Project Cleanup: Throwing Stuff Out Feels So Good

Project Cleanup: Throwing Stuff Out Feels So Good
The first stage of Project Cleanup is going through my many possessions and working out which ones I should keep. And while there’s pleasure to be had in rediscovering old treasures, there’s even more pleasure to be had in chucking some of them out.

I’m a big believer in the SPACE (sort, purge, assign, containerise, equalise) approach to household organisation, which I’ve written up for Lifehacker before. Those principles are being applied in my post-flood cleanup, but with a fairly significant variant. I might own a lot of stuff, but I’m not a disorganised person: most everything I had was sorted into categories and had its own place to reside. However, after my brother had to cram my possessions into available above-ground space so the flooring could be lifted, much of that sorting inevitably went by the wayside.

Purely in order to gain access to my own kitchen, I’ve had to go through an enormous number of VHS tapes one by one — I was a serious VCR junkie in the early 1990s. I’ve been telling myself for years that I should sort through this stuff and work out what’s worth digitising or buying on another format; now I have a real incentive to get that done.

It’s a much easier task than I thought, because the advent of DVD on TV means that there’s an enormous amount of stuff I can simply replace with shiny new copies, which will look better and feel a tad more ethical (and occasionally come with bonus features). Have 20 years distance on some of the material also means I can more easily say “Nope, never gonna watch that again”. I never thought the purge stage could be so easy.

In about 24 hours of cleaning, I’ve so far filled 10 large garbage bags with unwanted VHS tapes. (Recycling freaks please note I removed the boxes first if they were cardboard.) I’m probably only 50% of the way through the task, and I haven’t yet run into some of the older stuff I know I’m more likely to want to keep, but the sum total of VHS tapes I want to transfer into digital formats so far only accounts for a couple of archive boxes. That’s a bit more than an afternoon’s work, but a lot easier to contemplate than the half-dozen full-height bookshelves filled with VHS I would occasionally look at ruefully when I returned home.

There’s something quite satisfying about looking at that row of currently empty bookshelves and knowing that I’ll be able to refill them in a way that’s quite different to the original setup (which dates back to 2001, when I first moved in). It’s certainly an incentive to tackle the linen cupboard and study, both of which are still packed to the rafters. Onwards!


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