Clutter

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Clutter

Postby Tituba » Sun Jan 04, 2004 8:05 am

When I read Barbara's book "Live the Life You Love" and got to Chapter 4, it took my breath away. It's the truth of my life. As Barbara says, the real reason I hang onto all this clutter is so I have this never ending project. As long as I have this project, I don't have to get on with improving my life. I mean, who can expect me to do what I was meant to when I have all this clutter to clean up......hmmmmm. So, the clutter serves a purpose in my life. Found this great article on clutter http://www.scn.org/earth/lightly/vscluttr.htm What has been your experience with clutter? And, once you recognize your behavior, what is the switch that turns the tide? Throw up your hands and say 'that's just the way I am'? How do you talk yourself into doing something that you know will be good for you in the long run? And, when you do clean up and organize and then a couple of months later find it all is back like you never did a thing..... I'm feeling defeated. [This message has been edited by Tituba (edited January 04, 2004).]
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Postby Azurite » Sun Jan 04, 2004 8:54 am

Great subject, Tituba, and a very good article that you mentioned. As one who struggles regularly with clutter, I wanted to share what spoke to me recently; the “switch that turned the tide,” if you will. I was churning with the options of what to do with the stuff I needed to clear out of my house. Donate it? Have a yard sale? Sell it on ebay? I vacillated between all of them for a long time, wasting time and energy in the process. “This stuff has value. I can’t just give it away,” I thought. But the thought of investing more time and energy into preparing for a yard sale (and keeping the stuff around until spring), or selling it on ebay, with no guarantee of sale, had me stuck in a loop. Then someone (thanks B!) shared this quote with me, from “The Courage to Be Rich” by Suze Orman (p. 44): “Could you have a yard sale instead? You could. But I want you to begin thinking expansively. By having a yard sale, you see, you’d get only a fraction of what these items are really worth, which diminishes both your purchase and your purchase price. They are better given to someone who will appreciate them and use them gratefully, rather than sold to someone who will gloat over having gotten a bargain. This can actually raise their worth to full value. Rather than trying to make up for your mistakes, you will have made a generous offering to the world.” I felt as if I had finally been given a sign—permission—to get rid of the stuff. A true lightbulb moment. Orman’s entire Chapter 3 is devoted to the subject of getting rid of clutter to make room for more money (and other things of value) in your life. I checked the book out of the library just to read that chapter. (p. 35): “Why won’t we let these items go, the useless items we keep around us? It is the profound fear of loss, which prevents us from gain. We keep so much stuff around us because we fear that if all our material possessions were taken away, we’d be left with nothing—and who would we be if we had nothing? It’s this same fear of loss, however, that cuts off the possibility for more. You’ve heard the phrase, *less is more*? In this context it means that clutter blocks the way for more. Surrounded by clutter, you can’t find what you need, see what you have, notice what you value, or pinpoint what’s missing. In a rich and radiantly abundant life, on the other hand, one in which there is clarity, there is always room for more to come.” Something else that helped was when I finally took the time, after several years, to work my way through the piles of paperwork on my desk that I'd been meaning to file and organize. It wasn't fun, but when it was done, I had a big cardboard box of paperwork to dispose of. With financial information on much of it, I couldn't just dump it, so my husband and I had a little bonfire one crisp autumn night. It was so cathartic, and felt fantastic to be finally free and clear of it. It had truly been a block to other areas of progress in my life. I wish you the best in your decluttering process.
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Postby pcmcgreen » Sun Jan 04, 2004 8:57 am

Hi Tituba, As you may know from some of my posts, I just recently "realized" that I could live without a lot of what I have. Plus some of it, like my furniture, wasn't an expression of me at all - it was my mother's taste - egad! I had turned into my mother! So I decided to sell all my furniture and anything else I could possibly "function" without. That was a couple months ago and nothing has sold yet, but a few books. Being willing to get rid of stuff doesn't necessarily mean "it" wants to leave! But I haven't given up yet! While you are probably asking why don't I just give it all away, I say I can't afford to - if it actually does sell, I will be able to pay rent and eat. As it is turning out, I will be moving in with my sister for awhile and may have to "pay" her with my furniture. And so, it will be gone either way. BUT, I will have a roof over my head and I will be ridding myself of some "clutter" that is keeping me from getting to CA! Well, I probably haven't helped much. But speaking of my own "paper clutter" piles, I've been going through them one a day - that way its not so overwhelming, but you actually see progress from day to day. And seeing progress helps to motivate you to dive into the next pile of clutter. Image Polly P.S. Plus I'm packing to move, and I always get rid of a lot of stuff when packing. Image
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Postby Tituba » Sun Jan 04, 2004 9:09 am

Loved the quote Azurite - very important ideas. Thanks too pcg. I, too, am in somewhat of a "survival mode" as I don't have a full time job nor am collecting benefits. Clutter has been my issue for all my life. In fact, when I moved to Mass. from CT, I left two completely full storage bins full to the brim in CT. I paid rent on these bins for two years while never once going down to CT to get anything. Obviously, nothing in those bins I needed as I was living my life without it. How insane is that! Now a brave person would have auctioned the bins. Did I? Nope, I instead rented a truck and dragged the two bins worth of stuff up to Mass. For the past four years or so have been purging it. It is alot less than it was. It is just still too much. I don't know if I believe in magic happening when you purge clutter. What I do believe is that I'll feel better. There is a quote on my frig that I noticed this morning: "Do not let what you cannot do stop you from doing what you can." [This message has been edited by Tituba (edited January 04, 2004).]
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Postby Jezicka » Sun Jan 04, 2004 9:15 am

Tituba-- bless you for bringing up this topic-- it's been a major problem for me my whole life-- until just the last 8 months or so. Since I think I've finally got a handle on this (I'm still revelling in being able to walk in the dark from my bedroom door to the bed without killing myself!)-- I'll put down some of the things that have helped and look forward to seeing any other answers here. 1. Do NOT try to 'clean it all up once and for all'! This is a sure receipe for failure. Pick one small, easily do-able task. I got this off of www.flylady.com and my first task was the one she recommends-- cleaning up and shining my kitchen sink. It seems to me you can start with anything as long as you keep it small-- a single shelf on a bookcase or a single corner of a room. The trick is to make it really clean and pretty-- a place where your eyes can come to rest and you can feel at peace with that little spot, at least! Then start a routine in which first thing in the morning you clean up that spot again-- and in the evening before you go to bed. Gradually add more and more space which you keep picked up. Just make sure you don't ever again work until you're absolutely sick of it! 2. Do two things at once. The thing that's helped the most in keeping up my routine is getting a small radio with earphones that I can carry around in my pocket with me in the morning when I do my picking up. There's no way I'm going to give up listening to the news in the morning-- and no reason why I should have to! Now I do my favorite thing and without even noticing it my house gets cleaned and my laundry done! Actually I don't know why I never thought of this before-- it's exactly what my father (the family neatnik) used to do-- he'd listen to his German language tapes, or something else he wanted to hear. After all, it's too much to expect intelligent people to turn off their minds -- and there's no reason why they should have to! 3. Treat it as meditation. A couple times when I've had hard problems to deal with or was upset about something I've turned off the radio and just used the repetitive stuff as a sort of ritual that let's my subconscious mind have a go at the problem. I found it works as well as soaking in a hot bath (my favorite method in the past) -- and gets something else accomplished besides! 4. Ask the right questions. After I'd begun to keep things more picked up, it occurred to me that I'd been asking myself the wrong question my whole life. I'd been asking, "Why do I have to do this?" This is a question without an answer. What I was really asking was, 'Why is the universe ordered the way it is?' The only answer is, 'Because it is! There's a physical law called entropy that means that left to themselves things tend to degrade into chaos.' I realized that the question I should have been asking was, 'Why do I have to live in a mess all the time?!' And the answer is, of course, I don't! So instead of feeling burdened and put upon I started seeing myself as the agent of change. 5. Don't do it alone! This manifesto of Barbara's applies as well to clutter as going after your dreams. Have a decluttering party or hold a 'procrastination busters' telethon with friends. Hire someone if you can afford it. I still haven't got all my financial papers in order, but I made a big dent in the problem by hiring a very organized friend at work to help me. She needed the money and it turned a huge mess into a bunch of folders that I can potentially manage... (Even though I haven't yet! Image ) 6. Find a system that suits your style. I read a bunch of organizing and time management books-- most of them required me to be a different sort of person altogether in order to use their system. But one was absolutely perfect for me-- "Order from Chaos" by Liz Davenport. She says the problem with most organizing books is that they're written by naturally organized people for other organized people. She says she, on the other hand, is a naturally disorganized person, with a horrible short-term memory and who is, in addition, legally blind-- so the tools that some disorganized people use-- leaving things out to remind them, relying on memory-- won't work for her-- so she had to develop a simple system that she would use and that would work. I also got "Organizing for Creative People" and "Time Management for Creative People"-- both of which have had some useful tips for me. 7. The one I gave on another thread-- Think of it as Feng Shui! This helps me enormously, since I still have a lot of trouble with my inner brat on the whole subject of neatness and cleaning... Taking it out of that realm entirely and thinking of it in philosophical terms tends to quiet the tantrums and bring out the curiosity quick-- Instead of "NoNoNo I wontIwont!" the little ears perk up and I start to get, "And what is this for? And what does this symbol mean?" 8. And while we're on the subject... Another one of Barbara's maxims is good here... If the resistance is really strong and you can't get yourself to do even 5 minutes of pick up and toss-- Refuse to do it! Don't pick anything up or clean anything but you must say it aloud! You own your life and your time no one but you has the right to tell you what to do with it. 9. Stars! My personal favorite all time motivator-- I give myself a red star for every day I do my morning pick-up routine-- a blue star is for working on financial organization. 10. Timers -- recommended by any number of people, including Barbara-- Even the worst resistance can usually be handled with a promise of '15 minutes and no more'-- or 10 or 5 minutes if that feels like too much. If you can't do even that, see number 8! Thanks again, Tituba! I'm hoping to give my own 'getting unstuck' seminar within the next 6 months or so-- so I'll be really interested to see what has worked for others! [This message has been edited by Jezicka (edited January 04, 2004).]
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Postby cc » Sun Jan 04, 2004 9:47 am

Ouch! Another thread that hits home! Dealing with clutter seems to be an ongoing battle for my husband and me. Thanks for bringing it up so I can glean helpful hints. For some reason I can understand that a shoe box can only hold so much stuff, but I don't get that the "box" I live in also has a limited capacity. It does seem to help if I see things as flowing through my life. Clutter occurs when I keep stuff that should continue to flow through. I did find this site that explains Suze Orman's technique for dealing with clutter: http://www.helpingheartsheal.com/moremoney.htm I have found this book quite helpful: Making Peace with the Things in Your Life : Why Your Papers, Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep Overwhelming You and What to Do About It by Cindy Glovinsky It's listed on Amazon.com so you can read an excerpt. Excuse me while I throw out a few things . . .
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Postby Tituba » Sun Jan 04, 2004 10:34 am

Thanks all! The links are awesome! I go into the storage room, look at the boxes, sigh and walk out. I took a camera this morning and took a picture of it so I'd have a 'before' picture. As I was looking through the lens, it hit me how much is really there! So I dump 4 empty boxes this morning. I have alot of empty boxes. I kept them thinking "this is a good box to put stuff in." You know how it is when you find a good box...... Even Seinfeld had a comedy routine based on us searching for boxes. And, of course, George Carlin has this whole routine about how we live in a box and collect stuff. Then when the stuff becomes too much, we rent another big box called a storage bin to store our boxes...
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Postby engelein » Sun Jan 04, 2004 11:23 am

Isn't there a theory that the amount of *stuff* you have multiplies to fit the space you have to store it? Image I've given up on flylady for various reasons, but I did learn to declutter from her. I do it in a different style. When I feel something is taking up too much space, then its time to downsize. Examples: * I sort through my books when I realise I have no space on the bookshelf for new ones. Out go the ones I never read. * Same for my wardrobe / clothing. When I buy something and the wardrobe is overfolwing, then it's time to sort out those clothes I don't need. Out goes the stuff I never/rarely wear, with the exception of evening wear ans ski stuff which gets worn less often by nature. On an aside, I use to love to buy evening wear - it's still a soft spot of mine - until I realised that I actually don't wear it all that often. So, I've taken to keeping one very formal dress and the others can all be worn during the day or for less formal occasions too. That way I get to wear them more often. * Clothes in general are one of my biggest clutter problems. Now, if I buy an item of clothing I try to ensure that I get rid of another. Currently I sell on ebay but I'm learning that its not always worth it to do that. Some of the less expensive stuff I will just get rid of. * When the shelf under the coffeetable begins to overflow, then it's time to sort out the magazines that are there and throw out those we won't need any more. * Kitchens: How many pans etc do you actually need? We have three saucepans, 2 frying pans, a wok and a pressure cooker, and frankly, that's more than enough. Similar for other kitchen equipment. I have one set of crockery. No "best" and "everyday", what's the point in keeping something for "best"? You hardly ever get to use it. My crockery is plain white and my cutlery steel cut like silver, so perfectly fine for dressing up for formal dinners too. * We threw out a whole load of stuff in the cellar that we weren't using. We seem to have a lot of dead small electronics - old CD players, speakers etc. This stuff needs to go and will be my next declutter project. By the way, I don't have a set time / day for decluttering, otherwise I feel captured by it. If the need overtakes me, I declutter, and I think that's working OK so far. * Office: On a shelf in my office I have a stack of paper which gets added to each time I don't know where to file a particular piece of paper. Every so often I go through this pile and throw out anything I haven't needed for a long time. * Bills: I'm self-employed so have to be careful about keeping track of these. Normal filing trays on the desk didn't work. Promising myself I'd file everything straight away didn't work. What has worked for me during the last 6 months has been having a shelf which is divided into three "cubby holes", one for bills to pay, one for invoices issued but not yet paid and one for bills and invoices which have been paid and can therefore be entered into the bookkeeping. I have another cubby-hole on a different shelf where I stash personal (non-business bills and invoices). As with everything else I go through when the mood takes me (or when I have a tax deadline) and enter the amounts into bookkeeping and file things. * Other bits of paper. I've relaised that I'm not good at filing things - that means fetching a file, punching holes in the paper and making sure things are in the right order. Can't be bothered with that. So I've realised that I could try a filing cabinet with open files - open drawer, drop in paper. Or magazine files (is that what you call them, those ones which stand up and are open?). Anyways, something like the cubby-hole system I have for bills - drop the piece of paper there and forget. Hmmm, don't know if any of that helped...
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Postby Tituba » Sun Jan 04, 2004 12:09 pm

What do you do about photo albums? I have maybe a dozen. I literally have not looked in one of them in probably 15 years. But the thought of throwing away photo albums....somehow seems wrong. I have this habit of piling papers on my coffee/kitchen tables. To the point, that I don't have a table. I then shuffle them into a big pile on the corner of the table thinking I'll get to them. I also cut out coupons. Why? I never remember to bring them to the store. Then I have to go through them and throw out the expired ones..... Image The only time I really clean up the paper clutter is when I know someone is visiting.
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Postby cc » Sun Jan 04, 2004 12:35 pm

Are there friends/family who would like the pictures? We also have "horizontal surface disease" -- all flat surfaces grow piles of stuff. I've started selecting one area at a time and keeping it clear for a month or two and then moving to another when I've established the habit of keeping the area clean.
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Postby soni » Sun Jan 04, 2004 1:08 pm

Tituba - scan all your photos (or have it done at an office store) onto a disk. Make copies for safekeeping, then give away the original photo's to anyone in the family who wants them (ask if they'd like a disk, also - they're cheap enough to make copies of). You may even want to keep one copy of your disk off-site like in a portable zip drive or on the web in a storage site, in case of fire or other disaster.
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Postby Tituba » Sun Jan 04, 2004 1:15 pm

Scanning them is out. Years ago I used those self-stick albums. You know the ones that glue themselves permanently to the pictures. I've used a hair dryer to soften the glue and had pictures rip anyways. Besides, I have gazillions of pictures. 99% of them are not family. They are friends or places I've been.
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Postby engelein » Sun Jan 04, 2004 4:09 pm

Tituba, don't be too perfectionist over the photo albumns. I once made a list of stuff I'd save in a fire, if I could and photos were top of the list. They can't be replced. Put those albumns on a bookshelf somewhere and enjoy them. Turn your attentiuon to replaceable junk, OK?
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Postby Jezicka » Sun Jan 04, 2004 6:32 pm

Yes, I agree with Engelein-- if there's no room on your bookshelves for the photo albums, then that's a perfectly reasonable thing to put in a box-- and you don't have to get rid of all your boxes-- just keep things that you know you want. A story from "Order From Chaos" might be of some use to you (at least I think that was where it was from...)-- Anyway, the author had a client who had about 40 boxes which she refused to get rid of -- so the first thing that they did was just get them out of the way-- they moved them all out to the garage and concentrated on getting the home office together. About a year later the woman called again and said that her husband had offered to get her a new car if she would clean out the boxes in the garage-- so the author came over again and they went through the boxes. It turned out that they contained every single speck of paper from a job the woman had had 15 years earlier from which she had been let go suddenly without cause. They chose a few representative brochures and 'momentoes' and threw out the rest-- and the woman got her car. Well, about a year later the woman called her up again and told her she'd just gotten a call from her accountant saying, "What on earth did you do?"-- because her income that year had shot up by 50%. The author's comment was, that somewhere, in the back of her mind, the woman knew exactly was in those boxes-- it was her self-esteem-- her 'proof' that she had really done a good job-- and that by finally going through them and 'letting go' of them she was giving her subconscious permission to also let go of that last little bit of defensiveness about her value-- and symbolically 'making space' for new clients and opportunities. I thought that was such a neat story... By the way, are any of those ten points in my earlier post of any value to any of you? I'd really like your feedback if so-- or if not, for that matter!
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Postby urbanpioneer » Sun Jan 04, 2004 7:13 pm

I've always been good at clearing out clutter. Every so often a load goes to the dump or a garage sale. I could be comfortable living out of the trunk of my car! My problem is my husband. He is the packrat and our basement is full of his crap! Stuff we inheirited 15 years ago from his grandmother, old speakers, (like we're ever going to use them!) boxes of paperwork left over from three jobs ago, I could go on and on. I got four sets of shelving for our storeroom in the basement and they are now full of the stuff we keep and use, like the boxes of Christmas decorations, camping equipment, my sewing stuff, etc. I absolutely refused to let junk migrate onto those shelves. I have started selling a few things on Ebay, but getting my husband to let go of anything is like pulling teeth! Do any of you have this problem and what have you done to combat it?
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