Apr 15, 2013

The Happiness Project: De-Cluttering

I've started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I absolutely love the author's candid writing style and find myself nodding my head as I read along. The premise: Gretchen has a great life and in general is happy, but can she make herself happier? How can she make herself happier? She spends a lot of time reading the works of modern and new age philosophers on the subject and comes up with goals and ways she can improve her overall happiness.

I'm a happy person. And why shouldn't I be? I have my faith, a great husband, family, friends, a comfortable place to live, bacon in the refrigerator, etc. But I think we can all take the time to make ourselves happier. Gretchen talks about how when you are happy, you are more forgiving and less likely to get frustrated...like when someone cuts you off in traffic or they don't put their cart away at the grocery store (which you know irritates me to no end). You also have more patience and tolerance with these people. Now that's something I could work on.


I'm only a few chapters in, but am already motivated to try her suggestions out. She speaks of getting more sleep, walking 10K steps a day, working out more and getting rid of clutter in your life - the theme for this post. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty darn good at organization already. In fact, Brandon got me a P-Touch labeler (her name is Penny by the way) for my birthday a few years ago.

But reading this chapter gave me the kick in the pants to do more, to really get rid of the physical clutter that surrounds me and really does irritate me on the daily basis. Here's what I've been up this weekend as I continue to de-clutter and organize our 750 square foot apartment:

1. Bathroom Clean Out. 

I spent about 30 minutes cleaning out the cabinets in our bathroom. I found a lot of products that I/we don't use anymore (6 bottles of contact solution, shaving gel, old washcloths) and put them aside to donate to the women's shelter. Everything else was properly organized into clear plastic bins that I picked up from Target and the mothership of all organization: The Container Store.

Bathroom Cabinet 1

See that bin full of travel sized toiletries? That's my next project. We never take those items with us when we travel, but we always bring home new ones from hotel rooms, and thus, have way too many. When I run out of my large sized shower gel/shampoo/conditioner, I'm using these up.

2. Clothing

Now, I am really good at keeping my closet cleaned out. Remember my quest for the perfect closet GPA? My trick: I simply keep a bag in the back of my closet and when I try on something that I suddenly hate, it goes into the bag. When the bag is full, it's off to Goodwill.

Brandon on the other hand, cannot even comprehend the concept of closet GPA. But he doesn't buy as many clothes and shoes as I do, so he gets a pass. With just a little encouragement from me, he cleaned out his closet this weekend and ended up with four bags of clothing and shoes. I gave him a hug, made him a burger and promptly dropped these off at Goodwill so they wouldn't be sitting around our living room for days.


3. Books / Amazon Trade In

I'm a big fan of books, just not ones of the physical variety. Since I've switched to an e-Reader, I never buy real books anymore. To some, that's blasphemy, but to me, it's pure bliss. No books to dust, donate, or try to artfully display on your bookcase. But I did have a good stack of books from my pre-Kindle days and text books from grad school.

My brother recently told me about Amazon's Trade In program. It's really simple. You just look up the book you have, see if it's available to trade in, ship it to Amazon for free and receive payment with Amazon gift cards!


So I gathered up some of my old books that I will never touch again (yes, those are Sisterhood Traveling Pants books, don't judge) and was able to trade in 3 of them for $10! Not too shabby. The rest will be donated to the library.

We plan to do the same with our DVD collection and Brandon's books, so this is just the beginning  My brother made over $200 in Amazon giftcards selling his old DVDs!

I may have only spent three hours on de-cluttering this weekend, but I already feel like a load has been lifted off my shoulders.  The more we get rid of now, the less we'll have to do when we (hopefully) move later this year. Now if I can only stop going Target...


  1. This book is on my to-read list too! Decluttering is also something I need to focus on. I took 3 garbage bags full of clothes to goodwill last week and my closet feels so much better! But books, we have a ton that aren't so artfully displayed. I have to check out the amazon thing- neat!

  2. I recently started reading "The Happiness Project" too. She definitely makes you think, and I love all of her technical, scientific information!

  3. You are awesome at cleaning already! Didn't I read a post where you had gotten all of your spring cleaning done...even washing out the cabinets?? I will make the excuse that I never really learned to clean, but I seriously have never even hear of anyone doing that!

    I love that tip to keep a bag in the back...I tend to try something on and think...I might fit into it some other time. This really makes me want to clean things out after school gets done! That and seeing all the junk Dave accumulated at his place after only two years makes me feel like I might have to get good at throwing stuff out. :)

    For those travel things you pick up at hotels, my dad travels a lot and donates those to our local shelter! Worth a shot! :)

  4. OMG, the P-Touch labeler!!! I had to use that so much when I worked privately for that family, and I had to label EVERYTHING. I became obsessive. I obviously lost that trait.

    I DEFINITELY need to de-clutter. It is one of my worst habits. (Is that a habit?)
    Good thing I have a reason to right now. ;) Of course, getting rid of clothes is the hardest thing for me. I always think I'm "totally going to need it" someday...that never comes. I really just want someone to come and clean out my stuff for me because I probably wouldn't even notice most of what is gone.

    HOLD THE PHONE. We can trade in DVDs? I have TONS and I never rewatch most of them. I am going to have to look into that prior to my impending impoverished state of being.

    P.S. Loved The Happiness Project, as I told you. Loved the part about "Being Gretchen." I'm pretty sure I wrote a post on it two or three years ago. I should probably read the book again though. I bet I'd get even more out of it now.


Thanks for commenting! I almost ALWAYS reply to comments and questions, so please click the little "Notify Me" box so that you'll be sure to receive my reply.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...