My six months hiking the Appalachian Trail were probably the most clutter-free six months of my life. (OK, so my baby crib was probably pretty clutter-free, but I don't know.) Everything I needed for six months was either in my backpack or in a "bounce box" at the next post office. It was Spartan living, and I loved it. Never, not once, did I waste 20 minutes looking for my keys.
In real life (as in, not trail life), I am a magnet for clutter, and I spend an inordinate amount of my time looking for stuff--keys, money, cell phone, iPods. (I hate that iPods are getting smaller and smaller. I miss the good old days when I carried a boom box the size of a large briefcase.) Every few years, I have to re-read Organizing from the Inside Out and start my life over. It's a wonderful book, and one of three self-help books that have actually stuck with me through the years. I'm just chronically unable to keep up with the good habits it fosters.
There are two areas of my life that aren't typically cluttered: my bookcases (most of the time), and my thoughts when I'm writing.
Everything else? It's like I have a disability with concrete things (DWCT disorder?). Ask me to store a phone number in my head, and I'll keep it there for eternity. Ask me to hold your money or your purse or your keys, and you're taking a big risk that you won't see those items again for a long time. I will forget I have them, absently set them down somewhere, and not be able to retrieve them when you ask me to do so five minutes later.
We're putting our house up for sale soon. At the moment, it's so buried in clutter that no one will want to buy it. Please understand that we are NOT like those crazy pack rats on that TV show. But I swear our stuff is replicating in our closets, on our countertops, in the gear-storage room.
So we need to declutter. Fortunately, I seem to be experiencing a "merge" of sorts, where things I'm thinking and doing are falling in line with things I happen to read here and there. For example, Marla is reading a book on decluttering. I just read Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent, which was quoted recently on another blog I read (I can't remember which, but it was a mergey post on decluttering). I randomly picked up another book last night, one that isn't a self-help type book, and the author began by saying her life had become too cluttered with "stuff."
So, all this merging must mean God wants me to declutter, too. Right?
I followed Marla's links to Tsh Oxenreider's Simple Mom site and printed out some PDFs she'd made of decluttering checklists. And last night at 10:30, Hubster and I got to work—not on anything from the checklists (yet), but on something we’ve needed to tackle for years: our cassette tapes.
We're keeping only the homemade "mix" tapes, and only for a few days (since we have about 200 of them). I'm going to keep the jackets of some (where the names of the songs are listed), so I can reproduce the order of the songs on my iPod. Once I find it.
Question: Are you a clutter-magnet? What are some techniques you use to prevent clutter in your home? If you're over 35, did you carry a giant boom box in the 80s, too? Or just a Walkman the size of a pocket dictionary?