Monday, November 8

Posted by Laurel Garver on Monday, November 08, 2010 18 comments
I can't be the only one whose weekends are often full of chores, chores, a tiny bit of fun, and more chores. There ought to be a way to get out from under the weekly press of it so I have more balanced weekends. I'm realizing my family members' attention deficit issues mean most of the organizing falls to me, because I'm the only one with the skill set. Let me tell you, it gets discouraging pretty quickly.

Years ago I picked up a couple of household organizing books and NaBalWriMo just might be the time to revisit them and blog about tips I learn. One's called Streamlining Your Life by Stephanie Culp and the other is Bonnie's Household Organizer by Bonnie Runyan McCullough.

The number one rule of organizing is only organize what deserves your attention. And a lot of things don't.

Tip of the week:
Don't have too much stuff.

Simple, right? We hang on to stuff we don't need or haven't used for years for one of the following reasons:

I might need this someday
It's still perfectly good
Every ____ is precious (scribble, stuffed animal)
But it's an antique!
This might come back in style
A special person gave it to me
It's a piece of my history
Someday I'll take up this hobby again

All these excuses seem on their face logical, but they're actually emotionally-based decisions. Getting rid of "perfectly good" things we "might need" scares us. But hoarding to stave off a fear of deprivation actually CAUSES deprivation. Your life becomes captive to mess. You lose time and energy when you hoard. Later this week, I'll share some of Culp's no-nonsense talk to help counteract with solid thinking the emotions that make us captive to stuff.

What are your organization battle zones? What kinds of stuff are crowding your life? What excuses and emotions are keeping you fettered to belongings you don't need?


  1. Very true. Things get in the way of real joy, anyway.

  2. How true. My house is overflowing with toys, most of which my kids don't even play with anymore.

  3. I agree, clutter is evil. I think there are few things in my living room I can get rid of. Thanks for the shove!

  4. This is one thing I can actually say I do! I live in a small flat, so it's practically impossible to have stuff. One of my friends last year asked me if we had our things in storage - that's how uncluttered the flat is!

  5. Yes! My hubby and I have been trying to simplify our "stuff" for the last couple of years. Much better, but not there yet. :-)

  6. Faith: Exactly. When I'm wearing myself out moving things from here to there and back, joy does seem to evaporate.

    Melissa: I have just one kid and seem to be endlessly tripping over toys. I think a purge might be a good advent activity for us this year.

    Elle: You're welcome. I have closets and dressers haunting me. Bit by bit, things are going.

  7. Talli: I wish we could pare back considerably, but family members seem to think our place is a dumping ground for "perfectly good" stuff they don't want. Hubby is terrible at saying no. But hey, at least we get the tax write off when we donate the carload of their junk.

    Shannon: I seem to go through jags of hoarding and dumping. I wish I could get this under better control myself.

  8. Oh so true!! The biggest problem is that no matter how much I get rid of, there always seems to be more... I blame the gnomes.

  9. We have been working really hard on cleaning out the clutter the past few years. The thing is, I really do use stuff I save and it has saved me money on say, clothes a few sizes smaller or bigger, or craft supplies. So I'm judicious about what I throw out.

    But I love the "Flylady" method, and her saying that you didn't get cluttered overnight, so don't expect to clear it all out overnight either. Just do a little at a time so that you don't get overwhelmed.

  10. PS I did try to get rid of my hobby stuff and my husband had a fit because he bought most of it for me. So it's still there! I didn't realize it meant so much to him.

  11. Lisa: I like what Christine mentions below--it takes time to accumulate, so de-cluttering goes slowly too, and that's ok. I believe Culp's book recommends an in/out system. Buy something new, get rid of something else.

    Christine: I'm with you there. I think the trick of having a little stashed away is keeping the stash an appropriate size for your space. If you have more projects than you can reasonably finish in your lifetime, some of the hobby stuff could be blessing someone else.

    I love that idea of de-cluttering slowly. So true. Culp says to schedule like a half hour a day to clutter control. The small increments of time are less draining.

  12. Man- my husband would love this post! I keep everything and he throws everything problem with organization is that I don't know where to put everything, so things just pile up. Mail, magazines, school papers, etc. For some reason, the kitchen tends to be the place where it all goes. Another problem I have is that I'll set something down, fully intending to going back to it, but one of the kids need something and I totally forget about it. Again, it just piles up!

  13. I have the opposite problem. I tend to throw things out and realize later that I should have kept them.

  14. I'm not a very tidy person, and have a horrible time with organization. When I moved into the dorms, I resolved to only bring what're absolutely necessary and leave the rest at home. It was one of the best decisions I've made. There are things that you should keep for sentimental and practical reasons; however, it's always good to really ask yourself if it's something that you need to keep. :)

  15. Kelly: There are loads of good books on setting up systems, especially for paper. The interrupted mom syndrome sounds so familiar to me. I have the tendency to toss things out of sight ASAP so my daughter doesn't mess with them, which means I find things in the oddest places!

    Susan: Largely paper stuff right? The good news is the IRS only expects you to have 7 years worth of financial stuff. Purge the rest with glee. :-)

    Emy: Hubby and hobbit girl seem to be wired disorganized. Both do best in uncluttered environments--sounds like you do too. Keeping possessions to a minimum is key for sure.

  16. I always try and throw stuff away when my family is not looking. And when they ask? I say, "Um,not sure where that is." Usually two secs later, they've forgotten!

  17. It's the paper piles. They're winning.

  18. Laura: Me, too! Hubby and hobbit girl have pretty short attention spans, so it's not hard.

    Mary: Culp's book is super helpful on purging paper and keeping it under control.