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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Words of Wisdom and Warning: Decluttering

As a messy clutterbug AND a teacher, I have a double whammy: teachers often let personal tasks pile up and get to them only after the semester is done. So, stuff and jobs have been piling up. Adding to the emergency is that Miss Em will be bringing home two people: her friend Mr C AND his twin brother, also Mr C. So, we have been cleaning. And, of course, as all teachers know, cleaning is a great way to avoid the real task: grading student work. For emergency assistance, I went to the library (note: LIBRARY, friend of frugal and messy) and checked out two books by my favorite clutter guru, Susan Pinsky. Here is the warning and, for me, motivation. According to Susan P, most of the clients who hire her for a hefty hourly fee do so for one task: to go through their STUFF and motivate them to get rid of it. She does not spend most of her time creating clever organizing systems. No: she holds up item after item and says Go or Stay? Susan P is not a big fan of frugality because she says it leads to clutter (and I gotta admit, she has a point). But I am WAY TOO CHEAP to pay someone to stand next to me and say Go or stay. So I'll do it myself. Here's the drill. Read a few pages of Pinsky. Put some stuff in the donation bag. Grade a few papers. REPEAT. How's your decluttering going? Or are you a paragon of no-clutter? If so, wish me luck.


Shelley said...

I've just discovered a place near by that buys clothes, shoes, belts, household textiles for 40p a kilo and books for 10p a kilo. I've already cleared out my books and gifted them to the community centre for their June sale (I'm debating on whether or not to go...), but the loft is still full. It's taken me weeks to get my life back after returning from Australia. My first deadline is 15 June, when US tax returns are due from expats.

Bill cleaned out his files and shredded a bunch of paper and I was impressed. Unfortunately he put the shreded paper in the compost bin and it blew out of the little holes and down the street... The rain didn't seem to stop it escaping, it only glued the bits to the pavement. I went along and picked up each and every piece, not wishing the neighbours to hate us.

I don't think frugality and clutter necessarily have to go hand in hand. I've worked out that I can stop picking up the rubber bands that the postman drops; my place for storing rubber bands is full and I don't need any more. Someone else can pick them up for a while.

the Frugal Ecologist said...

My husband and I come from serial collectors and in response we are pathologically neat & clutter free. But I hear you on the grading procrastination: I think I am going to reorganize my linen closet & pantry today.

SewingLibrarian said...

You are so right about the library. I used to use it because I didn't want to spend money on books that I was going to read only once. Now I also consider that I don't want them cluttering up my house. Now if I could just get Mr. SL to rid himself of some books. Engineers are the worst!

Janice said...

Eldest daughter is crazily cluttering. It drives me nuts because her level of clutter tolerance only falls a few steps short of hoarding.

My mother was an avid collector of all sorts of craft stuff and little figurines. She passed away in 2003 and we're still dealing with the stuff. That made me purge my stuff immediately, although I'm still bad with books.

Good for you for tackling the project. I agree with you - a library book for guidance is a lot cheaper and more in line with a frugal/non-collecting philosophy than paying for a guidebook OR a coach@

Patience_Crabstick said...

I am almost pathologically anti-clutter. I definitely do not need a Susan Pinsky asking me "Go, or stay," because for me, there is one answer: Go. This is what enabled me to raise four children and two dogs in a 1600 square foot house with one closet without going mad.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read the T. C. Boyle story "Filthy with Things" (New Yorker, sometime in 1993) It's a hoot and most definitely puts American clutter into perspective.

mette said...

I have decluttered already to the utmost. No need for a book to read how to work it out.
But, my hb is the opposite, his private " area " is loaded. I guess it has to do with his temperament, and it is useless for me to go and organize his things, as he just can´t keep up the order.
I think, that a change in one´s habits, needs a serious bump on one´s head.

Duchesse said...

I'm sure if I searched your archives I could prove that you already know this, so P is not for Pinksy, it's for Procrastination.

Have you noticed that your posts alternate most rhythmically between getting stuff and trying to let go of it? A lovely paradox, like so much of life; holding on and letting go.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Terri--I'll try to find it when I'm DONE. Thanks!
@Mette--I had no idea that your hb was like that! We have to work within our natures, I suppose.
@Duchesse-I know I've written about Pinsky before. I don't have much storage space and a crisis point is reached very quickly as a result. P is for PROCESS. This will be a lifelong issue for me and so I check out Pinsky every few weeks for a refresher.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Patience--4 kids in a small house. I am in AWE.
@Shelley--Wow. Shows how little the stuff is worth. Amy D of Tightwad Gazette is very neat, organized, and anti-clutter--even with 6 kids. See if you can find a picture of her house--impressive.

@FE--Hmmmm. My parents were shopaholics, though my mother is fond of donating purchases with the tags attached. I may be a version--the thrift store version. I just finished my first 100!!! Only 200 left!
@SL--Hmmmm. I always thought engineers were super-organized.
@Janice--i tackle the project every few months, I must admit.

Debbie said...

I am a non-clutterer married to a clutterer. He just makes stacks of things in his room. I pitch and have bags of stuff to go to the thrift store just about every week (not his stuff but "ours" or mine). We have managed to stay married for 32 years, so there is something to be said for his and her spaces (as long as his has a door that can be closed).

SewingLibrarian said...

@FS, organized minds, yes. Organized living spaces, not so much. Plus they refuse to get rid of any book they have ever used because they "might need" a formula from it. I speak from experience of not one but two engineer husbands.