Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is It Worth the Struggle? (#7 of 11)

Decluttering our home, already a daunting prospect, has now been combined with staging it for the market. It’s a mammoth undertaking, and time is short. This calls for detailed strategizing.
Strategizing can be time consuming, but it really impacts how well a project proceeds once it is put into motion. I’ve found this to be true about most large undertakings – long trips, remodeling jobs, writing. 

I wrestled with the content and purpose of my book far longer (about twenty years) than it took me to finally sit down write it, straight through (fifteen months). 

I mentally remodeled the kitchen, with its terra cotta flooring, compatible counter tops and wall paint colors, comparing paint chips and material samples, for longer (about two months) than the installers spent transforming the kitchen (three days).

When we travel the 1500 miles between the overly furnished home we’re sprucing up to sell and the neat villa we’re gradually moving into, my husband and I plan the route, the stops, and the snacks and clothing we’ll bring along. We’ve learned that planning pays off in a seamless experience once we’re underway.

I enjoy spontaneity, but when faced with a large project and a short deadline, I’m a planner.

So I’ve been reading books on organizing, simplifying, packing and moving. I ordered boxes in four sizes, packing paper and bubble wrap, marking pens and miles of packing tape. In two weeks something called a “Pod” will be delivered to our home and two strong men will come to help us load it. Most of our stuff has gone to charities that have been coming by to pick up our surplus and recycle it. We’ve filled a lot of trash bags. We’re only about halfway through.

My goal is to leave our house neat, polished, and “staged,” as sterile and also inviting as an elegant hotel suite, with only basic furniture and minimal decor. The dining table will be set attractively for two, with place mats and napkins, color-coordinated plates and stemware, tall candles in cut-glass bases, and a tasteful arrangement of really convincing artificial flowers. I never use artificial flowers in my real life, but no one will be there to tend to real flowers. The bed will be made up with an ivory-colored comforter. Matching towels will hang on the towel rack. The closets will be empty.

I am concentrating on Mr. Babuta’s advice:

  1. Identify the essential.
  2. Eliminate the rest.

It sounds easy, but it’s not. I am in a hurry to start living The Simple Life, but this is a tortuous process and can’t be rushed. We leave in four weeks. So much to eliminate, so little time!

I must admit, though, that every time we relinquish something we don’t need, don’t enjoy, or haven’t used, I feel a flash of satisfaction, knowing it brings us closer to our goal. If you’ve been tempted to downsize, I recommend you try it, and let me know how it feels for you!

(To be continued next week.)