I’ve often watched Clean Sweep, the show on TLC where a crew goes to a really messy house and cleans it up. The messes that some people live in have never ceased to amaze me. I’m not the world’s greatest housekeeper, by any means, but…good grief. I may have some dog hair on the floor; in these homes, you
can’t see the floor.
I’ve just finished reading It’s All Too Much, by Peter Walsh. He’s the guy on Clean Sweep who actually makes the people go through their stuff and decide what to keep and what to get rid of (which is usually most of it). The book is similar to his approach on the show – you need to figure out why you’re keeping something. The real reason, not just “I might need it someday.” You have an emotional attachment to your stuff, but it can also paralyze you.
I’ve never been one for a lot of clutter. I moved 18 times in my first 34 years, so that kind of mobility narrows down the amount of stuff you can accumulate. But 8 years ago I moved from a 4 BR, 3 bath, 2400 sq. ft. house to a 2 BR, 2 bath, 1200 sq. ft. house. I halved my living space, and I’ve been getting rid of stuff ever since. Especially the last year and a half – I think I mentioned before, turning 50 gave me renewed incentive to pare down the possessions. I’ve carted more stuff than I can catalog out of here. I had two yard sales, but the rest has either been tossed or gone to my favorite thrift store or the public library (books and CDs).
So, clutter has not been a huge problem for me. You’ve always been able to see my floors, even if you might not want to eat off them. I toss dirty clothes in the hamper as I take them off; I open junk mail over the recycle bin, so it doesn’t even come in the house; I put away the laundry when it’s done and I don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. (If I do, Ralph takes them out and cleans them for me. They look clean, but they’re quite slimy. And he doesn’t put them back in the sink.)
The problem that I have had is one that Peter Walsh discusses in the book. Every room has a purpose, and the only things to be kept in that room are those that serve that purpose. First you decide what the purpose is for that room, then you take everything out of the room and only put back what serves the purpose. For example: most of my clothes were in my room, but a few of them were in the guest room. One of the purposes of my room is for me to get dressed in, so all of my clothes should be in my room. Now they are; this week I brought everything that was in the guest room into my room, sorted and got rid of a few more things, and then put it all away in my room. Like things are in like drawers, everything is neat, and I don’t have to ever go to the guest room to get a piece of my clothing.
Another area of my life that has stuff scattered around the house is my Christmas stuff. It’s in three places. Wrapping paper is in the guest room closet, ornaments and the tree are in the little room with the hot water heater, and other decorations are in the bottom of the china cabinet. It should all be in one place. I’m not sure how to accomplish that yet. It may end up in the guest room closet. Another area that I have to address is my desk. There is stuff that belongs with the desk in the guest room, and my shredder is in my bedroom. (It was by the desk, but the desk is in Ralph’s daytime territory, and he broke my last shredder somehow by turning it over. So I repurposed that shredder’s bin as the guest bath trash can, tossed the non-functioning power unit, and got a new shredder, keeping it safe in my room.)
So, even though I haven’t accumulated enough clutter to merit a TV-show intervention, I still have some work to do.