Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Clutter: A disorderly heap or assemblage

I'm at home cooking a pot of soup for dinner and feeling really overwhelmed. I recently hosted a cookie exchange in our home and had to make it presentable for a party and that is when I realized that I need to do some de-cluttering and reorganizing. It doesn't take long for things to start multiplying and getting out of control. Since my sweet Mother passed away, I integrated many of her things into our house which made less space for my stuff. Now that Christmas is coming, I already feel less able to breathe thinking about buying even more.

Magazines have been my nemesis and my delight for as long as I can remember. I used to love receiving a new magazine in the mail, not turning each fresh page until I had devoured every last word. I had stopped subscribing to anything except Domino (RIP Domino!) when along came a letter saying I would lose my skymiles unless I used them. With this threat in hand what could I do with all those miles except order about 7 new subscriptions.

What is it about throwing out unread magazines that strikes me in the "don't waste" nerve? I must read them before giving them away. And then, what about throwing them away? Well, I feel that I am throwing away information that someone else can use. Another element is the magazines that I won't throw away because I use them for reference, like decorating magazines. Oh, and then I have the stack of pages that I have ripped out of magazines for inspiration. Sigh. I used to have them all organized in a binder but gave that binder away because my styles had changed. Something needs to be done about this. Obviously I have issues, no pun intended!

Here is my secret stash of magazine clutter

That's not all my magazines though! I have more in the closet upstairs that I decided a long time ago to keep. I will be going through those after this Mt. Everest is conquered.

It's not only magazines that are making me feel overwhelmed though. It's just things laying around that don't have a home. Because I made room for my Mom's things, I feel like I don't have enough open space for new things. I don't know what this means in feng shui, but I feel a little stifled. One of the main ways I manage to stay organized is having a place where everything "lives". This is where proper use of organizing materials comes in. It doesn't work to just take all the extra stuff and put it in a bin. There needs to be a purpose and a plan for the things you own. Besides that, those organizing things can also be a visual clutter.

Mail can be a definite clutter problem in many homes but I feel like I have that mostly in control. I do look through all the catalogs that come in the mail but don't have a problem throwing them in the recycling fairly quickly. After all, it's all online for me to see again if I have the need. I usually flip through things I want to read while watching TV because it doesn't take my full focus and attention. My mail gets opened, thrown away or paid immediately. I can't risk not paying a bill on time because it's in a stack of clutter somewhere. I pay online when possible so that I don't even get the bill. I file away the statement part of the bill with the check number and date that I paid it.

There are so many places for the excess to multiply quickly. The bathroom can get filled with old potion bottles that didn't work for you. I haven't bought any new shampoo, conditioner, face cleanser and many more things for over a year. I inherited all of my Mother's personal items and I'm enjoying using them but even before that I had a goal to use everything up. It's fun to get rid of those bottles, finally!

The kitchen can become packed and non-functional too when you have too many gadgets. I am so tempted by kitchen items but I analyze what I really need because I don't have a lot of storage space. I almost asked for a mini Cuisinart chopper for Christmas until I realized that my Braun multiquick attachment does the same thing. I admit I do have a lot of kitchen things already thanks to generous wedding gifts!

My first instinct today was to run to Ikea or The Container Store to buy something to make myself feel more organized. I managed to pull myself back and tell myself that I need to go through what I have before organizing clutter. Putting those magazines in a bin in the garage won't help the problem. I must go through them and let them go. I don't have any problem giving them away, it 's just doing it before I read them! My drawers are also getting full and it's not nice to keep shoving things in there. A little clutter problem that would be easy to solve is corralling all the remote controls. I hate seeing them on my tables!

Remote controls are NOT chic!

So what's in your to clean out and organize list? I'm going to start with the pile of magazines and resolve to not subscribe to any more. The truth is that I don't find them relevant to my life any more. There was a time when I pored over them thinking they offered me wisdom but now it's like reading the same thing over and over every month. I just think,"who cares about that?" I'm sure that I am not alone in that thought and that is why so many blog readers have replaced the reading audience of magazines.

I think it's a great time of year to clear out or organize what you have been putting off. We will be getting so many new things and it's time to part with the old, or bless someone else with your things. What's your clutter nemesis? Are you a magazine hoarder like me, or is it jewelry or lipstick? The confessional is open, let me hear about your secret stashes!


amanda wallace said...

Um, I don't know where to begin. I hate the remote control pile ups as well. Let me know if you figure out a fun way to contain them. The thing I tend to hoard are clothes I don't like or wear. I realize there are just a handful of items I would be completely happy with - good quality, classic style clothes (which I would consider as found in JCrew magazine...although I only own about 3 items from there). Look forward to reading another post. --amanda

Stephanie said...

There was a little project going around on the blogs in November. It was a challenge to remove 100 things from your home in that month. I did it and it was liberating getting rid of some things that I never use. Just start somewhere getting rid of things you don't need and have no emotional attachment to and then go from there. My trunk was full in my car when I went to donate it all. That's a lot of stuff when you think about that much space.

The Closet Therapist said...

Hi Amanda! I'll let you know about the remote control situation. You said a mouthful when you said you hoard clothes you don't like or wear. How bizarre is it that we do that? I know all of us do, and it acts as a sort of security blanket. I love J Crew too. You have the perfect figure for their clothes.

Bonjour Madame, I hate I missed that 100 things challenge with everyone. I always have a to go bag in my closet and take many things to my family when I go home. I find it easy to go through things as I wear them or use them. I bet you felt great getting rid of a trunk full of clothes! That is A LOT!! Do you miss anything yet?

TheSaraLananCollection said...

Hi Jennifer! I have been recently decluttering my paper files...well before the baby. Kevin and I decluttered our closet and got rid of a ton of things a couple months ago. I had clothes I hadn't worn in 8 years! I have a huge list of things to declutter but before I get started can I hoard some more of your magazines to feed my creative frenzy?

Fiona said...

It's magazines, all the way dear Closet Therapist! I too am in the process of decluttering and the magazines are slowing diminishing as I cannot bear to get rid of them before reading. And I too have files of 'useful' magazine pages which I may or may not get back to ever again. That is phase 2 though. Love your blog!

The Closet Therapist said...

Sarah, I've been decluttering my magazines especially for you now! I'll bring them over soon. :)

Fiona, You too with the magazines! I hope I've learned my lesson now because this is ridiculous! I am still tearing out the pages and I've been eyeing some cute binders at Target to store them in. It's really like your own personal magazine and totally worth keeping for inspiration!

Our Trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida

I'm linking up again with  Erika ,  Andrea  and  Narci  for the Friday Favorites!  I love reading everyone's favorites too! ...