Lauren Martino: Welcome to Library Matters. I’m Lauren Martino and I’m here with my co-host, Julie Dina.
Julie Dina: Hello.
Lauren Martino: And today, we are here to talk about decluttering. Happy January, the holidays are over. Your house is probably packed with stuff. And it’s New Year, it’s a time for new beginnings and it’s a season to declutter. So with us today, we have two MCPL staff members, Fred Akuffo.
Fred Akuffo: Hello, everyone.
Lauren Martino: Who needs decluttering and has some very creative strategies he tells us to – that have worked for him that he’d like to share. I’m really curious to hear this, because I need this myself. And with us today as well is Angelica Rengifo.
Angelica Rengifo: Hello.
Lauren Martino: Who assures me she is on a minimalists journey. Angelica and Fred, can you define decluttering for us? What is it and why should we be thinking about it?
Angelica Rengifo: So, one of the first things that I will like to may clear is that decluttering is not organizing.
Lauren Martino: Okay.
Angelica Rengifo: So, decluttering is to get rid of things.
Lauren Martino: Okay.
Angelica Rengifo: Get rid of things you don’t use. Get rid of things you don’t want anymore. Get rid of things that are broken and you’re not thinking of fixing or getting fixed.
Julie Dina: Or you are thinking, but that’s all you’re doing.
Angelica Rengifo: Or you’re not going to get to it.
Julie Dina: Yeah
Angelica Rengifo: Yeah. So decluttering is making a space for things that matter in your life and taking away declutter that it doesn’t allow you to see and appreciate those things.
Fred Akuffo: For me, decluttering is placing things back in their proper place for better flow in your life. If you listen to a lot of TED talks as a TED talk about flow and how gaining and comprehension of how flow works makes your life better. So for me, I think decluttering is a practice that can assist with that.
Julie Dina: So every one is talking about decluttering. Now, let’s dive in and find out why is decluttering actually a thing now where people just neither 20 years ago, or was the concept simply calls something else back then. What do you guys think?
Angelica Rengifo: Did June Cleaver ever declutter? Does she ever need it? It’s what I want to know.
Julie Dina: That’s a research we need to.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah. I think with the shows like Horrors and things like that, I think it cost people to maybe pay attention to more of what they have gone on in their own homes. Now the Horrors are you know, people who are on the extreme. But I think when you watch a show like that and then you turn around and look at your own place, you see, you know, some efforts that you could probably participate in as a practice.
So I think, yeah, with some of the media that has come out now, addressing some different things that people struggle with, decluttering has become a bigger issue. Also, cluttering is not just physical, it’s –
Julie Dina: Yeah.
Fred Akuffo: – sometimes I think you can have some mental cluttering going on and that can contribute to how it looks in your life.
Angelica Rengifo: Decluttering, again, going back to the question is a thing because we – maybe the gen – now people want to have experiences. They want to create memories instead of accumulating things and more things on top of things that we sometimes don’t even know that we have and then we end up buying the same thing twice or three times because we cannot find the original thing.
For example, right now you have TV show on Netflix based on the book of Marie Kondo, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” about how to tidy up. And we see the houses of these people filled with things that they don’t use, that don’t fit them, that were part of like a period of their lives that is long gone and we just accumulate things and that’s how I think generations have change.
We are not going to take all the stuff that we buy and we accumulate. We’re not going to take it with us once we are like sick in bed at the end of our lives. We are not going to say, “Oh, I remember that dress that I bought 15 years ago.” We’re going to remember all, “Oh, I remember the trip that I took with my kids for three days to the beach.”
Lauren Martino: All right. Have you read heard “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up”?
Angelica Rengifo: Yeah, I have read a quite a few books about decluttering.
Lauren Martino: I just love the facts that there’s a life-changing Manga. So, Fred, what made you aware your need to declutter? What got you started thinking about this?
Fred Akuffo: Okay. This is an interesting one. I’ll say comments form the internal customer and what do I mean by that? I noticed one day, one point, that I had – one of the cleaners who is in-charge with cleaning up the library asked me, “So you would like me to clean your desk for you?” And, you know, I was like, “No, no, I got it.”
And then a second question came from the same person thirty seconds later, “Not really, I can do that for you if you like.” And I’m like “No, no, no. That’ll be fine. I got it. I got it.” And then not long after, maybe another day that following week I had a volunteer who work at the branch and same question came up. “Hey, you know, I can come an extra day if you like and help you out with your desk.” “No, I’m all right now. I’m good.”
Lauren Martino: Was there a spill?
Fred Akuffo: No, no, no. I let her know, “You know, I’m okay. I’m going to be getting to it in a minute.” And then the same second response from her came, “No, no, no, I’m serious. I can do that. I can come another day and we can work on your desk, you know what I mean?” And so at that point, I’m starting to become aware that –
Lauren Martino: The sign.
Fred Akuffo: – there is something wrong here and –
Lauren Martino: The world is letting you know.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, yeah. So I took a quick glance maybe from a visitor guest point of view and just looked with some other eyes and noticed that I can’t see the color of my desk. It’s all white covered with papers, books, things like that. So, I made a mental note to myself, “Yeah, we might need to take care of that and do a little bit decluttering.” So I’m more of the folks that are need of the decluttering.
Lauren Martino: How about you, Angelica?
Angelica Rengifo: Three years ago, I could be found shopping at least once, twice a week, anything, food, clothes, shoes, accessories, decor, online, at the store. And then, I think I watched something on TV and I said to myself, “I want to travel. I want to see other things. I want to have memories. Other people are doing this, why can’t I do it?”
And I started analyzing my spending and realize that all of my money was going to shopping and things that I will wear once, maybe never. I have shoes – I had pair of shoes that I never wore. And – because they look cute on the store and they look cute on feet, but then I was not comfortable buying.
Lauren Martino: You can walk.
Angelica Rengifo: I mean, walking on them.
Julie Dina: Yeah.
Angelica Rengifo: And I decided that all my money was going to go traveling. And last year, I just went too odd that I started a no spending year. This is my third month.
Lauren Martino: No spending year.
Angelica Rengifo: It has been hard. It has not been perfect.
Lauren Martino: So what are the rules of these, like clearly you have to buy food.
Angelica Rengifo: A no cloth – yeah.
Lauren Martino: Okay, okay.
Angelica Rengifo: And so essentials I buy, food, of course, gas, doctors appointments, rent, of course, just the essentials and I give myself once a week to like go out to eat.
Lauren Martino: Okay.
Angelica Rengifo: But I’m not allowed to buy shoes, clothes, decor. I’ve been looking at this blanket for like a month then I’m like I want it but I don’t need it. So it’s also changing the mentality of buying, of wanting and masking this want as need. So that’s what has changed my perspective on consuming goods besides food, which I need. But also, I was buying more food that I needed for a week.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Angelica Rengifo: So, things were going bad and it was – as a result, I was wasting money that way too. So I – trying to do at least planning from Sunday two meals per week to declutter my fridge as well and my pantry.
Julie Dina: So decluttering could be seen as a way of saving money as well.
Angelica Rengifo: Oh, it is a big way of saving money towards maybe paying your debt, student loans, which is usually a big one for everybody, paying your mortgage, your credit card, making finally plans to take that vacation that you have always wanted. And so –
Lauren Martino: You’ve done any of these traveling yet that you want to do? Where it begun?
Angelica Rengifo: Yes, I have.
Lauren Martino: What this enabled you to do?
Angelica Rengifo: I’ve been to few a cities in Italy. I’ve been to London, Paris, Amsterdam, a few other ones. Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Wow. Is it worth it?
Angelica Rengifo: Yes. It has been really worth it. I’ve been getting rid of clothes at the same time and I really don’t need anymore right now, so, yes.
Lauren Martino: Do either of you have any resources you’d like to share that have been particularly helpful in your decluttering journeys?
Fred Akuffo: For me, I had read a book a friend of mine has suggested. It wasn’t a decluttering book, but he talked about things in a decluttering method. And this is a “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. And he talked about not having things build up by not taking care of things.
So, if you have something that needs to be done, do it, get it off your checklist, so it’s not building a pile up in the back of your mind. And the back of the mind, when you have a pile up building up, you start to lose other things to deal with that. So it’s kind of like I express to people sometimes and I say, “Look, if you tell me to do more than three things at a time, I’m going to start forgetting things. I’m going to start dropping things,” you know, because, you know, for me that’s what I can handle. You know, sometimes I tell my wife, “You know, only three things to the grocery list. If you had five, I’m going to forget the milk, okay?” So – but that’s –
Lauren Martino: It’s a Pat Hutchins’ book.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, yeah.
Lauren Martino: Don’t forget the butter.
Fred Akuffo: Right, right, right. So – but that’s what I’m talking about in terms of the nonphysical side of decluttering. Sometimes you got to declutter, you know, your thoughts, your mind, you know. And sometimes we don’t want to focus on meditations much because we got sits still.
And in today’s society, everybody is moving everywhere, you know, high rates speed and all that kind of thing. But sometimes it’s good to just take that time where there would be 15 minutes in two days. Just meditate on what you’re going to get – got going on and what you need to take care of. And then take care of those things and check them off so that your mind can be free and your flow can be better.
Lauren Martino: Angelica, what do you have to share with us?
Angelica Rengifo: Some of the people that I follow on YouTube are more towards minimalism, but they also give you an insight on things that you can’t use. You don’t have to follow every single thing, you don’t have to go to the extreme. But some of my favorite ones are “Pick Up Limes”. She has decluttered and she’s a minimalist not only in her lifestyle and her work, but also even her diet.
Julie Dina: How does that work?
Angelica Rengifo: She is all about plant-based diet and her meals are very simple, very repetitive in the sense that it’s not the same thing every day, but maybe every other week she repeats a series of meals. And by practicing what you are making, what you are cooking, it becomes easier.
Lauren Martino: You get better at them.
Angelica Rengifo: So it simplifies your life, what you’re buying at the store. You’re using it more. It doesn’t go bad and you know where to get it and at what prices you’re going or what places you’re going to get the best prices from. So I really like her.
Then Joshua Becker and, of course, “The Minimalist” are the two – or three in this, three guys that – or really the pioneers in the minimalist movement.” And they also have books. They have TED Talks. And they are really good at making you think a different way about things in your clutter, in your baggage. And what you have and what you don’t need in what to – or how to appreciate what you have that you’re not seeing.
Lauren Martino: Do have any particular titles by Joshua Becker you can recommend to us.
Angelica Rengifo: Well, I am reading – he has two books and I am reading right now “The Minimalist Home.” This is – Joshua Becker is a husband and he’s a father, and he started to declutter his home with his family. And he, again, is a pioneer in this movement and he gives you guidelines on how to simplify your home lifestyle and what issues contribute to home clutter. So this is a great book to maybe start with Joshua Becker in “The Minimalist Home.”
Lauren Martino: So do either of you have any tips for those of us who just doesn’t come naturally to?
Angelica Rengifo: We have to, one, to make a change, first of all, because we can’t read all we want and it sounds pretty and it looks pretty, and it’s the fad right now. But if we don’t really wanted, it’s not going to last and we will go back to our old ways. So, first of all, we have to want it.
And then I think it will be great to create a plan. Like, what do we want to get rid of? Why do we want to get rid of things? What are we going to do with the things after we peerage them from whatever they are?
Lauren Martino: That’s the challenge.
Angelica Rengifo: How are we going to get rid of them? And know yourself that you’re going to be able to follow through, that you’re going to do the things that you plan for. And that – and also realize that not every single method that you read or hear about is going to work for you. So, I do a little bit of everything I have read. I have read the book about “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson.
Lauren Martino: Which just sounds like a crazy well novel to me, right? This is – it sounds like fiction.
Angelica Rengifo: But it’s an easy read. It’s very short if you want to do it as an audio book. And she is an older person. She is a widow and she gave me this point of view of like, do I want my family to go through all my belongings when I’m dead? And of course the answer is no for 99.9 percent of us.
Julie Dina: Why should my descendant see that I bought this horrible blue dress in the ‘80s and –
Angelica Rengifo: Exactly. So that’s one thing that I have kept with me from her book. Then I have Marie Kondo in the does this make me happy? Does this make me want to go like, oh yes, I want it. I want to keep it. So, things say that not everything is going to work for you. So you have to know yourself to decide what is going to work and be willing to try what you think my worry can then decide what to keep.
Fred Akuffo: And in terms of knowing yourself, you know, sometimes I handle things from a lazy man’s point of view. So, if you’re – if you consider yourself more on the lazier side, one thing you can do is do they wanted a challenge? And that is any area that you want to take care of in terms of cluttering, get rid of your clutter. You can take one item out of that area each day and/or it could be one or two, you pick the number five.
But whatever number gets you to point where you’re tired to do it anymore, you pick that number once a day and then by the end of the week, you’ll have a noticeable change. And it will seem like you never did anything at all.
Julie Dina: And it’s like somebody has that. I think it’s Regina Leeds has that 8 Minute Organizer book that’s like, you know, just take eight minutes and do something today and –
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, yeah, sort of along those lines. Yeah.
Julie Dina: Yeah.
Fred Akuffo: So you didn’t have to, you know, take all the time out of your life but, you know, you’re making progress in little moments as well.
Angelica Rengifo: Eight minutes.
Lauren Martino: Eight minutes.
Angelica Rengifo: Now, have I done this? No. Partially because I started doing it and then my husband rested up. So the new plan is to let’s do it together, eight minutes together.
Lauren Martino: Together.
Angelica Rengifo: Yes, so that we both see the fruits of our labor and can hopefully keep it that way.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah. If you’re going to do it a little bit out of time, you can’t put anything on top of it after you’ve it.
Angelica Rengifo: Yes, yes.
Fred Akuffo: So, you take those five pieces, make sure three pieces don’t get back on their.
Angelica Rengifo: And that’s the challenge, right?
Lauren Martino: Do either of you have any tips on decluttering sentimental items?
Fred Akuffo: Okay.
Angelica Rengifo: This is the worst.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah. My tip would be, you know, sentiment is tough because sentiment means different things to different people. And they impact people in different ways in terms of gravity.
So one thing I suggest when dealing with sentimental items is – have you – when is the last time you visited the sentiment in your life? You know, you can ask yourself that question. You know, if it’s so important, when is the last time I actually dealt with this particular item in terms of how much I claim it means to me? If it was like five years ago when you last held this item in your hands, it’s probably not that much of a sentiment.
Angelica Rengifo: I think for sentimental items, again, they are really hard to get rid off. Like Fred was saying, is different. It’s a different item for everybody. It’s a different item size for every family member. But, why not make a part of the decor, get rid of all this other clutter around this item that doesn’t let you see what is sentiment – very sentimental to you or that you’re attached to it and show off this one that is more important than this other two or three.
So, sometimes you don’t have to get rid of sentimental items. You don’t have to feel guilty about keeping them. Show them off if they are that important to you. If it is a dress, like let’s say your kid’s baptism, why don’t you frame it and put pictures around it and something like that and keep it.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, I like that. Make it part of the decor, yeah.
Angelica Rengifo: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: So, now we’ve succeeded in decluttering, we hope. Let’s imagine we’ve gotten there. We’ve done it. Things are decluttered. How do we keep it that way?
Angelica Rengifo: So I will say some ways to keep it that way is not bringing in anymore items that you do not need. Do not bring into your kitchen single used gadgets. You don’t need a cutter for apples, one for your mangoes, one for your avocadoes; there is a knife. A knife does the same job that all those three gadgets does one way.
Think about ways that something you already have can’t – what this thing you already have can do instead of buying one new thing for just one purpose. Also, another thing that we can do is make plans for every single dollar in your budget. The way it’s planned it is like a promise to yourself that this money is going to – we’re going on a movie on Sunday and pizza afterwards. Those are memories.
Yes, you’re spending money but those are memories that you’re creating with people that you care about. Instead of bringing things into your house that are not going to give you space to lay down in the couch or walk around the bed or put your car in your garage because our priorities are so twisted that we are keeping things in our garage while we have an investment that is $30,000, $40,000 outside under the snow, rain and sun all year around instead of putting it inside the house in protecting this car that is costing us a lot of money.
Lauren Martino: It’s a good point.
Fred Akuffo: It’s interesting she said that. I – not that I’m hearing this, I’m thinking one thing that will help us stay away from the ad seen on TV store.
Angelica Rengifo: Oh, yeah.
Fred Akuffo: I’m talking about specialty item.
Angelica Rengifo: Pro-tip
Fred Akuffo: There’s a lot of –
Lauren Martino: Like the mango cutter you talked to –
Angelica Rengifo: Like that mango cutter.
Fred Akuffo: The mango cutter.
Angelica Rengifo: I almost bought it.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, the microwave, egg boiler.
Angelica Rengifo: Yup
Fred Akuffo: You know, all those things.
Julie Dina: Well, now that we’re towards the end of our episode, this is traditional final question that we ask our guests. What are you currently reading? Fred, let’s start with you.
Fred Akuffo: “Federal Mafia” by Irwin Schiff. And it’s about taxes and the nation. And when you clutter people down with all the taxes and stuff, you can’t think freely about, you know, the ones you do need to pay or should be paying or should not be paying. So the power is that maybe benefiting from the lack of clarity of all those different tax logic, got to pay attention to. I haven’t read the book all the way yet so I’m still finding out, but that’s one.
And then another one is “Creature from Jekyll Island.” And that’s the interesting one because it talks about the Federal Reserve and how it is intentionally doing what exactly the people who created it meant for it to do, which doesn’t look like what we think it looks like.
And so that kind of relates to the cluttering too because, you know, sometimes when you are in the midst of clutter, you can’t see what things look like until somebody says to you, “Hey, I can clean that for you.” So, you know, a lot of people –
Angelica Rengifo: Like a full circle.
Fred Akuffo: A lot of people think that the Federal Reserve needs to be cleaned up and so, you know, maybe we got some decluttering to do in that space of finance for the country as well.
Angelica Rengifo: So, I am reading right now “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. I wasn’t originally – was not thinking about how it relates to declutter, but thinking about it that way, this is a period in time when France was occupied by Germany and how this dad and his daughter have to move to another town. And what will you take with you if you have to leave in a hurry at your house?
Lauren Martino: Oh, wow.
Angelica Rengifo: What is important to you?
Lauren Martino: What’s that important?
Angelica Rengifo: I asked myself that question a few weeks ago and I said, I will take my dog and my passport are I think what I will take with me. Everything else can be replaced.
Lauren Martino: I will like to thank both of you for coming to our program today. Let’s keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to podcast on the Apple podcast app, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast. Also, please review and rate us on our Apple podcast; we’ll love to know what you think. Thank you once again for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.