Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conquering Clutter

For those who don't know me personally, I think one thing I should do is come clean about clutter.  I am a clutterbug.  I come from a loooooong line of packrats.  Actually we were just down at my grandparent's house in WV a few weeks ago trying to sift through decades of junk in search of any treasures before the house is sold.  During that trip I realized that one day when I'm gone, someone (my kids probably) will to have to do that to MY house.  A difficult, weird, dirty, and gross it project was and it could have been a lot easier had my grandparents (and my great-grandparents) had only pared down their possessions to what they needed.

I'm not prepared to go super simple or to eliminate every item that's a "nice to have" or things I'm holding onto for sentimental reasons, but the stack of sweaters in my closet is testament to the fact that I definitely have more stuff than I use or need.  I'm not emotionally attached to everything, but i do seem to have trouble letting go of extra things.  I do know that I will be happier and probably healthier (mentally) if I can reduce the "extra" in my life.

I started off by thinking about WHY we hang onto things...

The Unknown.  Why get rid of a thing if there's a chance it might be useful or needed in the future.  Like the Hawaiian print shirt you bought for that Luau party you went to 6 years ago.  You're keeping it why?  Because you never know when you'll need a Hawaiian print shirt.  There could be a luau tomorrow, and if there is, you'll be all set.

I loved the time when I got it.  Maybe it's a picture from your first apartment or a pair of shoes your wore on your honeymoon, but every time you go to chuck out an item, it reminds you of a time in your life you look back on fondly.  Tossing out is like tossing out is like losing a memory.

It looked fantastic on me.  This is pretty clothes/shoes specific, but sometimes we hang onto jeans or a dress from before we had kids hoping that someday we'll fit into it or something from high-school that does look spectacular, but let's face it, the 90s are over.

But it's in great shape!  You're meticulous about your clothes.  Everything is clean, folded, and without blemishes.  Maybe the item in question is a household item...throw pillows for the living room or maybe a duvet cover.  Something you replaced, upgraded or just doesn't suit your current style. But because it's in great condition, you would feel guilty throwing it away.  So it gets stowed in bins, put in a closet, basement, or attic.  

Decluttering Paralysis.  This is what happens when your clutter problem is so big that you don't know where to start.  And so you just do nothing.

These are all real reasons that I hold onto stuff.  They can ALL be addressed.

Here's questions that I ask myself when decluttering:

  • Does it FIT??  
  • Would I have occasion to USE it?
  • Do I even LIKE it?

If an item isn't useful, if I don't like it, or if it doesn't fit, then out it goes.  I do take some exceptions for extremely sentimental items like a wedding dress, collectible antiques, or gifts.

So what do I do with stuff?  Trash, Donate, Sell.  Things that are in great shape are saleable through ebay, consignment, or craigslist.  Donate gently used stuff to a number of charities.  Trash/recycle anything that is unusable, dangerous, or gross.

There you have it!  A quick and dirty declutter rundown.  So where do I go from here?  Well, I just need to pick a small task and get it done.  Click HERE for an article with some tips on how to declutter in your home.

Next up - the Dining Room.


  1. So funny - it is like you read my mind. Maybe I am a clutterbug in denial.

    P.S. - LOVE the blog and the name Goofy Monkeys. How can you not smile when you read a name like that

    ~Gabriella @ Our Life In Action

  2. Great decluttering advice that I received was "keep only those things that you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." That gives me room for the sentimental stuff (wedding dress, etc. but greatly reduces the tchotchkes that were just taking up space in my life! -WT



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