Containment

Maybe it’s a sign of the times; I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately.  If your space is limited, every square inch of space you can create becomes valuable.  My kitchen is small, and everything I buy comes in different-shaped containers, so I started thinking about more ordered, organised storage solutions.  You can buy storage jars or boxes, but I rarely find these satisfactory.  Despite their stylishness, they often feature fiddly clip locks and don’t work all that well in terms of shape or size.

What I’ve done is to ‘re-purpose’ some plastic jars that I found were a handy size and easy to open.  These are old coffee whitener jars and they have proved ideal for rice, pasta, nuts, sultanas and raisins.  There are other things I could use them for, but these are staples of my diet.  All you have to do is find containers that you like and which can be re-purposed for other items.

How jars can make a statement, and that statement is: "Hey, this dude is organised".
Fig1: One Jar, many contents.
You can label them or customise them as you wish.
The original jar is on the right.

Not necessarily in the kitchen, either.  I’ve seen jam jars re-purposed as containers under a shelf in a garage for screws, nuts and bolts etc. Under the shelf is a great way of making the most of your available space (more of that anon).

If I buy items ‘loose’, this is a good method to cut down on my plastic waste.  Dried fruit and such can be bought in a paper bag and de-canted to the jars when I unpack the shopping.  The paper bags are useful for my food recycling bin.

Is this a bad time?

There was never a more apposite expression to describe our current situation.  90% of the world has been brought to a near standstill by the covid-19 pandemic, and as I write, it doesn’t look like things will change.  If you’re feeling uncomfortable with it all, I sympathise.  I’ve had a few bad days and nights and I know other people feel the same way.  Uncertainty is nobody’s friend, but if there’s one thing that’s certain about this whole episode, it’s that nothing is certain, and probably won’t be for some time to come.

Not the most helpful way to start a blog post about decluttering, but the covid outbreak has been a showstopper for ‘normal’ activities, and like most other people, my normal routine has been thrown into a cocked hat. Many people in the media have been discussing their alternative routines and wondering whether they need to re-assess their priorities in the light of all that is happening.

Few, if any of us, are now able to indulge in group activities, and many little freedoms we might once have enjoyed in our ‘spare’ time have been denied us.  To take an ‘on-subject’ example, I wanted to declutter a few items, but was unable to, because the local recycling centre has been closed!  The charity shops I know are all closed for deliveries.  So all these simple tidy-up tasks I cannot do, for the time being.  That’s a little frustrating, to say the least.

It’s still possible to use our wheelie bins to ditch a few bits, but I’d rather not do that for items that could be re-used, and we all have our day-to-day garbage to dispose of.  No-one likes an overflowing dustbin.

For the reasons above, this is not a great time to start a decluttering project.  So how can we make best use of our time, now that time is all we have?

What I have done a great deal of in this enforced ‘slow time’, is look at the heaps of little things I have and see if I can’t organise them a little better.  Childrens toys, ornaments, books, socks etc.  In my case, it’s old photographs.  I have lots of them, some my own, some inherited, an historic family archive.  So I’m playing lots of ‘snap’, making piles of pictures and seeing if I can locate duplicates, or find all those odd ‘loose’ photos that have fallen out of packets and find out where they came from.

I’m scanning lots of old photos.  This gives me the option to ditch the hard copies and keep the ‘memory’.  Photographic paper is high quality and can go in your recycling box.

I haven’t forgotten my computer either.  Over the years, many files have gotten jumbled up, and now has provided ample time to look over these, delete stuff that I don’t need/want anymore (loads of old pictures and project files) and organise the others into more appropriately named folders.  Even in the simplest terms, I can organise files into year-dated folders.  This is a great way to keep track of memories, especially in the form of photographs, or typed letters.

I won’t deny that after a while, this could become a very tedious, boring task!  But when all we have at our disposal is time, we can take as much time as we like over this project, and even if we don’t finish it, we will have made huge strides into getting ourselves more organised than we have been for many a long year.

Tedious or ‘fiddly’ tasks like this require focus.  So spend time on them, enjoy the memories they uncover*; there is no need to rush.  It will take your mind off the current global predicament, which is not a problem of your making, not your fault.  By obeying the government guidelines and staying in, you are playing an important part in the solution.  No need to do more.

Rather like that old joke about doing something when we get ‘a round tuit’.  Along with all it’s problems, covid-19 has provided a round tuit for all of us, to start catching up with stuff we never thought we’d catch up with.

*If the things you find uncover bad memories, now might be an excellent time to consider decluttering such items ‘with maximum prejudice’.  Put them in the bin, and wave them goodbye.