Friday, January 11, 2008

Clutter-free Environment

Since moving to Fairfax in November, I have had the chance think and do something about the clutter of years worth of accumulated clothes, knick knacks, 'collectibles', tools and more.

And now that my daughter is moving, she will have to deal with the issue for multiple reasons: selling the house, moving to a new house, not repeating past mistakes, etc. My son-in-law lived with a roommate for years before hooking up with my daughter. The first time I went to visit his apartment, he did not want to let me in because of the mountains of clutter stewn about the house. To be fair, his roommate shared in the guilt. My kids mother, Patricia, comes from a household of unrelenting clutter. My two kids were mostly raised in that environment, so they are more used to it. I was raised in a house where my mother pretty much single-handedly kept the place neat and the clothes clean and folded most of the time. So, although I have sustained various degrees of clutter as a bachelor for many years, I was never comfortable in it. But my upbringing trained me to expect help in that department from the female of the house, and I was rarely home long enough to stew in it so I could do what it took to get it under control.

Anyway, since I was moving, it was an excellent opportunity to separate the riff from the raff. I donated much clutter to the Salvation Army. This included collectibles that I bought for the purpose of ... collecting? A crockpot I bought at the Salvation army. I could not stand to just throw away something that I thought someone might want, so I donated it, including clothes, toy cars, McDonald happy meal toys, Kitchen appliances sitting in cabinets for year, books collecting dust, housewares, stoneware and maybe even an underwear! Ties. Pants. Shirts. Teeth molds.

But it wasn't enough. At the new house, Suzanne suggested that ALL the boxes (except for a few obvious ones), be put in a single unused bedroom in the basement. I had the movers put all the boxes in there in rows separated with enough space so I could walk between them and examine them any one at will. I could then unpack them piecemeal when time allowed, or a particular item or box was needed. This worked out pretty well.

Some books I felt I could not just throw out so I tried opening a seller's account on Amazon to see if anyone would want to buy any of them. Surprisingly, I sold one the very first night that I put it up. I have since sold another. I have many more I could list, but that takes time, although listing is fairly easy. (I smell a procrastination blog in my future). I think I will set up a rule, that if not sold within 60 days, I will de-list and donate. If you are interested in selling though Amazon, click here. To see the books I have listed, click here. Free delivery to the metro DC area. :-)

Unbelievably, my house is currently clutter-free in the all the living areas. Kitchen, LR, DR, bedrooms, family room (home office needs some work). I was even able to take out my entire Coco-Cola collection that I actively pursued back in the 1990s that have been in boxes in my previous home since 1999! They are all proudly displayed in the large basement family room in some glass-front shelves that are built into the wall!

With all this in mind, I found this article that motivated me to write this blog, that I will share with whoever is interested:

The Minimalist’s Guide to Fighting (and Beating) Clutter Entropy

By the way, there are still about 40 boxes in that basement bedroom that I am in no hurry to add them to my living environment. About a year ago, I actually started a site called to help people with this problem. The background picture is actually of my home desk as it looked at the time. Michelle even wrote an article for my site newsletter I had planned. But, my procrastination tendencies got the best of me, and there the website sits as you see it since September of 2006.

Here is Michelle's article:

Confessions of a Slob

Happy decluttering.