De-cluttering, Slob Reform, Organizing...

It’s time for another of these threads because I just loaded 6 boxes of stuff to donate to a local animal shelter thrift store and I am very happy about it. The boxes contain a lot of knick-knacky stuff that I got stuck with when my mom went into assisted living. There is no sentimental value attached to any of it. My mother was developing a bit of a hoarding problem and was always buying stuff with the intention of giving it to other people or starting a collection of this or that.

I was actually making progress with my own home when I got stuck with all this stuff of my mother’s. I wanted to go through it and sort it all to check for special items or sentimental items but my own issues made it a very long process. I held on to some of it for too long because I kept thinking I’d have a yard sale since I could use a little extra money but I realized that would be more of a hassle than it’s worth. I foster kittens for a local animal shelter and decided to give the stuff to them, get a receipt and claim it on my taxes, hence why I want to get as much of this done as I can before the end of the year. I still have more stuff to deal with, much of it my own, but I feel like I made a lot of progress today.

So anyone else want to share their de-cluttering victories?

I moved something like 14 times in 10 years and during that time NEVER had clutter problems. Now I’ve been camped out in the same apartment for five years and re-discovering that I should have moved three years ago.

Seriously. Just move a lot; it’s easier. :stuck_out_tongue:

The man and I had a big fight about it last night. I want to call in a professional organizer (I’ve, er, been watching Hoarders - we’re not hoarders, but we need help!) and he got furious and said that was the stupidest thing he ever heard and why do I want to waste money like that when we could just do it ourselves and give him a day and we’ll do it. FOUR YEARS HE HAS LIVED IN THIS HOUSE WITH ME AND NO SIGN OF THIS SHIT, by the way. But this is his last damned chance - I’m giving him his day and if he doesn’t shape up a pro is coming in. Like usual this time of year I’m feeling really motivated about it.

I’ve been on a slow and steady decluttering kick for a few years. I used to be a horrible pack rat. When I moved in 2003 I found boxes that I had packed up from a move ten years prior that I never unpacked. At that point I decided I start going through boxes and if I hadn’t used the item in a year, it was going away. At first it was really difficult. Sentimental value, might need it in the future, it’s a waste to throw away… I had to overcome all of those blocks to getting rid of crap. And that’s what it really was, anyway. Crap. Coming to grips with that is what allowed me to start getting rid of it. Anything of value or that could be used went to Half Price Books or Goodwill. Everything else got recycled or tossed out.

I didn’t do it all at once - that would have been too overwhelming. But at least once a year, sometimes every few months, I’d take a long-packed box and go through it with extreme prejudice. The more I did it, the easier it got. I loved getting space back in a closet. More importantly, it helped me realize how much useless stuff I was still accumulating. So I’ve cut down on the junk intake as well.

I’m still a slob at heart. Flat surfaces at my place are repositories for clutter. But it’s at least fresh clutter and not stuff that’s been around for a decade. :wink:

I am still a proud member of the “slob reform club” here. Even if those threads puttered out. I’m not doing to bad with things, but I am having a real issue with finding the time to clean and declutter on a regular basis.

One thing that I think has helped me is to really try to step back out of the situation and look down on things from an outside perspective as objectively as possible. That way it is easier to answer the question, “do I really need to keep item x or paperwork y”.

A quick anecdote - I recently bought a bunch of new athletic socks. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure how to arrange more room for them in the drawer before the answer dawned on me like an anvil. Throw the old socks out! :smack:

Okay, I have a real victory story for you, but it’s not mine. It’s my mom’s.

My parents lived in their house for 32 years. My mom is a natural pack rat. She’s not a hoarder, but she likes to keep things that she legitimately thinks will be useful. My dad just had craptons of stuff. It wasn’t really a problem because the house had plenty of storage space, and the stuff was pretty organized, but the upshot was that there were things like ancient disintegrating suitcases and 50 lb. mechanical adding machines from the '60s in the attic.

So when my dad died and she wanted to move into a smaller and more manageable house, she made a heroic effort and got rid of a ton of stuff. (Piled it in the garage, and had Goodwill haul it away. If you have a lot of stuff that they want, that’s much easier than taking it down yourself. She also piled stuff to just throw out in the other side of the garage and had the garbageman haul it away.) But there’s only so much you can do at once, and as I said, she’s a bit of a pack rat. And her new house also had a ton of storage space.

Over the next 5 years, she continued to work on getting rid of stuff and not accumulating too much new stuff. She often asks for my assistance, which I’m glad to give. She also made my brother and I get rid of most of our stuff that was there.

Now she wants to move out of that second house and get an apartment in the city. She put her house on the market.

Two amazing results:

  1. She’s a little worried about about the much smaller amount of storage space that she’ll have, but feels that she can deal with it. She’s really gotten control of her packrat tendencies.

  2. (This is the really remarkable one) The real estate agent had a house stager come in. The house stager said “Huh. You don’t need to de-clutter. And you don’t even have to clean out the closets and storage rooms if you don’t want. There’s not really too much stuff in there.” :eek: How often does a house stager say things like THAT?

So it is possible to triumph over clutter and packrat-ism!

We can all look to Mama Beando for hope and inspiration. I do.

I really wish I could get TheElf to do that. He has more socks and underwear that he doesn’t wear than ones that he does wear. Very weird. Every once in a while I sneak a pair or two into the trash can, but they multiply faster than I can get rid of them. And he is a paperwork horder, won’t throw out anything! Claims he’s going to shred it, but never does. I suggested burning it in the firepit, but he got all weirded out about ash particles. :rolleyes: If I want to work at the office desk I have to clear off all of the piles of paper first.
My problem is craft supplies. I have a hard time getting rid of it. I might need it! It’s not overwheming, but I have stuff I’ve had for 15+ years still lying around unused. I used to have a problem with clothes, but got over that. Now I purge my closet at least once a year so I have room for new stuff.
And don’t get me started on nick-nacks. He has a ton of them, usually given to him by friends over the years. Dust magnets.

Well, I’m hitting one of the many obstacles that always gets in my way when I try cleaning, my severe dust mite allergy. I take two antihistamines daily and I still start with the sneezing, itchy eyes and stuffy nose when I get around too much dust. But I’m not giving up, I’m going to go do something less dusty, take a third antihistamine* and allergy eye drops and when come back bring dust mask.

*the third antihistamine has been pre-approved by my allergist.

Tried the neti pot thing? I find it helps a lot when I’m having trouble with dust and such.

Yay, another slob reform effort! I need help right now. Life has been pretty overwhelming lately and there is stuff everywhere. We took a week off for Thanksgiving and I devoted a lot of that to cleaning, but I didn’t get to the worst room, which is the school/sewing room. It is BAD. In fact, I made it worse by rifling through piles of fabric to do a little project.

I have a ton of sewing to get through right now (am finishing an 1840’s dress and petticoat :eek:) and am just trying to do that, make my chocolates, and survive the next couple of weeks. After the 15th we will be done with school and I will go into cleaning/decorating mode in a big way. Right now I’m having to put it off, and it’s making me grumpy. I’m no good at cleaning/decluttering, but once the mess hits a certain point I can’t take it anymore and I get mad.

I would love to get my husband to get rid of some of his piles, but I hate to nag him when he works so hard…

I have found the best way to force me to clean/declutter is to invite my parents or other judgemental relative to stay for a weekend. Then I am forced to clean until the wee hours of the morning the day before they show up which always includes throwing out whatever clutter we have accumulated. My mom is coming into town tomorrow which means I will be getting to bed late tonight!

I managed to donate 6 very large trash bags full of clothing last month, but I have a long way to go. We moved into our house 5 years ago and I don’t even how many boxes we haven’t unpacked. I have had a plan for about a year now to clean up all the old toys and crap in the basement and have it finished to make a kids’ playroom but I just can’t find the energy to start–it’s so daunting. I have been trying to talk myself into small steps–15 to 30 minutes at a time–but it’s hard to get passed the “holy crap where do I start” panic that sets in.

The dream is to clean up the basement, have someone in to make it habitable, put plywood down in the attic so we can use it for whatever remains after decluttering, and move the kids’s toys out of our too-small-for-all-this-shit living room. If only I could get started.

We’re going to start going through the piles of junk in the bedroom and closet tomorrow. I’m not really looking forward to it, but I know it really, really needs to be done.

I have no victory to report, just a problem. I’ve been living overseas for the past 10 years and much of my “stuff” has been in storage. I was just posted to a US tour (for 3 years) and bought a house. All of my worldly possessions were delivered last week. They fill an entire bedroom, packed to the ceiling with only enough room to open the door (this is just boxes of “stuff,” mind you, and not furniture). I now face the prospect of unpacking it all and going through it. I have to admit, I’m dismayed by the whole thing and am tempted just to close the door to the bedroom for the duration of my life. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have no idea how I accumulated this much crap. I have four ironing boards, for God’s sake (although I can explain them!). I know I have to get it done sometime but am overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project as I live alone and will have to do it all myself. Sigh.

I feel ya, I really do. If it is at all possible for you to afford it, I highly recommend hiring someone to do the cleaning, while you focus on the organizing. It is not that expensive to hire an occasional cleaner, and it’s better than losing your whole day to allergies (and if you’re like me, 2 or 3 antihistamines and you *will *lose a whole day). To the non-allergic, wiping down some dusty shelves is actually not a big deal.

I had good success with my twice-annual cleaning off of all the papers on the desk last night. In my case most of these things do need to be filed. I took slips of paper and wrote the categories of all the the various types of papers I expected to find, Project A, Project B, souvenirs, etc. and of course, trash. That way every piece of paper I found already had a place to go. Then I could either put them all into the existing file or set up a new one. Somehow it made it less intimidating when I defined the scope of what I might expect to find.

I’ve had good success keeping our downstairs living areas clean and de-cluttered. The initial de-cluttering and organizing was pretty involved, but maintenance hasn’t been too bad. One thing that helps me is to make a point of doing a weekly “deep cleaning,” involving scrubbing floors, dusting, vacuuming, etc. If I am forced to get everything off the floor and put it away so that I can run the vacuum, it sets us up really well for the rest of the week. Of course, it’s important to have a place to PUT all the things that got picked up from the floor, but that’s where the initial organization came in.

Our bedroom is still an issue, although I have successfully kept our dresser top clear and decluttered for well over two months. It used to be several inches deep with MrWhatsit’s crap. He now has a shoebox, and that’s where all his stuff goes. If I find loose stuff on the dresser, it goes in the shoebox. When the shoebox gets full, I bag the contents and put them in the back of our closet. If it gets to the point that we are running out of space in there, I’ll talk to him about it, but after the first couple of weeks, he’s really been doing a lot better about not throwing his shit all over the dresser top. The shoebox only fills up about once every 3-4 weeks now. This is major for him.

Anyway, it’s an ongoing process. I continue to get inspiration from “Hoarders.” :slight_smile: Speaking of which, Zsofia, if your guy says he can clean it in a day, I fully support your plan to give him that day, and then call in the pros. When I was 8 months pregnant with Whatsit the Youngest and not able to bend over and lift anything, I told MrWhatsit that the house would either be cleaned within a week, or I was calling a professional cleaning service. And amazingly, he got it done, but I was perfectly willing to call the cleaners if he hadn’t. (Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, he’s just a packratty hoarder type. But he’s willing to work on it.)

My scanner was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I got it because I needed to keep copies of receipts I was handing in with my expense statements and I figured I’d be less likely to lose pdfs than pieces of paper; later I’ve used it to send those statements in (along with the pdf’d receipts) and for other paperwork. It’s also allowed me to throw away several boxes of comic books and pictures clipped from magazines. One of my next projects is to scan as many of the pictures at Mom’s as I can, not intending to throw away the albums but to ensure that all three of us can get the pictures whether in paper or electronic form. As SiL put it the first time she visited that house “people are paying for c1900 pictures of other people’s ancestors to use as decoration: yours are real.”

If you don’t have one already, get yourself a good filing cabinet, with appropriately-labeled folders or at least blank labels, ready to go. Not too big. Check some reputable resource online for how long you need to keep certain pieces of paperwork - taxes are probably the most important one, also anything related to your house since you just got it.

Get three good-sized boxes and label them “keep”, “donate”, “trash.”

Now set a small, reasonable goal for yourself. Say, one box a day. A half-box the first two days, if you like. Be strong about what you can live without - after all, you lived without that stuff for a decade! After you’ve sorted the items from a box into your labeled bins, move them to appropriate locations. File the paperwork, shelve the books, whatever it may be. Empty the trash and put the donations into something to carry them off to Goodwill or wherever.

If you find that the “Donate” bin overflows and you just don’t get around to bringing the stuff anywhere, trash it if you have to. It’s better to get rid of the clutter than to just move the clutter to a slightly different place in your house.

If you do call in a professional organizer, would you post a thread on it or PM me on your experience? I’d love to hear how it goes and if it makes it much easier to keep clean and organized. My husband and I have the exact same conflict. It’s maddening - he always says it’ll take “an hour” to get our house guest-ready, but whenever we do it (or rather, I do it), it takes about 4-5 hours to do it properly because there’s so much shit everywhere. And with a newborn, there’s no way in hell I can keep up with the mountains of crap. It doesn’t help that people assume if you’re on maternity leave you’re just sitting around on your ass waiting for people to call or visit you.

Our purging starts tomorrow. A little background.

Five years ago hubby and I decide it is time to think about starting a family. We agree we would like two little ones and proceed to purchase a three bedroom house in suburbia. Good size bedrooms for the little ones and a finished basement playroom to boot.

So, we try to bring those little ones into the world to no avail. We decide to adopt.

In the meantime, the two of us have spread out into the house. The two good size bedrooms have become a very full office and a guest room with the closet used for some storage. And the playroom? Now a poker/game/man cave.

We are very conscientious about never having more things than we have room for but we had a lot of room for just the two of us.

Fast forward to today and we found our children. Yeah! School age no less. A boy and a girl (and they are old enough that we are not allowed to let them share a room for a while while we sort ourselves out.

But now we have a lot of things to get rid of and shuffle and I don’t know if I can do it. So little time. So much to get rid of.