in 2017

It’s been a while since I wrote about my decrappification activities.  To be honest, I had a bit of a lull in that regard.  I suppose it’s like a lot of things in life, in that you can’t be going full steam ahead 100 percent of the time.  If you try, inevitably you will get burnt out.  That seems to me to be a good way to inadvertently sabotage your efforts.  On the other hand, you don’t want a slowdown to lead to stagnation.

This past year I had mixed results.  For three things in the plus column, I migrated the majority of my reading to my tablet, using Nook, Kindle, and Acrobat apps.  This cuts way down on the number of magazines and books I have to deal with either for storage or recycling.  (While I agree that there is a tactile advantage to books, everything has a cost.)  Second, I went completely vegan in January of 2017, so my eating got a lot more thoughtful-by necessity as well as purpose-and streamlined.  Third, I purged some of my accumulated winter clothing of times which no longer fit well or which I have not worn in the past year.  I got rid of the equivalent of two large laundry baskets of good clothes which went to charity.

For three things in the minus column, being honest, I’ve become a bicycle hoarder.   That’s not a bad thing per se, but I rebuilt a full suspension mountain bike for winter road use, adding it to my old non-suspension mountain bike and vintage 10 speed road bike-three bikes for one person.  (For the record, I’ve been told that the appropriate number of bikes is (N + 1) where N equals the number you have at any time.)  Second, I’ve come to realize that I have way too many duplicate tools, especially wrenches and sockets.  So, a project in the near term will be to winnow out the duplicates and pass them along.  Third, silly as it may sound, I have accumulated an over-abundance of tee shirts and socks, so it’s time to purge.   The tee shirts I can pass along or donate, and I’ll figure out a way to repurpose the used socks.

As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.”.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

How Many Bikes Do I Need?

Over the past few years I’ve been continuously reducing the number of things I own.  This is a process I refer to as “decrappification”, borrowing a phrase from the computing world.  Basically, I am trying to simplify my life and that includes decluttering my house.

So, of course, something comes along to upset my plans.  That something is a renewed interest in cycling this past summer.  I got the two bikes I owned out of storage, tuned and cleaned them, and I’ve been slightly less than obsessed with riding since.  One bike is a 1990 Univega Nuovo Sport 10 speed road bike, which is great for riding on pavement.  The other is a 1992 L. L. Bean Approach (non-suspension) mountain bike with all-purpose tires, which is suited for riding on gravel and dirt roads in my neighborhood.

I’m riding my Approach indoors on a trainer now that it’s gotten colder as winter approaches, but that’s not the same as being outside.  My Univega, having skinny road slick tires, is clearly not suited for winter riding when there is snow and ice on the roads.  I don’t want to subject my Approach to road salt and grime.  That’s why I bought a pair of used Mongoose Spectra full suspension mountain bikes a couple days ago, for the princely sum of $50.00.

One has a frozen front fork but a good rear cassette.  The other is just the opposite.  Both have cable and twist shifter issues.  All four tire tubes won’t hold air.  Here’s the thing: between them I can make one good, essentially $25.00 winter beater bike for riding after it starts snowing.  If it gets salty and dirty, so what?  (I have no idea yet what I’ll do with the leftovers, but I’m sure something will come to me.)

Oh, and did I mention I’ve got my eye on a Kent/GMC Denali aluminum frame, flat bar road bike?

Not bad for just $50!

Stretched Too Thinly?

Sometimes the process of decluttering and decrappification is not about messy rooms or an overabundance of possessions.  Sometimes it is about time and commitments.  There are a finite number of hours in each day, week, month, and year.  How we apportion our time has an impact upon us.

For example, for the past three years I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine.  It’s been an interesting experience, and I enjoyed being with the people on the Board.  However, when my term recently expired, I chose to not continue.  The thing is, I found myself stretch thinly more often than not this past year.  As much as I valued being on the Board, it wasn’t an essential use of my time.

I once read a suggestion that one should make a list of one’s top five time commitments, in terms of personal importance.  Anything that didn’t make the list would then be considered optional.  For me the top five commitments (in no particular order) are work, church, friends and family, home maintenance, and exercising.  Among other things with which I was involved in varying degrees, the Board didn’t make the cut, so I cut it.  Cutting commitments which aren’t essential, useful, or pleasurable frees up time for those which are, and decreases my stress.  Give it a try!

Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.