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Topic cleaning house- what stays & what goes? Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By Punky Brewster On 08/18/02  

Hi y'all!
I'm such the packrat/collector of useless things, and I'm always trying to purge my apartment of useless clutter. Problem is I love useless clutter and I'm always bringing more stuff home.

For one thing, I'm trying to curb my spending and not bring home too much useless crap. It's hard. I need to take the spendaholic pledge or something.

Here's the main problem I have: how to de-clutter? How do you decide what stays and what goes? Do you have any tips for de-cluttering your life? I need to break this habit of having too much stuff! I must be ruthless!! Help!!!

PS- I think the bay area ladies are having a NLP soon, so that's one way to unload my junk on someone else!!



By Mona Mew On 08/18/02  

First, do it in spurts as it can be overwhelming otherwise. And do it when you are feeling ruthless and/or have a friend present who will help you to be ruthless (or take your things to their house! ;o).

Deciding on what to keep/get rid of. Don't keep things purely on sentimental value unless it is particularly strong. For instance, I will forever keep my first teddy bear, Kitty, and the necklace my dad gave me for my 7th b-day (which I still wear all the time :o). Some items, like a broken ornament your 3rd boyfriend's mom gave to you, let it go! She may have been nice but do you need a piece of clutter in your house to remind you of that? Paper is a big one. Take this from a girl who hung on to magazines purchased in the sixth grade until she was in her mid-twenties! Get some files and a sharp exacto/utility knife. Cut out all the things you like, put it into a file right away and recycle the rest. That goes for all papers that lay about the house. You can also get a little booklet to write down phone numbers, websites, quotes you have on bits of paper and get rid of the bits.

Put together all the things you think may have some value and have a garage sale or rent a table at a flea market. Whatever you don't sell, bring that night to the Sally Ann or Value Village.

As far as not bring new things home, what has helped me is thinking about how quickly the excitement fades after the purchase. I often 'have' to have something, then I bring it home and it sits in the bag for day because a) the purchase high has worn off and b) I have no where to put it because I have too much stuff! I now have a rule about things coming in: If I won't be able to find it a home, it doesn't leave the store with me.

Also, if you like getting new things, everything you get rid of makes room for something new to come in, physically and spiritually. Think of all the time you are consumed by thinking about the clutter. Releasing is like giving yourself a gift. (Man, I've gotta stop watching Oprah!!)



By madison On 08/18/02  

First, I agree with Mona, do it in spurts. One closet, bookshelf, or cupboard at a time.

Second, hold each treasured object in your little hand look it over very carefully. Ask yourself, "Do I need this?" and "If, in 5 years, I don't have this, will I still be okay physically and emotionally?" (a little dramatic, but that's ok.) :)

Third, if you find you can't give it up, that is fine. But you have a new problem...organization. Which isn't my cup of tea. (that's why I get rid of stuff.)

I recently went through our entire apartment in preparation for school starting. I think better when my house is very clean. Strange, eh?

Good luck to you, Punky!
(I wish I was there cause I bet you throw some gooooood stuff.) ;)



By PopCultureShock On 08/18/02  

I don't mean to steal your thread Punky
but I have a little question...
I'm trying to de-clutter things too...but I have so many school papers! How long should I keep all these financial aid and school papers!?
help!



By kittythedog On 08/18/02  

I motivate myself by looking at magazines with spare, modern decorating. Like I'll ever be able to see surfaces in my house. Ha!

I do this thing when I go shopping, asking myself "is it a tchotchke?". Of course, that doesn't always stop me. But it helps if the stuff never even makes it in the house.

If you find something that cures packratness, let me in on it. I don't think I'll ever be a neat person. And it kills me.

Susannah



By siwrl On 08/18/02  

Dang, Punky, I can relate. I'm a packrat too, and a very sentimental one on top of it, which makes it even harder to part with my crap. I'm still too traumatized by my past declutterings to focus on any much-needed new ones!

siwrl



By Punky Brewster On 08/18/02  

PopCultureShock-

I know what you mean. I need to go through my files and save what is important and toss out what is crap. That's tough. Do you have some sort of a filing system? It doesn't have to be big.

I'd say hang on to the financial aid stuff, you never know when you might need to refer to it. I am going to hang on to stuff relating to my car, medical stuff, etc. and I'm going to toss things like junk mail, warranties to things I don't even own anymore, etc.

PS- on a side note, I once had a book about de-cluttering. It wasn't helpful at all. It just went on chapter after chapter telling the many ways that clutter is bad and keeps you down. I already know that!! It didn't really have any practical advice on what to actually DO with the stuff! I realized that the book was just one more piece of clutter and got rid of it!!! I don't think the author wanted me to do THAT.



By nico On 08/18/02  

OK this could have been my topic easily. I have all the same problems. I feel guilt getting rid of almost anything. So, I probably should'nt be giving advice, but I will anyways. One thing that helps a little is not using/taking tags off of stuff for a couple of days so I can make sure I really want what I bought. I read an article on the designer Karim Rashid and he says that when he brings something new into his home he gets rid of one thing( kind of interesting ). You could try taking on the idea of buying less junk and saving up for better quailty things. I like modern furniture vintage and new pieces like from design within reach. I try to keep telling myself to save for what I really want. For you maybe it would be a trip or a spa visit. Also, try doing an inventory of your stuff so you will know what not to buy. I was looking at all the black shirts I have and I could'nt believe it.I have a hard time with organization. I try to organize and it bothers me that I am disorganized. Somehow the same stuff that I thought I organized ends up piled everywhere again. It drives me crazy.



By Mona Mew On 08/18/02  

Hey nico, I think I read that same Karim Rashid article! That's the line I use on my boy everytime he wants to buy a new item of clothing (I've never seen a man with so many clothes!! All t-shirts! ;o) "What item are you going to get rid of to make room for that new shirt/pants/shorts?" Socks I've finally got under control. When I told him he had over 40 pairs of socks, he stopped buying! Now that's the joke everytime we are in a clothing store: "I think I need some socks." "No Baby, we just haven't done laundry in a month." "Oh yeah..." :o) Sometime excess is fun.



By lindastar On 08/18/02  

haha. the best way is to move across the country with 3 suitcases. that really worked for me.

but uh.. if you haven't used it in 6 months (or definitely a year), are hanging onto it because you feel like you "should," toss it.

if it doesn't go with your stuff anymore, if you refer to the person who gave it to you as "that bitch", if it reminds you of something you don't want to remember : toss.

if you have more than 2 of it: toss.

if you're waiting for it to "come back in style" (esp. if it's a bodysuit.... shudder) : toss.

uhmmm... if you aren't sure: toss.

and basically, if it's in a box under your bed: toss.

if there's stuff you can't decide about, pack it in a box. date it. 6 months later if the box is unopened, TOSS, UNOPENED. you won't even remember what it is, which is the idea.

good luck decluttering!

-linda
*whose mom would send her away to summer camp and throw all of her stuff away



By tallulah On 08/19/02  

But Punky! Your place isn't cluttered at all. You have everything arranged in nice collections. Do you have a secret closet or room I don't know about?



By Punky Brewster On 08/19/02  

Thanks, Tallulah! I always want to accumulate more stuff, but I hang on to old stuff that I don't even need. I guess I'm just trying to weed out what I have. I never seem to throw anything away. I'm feeling the urge to purge!!

I am afraid of one day being one of those old people who has 50 years of newspapers and old phonebooks and crap, and dies underneath them when they all topple over. I will probaly die underneath piles of catalogs and knick-knacks.



By dre On 08/19/02  

I go through closets and drawers and toss everything into boxes. I let those boxes sit somewhere out of the way for a while. If I don't miss them after a few weeks i deem that stuff to be in a yard sale or to go to charity. I find for myself it takes the pressure off of getting rid of stuff. There have been a few regrets, but not too many. Good luck.



By bunny On 08/19/02  

i'm dealing with these same issues right now as i prepare to move to new york next year. i plan on having several moving sales to get rid of crap i no longer need.

basically i'm getting rid of things that i absolutely love and/or i won't be able to replace very easily. i have an awesome desk that i love, but moving it to new york will be such a hassle and if i find another great desk once i'm there then i'll feel bad for making this one travel all that way. i'm such a packrat that all that little stuff will just have to go. i want to get rid of all the little stuff so that i can have bigger, nicer things. or space.

maybe think of it in terms of moving. if you moved across the country would you want "this" in yr world still? would yr world be out of wack without it?
what do you gain by having the stuff you have? has it started to define you?



By lindastar On 08/19/02  

" i want to get rid of all the little stuff so that i can have bigger, nicer things. or space. "


even with small nice things, there isn't much space in new york. :) toss toss toss!

-l



By traveler On 08/19/02  

I've been doing this today, actually--and I suspect I'll still be doing it next week. Most of my cleaning seems to consist of picking something up, not being sure what to do about it, and putting it down somewhere else.

What I've discovered so far: Rubbermaid is my new god. Their storage containers are fantastic for the things you just can't get rid of. And sometimes you just have to close your eyes and throw it in the trash. I swept an entire tabletop directly into the trash earlier.

Observation of the day: a curious kitty makes cleaning very inconvenient.



By helena On 08/19/02  

I apologise in advance for this being so long. :/

I *so* identify with this. I am a packrat who comes from a long line of packrats. People who pick things up 'just to have'. People who don't throw out toilet paper tubes because they might be useful at some undisclosed date in the future.

The way I deal with it:

1) Accept that you are never going to have a neat life. It will just be less messy. Don't worry about getting everything perfect and streamlined, just try to make it better.

2) Dre's tip, put stuff you think you might want to get rid of in a box. If you don't miss it for a few weeks, then it can go.

3) Don't beat yourself up over it. If you really, really want to keep something, do. Just find a neat and efficient way of storing it. Organise papers and files. Hang clothes properly and protect them. If something's broken, fix it or get rid of it. But try not to keep stuff for tiny possibilities ('This *might* fit me again at some stage in the future', 'I *might* need something from 'Best of Gymnastics 1987'. You probably won't and even if you do lose/gain weight so that the item would have fit you or if you do need that vital gymnastics statistic, there are places where you can buy clothes and other places where you can find gymnastics info.) (I'm using my own examples here :P)

4) eBay. I have a lot of unusual clothes and bits and pieces that I felt were too 'good' to just give away, but too weird to make any money at a local yard sale. eBay has really helped me clear out stuff, because I feel like a) the stuff is going to someone who really wants it, and b) I'm making money off my junk. For example, I made $10 for a pair of angel wings, $30 for a silver reflective skirt that doesn't fit me any more, and $74 for a pair of platform boots I haven't worn in 18 months. Don't look at it like you need to get a fair price, just mark the starting prices really low and look at it like a happy way of cleaning your closet out. Everyone (my mother, boyfriend and friends) thought that selling old clothes on eBay was absurd, but it's been a success so far. And I like to think that the stuff has gone to a 'good home' where someone will appreciate it as much as I did.

5) Mr. Rebus. There was a documentary on the BBC once about this old guy who lived in a house full of crap that was infested with rats. He would crawl in a hole in the back door and sleep in the gap in the junk on the kitchen floor. Seriously. He would get hostile and violent if a social worker tried to throw out any of his junk. So I think of him and how I don't want to be like him when I'm 80.

I think a lot of my problem is that we didn't have a lot of money when I was a kid, so I felt like every posession/toy I could get was important, and as soon as I started buying stuff with my own money, I got very territorial. A lot of the time when I'm trying to declutter, I don't want to 'just throw it away' ot 'just give it away', because I remember paying X amount for it in 1995. The way around this for me is to try and find a place where someone will actually *want* it rather than attempt to offload it at a yard sale. Toys to children's charities, books (which I have a *really* hard time getting rid of) to second hand book store, ridiculous clothes to eBay, etc.

I hate the idea of throwing/giving somethong away and it sitting unloved in a bin somewhere. I love the idea of someone finding my junk and going 'Ooh! A ceramic Pierrot doll! I love ceramic Pierrot dolls! This is just the one to add to my collection! I will cherish this ceramic Pierrot doll! Hurrah!' You know what I mean?



By vintage lilac On 08/19/02  

www.flylady.net

The flylady will help you declutter.



By FrankieV On 08/19/02  

Because I am a total packrat/ spendaholic, and my shoes alone can easily build up to a critical mass, I try to have a serious closet purge at least once a year. (I was going to make a lame joke about Stalin and intelligentsia, but it was kind of tacky...)

If I haven't worn it more then once, out it goes. If it's broken--I'm not going to fix it, no matter how much I say I am. If it doesn't fit, makes me look fat, or if I was slightly delusional when I bought it--same thing. If it ould work as an accessory, or is too coolto give away, or ould be made into something, I tend to keep it (even though I don't have a sewing machine and can't sew--go figure). If I've got multiples of it (tank tops, pj's, body lotion, jeans that make my ass look fat), some of those go, too.

First my sister gets a peek, then I give it to Goodwill--although there is a NLP planned for this year, so I'm saving some stuff for that.

Same thing with books--although it breaks my heart to do it, so I end up keeping a ton of books around, and usually try to sell them or trade them in to a secondhand bookstore.

I'm never ever going to be a minimalist (yikes! perish the thought!) so the purge is really the only way to keep my closet from overflowing.

hth a little--
j

--edited to say: i read on flylady.net (.com? dunno) that you should throw out 15 things a day. I am assuming she meant trash, but it works for me sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed by my junk. I throw out magazines that have been hanging around, to-do lists from five weeks ago, things I'm just never going to use again (that lipgloss that tasted like ass and made me look dead, for example), and it does open up space. She also says to do de-cluttering for 15 minutes at a time, and this worked out really well for me.

The other thing is that sometimes clutter can look nice. If you reorganize your collections so they have more of a unifying theme, or put them in pretty storage units, you can have clutter but still be neat(er).

hth part 2--
j



By Elf_Chick On 08/19/02  

i agree with tallulah, Punky, your house had cool stuff in it but wasn't cluttered seeming. of course it prob seems different to you.

i have no advice, but i'll be peeping into this thread to see what people say as i too am trying to de-clutter. i got in a modd toclean last night after Adult Swim and actually have some semblance of floor space now...;p

-S



By jtsang On 08/19/02  

My Mantra "When in doubt, throw it out." You rarely miss things when they're gone, and if you REALLY do you could always get a new one. Case and point, I threw out some cords, and i was sad I put them in the good will bag and then one day i discovered my mom hadn't given them away so I rescued them and haven't worn them yet. I was smart to have tossed em.
When you buy something "Do you WANT it or NEED it' only buy if you need.
Move every once in a while, it is cathartic to throw out crap you don't want to haul.

If you don't want to move, look at something and think "Would I schlep this to my new place if i had to carry it 5 or 6 blocks?" if no, it's got to go!

good luck!
jt



By Elf_Chick On 08/19/02  

see though, i have the problem of getting rid of something and then needing it again shortly thereafter. as a result i keep everything...

-S



By trishie On 08/19/02  

I have a plan to scan all of my valuable papers and burn them onto a CD. It's an excellent plan - I've had it for a few years! I even burned one CD but now I can't find it because I have too much stuff. Oh well.

I am moving on Thursday and I've done a wonderful job of separating stuff I don't need and putting them in a big laundry basket. I was going to give it all to goodwill, but now I want to sell it on e-bay, complete with witty descriptions. So, basically, it's moving with me. I know this isn't inspiring at all but I have good ideas at least!



By Bizwitch On 08/19/02  

all of this advice is great. really and truly.

my little bit of input is kind of a copout, and i've posted this site before, but i really think it's a great resource. well, i enjoy reading it anyways. and their board is like ours (but for cleaning), in that it's full of knowledge. but it's so not cool like glitter. *totally* different mindset there, so i just lurk on occassion. never post. i want nothing to do with being in that particular social circle. ok, that was snobby. i don't care, glitter's the best. ;)
>http://www.organizedhome.com/

*Bizzy*



By cleanout On 08/20/02  

punky, i second tallulah. your place isn't cluttered!

but holy shit, do i need to clean. do you ladies know what i found in my closet tonight?

A BROKEN BEER BOTTLE!

it was full and capped. i keep beer in my closet so my roommate/her guests don't drink it like when i keep it in the fridge. so i must've kicked it at some point or something and it broke. obviously, spilled all over the floor of my closet and dried completely!!! it must've happened several weeks ago. i can't freaking believe i broke a full beer bottle in my closet, let the beer sit and then dry on its own, and then let weeks go by before i even noticed. like i said, holy shit, do i need to clean.

ps - those of you coming over on sat night pay attention. my room will be sparkling!



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