Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Three Types Of Clutter

I like to say that I've always been a purger.  It's a drug that's been running through my veins since I was a young girl.  It's even been there since that period of time where I tried to get my little brothers to call my room "Meg's Market."  They never bought that.  I had my own room growing up and I loved decorating, rearranging, cleaning, organizing, and PURGING that little space.  The urge to purge has always been there.  


It really took off a few years ago when I was watching an Oprah show about hoarders.  The professional explained that there are three types of clutter.  Once I heard about these three types and realized that all my extra junk could fit into these three types, it helped me let that stuff go.  

Here they are:

1. Future Clutter:  This is stuff that we hold onto because we think we might need it in the future or we have plans to do something with it once we have time. That lamp that needs to be repaired.  The shoe that is missing its mate.  Those scraps of fabric.  We can hold onto those things forever, keep sorting through them, making space for them, getting mad they are still in our house.  Or, we can toss them.  Donate them.  Let them go.  In the future, if we find out that we needed it, what will happen?  Will we implode?  Will the world stop to exist?  No.  We'll still have all that other stuff in our house.  If we regret a past purge that we made, is life really that hard?  No, not at all.

2. Obligation Clutter: This is the clutter that we hang onto because we feel like we have to keep it or it will hurt someone's feelings.  That random Christmas present.  That little piece of wood that came off the tree of Great Aunt Betsy's house.  That bowl that your neighbor's cousin made for you.  Please.  I have the easiest time parting with obligation clutter.  No one has actually handed something random to me and said, "please take dear care of this or it will crush my feelings."  Chunk.that.junk.

3. Sentimental Clutter.  This is a very touchy one.  This is the clutter that we hold onto because it means something to us.  Don't we all have sentimental clutter?  Maybe a friendship is over, maybe someone isn't living anymore, maybe they just moved away.  Either way, we hold onto things because they remind us of someone dear to us.  As we process through our loss, we are able to let go of their belongings.  We might pass on their possessions, but that doesn't mean we forget them.  They live on in pictures, stories, and memories.  They don't live on in a 600 piece doll collection.  Maybe we can slowly get rid of that sentimental clutter.  (ie, get rid of 599 of the dolls, keep one doll as a reminder.) We can donate or throw away their things, but that doesn't mean that we give up on what they meant to us.  

 

This week, we had a dumpster delivered to our house for 24 hours.  (I know someone will ask...Call 311.  It's free for people in the city limits.)  We went through our attic and basement and got rid of a lot of stuff.  When discussing what to let go, I heard John say this several times, "It's sentimental clutter.  Toss it."  By the end of the day he said, "We had so much sentimental clutter."  We tossed some stuff.  We donated some stuff.  Our neighbors tossed some stuff.  

As Americans, I feel like our biggest challenge is learning to say "no" to all the excess in our lives.  John and I have decided to try and accumulate less stuff.  This is what we want.  Filling dumpsters with our junk is definitely NOT what we want.  

When sorting our belongings, we noticed that if things fit into the 3 types of clutter, then we were ok with letting them go.  I'm sharing those three things because I hope it frees up some other people to chunk their junk.  Happy purging.

8 comments:

  1. Of all my purgings, the only thing I regret are letters that my mom sent to me in college. There probably wasn't anything profound in them, just random clipped comic strips and notes of encouragement, but I deeply wish I had saved those.

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    1. Gold is to money as letters are to the heart. Cha-ching.

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  2. i just found your blog and I love it.
    I too, am a purger.
    With four kids and a husband, the clutter drives me crazy!!

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    1. Maybe we should get bumper stickers for our swagger wagons that say "I {heart} to chunk that junk"

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  3. I recently read an article about organizing and the author also encouraged looking at the reasons why we hold onto clutter. She said that we may be working with the assumption that a truly responsible person would always be prepared for every situation. Busted.

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    Replies
    1. hoarder or good girl? Like the lady with the bag...

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  4. Great post. I've been doing better at getting rid of the stuff that I help on for "someday." I love the feeling when I clean out a closet and how organized and put together I think I am. I'm working on getting my home to that place where there is nothing I don't use.

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