mimulus_borogove: (Default)
[personal profile] mimulus_borogove
I read a really good article about clutter a few weeks ago. Lots of these articles either seem too peppy and unrealistic or else just don't seem to get the problem. This one worked better for me, for some reason, so I've been trying off and on to follow its advice.

The idea of decluttering a small area or spending a short length of time on it every day works pretty well. In some cases, all I'm doing is consolidating clutter--but at least I know that that pile of magazines is just a pile of magazines and not a pile of magazines, catalogs, letters to be answered, and Costco coupons. I have to remind myself to do it. The results are visible around the house (and would be downright impressive if I decluttered daily).

The part that's really getting to me is getting rid of five things for every thing you bring into the house. This is a great idea. All you have to do is look at the piles of things lying around and note the absence of visible flat surfaces, and you can see the logic of this. The trouble I'm having isn't just the stuff I can't bear to part with or the things that I'm not done with yet (someday I'll finish that baby blanket and watch those anime, really I will). The problem is that I can't completely control how much stuff comes in.

I'm not being idiotic about the stuff that enters the house. I am not counting groceries or mail, and I have re-thought some impulse purchases and held off. However, we have to get stuff for the kids. They need swimsuits and swim diapers, sun hats, weather-appropriate clothes that fit, and so on--and even if I could find anyone to take their outgrown winter clothes right now, I wouldn't be able to unload them at a 5:1 ratio. The kids have to have clothes to wear (and now that we've got a drought, I'm even trying to figure out if I can wash clothes less often).

What's more challenging is the stuff that we can't control. Friends and family send us hand-me-down clothes, books, etc.. It is a wonderful, generous, useful, money-saving, green thing to do, and I love them for it (as well as for other things, of course). That said, I thought I was decluttering pretty well until we got a raft of much-needed kid clothes. Suddenly, with the 5:1 ratio, I owed it to the clutter project to get over 200 items out the door. After more back-and-forth with donation trips and occasional necessary items, I'm still 188 items in the hole. It really gets you thinking about how much stuff it takes to run a household--and makes you wonder how much of it is really necessary.

Date: 2008-05-25 12:42 am (UTC)
platypus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] platypus
When I'm trying to declutter, I look at stuff and if I love it, if I think it's beautiful, or if I find it useful, I keep it. I don't give myself a hard time about keeping things for sentimental reasons; if I honestly want it, I can keep it. Just having to take the moment to think about it is usually enough to get the real junk out the door.

I definitely agree that doing something, however small -- one shelf, ten minutes, however you divide things up -- is the way to go. It can sometimes be frustrating not to see big changes all at once, but anything you accomplish counts. Cleaning the whole house is too overwhelming to contemplate. Twenty minutes excavating the stuff next to the bed? I can do that.

Date: 2008-05-25 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
I couldn't agree more. The point isn't to get rid of things you love, but things that don't do anything for you. It's good feng shui.

Hey, want to start some kind of Clutter Challenge? I could use some more motivation.

Date: 2008-05-26 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
I think 5:1 might be a little extreme with small twins. Maybe you could start smaller -- 2:1 or 3:1 -- which could still add up to serious decluttering.

Recently I had my little one sort through her stuffed animals and she volunteered an entire garbage bag's worth to be given away. Soon, if not now, your girls can join in.

Date: 2008-05-26 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
Another option: I could exempt kid stuff for now. The house was snowed under with mess before the girls arrived, so it's the grownup stuff that really needs the attention. Last night I decluttered some cassette tapes. Cassette tapes. I mean, really. I still have four boxes of them.

Where can you give stuffed animals? I haven't found anyplace that takes them. Good on HRT for doing that, though. The spirit of giving is a beautiful thing in children.

Date: 2008-05-26 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
Well, I haven't actually done anything with them. They're in the basement in that garbage bag. It's always possible to do a rummage sale, but I'll probably check the local domestic violence shelter first.

Date: 2008-05-26 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
Yeah, I would exempt kid stuff, as they really do need an enormous amout of stuff, and they're always needing new stuff, which is very different from adults.

Yeah, I have two whole drawers full of cassette tapes. :) I should go through them and find the songs I really would like to have, download them, and throw out the tapes.

Date: 2008-05-27 03:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
I am such a Luddite when it comes to music. I should go to iTunes, though. I don't need to replace my Bourgeois Tagg tape with a CD.

I called our most awesome local record store today and asked if they still recycle cassettes, because I had heard that they did. They say they BUY them. Can you imagine? I bet they pay about a nickel per. I would consider it princely if that meant someone would enjoy my old tapes. I hate just throwing things out.

Date: 2008-05-27 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
Awesome! I'd mail you mine, except that the carbon load and postage would undo the good of recycling them and getting money.

Date: 2008-05-27 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
Clearly, you need to find an important must-attend conference in the area and stay at our house. Then you can pack the tapes into your too-small luggage allotment and have room to take souvenirs home. This is a very clever plan.

Date: 2008-05-28 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
This is a very clever plan.

Very clever, indeed.

We do still intend to come sometime in the next couple of years to deal with crabbydragon's godmother's ashes, we're just waiting for the right time, I guess.

Date: 2008-05-28 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
You have a standing invitation. Maybe we can get an air mattress so all our girls can sleep in the same room.

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