Slowing down a bit for the moment

As you can see I’ve not posted anything here in nearly two weeks. I’m still removing stuff but the process has slowed considerably. I have yet to really dig into the garage. That will be quite a challenge. The closet is coming along but it will be a while before I can take an after shot.

One theme I plan to introduce to the blog is money. Having a lot of stuff you don’t need means most likely that you spent money to get it. Clutter has a dollar value and those dollars could go, in my case, into savings and retiring debt.

Waking up to what’s around us, how it got there, how to get rid of it and what to do with the space once we’re done is not an easy process. Usually you have to disrupt that self-lulling constantly. It’s kinda like P90X, but for clutter.

Returning Clutter

Last week I boomerangtook all the PEZ dispensers to Goodwill. They’d been occupying three shelves in the living room. When I decided to get rid of the shelving I decided to let the toys go, too. The toys might be worth a few bucks, but I don’t want to warehouse a bunch of stuff waiting for a theoretical eBay sale.

When I take something out of here it is with the understanding that I can probably buy it again if I ever decide I need it. Nothing in this house is one-of-a-kind. Everything I have is mass-produced and replaceable.

Quite replaceable.

Ridiculously easy to replace.

It is the ready availability of things that makes it all the more important to turn off the auto-pilot. Unconscious consumption is how things end up in a shopping cart, a trunk and back in our homes. There have been several times, since I started cleaning, that I’ve been in a store, passed by something I got rid of a week before and been tempted to buy again. And I’ve even said to myself, “…I just gave one of those away.”

Stores aren’t going to help you not buy things just like drug dealers won’t help you stop using and liquor vendors won’t help you stop drinking. Having your credit cut off isn’t the answer. One can always find a way. You have to put it down and walk away.

Sometimes you have to do that…a lot.

Remember the space. It’s priceless. It’s worth more than the entire contents of your home.


Recycle-BinThe city picks up recycling every other week. Within those two weeks we usually fill it up about this much. As I’ve been focused on cleaning for the past several months I’ve had to bag stuff and leave it in the garage until the next pick-up.

This load has a lot of cut cardboard in it. We have this habit of trying to hold onto packaging through the warranty period. The problem is that it leads to double storage. I have to have space for the thing I bought and more space for its wrapper.


Most things work. I seldom buy something and get it home, only to find it not functioning. Therefore there is no need to hold onto packaging for a year, or even a month.

Gifts: The persistent apparition of clutter

GiftsBut that was a gift from ___________!

Yeah. And there it sits.

Years go by.

I gets dusted.

It stopped being a conversation piece a couple years after you acquired it in 1982.

Four presidents ago.

But you hang onto it. Not wanting to offend the giver, whom you haven’t been in touch with in twelve years. It’s like they marked their territory by placing something in our homes.

Fear has us enslaved. We keep things that have long ceased to serve us. We’re afraid we’ll hurt feelings and so we live out our lives owned by objects. We serve them as warehouser, cataloguers, polishers and oglers.

Go work for a museum. They’ll pay you to take care of stuff. Otherwise give it one final dusting, box it up and sell it or donate it. Your space will thank you. Practice a few minutes of “I’m sorry” every month or so in case the person shows up at your door wondering why they saw their precious object in a consignment window or on eBay.

Forgiveness is always easier to get than permission.

Cluttered phone

Phone and Drive IGLast night I had apps I couldn’t update because there was no room left on the phone. What? I deleted a bunch of pictures and cleared enough space to finish the updates. This morning I moved all the downloaded files and pictures to the computer. I’ll need a few of them for a project soon but most of them are just stored files. It has taken about a year to run out of room on the 32GB card. I’ll start moving files every 3 months to avoid this.

Digital clutter can be just as energy-sapping as physical clutter. I’ve had the inbox with 2000 work messages “in case I need to refer to them.” I remember getting depressed trying to look at each one and delete it. I tried the filing system and sometimes I’d make an archive folder and move everything into it. The problem is I never needed to refer to them. Most of the time we’d get an email from the manager that sounded like a followup message was in the works. But we’d never hear about the topic again. Then you wonder whether you ever needed to hear about it at all. I don’t have that problem with the phone…just pics, pdfs and other files. My inboxes at home are another story. I’ll talk about those in a different post.


So many contacts. So little time.

CrowdIt’s people clutter, contact clutter…a digital throng.

I have 966 “friends” on Facebook. At one point I had over 1000. Compared to folks with over 4K I guess that’s kinda small. I started unfriending folks with the intent of reducing the number to 400. I decided, recently, that even that is too many people. You can only cut contacts one at a time. There is no bulk action. Facebook wants you to build that pile of 4-5,000 contacts so they can hit them up with ads and other junk.

The ice-aged slowness of the standard Facebook friend-removal process being what it is, I opened a new account and I am adding people from my old one. I plan to stop at around 300. That should cover people I know plus closer internet acquaintances. The rest are mostly folks who, other than a couple of Facebook database entries, I don’t know at all.

But they haven’t done anything!!!

No. They haven’t. No one I’m excluding has “done anything.” It’s not personal. It’s a matter of numbers. If I only know half the folks I’m friends with and many of those I have not seen since high school, I could go back to not being in contact with those who have not interacted with me other than accepting a friend request. I am also guilty of not interacting. Part of the problem is the amount of traffic that one thousand people generate in one day of a news feed. Think about that and then multiply it by 5 for folks with FIVE THOUSAND “friends.” I am not watching the thing all day long and I may not have seen the new pics of you and your new fur-kid, Mr. Puggins.

I’ll keep the other account active for a while and see if anyone I’ve not added to the new one notices my absence or lack of activity. Then at some point I’ll deactivate it as that appears to be the only way to close a Facebook account.

Photos vs keeping stuff around

Sylvia HernandezThis is Sylvia Hernandez. I worked with her for a couple of years until she was murdered on a Saturday in 1998. This is the photo that was on her work ID. I had a printout of it with some papers. We weren’t really close but her death hit everyone pretty hard. Instead of keeping the printout I took a picture of it and threw out the printout with the rest of the papers. I’m doing the same thing with some things I take to sell or donate. I got the idea from Bruce Sterling’s Last Viridian Note where he says, “You should document these things. Take their pictures, their identifying makers’ marks, barcodes, whatever, so that you can get them off eBay or Amazon if, for some weird reason, you ever need them again.” I don’t intend on purchasing most of this stuff again. In fact I haven’t made that many photos compared to the amount of junk I’ve removed from here. Space is priceless.