Getting Rid of Clutter
Why is getting rid of clutter so dang hard? For starters, we tend to get emotionally attached to things. We tend to think that all of these material possessions symbolize a piece of us. And if we get rid of them, we are ‘throwing our past away’. We can even hear a faint, fading, yet hideous scream, “NOOOO!!!!” as we toss our Mr. T air fresheners, M.C. Hammer pants, and Metallica t-shirts into the trash.
Each of the last 2 times I’ve moved dwellings, I’ve had to upgrade to a bigger truck. That is ridiculous.
Because it’s a constant personal struggle, I’ve covered this topic in the past pretty extensively (see links at the bottom of this post), but I’m afraid that I may have been a little too simplistic in my de-cluttering strategies. Until now…
De-Clutter Requires Guerrilla Tactics:
You wouldn’t defend your house from invading Guatemalans with a Smith & Wesson pistol, would you? Heck no, you’d want to pull out the big artillery. I’m talking Tommy Guns, grenades, and rocket launchers.
Simply going through your things and saying ‘yes, I’ll keep it’ or ‘no, I won’t keep it’ isn’t going to cut it. This isn’t an exercise where you can sit back on the defensive. It’s time to take it to the enemy. So here are some guerrilla tactic approaches to de-cluttering.
Tactic #1: Buy your Clutter Back Tactic
Step 1: Round up everything that you don’t use at least once a week and pile it all into one big room or in the yard.
- Step 2: This will admittedly take an entire day to do. So find a nice CD (one that you listen to frequently, because everything else is going in the pile).
- Step 3: Do a rough count of all the items in your pile. Write down the number.
- Step 4: Go to the bank and get a number of pennies that is equivalent to one-quarter of the number.
- Step 5: Buy back your stuff until the pennies are gone.
Congrats, you’ve just eliminated three-quarters of your clutter!
Why it works: The ‘Buy your Clutter Back’ tactic works because it forces you to go beyond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and actually prioritize what you value the most. In a way, it is like you briefly do not own your stuff anymore. It makes you ask the question “if I had to go out and buy that again, would I?”. In most cases, the answer is ‘no’.
Tactic #2: The No Use, It’s Clutter Tactic
- Step 1: Again, round up everything that you don’t use at least once a week and pile it all into one big room or in the yard.
- Step 2: Go to a local department store and get a lot of boxes.
- Step 3: Box it all up. Everything. Seal it shut. And don’t label it.
- Step 4: Live your life for 12 months.
- Step 5: If you had to go into the boxes and get something to use, keep it. If not, get rid of it.
Why it works: The ‘No Use, No Clutter’ tactic works because it does not judge. You either had a use for something or you did not over the year. I specifically chose the year period because it allows you to get through all 4 seasons, if you life in such a climate. You can probably use a much smaller time period if you live in a different climate. If you didn’t use something over a year, you probably don’t need to keep it.
Tactic #3: The Out of Mind, Out of House Tactic
- Step 1: Once again, round it all up, box it, and seal it.
- Step 2: This time wait 1 month.
- Step 3: Grab a pen and paper and a kitchen timer (hopefully you didn’t box it up).
- Step 4: Give yourself half an hour to write down everything you want to keep that is boxed up.
- Step 5: Get rid of all stuff you didn’t write down.
Why it works: The ‘Out of Mind, Out of House’ tactic works because it forces you to really think about the things that are important to you in a limited amount of time. If you’ve completely forgot about something after just a month, do you really need it anymore?
- What unique de-cluttering tactics have you used? Did they work?
- Have you tried one of these clutter-busting tactics? How did it work?
- Are you willing to try one of these tactics?