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Different clutter-clearing idea.

We often chide ourselves for our clutter...I think I am one of those people who feels lost in a room with too many empty spaces in it; but, I've tried for years to find a way to get a grip on my tendencies. 

One thing that is helping me cut down on some of the debris is the Kindle.  When something the size of a papeback can hold 3500 books, that is much more space-efficient. 

It saves a few bucks a book, too, so I think it more than pays for itself over time.  At $9.99 or less, a good book lasts at least as long as two magazines, so it is about a wash for buying portable reading material. 

Of course, one of the more ironic issues with my collection of books is that some (quite a few, actually) of them are about solving the clutter problem.  At least I can get them electronically now, so no more bookcases needed.  

Last night, I had one new title on clutter clearing  pop up as a recommendation while I was researching something else.  It was so highly reviewed by other customers, as I read theri reviews, I decided that right now might be a good time to get motivated to de-clutter some more. 

I had never thought of this problem from precisely this point of view, but I liked the strategy.  This author recommends taking EVERYTHING out of a  space - whether it is a drawer, a closet or a whole room - and putting back only what really works in there. 

I've got to de-junk the three rooms of the office this spring, and also the pool house and my back workroom, so I may try this.  It is precisely what we did when we had to restore the floors of four rooms and a closet in the past year.  I think when you do floors over, and everything has to go, is one of the very few times we really empty a room. 

Had done the kitchen the same way maybe seven years back, and cleaned out all the cabinet drawers and shelves this way this summer, too.  When we did over the garage three years ago, we took everything out and stashed it in the livestock trailer for a couple of weeks while we framed, insulated, painted and trimmed.

Do not know why this had not occurred to me to do in general.  Just take it all out at once, then put back only what really, REALLY fits the space.  DUH!

Sometimes, I need a new way of approaching a difficult job.  I think this way makes a WHOLE lot of sense...take out everything , and only put back what you really need, want or enjoy using.  It is like having a blank slate, gives me the feeling of a fresh start. 

I guess you could call this a light bulb moment for me.  Do any of you re-organize things this way, or am I the only one who's just realized it really works?

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12 Replies

Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

That is EXACTLY how I have always done my drawer, closet, cupboard cleaning.  Mainly because during the interim time between the cleanings invariably some things get put in the wrong place and I never find them.....until I pull everything out at once.  That gives me the chance to move the misplaced article back to where it belongs, too.


By taking everything out, I can also look for duplicates and pitch those items that are no longer functional.  Or I can choose the item that is in the best condition and find a home for the older item by donating it.


I always use the three pile method when I take out everything:  Keep, Donate, Trash.  Somehow donating still usable, but not necessarily useful to me, items makes it much easier for me to give them up as opposed to just trashing them.  I just have a hard time trashing items that are still useful just to rid myself of clutter.


I also use the "If I haven't worn it in two years" rule in my clothes closet.  When I had a packed closet but found myself wearing basically the same items all the time, I did a major decluttering.  Has really cut down on my time to get ready for work in the morning.


On a related note I love my Kindle, too!  I don't believe I have spent any more than I normally would on books and I sure like having one small item to tote around.  I remember when I was first considering one and some folks questioned not having the *feel* of a real book in their hands.  So far I have not missed that one bit. 


I have done some damage to my elbow and shoulder since my fall from grace with the high heeled stunt on the ottoman.  I am not sure if I could hold up a heavy book with the pain I still have.  So my Kindle has really been a big help with that issue.


Happy decluttering!

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Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

So sorry you are still having shoulder pain this long after your stunt.  It does make everything more difficult when you have that much of a limitation going on for so long. 

I was very concerned that the lack of a book's comfort cues would really bother me when i tried Kindle.  I am finding the excellent contrast of the e-ink so much of an improvement over most print type, it is worth the small sacrifice of the sensation of a book in hand. 

A good friend who is also a voracious reader told me he would NEVER make the switch.  Over dinner Saturday evening, he admitted that he's fallen in love with his Kindle, too. 

Print bookstores and publishing are in trouble...saw this on "Sunday Morning" recently, I think.  Then again, think of how easily/inexpensively anyone can  "publish" now.   

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Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

I just heard that Borders Books is going out of business in many cities. They attributed it to the huge increase in e-book sales. 

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Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

That sad news was a part of the same report.  Barnes and Noble has done okay with its Nook side, I think. 

There is a part of me that feels really blue about the move away from print...I finally got to see a real Guttenberg Bible in December in my trip to New York.  Hard to think that the means of finally making books available to the masses is becioming obsolete. 

 If you ascribe to the end times theories about an electromagnetic pulse disrupting civilization, having knowledge reduced to digital sources would be a very vulnerable medium.  Just look at the jamming of electronic communictions in the Middle East, to squelch the demonstrations.  In my de-cluttering efforts, I will most likely not get rid of very many books! 

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Ruby Lou
Senior Contributor

Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

I think I am just too attached to my stuff...too much stuff

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Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

It is very hard for me to choose an item, or several of htem, and pull them out of a huge collection of my things to discard or donate. 

I think this is why I like this philosophy of de-junking:  I can easily move everything out at once, as I had to do for the new floors in those rooms this summer.  Then, when a whole  roomful of stuff is on the screened-in porch, I can be more ruthless in returning things I can justify, and boxing up to get rid of those I cannot.  It is almost as if each item has to earn its way back inside the house. 

This writer uses "trash, treasure and transition" as her three categories for sorting.  The first two are easy.  Transition is for donations and items boxed and dated for a self-imposed separation period, and put into storage.  The theory is that if you leave them long enough, you lose your attachment, which was tenuous at best. 

I am planning to use this process on the next few cleanouts.  The first one is my plan for omorrow, right after I do this week's bookwork.  Starting with the pool house, which is a very limited space.  Stuff out there is far less sentimental, too. 

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turkey feather
Senior Contributor

Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

I find the idea of the loss of books disturbing even though I seldom read a long book. There have been so many major changes in society in the past five years.

It seems to me that the tv shows on hoarding have brought on many articles on de-cluttering. Our problem seems to be that we have things that have value to collectors. I believe their value is down now due to the economy and I question whether the market for these things will ever rebound. I do not know everything I need to know to sell on e-bay and a space in a antique mall is so expensive. We either need motivation or help or something to move some of this stuff. I have this fear of our children sorting our things. I have been through that and it is work. Anyone in the same situation?

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Lisa Prater
Senior Contributor

Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

I have to believe this would work. That's how they do it on the organizing shows on TV ... I like the one on Oprah's new network.


I need to do this for our bedroom and "closet room" ... we don't have any closets in our old farmhouse, so we turned a teeny tiny bedroom into a big closet for the whole family. I see a shirt or whatever and think someone will wear it again so I just leave it, but if it were already out of my house, chances are I woudn't take it back in.


When I'm going through things (especially kids' toys), it's easy to just shove stuff back into the toybox. We have more toys than we have space in our playroom. What I really need to do is completely clear out this room and tell the kids they can take whichever toys they want to keep back into the playroom, but only until the cabinets are full, then the rest of the toys will go to needy kids. They're actually much more willing to part with their things (unless it's stuffed animals, which they'll fight to the death to keep) than I am. I remember them playing with something when they were babies and don't want to let it go, but they really don't care.


My parents have gone on a de-cluttering spree, which I think is great. One thing my mom and I have talked about doing (but haven't started yet) is taking turns helping each other. Like if Thursday is our de-clutter day, one week I'll go to her house and help her, and the next week she'll come to my house and help me. We need to get on that!

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Re: Different clutter-clearing idea.

My main concern for the ones I love is that I have everything in our land and monetary situation free and clear, and the documentation for each piece of the pie well-organized.  That is my duty, I feel.  Beyond that, I am only 56, so do not feel obligated to be ready to die with every shoelace in place quite yet. 

So far as my personal possessions, I feel that they are mine to enjoy in my home/office/outbuildings as long as I live.  I will not deprive myself of my books or my hobbies, just to prevent someone else from having to hire a crew or spend a weekend dumping my stuff into boxes or whatever.  I will hold onto my favorite rake until they pry it from my cold, dead, fingers. 

Some of this stuff is valuable for resale, even at depressed prices today...For example, I checked some of my china online just last week.  I think my son could flip most of it on eBay in a month or less. 

I do need to sit down and talk with the kids, and ask which of these things they each personally want, and write that out, along with instructions on what to do with the rest.  Mike needs to do the same thing with his guns, bikes, etc.  Some of the farm equipment that moves back and forth needs to be assigned to leave with one farm or another...but, I'd like ot think it will all be rusted out by the time we both are gone. 

I may be wrong, but I do not think it would be all that hard to get rid of most of my stuff and turn some cash out of it.  Mike has the right to keep and use anything he wants.  I think he'd need three plates, one coffee mug, a juice glass, a beer glass, and some cast iron skillet, a few linens, and the TV.   He does use the laptop to order beer and wine kits.  He will need to sell the rest of my crap to pay someone to keep the pantry and refrigerator stocked. 

I want to organize better to make my life and Mike's life better today, not to plan to leave it all hunky-dory for "someday."  If I keel over before lunch, it's not too terrible just like it is today.  I can walk and lay my hands on any tool or title I own, unless it's sprouted legs.  No system is perfect, unless you live alone, and who wants to do that? 

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