Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 ways to facilitate clutter

Some people like to collect things. Some people have even achieved pack rat status. The better people, I mean. I myself am an expert (at the top of the heap, you might say) and feel I am now ready to start giving advice on the subject. If you have an open mind, I can train you to rid yourself of that terrible minimalist habit that keeps your home looking so ::shudder:: neat and clean.

Feel free to let me know any other things you have discovered. I'll make a note of it and file it away. Disclaimer: Although I do a lot of these things, the basics were actually found on other blogs. But I embellished them. Honed them. Made them better. Some of them I actually authored, too. They are not in any particular order. As I write this on the fly, I don't know how many items will be on the list. I hope the list doesn't end up being ten things though, like the title says. I shouldn't have named this post that, but I am too lazy to change the title now. I hate lists of 10 items. They are of the devil.

1. Save every issue of every magazine you buy or subscribe to. They will be useful for the articles and recipes one day. Professional clutter facilitators will also keep all old catalogs. Those who have been at this for several years also know the value of keeping old telephone books in case they ever want to find the previous telephone number of someone who has since moved away. Keeping entire old newspapers which have items on, or even pictures of, people who you know, which we mean to someday cut out and save, is probably safer than simply cutting out the articles anyway.

2. When you find a useless item on sale which you will never use, be sure to buy two of them because of the good price.

3. When you must replace a broken appliance, be sure and keep the old broken one and its parts. It is pretty likely that some day you will get that engineering degree and be able to make the old one magically work again. Also, you'd be a fool to discard those extra little screws and plastic covers that came in the bag with that bookcase you assembled last summer.

4. If you are cleaning the spare bedroom (and we don't recommend that you do) and you come across something brand new you forgot you bought but never used, do NOT donate the object to someone who could use it. After all, you paid good money for it, right? Same goes for old useless Christmas gifts you find under the bed. After all, SOMEBODY paid good money for that, right?

5. That big box of glass bud vases and plastic lids and empty cereal boxes under the stairs. Please don't throw them out, because you can recycle all of those. Just not now. In addition to those things, experts at maintaining household clutter know that empty bread bags, used twist ties, and the rubber bands the paperboy puts on your daily newspaper are the spice of life. Devote at least one kitchen drawer to these things. 'Nuff said.

6. It's always better to be safe than sorry, so save every bill you have ever received in your life. DO put them neatly into shoe boxes with the date range written on the boxes. Just don't store all the boxes in the same place. Old tax returns and parking garage receipts? I don't have to tell you to save those forever. Again, store some in each closet.

7. Every piece of hardware you've ever touched, new or used, even the hinges from that bathroom door in your first apartment, need to be kept in a LARGE WOODEN BOX in a corner of the garage. It's ok to put other stuff on top of that box, though. Further organization of the hardware is pointless.

8. Are you a digital photographer? Who isn't. Put all your precious printed photos into a box, so that it will be handy to go through all of them when you want to find a particular picture. When the box gets full, put it into a larger box. Continue until you need a hand cart to move the box.

9. Savvy people buy clothes in the size they WANT to be.

10. It would be sacrilege if you were to throw away any of your children's or grandchildren's schoolwork from second grade, or any of the pictures they drew and gave to you.

11. Smart pet owners buy pet food in bulk quantities. You should too. Who knows? -- your pet may live to be 45 years old, right?

12. I'm sort of embarrassed to even mention this one. I mean, you KNOW you need to save clothes hangers, right? Especially the plastic ones.

13. Be aware that it is entirely possible that the main archives for the National Geographic could burn down any day. In such a disaster, your personal issues could be needed for backup are best kept in piles separated by year along one wall in the basement.

14. Did you lose a cheap earring at the Grand Canyon? Be sure and keep the other one in case someone returns it's mate. Or you can just go with the pirate look and wear only one. People will envy, I'm sure. Or, what the hell-- mix and match. Just keep your profile facing people or always stand in the middle.

15. When your table gets so stacked with papers you can't find your scanner anymore, put those important papers in a box and label the box "To File." Store it under the bed.

16. Finally, keep a box of really short strings. Label it "Strings too short to use."


  1. Hmmm while what you say is good I note your desk has a very organised look about it. Very little dust in comparison with mi...others.

  2. Since you so kindly ask for input, I'd add:

    Brochures picked up here and there of tourist attractions you might one day want to visit.

    Coins and banknotes, and these can fit into two categories. First, ones that have gone out of circulation but one day you'll take them to the bank to exchange for modern money. Second, foreign money which has to be accumulated until there is enough to exchange. Of course, some of the second category will eventually move into the first....

    I won't even start on postcards.

  3. As Sheila will not start upon postcards, I suppose I should not mention the bound album of postcards that's been in my mother's bookcase since I was a child? According to the valuer who's just been, it's quite valuable. Or the box of postcarts sent home by my father's great uncle Herbert, during the first-world war, with their faces covered in fine Flanders lace.
    They were clutter. Once. Now they're something else. As one day, all the stuff that I keep re-piling in my home will be.
    Where do you draw the line?

    I wish I knew. All I can say is, if ever I win a vast sum on the lottery, and buy a 24-room mansion, I need not worry about not being able to fill it.

    I am so advanced at clutter facilitation that there have been times when I would not allow friends to enter my house, for fear they might not understand why there was nowhere to sit that was not covered in books. Or was it just fear they might break a leg trying to cross a room?

  4. You hoarder, you. My mom has got you beat I bet. We are going to be a month emptying the house. Already she is defiant about what is to be tossed.

  5. @Adullamite - Not my desk. The picture is of a pathetic amateur hoarder's desk. Plenty of clutter, but no real filth to speak of. :)

    @Sheila - Thank you for your kind input. Yes, brochures, for sure, but even more important is the actual literature from your actual holiday: the street maps, the booklets with all the coupons. These are like gold, and must be kept in case you return someday and the same sales are on. Coins? Absolutely. And tokens and gambling chips. Goes without saying. But currency? You must be even richer than I had imagined. No currency left unspent at this hoarder's cave. :)

    @Soubriquet - You give a fine example of how collecting future treasures can pay off. The album sounds amazing. I have several half-used Magicubes from 1970s Instamatic cameras that I am counting on to someday be objects duh art.

    @Leazwell - I am only an amateur. But listen to your mom. You will be sorry if you throw those treasures away. Mark my words. :)


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