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Clutter is Postponed Decisions*: Confessions of a Closeted Clutterbug

Clutter comes from the root word clot or lump in Middle English. In the same way a blood clot inhibits the flow of vital, life-giving blood, so clutter blocks the flow of vitality in our home and work spaces. It sounds about right, doesn’t it? Most people I know need to clean their desk if they want to be really productive. I know when I’m working on an upholstery or sewing project, I sometimes need to pull back, to clear some space and regroup for greater focus.

Jeff Campbell wrote a book in 1992 called Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet. Campbell connects particular personal behaviors to serious clutter problems. These behaviors include:

  1. storing things for people who don’t live with you

  2. constantly losing keys, phone or wallet

  3. collecting empty boxes

  4. living in a home with lots of storage but there still isn’t enough room for everything

Okay, I have to out myself now. I have clutter in my house! Some of it I can’t even bear to show you. But admitting that I have a problem is the first step to overcoming the problem. So. (Deep breath) Behold a pile of D list craft supplies representing ink stamps my kids used to play with, elementary beadwork, a bag of supplies to make doll clothes and my husband’s game of Bandu which we have never played in 21 years of marriage. These are all usually behind closed doors in my library, so you would never normally see them. There is no reason for me to keep most of these items, they represent a time in my life which has mostly passed. It’s time to find a new home for the supplies still in working order.

And now, to a dark corner of my bedroom closet: a random stack of frames, paintings, artwork and other items that never quite fit into the house. Several of these items are gifts and mementoes I don’t want to part with quite yet. But I could and should whittle this stack down by half and then think of a better place to put the remainder. Perhaps the attic or a secure bin in the garage. I do have a fun way to display random artwork which I will share soon! In the meantime, this box in the corner of my closet is a daily reminder of things that need to be dealt with.

Finally, let me show you a hidden corner of my bedroom. In this corner we have a chair which is where our dog sleeps at night. Behind and under the chair is this box of tea tins and tiny boxes which I am loathe to part with. My husband drinks fancy tea–usually a great Earl Grey with extra bergamot. It is his only vice and so I indulge his passion, but great tea comes with beautiful tea tins. It feels wasteful to throw them away once the tea is gone, and I can only use so many for other crafty purposes. Where do they go? Behind the dog bed/chair. Sigh. And I’m the one who was touting a clutter-free bedroom. Ideally, I’ll be able to find someone who can use these.

*An acclaimed decluttering expert, Barbara Hemphill was the one who said “Clutter is postponed decisions.” As someone who has overcome some midlife angst and fear, I agree with Hemphill wholeheartedly and it helps me to make headway into my own clutter and the clutter of others.

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