Marching on Clutter: Grab Your Pitchforks

August 28, 2008 at 1:14 pm 8 comments

 *Adapted from the upcoming FREE e-book:

How To Be An Average Goddess

100+ Secrets of Smart, Savvy, Sexy Women, Blazing a Path Through Life!

Clutter… It’s the modern monster in the castle. How much simpler would it be if we could band together as villagers and just march in the night with our torches and pitchforks, ultimately putting an end to the nightmare once and for all? Ahhh… Happy thoughts. Unfortuantely, it’s not that simple. All a torch would net you in this case is a likely house fire, with a whole host of worse problems than a messy kitchen, office, or “that-room-whose-door-is-never-to-be-opened.” Ok, so if flames are not the answer, how can you combat this ugly beast sucking the energy out of your home and your life? Organization is not that complicated really, but it does require you to roll up your sleeves and put on your very best “it’s time to reclaim control of the situation” hat. Honestly, if you’re in a mess (literally), but you’re not serious about getting to the root of it, you’re just going to end up in the same situation a short time later. Here are a few simple ways to tackle the behemoth:

1.  Getting started is the most difficult part of the entire process. Give yourself plenty of time, preferably uninterrupted. The following is a very brief overview, but believe me, the library and bookstore are filled with shelves of help on the subject. Clear an area, and have four categories set up: keep, move, donate, and dump. Laundry baskets work great for this. “Keep” refers to items that must remain in the space you are working on. “Move” means they don’t belong in this area. (Resist the temptation to go put them away. Just place them in the pile where later, everything can be put away at once. You need to stay focused.) “Donate” items are those which are in good condition, but for which you no longer have a need or want. “Dump” is for anything damaged or useless. Strive to put as many things as possible in the last two categories. As you are sorting, don’t think too hard about the items. Just keep moving, as fast as you can – your goal is to get to the bottom of the pile. When you are finished, remove the donate and dump items – not just from the space, but from the house. Put the donations in your car, and the trash in the garbage. NOW is the time to put away properly all of the items in the “move” pile. (When I say properly, that doesn’t mean to plop them in another room – it means to put them away where they go.) Now it’s time to return and face the “keep” pile. This is the most challenging part of the adventure. You must assess each item’s value in terms of function and space required. Be brutal. If things don’t meet your standards this time around, start new donate and toss piles. If you do decide to keep something, you must know exactly where you are planning to put it. Remember the following rule: no home = no need. Paper is an insidious foe when it comes to sorting. Have the following items nearby to assist you as you go:   

  1. shredder – Old documents that are no longer needed for records, mail that has been attended to, pre-approved credit card offers, etc., should go right in.

  2. hanging file box – This is a great time to get your system in place. Start sorting as you go, without creating a new mess all over the space you just cleaned.

  3. recycling bin – This is where all of your greeting cards should go (yes, I am completely serious), old school notebooks, magazines or catalogs older than four months, newspapers older than one week, and any non-personal floating paperwork.

Now here’s the fun part of organizing – putting it all away. This is where you create the function and the look that will save you from having to do this again next year. Put the things you use the most close at hand, and store the rest neatly in clear, labeled, accessible storage boxes.

2. You must separate sentimentality from functionality. Mementos, gifts, inherited items – over the course of a lifetime they would require an entire house of their own – but the key thing to remember here is that you don’t have to lose the memories. Go through these items, and decide which ones have real value to you. If they are important, they should be treated as such, and they deserve to be well displayed – they can’t be properly appreciated in the context of overall clutter. For some of the less important or redundant items (do you need two BUCKETS of shells from the Cape??), try taking a photo, writing a paragraph description about what it means to you, and create an album. This takes up much less space than say, a china cabinet. Now you can maintain the memory, and still have room to live your own life… just like Mom would have wanted.

For more ways to take control of your possessions, instead of the other way around, stay tuned for my FREE e-book, How To Be An Average Goddess. You’ll find tips for handling periodicals, small appliances, and *gulp* the project pile. Coming soon!!

All my love, Kristy

*Adapted from the upcoming FREE e-book:

How To Be An Average Goddess

100+ Secrets of Smart, Savvy, Sexy Women, Blazing a Path Through Life!

Entry filed under: Organization. Tags: , , , , , .

Two ways to make YOUR 24 hours longer than everyone else’s: Dinner With My Husband – A Not-So-Average Sunday

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. PaintandSoul  |  August 28, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    lmao, very sound advice, much like that of professional organizers. I’ve always been very good at de-cluttering. I regularly go through this process with any are of my home that gets out of control, even if it’s just one little drawer. I’m good at this attack! However, I also have OCD tendencies. 😀 This reminds me of my whole apartment therapy process, one of the best things I have ever done just for me in my life. It really is true that a de-cluttered home organized to your liking is like your foundation, it gives you a steady jumping off place for the day, and releases your mind of worries about the mess you didn’t even realize you had imposed on yourself. It also helps minimize the oh shIt I can’t find this! moments. Very valuable!

  • 2. averagegoddess  |  August 29, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more on the “releases your mind of worries about the mess you didn’t even realize you had…” I grew up and an EXTREMELY cluttered home… I’m talking world-class clutter… and life was always, ALWAYS stressful and hectic. I truly believe, and there are many organizers and coaches who would back me on this, that clutter steals your energy and concentration. How can it not?? In addition to just making life easier, it also feels SO much better.

  • 3. N to tha Cubed  |  August 29, 2008 at 3:24 am

    For me, my office IS “that-room-whose-door-is-never-to-be-opened.” Mostly because my husband keeps a bunch of crap in there.

    I can relate to this post, because clutter is making me a little crazy right now. And I don’t want to point fingers, but my husband is kind of a pack rat. He has so much technical/musical/misc stuff, half of which I don’t even know what it is used for.

    It’s difficult for two creative types to live together in a two-bedroom apartment. (CAN two creative types share an apartment without driving each other crazy???) What seems like a reasonable amount of space for “normal” people is just not cutting it for a couple of creative primadonnas like us.

    The other problem is that one of us (him) is not really bothered by clutter, and the other (me) feels completely appalled, distracted, and neurotically embarrassed by it. So it’s difficult to achieve compromise in that situation.

    I swear I just made a huge Goodwill run less than two weeks ago, and I still feel completely overwhelmed and inundated with USELESS CRAP. Bring on the villagers, I say!

  • 4. Cali  |  August 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I agree, clutter DOES steal my energy and concentration. I’ve slowly been chipping away at the clutter that is my life at home (surprisingly my office at work is SUPER organized – I think it’s because I decided the day that I started that I was going to set up a system and although it was painful at first, it’s really paid off). My main clutter is piles and piles of paperwork, stuff that I always SAID I’d organize, but never did. And now that I’ve started I realize how time consuming it is,… and since “free” time itself is a rare commodity for me well,… there’s always the excuse that I’m just too tired and blah, blah, blah. And then the fact that I’ve got like 3 home improvement projects going on at the same time right now doesn’t help – ha,ha. It happened because at one time or another each one hit a snag that I couldn’t handle myself so I moved on to something else and left a literal mess in my wake. And talk about boxes that haven’t been opened since we moved into our house two years ago and,… oy vey!! Right now I’m focusing on one project at a time,… and while it may seem like things are now getting accomplished at a slower rate, I really don’t think they are. I actually think I’m using my time more efficiently and focusing my energy in one place instead of being completely scattered (which, I think, helps).

  • 5. Meredith/Limeliteshines  |  August 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    My life is a constant battle against clutter. My father is a classic “hoarder”, and unfortunately, I’ve come to inherit many of his tendencies. Mix in my penchant for ‘the lazies’ . . add a pinch of ‘procrastination’ . . . and you have the horrible reality of constant impending clutter. I usually keep it at bay . . . but it can easily take over if I bat the wrong eyelash.

    I think I may wallpaper a wall in my office with your darling articles. So I can read them at will . . every day. Because I need them.

  • 6. averagegoddess  |  August 31, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Nat – Oh my goodness, that is absolutely hilarious in an “I totally sympathize with your uncomfortable situation,” sort of way. Honestly, I think the only way for two creatives to coexist under those circumstances is with indelibly defined boundaries. If you guys were my clients, I would move you to the living room, where your neurotic neatness would not interfere with the comfort of the room, and leave him in the office junk pile, where you can close the bleepin’ door and not see it. I realize that may not be an option, or you probably would have done it by now. That being the case, I don’t have a pitchfork, but I do have a grilling fork, and if I get on the next plane, I can be there in about 3 hours!

  • 7. averagegoddess  |  August 31, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Cali – About a year ago, I had done the same thing. I reorganized my desk at work, and it was FLAWLESS (still is). Then I got home every night to a mid-level crisis of… stuff. I finally had a wtf moment, and thought to myself, “why on earth would I make myself more comfortable at work than at home?????” Epiphany. I put an end to that situation right then and there. I guess since I was spending all day putting people’s homes together so that they could have beautiful, organized lives, I just couldn’t continue the effort at the end of the workday. Ridiculous, really…. and a bit hypocritical, given the situation! I was truly amazed at how much more efficient I became on EVERY front, once I learned to follow my own rules. Now for you and your boxes (2 years, whew!), just use the critical six list… and just think of all the energy you have packed in those boxes, waiting to come out!!

  • 8. averagegoddess  |  August 31, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Mere – Ah yes, hoarding… I have a SPECIAL article coming in a future newsletter directed at that specific topic. It’s a goody! Now, if you’re going to keep these articles, I’m going to have to get you a binder… lol!


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