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De-Cluttering my life

 
pollinator
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I have GOT to get our house stuff under control. We have a lot. like A LOT! It's stressing me out.

So I'm going to share some pics and some struggles as we kind of sort of march toward minimalism.


I will say my hubs has been super against it. He really doesn't want to throw things out. He keeps mentioning the chance we might need it again. So, this is a struggle ya'll.
 
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Hi Elle,

Yes, that is a hard thing to do, no question, and important to do periodically lest it get out of control and your life becomes an episode of “Hoarders”.

There are plenty of books on the subject - here is one I found helpful.

Good luck, and keep us posted on what works and what doesn’t!  
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Book
Book
 
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elle sagenev wrote:I have GOT to get our house stuff under control. We have a lot. like A LOT! .



A good excuse to ebay it away for some extra cash.
 
elle sagenev
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My closet. So out of control. I get a lot of clothes from family who purchases them on sale and I just keep them. I keep old blankets and pillows and what am I even doing? Compounded by the storage of excess diapers and Christmas/birthday presents.

I forgot to take pics before I started so just imagine all of those hangers as full.
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The only thing that has worked passably well for me is the scoop shovel. Purge without looking too closely at what is going away. I end up longing for a few things once in a while, but if I can't find them when I need them, what's the point of having them in the first place? A few weeks ago, I filled a dumpster with seeds from old plant-breeding projects. It felt sad, and wonderful! A feeling of impending freedom.

When my greenhouse got crushed recently, I razed it to the ground, and discarded all of the associated equipment. It felt super liberating.

I finally got my clothing under control. All of my summer clothing will fit into one backpack. Winter clothes are bulkier, but don't take up much more space than that. And mending either gets done today, or the item gets discarded. No piles of things waiting to be mended. And those colors and styles that I wouldn't ever wear? They gotta go! Doesn't matter who gave them to me, or what peer-pressure is involved, or what fantasies I entertain about that party that I'm never going to attend.

I find it much easier to not bring stuff into my space than to get rid of something once it's here.

I'm getting pretty good at letting go of things that are sentimental only. Stuff that belonged to my grandparents, trinkets from grade school, etc... My grandparents are long dead. I don't receive joy from my high school yearbook.

I'm floor-sleeping these days. Can't stash anything under the bed. Inconvenient to put things on my bedroll.

I'm getting pretty good at not accepting the "Sunk Cost Fallacy" which is "I paid money for this, therefore I can't get rid of it". A variation is, "I could sell this for $10, therefore, I have to hold onto it until I get around (never) to selling it." Best to consider that the price was paid in full with the joy of bringing it home.

If it doesn't bring me joy, right now today, I'll often get rid of it.

All those things that I'm saving because I might fix them some day? Nope, gotta go. I'm never going to fix them, even if I already bought the replacement parts.

Oh, and the rest of the family are hoarders too? I intend to only deal with my own hoarding, not with anyone else's.







 
Burl Smith
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A mouse chewed holes in my favorite leather bomber's jacket that I never wear, jeez I got to be able to fix that with  vinyl repair.



 
pollinator
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Artie Scott wrote:There are plenty of books on the subject - here is one I found helpful.




I'm suspicious - how thick is that book?
 
master steward
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Elle, if that closet were mine this is what I would do:

I would set aside a day when I don't have anything else going on.  I wouls allow time for kids and fun breaks.

I would get 3 or 4 big boxes. I would mark the boxes "Keep, Give away, Throw away, and Maybe?" Then I would start with what is on the floor. I would sort everything into those boxes. Then I would move to the top shelf and use the same method.

When we sold our homestead, I had the job of getting rid of almost everything. I found the Flylady and she really helped me.

http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/
 
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Elle, looks like you've got your work cut out for you. If I may give you a few pieces of advice that were useful for me:
- if spouse is not on board, start with your closet and see if he doesn't take interest (if you share a closet, ask him to demarcate his area and leave it alone).
-Anne's advice is how I did it; the maybe box gets taped up and thrown in the attic (on porch, etc) to be looked at in 6 months. I would add another box to this, as I know you have a big family- if there's anything you're saving for kids or someone else to use, that's another box. My daughter and I wear pretty much the same size and that was an excuse for me for a long time, saving pricey clothes for her to wear. But it doesn't need to be in my closet right now, so it went into the storage area too.
- another box, being permies, might be "needs fixing", if you have enough of those things.
- that maybe box, if you haven't looked at it in 6 months it gets donated or repurposed, no need to even open it if you don't want to.
- if you sew, and have clothes you want to save for that, get a basket or something and keep those clothes somewhere else, not in your closet.

- during this process, put on some music, hydrate, and try to keep a good rhythm going. Anything that has tags on it, is not your size, has a spot, just doesn't work for you, be merciless. It's not helping you in that closet.
Good luck and godspeed!!

(when people give you clothes, if for some reason you can't stop it from happening, you can put them directly into your donate stream. If they give it to you and you don't put wear it the very next day [happily, not out of obligation], it's probably not likely you're going to wear it ever.)
 
steward
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Elle, I’ll offer myself and what I’ve done as an example, and perhaps you and maybe others also may find something to takeaway here.

I find that I can have a few things and it be clutter, or a lot of things and it be organized.

Clutter has quite an influence on me, and it’s negative, can stress me, and does not benefit my life in any way. I do occasionally find myself turning around one year and asking “where did all this come from?!” I then realize we (my wife or myself) brought it in through our door one bag and one box at a time. I try to maintain a balance on clothes, for example, where I have enough things to wear for about two weeks, sometimes wearing jeans or a second layer shirt more than once. This is a good balance for me and keeps me form having to do laundry every few days because I’m out of clean clothes. Every few years I go through my clothes and ask myself if I’ve worn it in the last year or two. If not, off to goodwill it goes.

My wife and I have a lot of books, perhaps a thousand, and they are organized on bookshelves, and are neat and tidy. It doesn’t appear like clutter, and doesn’t drive me crazy. We like to cook and preserve food, and have a lot of things for that. We do our best to keep them organized so we know where it is, has a tidy appearance, and doesn’t look like clutter.

If there is one thing that I keep buying and amassing, it’s tools. Tools are enablers for me, and I do my own home maintenance and auto repairs. I try to keep them organized to a degree, with tool chests and shelves, and have improved upon putting tools away when I’m done using them so my workbench isn’t covered in tools I didn’t put away. It still happens, and I have to take a few hours here and there during a year and put away tools and tidy up the shop so it doesn’t get to the point of overwhelming me when I look at it, which can easily deflate any enthusiasm and energy I have for keeping order as I don’t know where to begin.

I’ve been trying to be practical with what to save and what to toss. Leftover lumber for me is hard to toss as I know that, one day, it will come in handy with a repair or project. I try to keep it in a somewhat neat pile organized by type and size in the back of my shop. And often times I need a short piece of wood, and it’s nice having it on hand and not having to run and buy an 8 foot piece of lumber because I need 30 inches. I often have to take a real hard look at something like say, 15 feet of leftover electrical wire. I toss it. I would have boxes of random short lengths of wire taking up space for the rest of my life if I thought that one day it might come in handy. Things like that, for me, never do come in handy. I find that when I need wire, it’s always long lengths. I like to repurpose, and have all the best intentions to make the most of things, and use things twice or more, but at some point I have to draw the line and make a hard decision so I don’t end up with a shop full of crap I’ll never use, which also makes the space unusable if I can’t walk around in it.


 
elle sagenev
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More of a shame confession here peeps. I've done the total closet clean out multiple times. I will get rid of 2/3 of everything in there. It all creeps back in though. I have a real clothes problem in general. I wear a lot of them. Now, there are things I've been keeping ages because I dreamed of fitting back into that dress I wore when I was 19 and didn't have kids. I accepted, finally, that that was never going to happen. I'm not even the same shape anymore. So I got rid of a lot of things this go round that I hadn't previously. I don't want to take it all out though and sort it. It takes up too much time. So I've decided to go in with 1 single trash bag a week. I will fill that trash bag and then I'm done. I filled one trash bag before taking these pictures.  Also, this is just MY closet and it's big. My husband has his own closet. Man I have so much crap :(
 
elle sagenev
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I have a lot of other spaces to do but I told my husband I would start with my stuff. That's my clothes and decorations. I have a lot of decorations I've taken down and are just sitting on the floor in our room in a pile. So, I have a lot of stuff to get rid of. I imagine this decluttering will take me a year.
 
elle sagenev
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James Freyr wrote:

If there is one thing that I keep buying and amassing, it’s tools. Tools are enablers for me, and I do my own home maintenance and auto repairs. I try to keep them organized to a degree, with tool chests and shelves, and have improved upon putting tools away when I’m done using them so my workbench isn’t covered in tools I didn’t put away. It still happens, and I have to take a few hours here and there during a year and put away tools and tidy up the shop so it doesn’t get to the point of overwhelming me when I look at it, which can easily deflate any enthusiasm and energy I have for keeping order as I don’t know where to begin.



I have a tool problem too. I bought some old lockers from a high school that closed down so it doesn't seem that bad. The tools all have their little locker and it's great. However, I have like 5 jigsaws and I'm fairly sure I have that many because some of them don't work. Come spring/summer I promised my hubs I would go through and get rid of all duplicate tools. It'll be a lot.
 
elle sagenev
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A crazy thing I decided to do last night was get rid of the pigs. I have 2 male pigs left. I did intend to buy a different breed sow to breed them to but I haven't. I haven't because there is no power in the barn. It was struck by lightening years ago and we've yet to get it fixed. This has caused me some pretty big problems as far as piglets go. So I find a sow, talk to the owner, begin to make arrangements and then mentally slap myself in the face because I NEED POWER. What am I doing? So, the boys are going to go to freezer camp. If/when we ever fix the power in there we will start again.
 
Tereza Okava
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There's a saying about eating an elephant: you do it one bite at a time. One bag a week, one thing at a time, you'll be a tiny bit closer than you were the day before. You can do it!
 
pollinator
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elle sagenev wrote: Man I have so much crap :(


I totally get the feeling of being overwhelmed with such huge piles of stuff / hours of sorting work. It can immobilize you (it does this to me at least).

Would it help if you categorized your clothing further?
Just tackle tops / pants etc. at one go and then take a break to "recharge" for the next step.

I still have some things to get rid off in my closet, but our space for clothes is really tiny and I feel so good to have gotten rid of stuff last year (even things I had sewn myself!). I hardly buy clothes so I am quite confident that it will stay that way.

Another big difference it made for us to not accept any more children's clothes.
Our kids were the youngest of the lot of the extended family so we received lots of hand-me-downs. I thought it was saving us money at that time but it also used massive space and energy. The things were often stained / with holes / buttons missing / out of fasion for about 15 years etc.
I discovered then that it made more sense to buy all the things second-hand (tidy, up-to-date, incredibly cheap and taking my children so they got to choose their own style) at the community market held in our school twice a year. Would have saved me some heartbreak! (same with toys btw).
 
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Hi Elle,

I realize the in person situation may be different, but your pictures dont reveal that bad of a situation. From here, it looks like a day of organizing will address the problem.  I have certainly seen much worse.
 
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strange how things work. this thread came up and earlier today I was thinking about how less creative I have gotten as ive aged. and how can I turn this around. with a background in professional mechanics having learned to be a collector and builder of all sorts of creative things, mostly mechanical and metal work I would save all sorts of stuff and find ways to utilize things creatively that are helpful tools to get tasks done. and in my tinkering in mechanized farming stuff always needs to be repaired or created to get work done more efficiently. always having thought that its better to have resources to work with. but old moth eaten cloths that no longer fit I don't have space for.
 
pollinator
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I come from a family of hoarders.  While my place is mostly under control now, I still wake up once a week from a nightmare about trying to clear out my parents' home.

My family is also big on organizational books, and I've read a lot of them.

I have found two super-trendy books actually very inspirational:  Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Margareta Magnusson's Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.  They will tell you to pull everything out and sort it at once.  This works!  (If you have a few hours free to work and work through your emotions about it.)

Flylady, who I adore and use to keep on track when I'm way off (I sort her thousands of emails to a folder and go through like 10 when I feel motivated), will tell you to get up, grab a couple bags, and find 27 things to give away, recycle, or throw away.  Also that "You can do anything for 15 minutes!"  Which also works!

There's another author whose book I can't cite, because Amazon sucks and won't let me organize my ebooks the way I obsessively organize my real books, who says:  Pick a container for a type of object that feels like a reasonable size for how many of that you should own, and then get rid of everything that doesn't fit (and fit does not mean crush in).  After that, the 20th T-shirt won't fit in your T-shirt drawer?  Either get rid of it or pick one you like less to get rid of.  Otherwise, if the items fit, be Zen about the actual numbers.  

I find this approach lets me take whole sections of the house off my worrying plate.  Like, my daily, working closet is tiny.  It's full - if I get something new, I have to get rid of something else or my daily life gets uncomfortable.  I also have a big Ikea PAX filled with my "I delude myself that I will fit in this again and/or that I will be invited to the next royal wedding" clothes.  They're not in boxes, because those just pile up full of mysteries that are too scary to open - I know that about myself.  They're hung to be used and someday I'll get that royal invite or I'll come to terms with it, but meanwhile it's not in my way and I don't beat myself up about it.

Since you have purged before, I agree with Teresa that keeping new stuff from coming in will help.  Someone brings it over?  Sort it on the porch and most/all of it stays there to be taken to the charity shop.  You're visiting someone and they give you something?  Into the car, to the charity shop.

Just so you know, I like your matching hangers!  That's like half the battle.  Knock the cattywumpus ones down so they make a nice soothing pattern and you'll feel better.

And finally, I think there's a big, BIG discussion to have about the difficulty of being someone who's into permaculture, or voluntary leaving-the-rat-race, or hobbies that generate tons of stuff, or farming! and drowning in clutter.  Because doing interesting things requires stuff.  And doing it with little money means scavenging what you can where you can, and holding on to it until it has a use, and...  I feel like that discussion is way too big for this thread and would probably get heated, but it may be something you want to poke at sometimes.  If you're doing lots of stuff, you'll accumulate a lot of stuff.  Maybe doing less stuff for a while will let you purge a section of stuff.  Like the pigs!

Ok, one final final thing.  Ben Hartman's book Lean Farming tackles farm organization, which may inspire you.  I know even though I don't have a farm, it pushed me to think about "how do I move around my space?  What gets in the way and keeps me from doing tasks?"  Hm.  I should read it again.
 
Morfydd St. Clair
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Anita Martin wrote:

Another big difference it made for us to not accept any more children's clothes.
Our kids were the youngest of the lot of the extended family so we received lots of hand-me-downs. I thought it was saving us money at that time but it also used massive space and energy. The things were often stained / with holes / buttons missing / out of fasion for about 15 years etc.
I discovered then that it made more sense to buy all the things second-hand (tidy, up-to-date, incredibly cheap and taking my children so they got to choose their own style) at the community market held in our school twice a year. Would have saved me some heartbreak! (same with toys btw).



I wanted to say, this is a great idea!

For people who don't have a nice predictable 2x/year source of clothes, I remember reading Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette (originally a newsletter for living cheap in the 80s and 90s, later organized into books).  She had A LOT of kids, and lived on almost no money (until she started the TWG and started raking it in! ;) ).  She had a stack of Rubbermaid tubs labeled "Boy - 4" or "Unisex - 7" and started filling them at her leisure from hand-me-downs and charity shops.  But ONLY filling them, no more, and only with nice stuff.  After the kid of corresponding size had moved on, she'd toss the ratty stuff and keep an eye out for refilling for the next one in line.  I assume when she had no more coming through the pipe, so to speak, she was able to donate the tub in entirety.  When I read this, I thought she was nuts.  Now I am in awe of her wisdom.
 
elle sagenev
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Elle,

I realize the in person situation may be different, but your pictures dont reveal that bad of a situation. From here, it looks like a day of organizing will address the problem.  I have certainly seen much worse.



I don't like to clean so for the most part I don't buy things and get rid of a lot. I feel like it's bad though. lol
 
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Dunno how your husband is, but my sweetheart simply must have an unacceptable level of clutter to make her house feel like home!
No matter how small or large the space is she will drag home detritus from everywhere!
She doesn't do anything with them they simply sit in the way and collect dust, if you sneak them out she has no idea what she has or what she's missing and once the level of flotsam hits the HUGE annoyance level, I.E. something topples with every unguarded move she slows her collection actions.
When we move to a new place (often, because I'm building up rentals!) she will work tirelessly to fill the area with unneeded unused junk until every flat surface is overwhelmed, every closet is overflowing and the porches disappear under bicycles, boxes, coolers, racks, and exercise equipment. None of it is used longer than a week.  Not only does she collect for herself but feels a need to look out for the wildest least likely potential need for an extended circle of friends and acquaintances!
When we visit someone that has a clean house she notes that it feels "clinical", and not "homey".
 
Morfydd St. Clair
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Because I have so many opinions (and yet my apartment is cluttered!), I was looking at your closet, and maybe some concrete suggestions?  Attention:  The below is me being bossy, as if I were the professional organizer going home to chaos I aspire to be!

You have (to me) a LOT of room in your closet!  Yay!

I kind of hate wire racks/bars, but I get that they're efficient.  Were it my space, I'd put in wood hanging rails and shelving/drawers down each side wall and a fab 3-way mirror against the back wall.  But you know, projects only add to stress sometimes.

If you have clothes in a dresser or something elsewhere, move it in, under a rack.  Everything in one place (unless like muck boots they obviously live in mud room or something).

I'm not sure how you break out your clothes.  Possibilities:
-- Office/Church
-- Casual
-- Grubby
-- Fancy

The above usually don't mix.  So I would give each one its own section of rack or dresser.  Then you can see what you have tons of, what goes/clashes with what, and even what you might be missing.

I worked in an upscale clothing store in college (and was terrible, but I digress) and each rack was organized into types, and then short-to-long, light-to-dark.  (Marie Kondo would go the other direction because she finds it cheerier.  I dunno which is correct, I do it the old way.)  So for me, where office=casual I have in order, and within that light to dark:
-- Blouses/knit shirts
-- Blazers
-- Pants
-- Skirts
-- Dresses

(Can you tell I'm an engineer?  If only I could break out my whiteboard!)

Frankly, I think you have enough room to leave one rack empty, and use that space for other storage, organized precisely for that stuff.

Above your hangers, you have fabric drooping down, getting in the way.  If that fabric is something like T-shirts or sweaters that shouldn't be hung, put them in a dresser, in the closet.  If it's something like comforters, obviously purge down to something you feel sensible.  1 per family member (assuming a 2nd is on the bed) + 2/3 for guests?  And then put them in space bags.  The cheap ones are fine, even if they lose the vacuum they will control the droop enough to not be interfering with your hangers.  Otherwise everything on that shelf should be clearly marked boxes.  (With a closet this size, maybe you have enough storage for unrelated stuff elsewhere.  If so, leave it empty and revel in the clear space!  If not, stack boxes neatly which will at least not drive you crazy visually.)

Uh, I think that's it.  Paint the walls a color you love and hang the prettiest and brightest light fixture you can find.  Also, 3-way mirror and a cute chair.  And maybe a lock for the door to read quietly at your leisure.
 
elle sagenev
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote:
I kind of hate wire racks/bars, but I get that they're efficient.  Were it my space, I'd put in wood hanging rails and shelving/drawers down each side wall and a fab 3-way mirror against the back wall.  But you know, projects only add to stress sometimes.

If you have clothes in a dresser or something elsewhere, move it in, under a rack.  Everything in one place (unless like muck boots they obviously live in mud room or something).




My dresser is in that last pic you just can't see it because the bag of clothes I'm tossing is in front.

The closet came with the racks in it and I do love to put crap on them! lol
 
Anne Miller
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Elle, one thing that I wanted to mention that might help with your shoes.

I like the laundry basket idea though it just would not work for me.  I like neat and tidy though if I tried the laundry baskets my shoes would like your shoes in the picture.

What I want to share is the home we had when my kids were born had the best shoe system I have ever seen.  Evidently the lady we bought it from had a husband who was super a DIY.

On the floor in the closet under the clothes, he had built shoe racks.  These were made out of a 1" x 12" board the was installed at a slant on the floor, maybe 4" from the floor.  Then he used a piece of quarter round moulding placed maybe 3" or 4" (these size of a man's heel) from the wall to hold the shoes in place.

When we moved to our homestead, the closet set up just wasn't designed for this idea.  Dear hubby was also too busy to do this.

If this doesn't work for you maybe this idea will help someone else.  I tried to find a picture of this though it seems the current DIY's use shelves of all sorts from 2" x 4" to pvc.
 
pollinator
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One other way to approach clutter comes from Alton Brown of "Good Eats" fame (in reference to kitchen gadgets, but applicable elsewhere).
If you haven't used an item in a year, then you don't need it. He has a few things that get a yearly dust-off and use just to earn their keep.
To begin you take everything out, and put back only the things that you KNOW you use, then store the remainder. Then as need arises, you bring back things one at a time, and they get to stay. Then after a year, what didn't make it back, goes away.
It's a little bit more compassionate than a big heave-ho at the beginning, since you still have the stuff, you just need to decide that it has a use and will stay.

Ben Hartman's "Lean Farm Book" is amazing. If you don't have it, borrow it or get it. In the literal sense it is about running a business efficiently, and "time is money", but it is also about time being time, and not wasting it and burning out.
It's more about identifying waste (materials, motions, time) and reducing or eliminating it. It's a lot about systems, workflow, and organization to achieve that. Getting rid of the unworn clothes is a start, organizing the rest into work, dress, and farm clothes might be another step.

It is a lot of physical and emotional work to deal with it, but otherwise the struggle through the clutter is ongoing and demotivational. Ask me how I know.
 
Morfydd St. Clair
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elle sagenev wrote:

Morfydd St. Clair wrote:
I kind of hate wire racks/bars, but I get that they're efficient.  Were it my space, I'd put in wood hanging rails and shelving/drawers down each side wall and a fab 3-way mirror against the back wall.  But you know, projects only add to stress sometimes.

If you have clothes in a dresser or something elsewhere, move it in, under a rack.  Everything in one place (unless like muck boots they obviously live in mud room or something).




My dresser is in that last pic you just can't see it because the bag of clothes I'm tossing is in front.

The closet came with the racks in it and I do love to put crap on them! lol



Cool!  I just mentioned it because I've seen big walk in closets on the web and then the owner says "and my dresser is in the bedroom" and I'm like, you walk into your fab dream closet and then have to turn around and walk out again to get underwear/T-shirts?

Of course, I dressed myself today 1/2 from my closet and 1/2 from the dryer rack in the kitchen, with jeans hanging on the door in between the 2, so my efficiency is somewhat suspect.
 
elle sagenev
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:

Morfydd St. Clair wrote:
I kind of hate wire racks/bars, but I get that they're efficient.  Were it my space, I'd put in wood hanging rails and shelving/drawers down each side wall and a fab 3-way mirror against the back wall.  But you know, projects only add to stress sometimes.

If you have clothes in a dresser or something elsewhere, move it in, under a rack.  Everything in one place (unless like muck boots they obviously live in mud room or something).




My dresser is in that last pic you just can't see it because the bag of clothes I'm tossing is in front.

The closet came with the racks in it and I do love to put crap on them! lol



Cool!  I just mentioned it because I've seen big walk in closets on the web and then the owner says "and my dresser is in the bedroom" and I'm like, you walk into your fab dream closet and then have to turn around and walk out again to get underwear/T-shirts?

Of course, I dressed myself today 1/2 from my closet and 1/2 from the dryer rack in the kitchen, with jeans hanging on the door in between the 2, so my efficiency is somewhat suspect.



I hear ya! I actually don't get changed in there often though. To prevent waking up people I don't have to I bring my outfit for the day into the master bath, shoes and all, and change in there.
 
pioneer
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Once upon a time I had a podcast for a short while, I hosted a de-clutter challenge with my listeners and interviewed a professional organizer (I had no idea that was a thing)

She really encouraged people to NOT abide by the "a little bit each day" philosophy because people never successfully build the habit. Rather, she said you need to just set aside a whole month (or 2... or 3) to dedicate most of your free time to clearing out clutter. And if you don't have 'free time' to put toward this.. MAKE TIME.

That's kind of how I ran the de-clutter challenge we were doing together, we focused on over hauling one room each week- but only for 4 weeks so we only did 4 main rooms* (master bed, living room, kitchen, toys*- not a room... but a big sore spot for parents)

After doing the challenge, I totally agree.. you just kind of have to go hardcore about it for a short time frame rather than trying to tackle a little bit each day. If you do this once a year, or even every other year, the amount of time you have to spend doing it will decrease each time! So year 1 is going to be the biggest pain, but also the greatest accomplishment.

You can also just be more headstrong than me and build a habit of de-cluttering everyday for 15 minutes so you don't have to do a yearly overhaul. Even the professional organizer I spoke to did a little bit of de-cluttering on a regular basis, so don't think you're immune to clutter once you have cleaned up.

If you're interested in more details of how the professional organizer recommended you de-clutter, read on:

Step 1. Create boxes for "Donate" "Maybe" "Trash" and "Re-locate". Notice there is no "Keep" box, you'll see why below.

Step 2. Take EVERYTHING out of the room you are working on and place it in another room/hallway. Empty out any furniture and/or built in storage. Don't worry about cluttering up the other space- it shouldn't be there longer than a week.

Step 3. Pick up every single little object one at a time and decide whether it will be in one of the five categories: Donate, Maybe, Trash, Re-locate or Keep. The first four go in the labeled boxes, the "Keep" items go directly back into the room it came out of- stored away in its new/old home. "Re-locate" items will be put into a different room where it does belong. They don't need to be put away, just place it in the proper room. Ex. Find a blender in your bedroom? Just go plop it on the kitchen counter or floor, don't worry about putting it away because you'll do that later when you get to the kitchen. If you already went through the kitchen, then do put it away properly in a cabinet
Can't figure out which room to put an object in? Ask yourself, "Do I really use this?". If so, put it in the maybe box and get back to it later.
If you can't find a place to store an object in a de-cluttered room, ask yourself again if you really need it. If yes and you still don't know where to put it- place it in the "Maybe" box.
Try not to put too much in "Maybe" because that makes more work for you- you're looking at those items twice.

Step 4: After each room is complete, throw away, donate (or you can put all the items in the back of your car to donate once at the end or when it's full- I did that), and put away your maybe box to be looked at when you are done. Grab your "Re-locate" box and walk around your home to put these items into the proper room. If you have not organized that room yet, just put the item anywhere. If you have already de-cluttered and organized the room, put it away properly.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 for each room. I recommend you do the rooms in the order of greatest return. My bedroom was a MESS and many people would put that one off for last because of it or because it does not seem important (visitors don't see it after all). However, the professional organizer mentioned to me people always save the master bedroom for last and then never get to it... so I made it a priority and did it first. Seeing the HUGE change that occurred and having a fresh space to relax in I believe played a huge role in my continuing success. Without a doubt, you're going to be more dedicated in the beginning. Take that into consideration.

Step 6: All rooms are finished, time to pull out the "Maybe" box(es). Again, go through every single object one at a time thinking about if you need it or not. Perhaps the object is a duplicate and you don't need two, get rid of it. Is it broken? Will you realistically fix it in the next 3-5 days? No- get rid of it. Do you still think you need it after thinking over it twice now? Then find a home for it, but it HAS to have a proper place to be stored. If you cannot find a proper place to store it ask yourself again if you really need it... or find something else you can get rid of to clear up space for it.

Step 7: You're almost done! Make sure all of your trash has been thrown away, all your donated items are out of the house AND the car, and that your "Maybe" boxes are completely empty. Break down any left over boxes and go celebrate by using them for sheet mulch! (Totally optional)

Extra note: Don't buy organizational containers while you are de-cluttering.. because you most likely will find PLENTY. Or maybe you can make some from some wood scraps that are lying around.

YAY! Congratulations on your new, almost clutter-free home.

Don't forget to build a constant de-cluttering habit after you have gone through the whole house and to be more conscious of what you bring into your home.
If you don't, I'll see you again in this thread when it's time for spring de-cluttering! Hah.
 
pollinator
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Can you sell some items to gain cash to sort out the shed electrics.
It may become a good driver of action.
 
pollinator
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I love the honesty of the posters in this thread. I have a problem with paper and books. They tend to cover all level surfaces. 6 years ago when I was selling my house my best friend helped me get rid of things I was keeping. it was motivational to have her come in and say nope that's trash, nope you don't need that,.... Sometimes she only came in for 5 minutes to give me a jump start. Unfortunately, I ended up with two storage units after selling the house which I've just spent the last 6 years decluttering.
    Clutter is not about stuff, it's about my emotional state. If I am hoarding, there is an emotional basis for this. As I have become more emotionally healthy, it has been much easier for me to part with things that no longer are useful in my life and the biggie for me is sentimental knick knacks from my great grandmother, great aunts and other deceased family.
    So perhaps the bigger question is how to become emotionally healthy so that hoarding and other associated behaviors fall away? For myself I like 12-step programs. Currently I am working the Adult Children of Alcoholic and Dysfunctional Families 12 step program. I am decluttering my internal landscape of messages I received as a child which caused me to hide in unhealthful behaviors like emotional shopping, overeating, binge TV watching, escapist reading,...
    Give yourself a big hug and acknowledgment for all that you have already done. Being aware and willing is a great first step.
 
John C Daley
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I dont accept hoarding is an emotional issue.
But, I may be convinced. I guess its how extreme it is.
I keep bits and pieces, my house is a bit messy but it seems ok.
A few people comment, not many so I use that as a measure of the state of play.
If they all commented I may have a problem.
What do you think of that yardstick?
 
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Elle, you aren't the only one who does a big declutter only to find youself surrounded by too much stuff again sooner than you expected!

We live in a very small house with limited storage space, so clutter shows. My excuses - my weight fluctuates by an insane amount, so I need clothes in a bunch of sizes, and our house has inadequate heating, so it's not unusual for me to wear four or five layers of clothing in winter! Plus I'm hoping to buy some land and build a small off-grid retreat there, so I'm collecting old tools, useful books, and hand-powered kitchenalia, as well as extra clothes for the venture.

It's less than a year since I did a big clear out, and I'm looking at heaps of stuff again. I normally operate a one-thing-in/one-thing-out policy, but since COVID started, charity shops (thrift stores stores in US/ op shops in Australia) stopped accepting donations. I use local give-stuff-away groups like Freecycle and Trash Nothing, but it's surprisingly hard to give most things away, unless it's new and shiny. The folk who used to take things to sell at car boots (yard sales/ garage sales) aren't, because those things are all closed now too.

Lots of excuses, no real tips! But thank you for motivating me to think about creative ways I can deal with all my stuff!
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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A reminder that permies now has a https://permies.com/f/386/flea-market

I've never been keen on having too much stuff but it does tend to accumulate. Several years ago I did a major purge before moving to TN. Didn't want to move it, store it, maintain it, insure it, clean it, or whatever. I don't miss any of it. There are a few remaining expensive or sentimental things I'm still hoping to find the right home or person for. The bottom line though is everything I really want, need, or care much about will fit in my car. Others have already given excellent advice on how to accomplish your goal. The other half of the equation is just a mental mindset. You can do this!!!
 
steward & bricolagier
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote: And finally, I think there's a big, BIG discussion to have about the difficulty of being someone who's into permaculture, or voluntary leaving-the-rat-race, or hobbies that generate tons of stuff, or farming! and drowning in clutter.  Because doing interesting things requires stuff.  And doing it with little money means scavenging what you can where you can, and holding on to it until it has a use, and...  I feel like that discussion is way too big for this thread and would probably get heated, but it may be something you want to poke at sometimes.  If you're doing lots of stuff, you'll accumulate a lot of stuff.


If you ever start that thread, make sure I get a pm to check it. I hate being called a hoarder, when I DO stuff with my junk!!
 
denise ra
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John C Daley wrote
"A few people comment, not many so I use that as a measure of the state of play.
If they all commented I may have a problem.
What do you think of that yardstick? "
I'd say if mess or clutter doesn't impact your quality of life OR the quality of life of those you live with then I wouldn't worry about it. For myself, I felt overwhelmed by two storage containers full of household goods which I had no use for and cost quite a bit to rent. In my family paper tends to be an issue. My grandfather died and left 2 or 3 Quonset huts filled knee-high with newspapers, magazines, journals, and god knows what. His widow and children had to deal with that mess. They got it down to a manageable 50 boxes or so which they donated to the local college. From there a nun spent a year of her life organizing the lot for the college's collection. I personally feel easier in my mind when my space is neat and organized; which I wish was all the time.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've just completed a yoga teacher training course. Three of the precepts of yogic philosophy are non-excess, non-possessiveness, and cleanliness.

It's common for trainees to enter a teacher program with huge piles of clutter and deep attachments to it, and to leave the program with clean/tidy living spaces that stay that way. It's common for the students to report that one day, their emotions/thoughts towards clutter changed in an instant. Sure it still takes physical labor to transition from clutter to not, but it seems to me like it's the emotional breakthrough that makes permanent change possible.
 
John F Dean
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Hi John

What is important is if the yardstick works for you. I suspect there is also the issue of why the clutter exists in the first place.  When I have lived in rural areas in homestead situations, I have always had a degree of clutter.  For example, my wife bakes bread almost every day.  We clean the dishes, utensils , counter tops, etc every day.  But she is slow to return her supplies to the shelves knowing they will be pulled out the next day.
 
elle sagenev
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So my kitchen is regularly gone over, at least once a year. Still, so much stuff was removed.

I found 4 difference drink blenders that we used to use to make bullet proof coffee but I'm so lazy that I just put butter in my coffee and stir now. So, don't really need any of them.

The utensil drawer was getting pretty cluttered so I got rid of a lot of duplicate items and there were quite a lot of them.
Why-so-many.jpg
so many blenders and also, why just the motor? What??
so many blenders and also, why just the motor? What??
excess-and-unknown-cupboard-items.jpg
Stuff removed from cupboards
Stuff removed from cupboards
Found.jpg
I found this med in the cupboard and it expired in 2015 so....
I found this med in the cupboard and it expired in 2015 so....
downsizing-wooden-spoons.jpg
Excess number of wooden spoons and spatulas
Excess number of wooden spoons and spatulas
cupboard-after.jpg
Cleanish cupboards. Nothing really behind those appliances and it feels good
Cleanish cupboards. Nothing really behind those appliances and it feels good
sorting-2.jpg
sorting utensils
sorting utensils
utensil-drawer.jpg
newly organized utensil drawer
newly organized utensil drawer
 
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