Clearing Clutter

Clutter

Image Credit: The Big Smoke

As I’ve read through the Fulton County Public Library in the Home and Family Management section (640’s) we have discussed the actual physical dwelling where we live.. We’ve discussed how we can make our homes a comfortable place to live by the hard and soft furnishings we’ve chosen to help make our house a home. Now, we’re going to have an open and frank discussion because we are all human. We can get a little too comfortable even in our own home environment. Once we’re settled in to our homes many of us (myself included) can get a bit lax in what we allow in to our environment.  Today we are discussing clutter.

Clutter can sneak up on us if we aren’t vigilant about picking up after ourselves. Clutter often involves just not putting items back where they should be in your home. For example when your clothing isn’t in use it should be “living” in your closet, drawers, or in the laundry. Other examples would be things such as dishes in cabinets, toys in a toybox, tools in the garage and so on. The point is that the items in our homes should have a specific place where they “live” when not in use. Clutter may also happen from not taking care of things such as mail when it arrivers. We may just throw mail and other items on a table along with notes from the school, papers from work, and drawings from the kids. Sometimes clutter is just keeping too much stuff–even if it’s organized.  Clutter may also result from disorganization. Although clutter begins all hoards not all clutter is hoarding. Hoarding is a symptom of a psychological condition often associated with trauma in a person’s life.

Everyone needs a decluttering skill set. There are many highly effective systems or combinations of systems people can learn. On my read through the library, I came across one that I wasn’t all that familiar with and it was highly informative and interesting. Back in the 80’s a man named Don Aslett was known as a very successful cleaning man. Along the way in his cleaning story, Don Aslett discovered something that he’s been writing about ever since: Americans have a hard time determining what should be kept in a household and what is actually clutter. Mr. Aslett would appear on various media shows to promote his cleaning business and his listeners/viewers would all want him to explain to them how to organize their stuff (aka junk). Although he would have preferred to discuss his cleaning system, Mr. Aslett’s followers wanted to talk about clutter in their homes and what to do about it. After this experience continued to repeat itself, Mr. Aslett  more or less took a “if you can’t bet’ ’em, join ’em” approach and began explaining to the American public how to simplify their lives by ridding themselves of unneeded clutter and junk. His methods were specific which in turn made the cleaning process easier and less stressful. Don Aslett’s books tend to be humorous and have interesting illustrations.

This book includes a test near the beginning called the Junkee Entrance Exam. It is designed to help the reader figure out the level of junk problem they have in their homes. The reader will land in one of these categories: The End is Near, You’re on the Brink, There is Hope, and Your are Pure. In my personal life I’ve been working A LOT at decluttering. Much of my need to do go through this process is because of multiple deaths (and therefore multiple inheritences) in my family, people moving in or out, and storing items for other friends and family who are in transitions of various types. I feel like I have a LONG way to go, but I fell into the “There is Hope” categogory.

Clutter's Last Stand

In his book Clutter’s Last Stand Don Aslett first discuses the reasons people hang on to clutter in the first place and discusses the drawback(s) of each excuse. As there are literally 101 excuses for this behavior, I won’t have time to go into detail, but if you choose to read this book, your eyes will be opened. In the remainder of the book, Aslett dicussses all the whys and how to’s of ridding ourselves of the clutter that’s in our way and holding us back. As always his goal is to simplify our homes and enable easier cleaning for better living experiences. In essence to free ourselves of unnecessary junk is to open up new and wonderful possibilities for living our best lives.

Though the above book is a bit dated, it’s information is still quite relative. I would love to share all of the practical tips I’ve gleaned from it but there’s no way I could in one blog post. Since I always like to share something I will share just one checklist from the book. This checklist  helps you to decided if something is junk or not.

It is JUNK if:

It’s broken or obsolete (and fixing it is unrealistic)

You’ve outgrown it, physically or emotionally

You’ve always hated it

It’s the wrong size, wrong color, or wrong style

Using it is more bother than it’s worth

It wouldn’t really affect you if you never saw it again

It generates bad feelings

You have to clean it, store it, and insure it (but you don’t get much use or enjoyment out of it)

It will shock, bore, or burden the coming generation

If you can check one or more of the above truthfully, then it’s probably junk. Do yourself, your house, and posterity a favor – pitch it! It’s robbing you of peace of mind and space.

It’s not JUNK if:

It generates love and good feelings

It helps you make a living

It will do something you need done

It has significant cash value

It give you more than it takes

It will enrich and delight the coming generation

If you can check several of the above comfortably, then it’s probably not junk–enjoy it and feel good about its place in your life.

Other books that I checked out were

Clean in a Minute

Is There Life After Housework

How do you deal with clutter? Have you ever heard of Don Aslett or used his system? Do you have a clutter story you would like to share?

11 thoughts on “Clearing Clutter

  1. Yes!! I love him! Don Aslett I read him in the initial publishing! I need to go back, and reread!!
    This is a subject I struggle with, but am constantly trying to work on it. There is Hope! Yay! I’m glad that’s where you fit in!
    Speaking of shock, I’ve already had to throw away 2 journals, that I don’t want my daughters to read.
    Here’s one of my small projects. https://purpleslobinrecovery20.design.blog/2021/01/18/meds-mountain/

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  2. I must read this book. I am the opposite of a cluttered, having been accused of getting rid of too much, says my husband when I remove suits he wore in high school but who has since come around more to my way of thinking as we have gotten older. I have always felt better with order and I admit when I feel stressed I clean out a closet or something. However, I am reflecting on various aspects of my life, hobbies I no longer do, etc. What was useful may no longer be in this phase of my life. This book sounds like it could be helpful. Thanks for the tip!

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      1. Your comment reminded me. I have now ordered a couple of DonAslett’s books and a couple of other ones.. I am feeling cluttered in my mind right now as I try to get back to a routine of some kind. I think physical cleaning tips might work for the mind as well. I’ll let you know how I find these books. if nothing else, I am looking forward to communing with a kindred soul who likes to clean and keep things orderly.

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      2. I meant to write to you, I just finished them. They are helpful. The style of writing can be offputting as are some of the author’s attitudes (such as suggesting a person should shed weight as a decluttering of the body. That did not come off well reading it today, I cringed). But especially the housecleaning one had a lot of sensible suggestions that have not become dated. It was also interesting to read them as artifacts of their time – the lack of electronic anything, the unspoken attitude of women being the major homemakers, some of the household activities that people don’t worry as much about these days (spring cleaning). I did like the overall idea that if you clean as you go, life will be a lot easier – the jobs don’t pile up and overwhelm. I’d say the books are interesting more for their historical value, and then I would find a very useful tidbit. You just have to know the era that they are written and and work from there. I am glad you mentioned these, it was an interesting research project.

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  3. So much good stuff in this post! I used to watch a TV show called “Hoarders” and in every situation the hoarding was directly related to psychological trauma (many times severe). I always wanted to go clean my house after watching that show. Your opening image of this post made a little squirmy – ha! I do not like serious clutter (I can take small amounts of clutter or creative clutter here and there). That is a wonderful guide of “junk” vs “Not Junk”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tierney. I also watched Hoarders. It’s not that I liked seeing people having trauma, but I’m fascinated with the psychology of helping the people overcome their trauma. I also do not like serious clutter although there are times it would be difficult to believe that at my house!

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