Textile artist, author and socialist William Morris famously said, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
I was reminded of this quote the first time I saw the crazily hoarded house that my elderly in-laws inherited from a friend who had died. Since the house had to be sold, it first had to be made presentable, and my husband and I were enlisted to help.
It was just like an episode of A&E's Hoarders -- except that I wasn't watching it on TV, I was one of the crew. There were a few paths, but for the most part the house was filled from floor to ceiling with newspapers, receipts, vintage electronics, hundreds of Bradford "collector" plates still in their boxes, moldy clothes and puffy cans of food. My job was to clean the bathroom, and the less said about that, the better.
Though most of us don't live in such a state, a new year can inspire us to evaluate and purge our belongings. As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says, "Outer order contributes to inner calm." The fewer things you own, the easier it is to do housecleaning. Getting rid of the excess will free you up mentally to think about things other than your possessions. A feeling of calm and control will be your reward.
My favorite decluttering tip is to get rid of unfinished craft projects. After many months, I finally threw away a giant length of rope that I had attempted to make into a Turkish knot doorstop. I'm no longer reminded of my failure, and it's exhilarating.
Some radical organizers say that nobody needs a junk drawer. This is not as outrageous as it sounds -- you simply find more appropriate place for all the junk. In fact, a friend of mine once moved and found the contents of her former junk drawer in the basement of her new house two years later.
The Internet is, well, cluttered with advice. Here are a few websites, DVDs and books from the Library to help and inspire you to gain control of this one aspect of your life.
Books and DVDs:
Organizing from the Inside Out (DVD) by Julie Morgenstern
200 Tips for De-Cluttering: Room by Room, Including Outdoor Spaces and Eco Tips by Daniela Santos Quartino
Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Organize Your Life for Good by Andrew J. Mellin
Messy Me by Marni Mcgee (for kids)
Please contact Reference Services, located on the third floor of the Central Library, for all of your information needs:
• Phone: 720-865-1363; TTY: 720-865-1480
• Email Reference
• Ask Colorado (24/7 virtual chat reference)
Man, I could have really used the Turkish knot doorstop!
My stuff consists of valuable collectables and sports memorabilia, including an unopened six pack of Orange Crush from 1977. My wife's stuff, now that's clutter.
Please don't touch or move that six-pack of Orange Crush. It may affect the outcome of Saturday night's game.