Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby The Wizard » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:32 pm

After my remaining parent passed away in 1994, it took SEVERAL trips to the county landfill (in central Kansas) with trailer loads of clutter/junk before we got rid of it all. The rig got WEIGHED coming & going each time to figure how much to charge us.
This was stuff way beyond useful possessions that were divided up among us three kids or put up for auction.
Doing those trailer runs was the highlight of 1994 for me...
Attempted new signature...
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby stan1 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:56 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Books are parts of one's soul. Disposing of the soul is unbearable.

Victoria


Everyone should be entitled to 1 or 2 vices; if books are your main "vice" there's certainly ones that are much worse!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby jegallup » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:09 am

Those of us who are minimalists and enjoy the sweeping vistas that bare tabletops and well-organized closets provide may not have much useful advice to give those who are warmed by having lots and lots of belongings around.

I lived for a while with a person who had two of her three bedrooms filled with stuff, much of which was literally trash, to me: a black-and-white television, a bag of Post-Its and other detritus from the top of a long-forgotten desk at the office, Time magazines going back 15 years, clothes she'd never wear again, etc. I thought I was helping when I plunged in to start cleaning this up, as though the problem were just laziness. I quickly saw that the prospect of giving up a broken stapler or a dead cassette recorder was emotionally painful to her, and stopped. This person ran a successful business and was quite capable of organizing things and getting things done, down at the fine detail level. But she couldn't let go of the junk.

I didn't understand it and still don't.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, I have a couple of suggestions:

(1) tools and books are almost always worth keeping; there are few things more satisfying than saying, "I have just the thing to fix that!" or "I know where to look that up."

(2) Don't plan on selling stuff you don't use but seem to want to keep. You'll never do it. Just give it to a Goodwill and be done with it, and satisfy yourself with a modest tax deduction.

And why do people keep stuff in storage units, except temporarily? If you don't want the stuff with you so you can use it or look at it or touch it, why are you paying money to keep it?
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby rjbraun » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:46 am

lightheir wrote:Our local libraries don't even accept donated books. It's been the same on the East and West Coast. Something about them having too many to deal with, or something along those lines. I was going to donate a whole trove of recent-gen fiction and nonfiction in excellent condition, but they weren't interested (!) Not sure if this is a general phenomena, but I was surprised to find out.

I think it may only be this one branch that accepts donations. And the book sale itself, including the significant advance preparation to organize the actual sale, is all conducted by a dedicated team of volunteers. But you're right, dealing with all those donated books is no small job. In fact, the sale organizers recently upped the standards that donated books were required to meet, e.g., good condition, clean copy, etc.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby rjbraun » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:00 am

jegallup wrote:And why do people keep stuff in storage units, except temporarily? If you don't want the stuff with you so you can use it or look at it or touch it, why are you paying money to keep it?

Thank goodness I am NOT paying to keep stuff in storage! I agree that for most people using storage bins is not a good idea, just because once stuff is out of sight it is also probably out of mind. That just means it will be that much harder to deal with at some point in the future, presumably when the monthly storage costs get annoying enough to prompt one to take action.

Edit: deleted the justification for storage units. I missed jegallup's reference to temporary use of storage units, which I agree is one of, or perhaps the only, reason to use paid storage units.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby clearwater » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:00 am

rjbraun wrote:Thank goodness I am NOT paying to keep stuff in storage!


The initial post was made this Tuesday, and now it's Friday. I'm going to turn this quote around, and note "but you ARE paying to keep your extra stuff in your house". It's costing you the physical space it takes up (an internal storage cost per square foot), and the mental energy every time you look at it (incalculable, but this is a real cost that continues until you clear out the stuff).

So.... it's been four days -- get rid of anything yet?

(Trying to nudge you along to stop posting on Bogleheads and get to work at addressing the actual issue at hand :)
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby umfundi » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:00 am

Sunny Sarkar wrote:And this does not include webmails that have gone out of business like usa.net - my favorite one was partlycloudy@mostlysunny.com :happy )


USA.net is alive. Check out netaddress.com

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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby umfundi » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:09 am

Storage lockers have their uses:

Estimate how many square feet of floor space your stuff is taking up. Find out what a storage locker for that stuff would cost.

I will bet that, in most cases, the cost of storage for only a few months exceeds the value of the items you are storing.

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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby englishgirl » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:42 am

clearwater wrote:So.... it's been four days -- get rid of anything yet?

(Trying to nudge you along to stop posting on Bogleheads and get to work at addressing the actual issue at hand :)


Not the OP, but *I've* been doing really well on some clutter clearing, using this thread as motivation. Some of my issues are due to a lack of places to put things, and I'd been toying with the idea of buying a new piece of furniture to deal with the mail avalanche and to throw bags on when I walk in the door. I'd ended up with a cluttered area by the front door. But instead of organizing that clutter with yet more stuff, this time I got motivated to tackle the linen closet first - really, the only general closet in the house. I moved the linen out to the bedroom closets, purged the shelves of stuff that could be thrown away, and then emptied out some things from storage baskets I already had in the living room by putting those items in the linen closet. Which leaves empty baskets for mail sorting. So I got rid of the clutter by the front door, and didn't have to buy anything new. Win, win.

Actually, I think it's time to go put in another half an hour...
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby bungalow10 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:00 am

englishgirl wrote:
clearwater wrote:So.... it's been four days -- get rid of anything yet?

(Trying to nudge you along to stop posting on Bogleheads and get to work at addressing the actual issue at hand :)


Not the OP, but *I've* been doing really well on some clutter clearing, using this thread as motivation. Some of my issues are due to a lack of places to put things, and I'd been toying with the idea of buying a new piece of furniture to deal with the mail avalanche and to throw bags on when I walk in the door. I'd ended up with a cluttered area by the front door. But instead of organizing that clutter with yet more stuff, this time I got motivated to tackle the linen closet first - really, the only general closet in the house. I moved the linen out to the bedroom closets, purged the shelves of stuff that could be thrown away, and then emptied out some things from storage baskets I already had in the living room by putting those items in the linen closet. Which leaves empty baskets for mail sorting. So I got rid of the clutter by the front door, and didn't have to buy anything new. Win, win.

Actually, I think it's time to go put in another half an hour...


Good for you!!!

We did end up putting a second closet in our master bedroom, which serves as my clothing closet, our linen closet, and my craft closet. It's pretty big and suits the purposes PERFECTLY. I got almost all my craft stuff (knitting needles, yarn) out of the dining room and nicely organized.

In the process, we also got rid of a LOT of stuff. Still more to go! It was almost like a drug after awhile, I love throwing stuff out now. My BIL was here yesterday picking up a mini-fridge we no longer need and I pushed a few extra items on him :)
Last edited by bungalow10 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby tadamsmar » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:02 am

I once used a method to deal with desk clutter and get organized. You simply push all the old clutter on your desk into a cardboard box. Then you start keeping the new stuff organized.

Of course, you might have to dig through the box to refer back to something there. But this rarely or never happens.

I suppose the same principle could be applied to clutter. Concentrate it in an attic or storage if you can't bring yourself to get rid of it or find the time to sort it out. I suppose one could get compression bags for clothing and similar. But this does seem a satisfying solution.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Colorado13 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:15 am

englishgirl wrote:
Not the OP, but *I've* been doing really well on some clutter clearing, using this thread as motivation. Some of my issues are due to a lack of places to put things, and I'd been toying with the idea of buying a new piece of furniture to deal with the mail avalanche and to throw bags on when I walk in the door. I'd ended up with a cluttered area by the front door. But instead of organizing that clutter with yet more stuff, this time I got motivated to tackle the linen closet first - really, the only general closet in the house. I moved the linen out to the bedroom closets, purged the shelves of stuff that could be thrown away, and then emptied out some things from storage baskets I already had in the living room by putting those items in the linen closet. Which leaves empty baskets for mail sorting. So I got rid of the clutter by the front door, and didn't have to buy anything new. Win, win.

Actually, I think it's time to go put in another half an hour...


Good job! Congrats on your win win. I hope you have inspired the OP--if you can do it, he/she can too.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby rjbraun » Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:09 am

clearwater wrote:
rjbraun wrote:Thank goodness I am NOT paying to keep stuff in storage!


The initial post was made this Tuesday, and now it's Friday. I'm going to turn this quote around, and note "but you ARE paying to keep your extra stuff in your house". It's costing you the physical space it takes up (an internal storage cost per square foot), and the mental energy every time you look at it (incalculable, but this is a real cost that continues until you clear out the stuff).

I know, I know. I've used the cost of space argument on myself for years. The mental energy aspect is even more compelling

clearwater wrote:So.... it's been four days -- get rid of anything yet?

(Trying to nudge you along to stop posting on Bogleheads and get to work at addressing the actual issue at hand :)

No. Shamefully, I have not. But I plan to tomorrow. Seriously, Sunday is my day to deal with this. I will report back!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby rjbraun » Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:10 am

englishgirl wrote:
clearwater wrote:So.... it's been four days -- get rid of anything yet?

(Trying to nudge you along to stop posting on Bogleheads and get to work at addressing the actual issue at hand :)


Not the OP, but *I've* been doing really well on some clutter clearing, using this thread as motivation. Some of my issues are due to a lack of places to put things, and I'd been toying with the idea of buying a new piece of furniture to deal with the mail avalanche and to throw bags on when I walk in the door. I'd ended up with a cluttered area by the front door. But instead of organizing that clutter with yet more stuff, this time I got motivated to tackle the linen closet first - really, the only general closet in the house. I moved the linen out to the bedroom closets, purged the shelves of stuff that could be thrown away, and then emptied out some things from storage baskets I already had in the living room by putting those items in the linen closet. Which leaves empty baskets for mail sorting. So I got rid of the clutter by the front door, and didn't have to buy anything new. Win, win.

Actually, I think it's time to go put in another half an hour...

Good for you, Sarah! :sharebeer
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby englishgirl » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:48 pm

rjbraun wrote:
englishgirl wrote:
clearwater wrote:So.... it's been four days -- get rid of anything yet?

(Trying to nudge you along to stop posting on Bogleheads and get to work at addressing the actual issue at hand :)


Not the OP, but *I've* been doing really well on some clutter clearing, using this thread as motivation. Some of my issues are due to a lack of places to put things, and I'd been toying with the idea of buying a new piece of furniture to deal with the mail avalanche and to throw bags on when I walk in the door. I'd ended up with a cluttered area by the front door. But instead of organizing that clutter with yet more stuff, this time I got motivated to tackle the linen closet first - really, the only general closet in the house. I moved the linen out to the bedroom closets, purged the shelves of stuff that could be thrown away, and then emptied out some things from storage baskets I already had in the living room by putting those items in the linen closet. Which leaves empty baskets for mail sorting. So I got rid of the clutter by the front door, and didn't have to buy anything new. Win, win.

Actually, I think it's time to go put in another half an hour...

Good for you, Sarah! :sharebeer


Thanks! Although, I realized that I was only able to do this because I'd previously cleared my bedroom closets up, so there was space in there to hold the linens. I guess any little thing you do can be cumulative. Good luck tomorrow!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby jridger2011 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:24 pm

Being an apartment dweller in nyc, space is a serious issue and stuff can overtake livable space very quickly. Do not buy more furniture, any time you have a shelf, it will be filled top to bottom and under it. After the shelf is filled, the surrounding areas will be an extension of that shelf with clutter spreading.

Take items such as clothing, crossword puzzle things, free stuff from conventions/vendors, whatever it is that isn't used at the moment and put them into a box and stash them deep in your closet. Wait a year and see if you have even opened this box up to get it, if you haven't, you can just throw the entire box away.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Toons » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:56 pm

I have been pondering as to my reply to this thread for the last few days ,as I have been on a personal mission to simplify and reduce clutter for the last decade or so in all areas of my life (mission 95% accomplished) :happy .What has been said in this thread pretty much covers all the bases. I guess my "signature" on my posts pretty much sums up my beliefs.




Read below :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby gatorking » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:52 pm

My favorite site on minimalism:
http://www.theminimalists.com/start/
Enjoy!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby umfundi » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:57 pm

gatorking wrote:My favorite site on minimalism:
http://www.theminimalists.com/start/
Enjoy!


New to minimalism? New to our website? Welcome aboard.

There’s a lot of content here ...


Even the minimalists are cluttered.

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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Cycle37 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:13 pm

Totally agree with all posts Toons, except to add that home merchandise in whatever shape can be donated ( to Good Will for example) where most organizations will give you an on-the spot receipt which can be written off on your taxes as a charitable donation (Please confirm my BH brethren). We live in a an area in coastal NJ devastated by Hurricane Sandy and have donated clothes, books, kitchen ware, blankets, furniture etc. to those who have literally lost everything including from studio apartments and million+ homes. Whatever angst you may have parting with items will certainly be made up 10x's and more knowing you are contributing to other in dire need. In fact go to one of these sites before giving anything and watch the joy on these folks faces who are the recipients of donated goods and you'll defs see your quandary differently...Cycle37
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby rjbraun » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:29 am

I appreciated the moral support I got and wanted to report back. I finally got to some of the decluttering work today, despite my intentions to accomplish this last weekend. Anyway, I made some decent progress today. Once I got going I really did not want to stop!

I still have more to do and I'm hoping I can keep up the momentum after I return from the holidays in just under a week. Part of the issue is that I have half-done "stuff". For example, I'm trying to put all my compact discs in storage in the closet. I've got lots of CDs and so this is a bigger project than one might think. For now, I've placed almost all the CDs in cardboard boxes, with each box denoting general info on its contents (e.g., Brahms, Beethoven, etc.) Actually I accomplished this months ago but the boxes are still sitting around, mainly because I was waiting to collect some more appropriately shaped boxes than the shoe boxes I stuffed some CDs into, just as a holding bin. Now, I just want to make sure there are no stray CDs around before I store the boxes, though I think I may go through one time to weed stuff out that I wouldn't mind parting with. But once this CD project is completely put to bed I think I will feel a good sense of relief and progress.

As for today, I did cull through a fair amount of stuff, though there's still plenty more to do. But one thing I found helpful was to create four separate containers to hold stuff as I sorted: trash, recycle, shred and "move to elsewhere at home", where "elsewhere" was generally a specific place I had in mind, but just not particularly close at hand. All of these are in addition to an ongoing container I keep for stuff I plan to donate.

So that's the report for now. Like I said I really felt as if I was on a bit of a roll today. I leave town tomorrow for the holidays and just hope that I can keep the momentum up when I return!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Colorado13 » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:55 am

Good job! Hopefully you have a idea of how good it feels to reduce clutter and that will inspire you to continue your efforts after the holidays. I made a trip to Goodwill this weekend and left an item on the curb that I didn't think Goodwill would take (although really, I think they take everything except tvs.) It's gone this morning, so hopefully someone is enjoying an early Christmas gift of my unneeded item -- win win.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby englishgirl » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:42 pm

Great job, rjbraun!

I've been on a roll with the decluttering efforts. Took my stash of old clothes to Goodwill this weekend - it totalled 5 large bags full. I also left an item on the curb that had been mentally weighing me down. It was a shipment of reflective foil for the attic that was supposed to help improve insulation efficiency. Except I never installed it because it was way too much of a DIY project for me, and yet I didn't know who to call to do the installation, I read that it wasn't that good anyway, and I actually got the insulation in the attic improved for nothing after an energy audit from the power company. But because this stupid thing cost about $200 4 or 5 years ago, I reasoned I couldn't just give it away and would have to try to sell it. Only I never did, because where? how? how much? Bleh. Too mentally exhausting. Out to the curb it went, and I feel much better for it!

I have now started tackling the office. Or the "room of doom" as I have been thinking of it lately. :) I've now got a big bag of old financial documents to shred, instead of a filing drawer stuffed full of useless stuff. My shredder will be working overtime in the next few days!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Fallible » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:04 pm

englishgirl wrote:Great job, rjbraun!

I've been on a roll with the decluttering efforts. Took my stash of old clothes to Goodwill this weekend - it totalled 5 large bags full. I also left an item on the curb that had been mentally weighing me down. It was a shipment of reflective foil for the attic that was supposed to help improve insulation efficiency. Except I never installed it because it was way too much of a DIY project for me, and yet I didn't know who to call to do the installation, I read that it wasn't that good anyway, and I actually got the insulation in the attic improved for nothing after an energy audit from the power company. But because this stupid thing cost about $200 4 or 5 years ago, I reasoned I couldn't just give it away and would have to try to sell it. Only I never did, because where? how? how much? Bleh. Too mentally exhausting. Out to the curb it went, and I feel much better for it! ...


I add my congratulations on your eliminating your clutter, which has inspired me to at least take another look at mine, most of it unfinished shredding of outdated documents - boxes and boxes of them. I also think you have nicely described the cause of clutter in general, sort of a product of our cluttered thinking, a common scenario: an item is no longer needed but still worth something and one can get at least a little of the money back by selling but selling is work and may not be worth the effort and there are a million other more important things to do and it could just be given away but a decision is put off and the years go by and finally a decision of sorts is made to just get rid of the @#$% thing and curbside it goes and what a relief!

Books are the hardest to let go or even consider clutter, their being a matter of the soul (thank you for your post, VictoriaF). Even when it is time to at least reduce their number, I just end up rereading them, finding something new and enjoying them more than ever, including the voluminous notes I've made in the margins.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby englishgirl » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:17 pm

Fallible wrote:Books are the hardest to let go or even consider clutter, their being a matter of the soul (thank you for your post, VictoriaF). Even when it is time to at least reduce their number, I just end up rereading them, finding something new and enjoying them more than ever, including the voluminous notes I've made in the margins.


Oh yes, books. I managed to let some go earlier in the year, but the shelves are still full. At least I moved one small bookcase of work-related books into the office, and got rid of enough other books to not have to buy more bookshelves for the living room! But I think I will go through them again at some point next year - I have been looking at all these minimalist blogs and admiring their neat bookshelves. And when I think about it, yes, there are definitely old favorites that I re-read over and over again. But there are also ones that I do not have an emotional connection to, so I think I could at least trim another 10% or so. Perhaps 10% a year is a good target on the books for me. And I'm mostly buying kindle books now, so there may come a time when I end up purchasing a kindle version of a beloved old favorite and jettison even those. Then again, I do not make margin notes, so I don't have an attachment to the physical form of the book. For you and Victoria, though, with all your notes, it would be a lot harder to think of those books as clutter.

And thanks for the congrats. I mostly keep posting to help keep inspiring myself, though!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Mudpuppy » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:32 pm

For my tale of decluttering, I am converting a storage/pet room into a guest room. So far, I've cleared out one big box of recycling and a big bag of trash. But the red-cheek moment was when I found a box I did not recognize. Opening it, I saw a jigsaw inside. I didn't even remember I had gotten a jigsaw, much less put it in storage. At least it turns out I got it with credit card points, so it wasn't a money loss. But really, it's a sign of too much clutter when I forgot that it was even in the room.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Mudpuppy » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:35 pm

Fallible wrote:I add my congratulations on your eliminating your clutter, which has inspired me to at least take another look at mine, most of it unfinished shredding of outdated documents - boxes and boxes of them.

Around here, we have community shred days where you can bring up to x file boxes (where x is usually 2-4) of documents and toss the documents into a hopper that goes into an industrial-sized shredder. It's a great way to get rid of boxes of old documents that would take hours to shred with a home shredder. You might see if your community has similar programs.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby K'zoo » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:19 am

This thread is timely. After a lifetime of what-if-I-need-this-someday thinking, I’ve finally realized that that day has passed. So I’ve been on a de-clutter binge of late, even got my DH to join in, but we’re currently stalled out.

We went for almost a month with “Throw-Away-Thursdays.” We choose a room and went through boxes and stuff and filled up our trash bins. Out they went to the curb on Thursday evening for Friday morning pickup. We even donated boxes of books, many of which I’d bought at book sales. We had over 2200 books (my DH databases everything), so some of them needed to go.

My DH still struggles with getting rid of things, though. I thought I’d convinced him to pare things down by pointing out that when we moved to a smaller house (which he badly wants to do), we couldn’t keep all our stuff. His response was to say he’d rent a trash bin a week before the move and with the bin and a deadline, he’d be able to part with stuff. I told him he was engaging in magical thinking. Sigh.

So we’ll see. I do agree that the iterative approach is easiest on the psyche. Also establishing “halfway” piles or boxes that then get tossed or donated in a week or a month.

As comedian Steven Wright said, you can't have everything. Where would you put it?
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby climber2020 » Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:54 am

rjbraun wrote: For example, I'm trying to put all my compact discs in storage in the closet. I've got lots of CDs and so this is a bigger project than one might think. For now, I've placed almost all the CDs in cardboard boxes, with each box denoting general info on its contents (e.g., Brahms, Beethoven, etc.) Actually I accomplished this months ago but the boxes are still sitting around, mainly because I was waiting to collect some more appropriately shaped boxes than the shoe boxes I stuffed some CDs into, just as a holding bin. Now, I just want to make sure there are no stray CDs around before I store the boxes, though I think I may go through one time to weed stuff out that I wouldn't mind parting with. But once this CD project is completely put to bed I think I will feel a good sense of relief and progress.


Congrats! Later on if you want to reduce this clutter even more, you could consider tossing all the jewel cases and keeping only the discs in a big Case Logic CD wallet or something similar. Most of the bulk of the CD is in the case; toss the case, and you're left with only the essential part of the product at a fraction of the space. At this point, I only keep my CDs for backup purposes as I rarely have used anything other than my iPhone/iPod for music in the last 5 years.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby fickle » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:33 pm

I "halved it all" about 2 years ago, and every now and then I regret a little thing here or there gone, but for the most part it is so NICE. I try to go through every room yearly and get brutal about things I just never get around to using. Do I really need a staple remover? I remove a staple about once every 3 years, and a flat-blade screwdriver does fine for me.

I had a good time giving things to people who'd like them: an oldfashioned ice cream maker to a ruralish family with 4 young kids.
Clothing to the homeless shelter. An extra dinner table to a single mom. A crib to a very young couple having unplanned twins. You get the picture.

My advice: be ruthless, and do it regularly.

BTW, I can't get my spouse online to this idea, but we have agreed he can have his dark, cluttered, dusty man-cave, and anything that won't fit in it is OUT.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby DaleMaley » Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:17 pm

Many years ago, I started an annual ritual, around Christmas, to clean up my work office, home office, and home workshop.

In my home office, I try to scan and digitize all paper records into pdf files. I have 4 shelves that I literally touch every item, then decide to keep or pitch. My weakness is printed books. I have over 200 books on investing, and I have not been able to throw any away yet. Maybe someday I will switch to an e-book reader person, then discard them.

At my work office, it is mostly a matter of digitizing any paper files that need saving.

In my workshop...

1. I have a container for scrap pieces of each rare wood I use (padauk, purple heart, oak, walnut, yellow heartwood, maple. I dump each container, throw away the smallest scraps, and keep the big scraps.
2. I touch every item on the peg boards or shelving, and decide to keep or throw away.
3. scan and digitize any manuals for tools I bought during the year

I did my annual cleaning about 1 week ago, took 12 full trash bags to the street. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment :D
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. – Warren Buffett
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby DaleMaley » Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:21 pm

Engineers are some of the best pack rats known to man.

At work, our guys refuse to throw away about anything.

The only tactic I have found that works is to force a clean-up every couple of years:

-me and an assistant place any item not properly stored into a big pile
-then send an email to the guys and say if the item is still in the pile in 24 hrs, it gets thrown away
-after 24 hrs, we throw away the pile

In 2012, we had a 60x60 foot pile of junk. 98% went unclaimed and was thrown away. It made a dramatic improvement in housekeeping appearance for the work area.
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. – Warren Buffett
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Default User BR » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:25 am

DaleMaley wrote:-me and an assistant place any item not properly stored into a big pile
-then send an email to the guys and say if the item is still in the pile in 24 hrs, it gets thrown away
-after 24 hrs, we throw away the pile

That sounds like the sort of self-important nonsense that I really can't stand. A better idea is let people work in the manner they find most comfortable and quit worrying about how much "stuff" they have. No one better touch my desk EVER. My system might not be yours, but so what? It's what works for me.


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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby HongKonger » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:40 am

I would suggest starting really small if you are new to decluttering.

1 - don't pull out more than you can put away within an hour. If you try to tackly too much at once, you will be overwhelmed.
2 - sort into 3 piles: toss/donate, keep and not sure
3 - put everything in the not sure pile into a box or bag. Seal it and put the date on it. Put it under your bed. If you don't touch it for 6 months - toss it without opening.

Start the 1 in, 2 out principle immediately. For every 1 item you bring into your home, 2 have to leave.

One other thing that I find very freeing is the ''27 thing fling". Grab a garbage bag, set a timer for 15 minutes, then run through your house and grab 27 things to throw away - do it without thinking!
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Rodc » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:21 am

For me fairly easy as I have a wife who detests clutter.

(1) tools and books are almost always worth keeping; there are few things more satisfying than saying, "I have just the thing to fix that!" or "I know where to look that up."


There are somethings that do not get used often, but you want to keep anyway. Not all books are worth keeping. We have quite a few we keep, but also quite a few that we donate. Cooking gadgets that do not get used often and that are not really needed (ie gadgets that have some value, but other tools work) are something to consider getting rid of.

(2) Don't plan on selling stuff you don't use but seem to want to keep. You'll never do it. Just give it to a Goodwill and be done with it, and satisfy yourself with a modest tax deduction.


This seems good. Yard sales work for some, but seem like a waste of time to me. I can give most anything to Goodwill or something, take fair market value come tax time. Fair market value is consignment store type value, not I need to get rid of it in the next two hours so will sell for 25 cents yard sale pricing. I use turbo tax which has a built in tool that sets values so (1) I don't have to spend time and energy trying to figure out what is a fair price to me and fair to the government and (2) if someday I get audited I have something to point to that says I did not just make up inflated values. Since fair market value is higher than yard sale prices, and everything goes, I doubt I lose any money donating vs yard sale; way easier and everything goes. There are any number of things I don't even bother to donate, I just put it at the end of the driveway with a free sign on it. Just about anything will get picked by someone for whom it has some value (maybe they take it home and put it in a yard sale. :))

*****

The key is to declutter often so the job does not become overwhelming. And really think about anything new you buy, do you really need it? Maybe at new years and start of summer, go through the house. Anything you have not worn or used in a year is fair game for getting tossed or donated. If you have not used it or worn it for three years it almost certainly should go. Be as strict as you can about deciding to keep things you have not used in years. After a few trips through the house it just might become (more) natural.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Rodc » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:22 am

HongKonger wrote:I would suggest starting really small if you are new to decluttering.

1 - don't pull out more than you can put away within an hour. If you try to tackly too much at once, you will be overwhelmed.
2 - sort into 3 piles: toss/donate, keep and not sure
3 - put everything in the not sure pile into a box or bag. Seal it and put the date on it. Put it under your bed. If you don't touch it for 6 months - toss it without opening.

Start the 1 in, 2 out principle immediately. For every 1 item you bring into your home, 2 have to leave.

One other thing that I find very freeing is the ''27 thing fling". Grab a garbage bag, set a timer for 15 minutes, then run through your house and grab 27 things to throw away - do it without thinking!


Good advice. Especially item 3.

Several times I have talked to people who have moved and 3 or 5 years later have boxes they never openned and can hardly remember what is in them. Clearly things they don't need.

It is a pain when you need something you got rid of years earlier, but the reduced stress of living a decluttered life is, IMHO, worth the small price of occasionally tossing too much.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Fallible » Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:23 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:
Fallible wrote:I add my congratulations on your eliminating your clutter, which has inspired me to at least take another look at mine, most of it unfinished shredding of outdated documents - boxes and boxes of them.

Around here, we have community shred days where you can bring up to x file boxes (where x is usually 2-4) of documents and toss the documents into a hopper that goes into an industrial-sized shredder. It's a great way to get rid of boxes of old documents that would take hours to shred with a home shredder. You might see if your community has similar programs.


THANKS VERY MUCH for this information as it sounds made to order for me. I'll check around to see if there are similar services here.
"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing." -William James
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby Rodc » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:21 am

Fallible wrote:
Mudpuppy wrote:
Fallible wrote:I add my congratulations on your eliminating your clutter, which has inspired me to at least take another look at mine, most of it unfinished shredding of outdated documents - boxes and boxes of them.

Around here, we have community shred days where you can bring up to x file boxes (where x is usually 2-4) of documents and toss the documents into a hopper that goes into an industrial-sized shredder. It's a great way to get rid of boxes of old documents that would take hours to shred with a home shredder. You might see if your community has similar programs.


THANKS VERY MUCH for this information as it sounds made to order for me. I'll check around to see if there are similar services here.


I had a ton of paper after deciding to not rerun for school committee in our town, and I had paperwork from an earlier position on the town appropriation committee as well. We have a fairly limited amount of space for such stuff and the pile next to the full file cabinet had to go (and what was in the cabinet as well). My wife who never was very happy about the time commitment of my being on the school committee decided rather than shredding so much paper we should burn it in the fireplace. Made a great fire, more fun than shredding and easier. However given the large amount of ash generated, burning outside if possible might be a better idea.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
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Re: Looking for advice to reduce / avoid "clutter"

Postby CherylHall » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:54 pm

HI all, an idea on getting rid of books. I have been taking my good "old" books to Half Price books. They pretty much pay you nothing for them, BUT the they have a huge base of customers that love coming in a getting old books/magazines for a quarter buck or so. Keeps the landfills from filling up and the books in some kind of circulation.
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