Clutter attack

I have fallen off the wagon.  My apartment is a continual mess.  I can make excuses, like:

  • I work three jobs and I have little time to devote to cleaning
  • Sleeping is importa-zzZZZzZZzzZZ
  • I deserve to relax sometimes, so I’ll just watch one episode of Supernatural
  • I do the dishes every night, that’s gotta count for something

But really, it’s driving me crazy and it embarrasses me to have such a messy home.  It snuck up on me little by little, as clutter does, and now it has taken over!

Bad minimalist!

My plan is to systematically attack the stuff, like I did back at the beginning of my journey.  I really like The Minimalists’ idea of having a packing party, where you literally pack up everything you own into boxes and then, over a course of the next week, you unpack things as you need them.  Anything left in a box gets donated/sold/otherwise ousted from your life. 

While I don’t think I will go quite that crazy, I know that I have some things I’m not using and could stand to purge.  I might do a partial packing party and treat it like I would treat a purge before moving again.  I really love my apartment but I probably won’t be there forever, right?  And it would be good to have to pack up as few items as possible for any future moves. 

Purge begins this weekend.  I need to kick clutter’s butt.

Any good tips for me to keep things clean once I get them that way??

27 thoughts on “Clutter attack

  1. Claire says:

    One area at a time. Post open, file it or recycle it. Keep hallway clear. Kitchen wash up drain and away.
    Basically choose one area and then keep in top of it. If one new item of clothing one out. If it’s broken bin it, not used in over 6 months clear it out.
    I’m no expert and fall off the wheel usually because of my three year old but I try x hope it helps. Clutter clear mind cleared. Music to dust and tidy too😉

  2. taurbar (@taurbar) says:

    I struggle with this all the time. I will clean everything, declutter, find everything I own a place of it’s own, and it will slowly manage to creep back out and suffocate me. I don’t shop that frequently, but my once yearly Goodwill trip turned into twice yearly, to every 3 months, to now about once a month I’ve got a hefty haul. And yet, I don’t feel like I have less stuff! I have been helping my friend declutter her home this week and her husband is the tough cookie to break on getting rid of things. She spent 4 hours on just his dresser with him and she only got him to give up 5 tshirts that no longer fit. It’s tough. The Minimalists Packing Party sounds fantastic, but I have no where to STORE the things that I could pack away, even for only a week. Therefore, that wouldn’t work for me. Their 20/20 rule seems to help me the most. If I can replace it within 20 minutes and less than $20, then it’s not worth holding onto something. Good luck! Keep us updated! Feel free to Facebook/Twitter me @taurbar if ya just need someone to chat it out with!

    • Caitlin says:

      Thank you!!

      I could put all my boxes into my living room, since I hardly use it. Oh, wait. Now I’m working out in there so I guess I don’t really have the space either!

      Been there, done that with the stubborn dude vs. tee shirts thing. My ex had a dresser with one drawer FULL of socks, one FULL of underwear, and two packed to the brim with tee shirts. I managed to talk him out of about five of them that no longer fit.

      Sounds familiar😛

      Also, I adore the 20/20 rule and will keep it in mind when I am purging. I will end up giving a bunch of stuff to my sister, I bet. She always ends up being my repository for Stuff and Things.

      Thank you so much for your comments!

  3. Nicola B says:

    I don’t think that I have any earthshatteringly novel advice…trying to put things away as you go along helps..but mostly I find that the less I have, the tidier it all stays! If things have a place and fit easily into their place (i.e. I don’t have to fight to get things into the cupboards) it’s much easier to keep things neat.

    Good habits, like doing the washing up and putting it away, help too.

    But don’t give yourself too much of a hard time- I think the clutter fight is a long term one, and you are focused on other things at the moment🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      I am very proud of the fact that I do my dishes every night before bed. It’s just part of the routine. So I’m confident I can make other things routine too🙂

      Thanks!!

  4. chrissy says:

    Even the hardened minimalist finds their stuff multiplying after a few months!

    I have a five year old daughter so a mess happens almost everyday. Sometimes it feels pretty pointless! One box of her little things dumped out looks like it will take forever to clean up. It only takes 2 minutes however. Its all in my head.

    The main things that have helped me is, like the above commenter, Less Stuff.

    Receipts used to be my problem, now they all come out of my purse and into a little accordion folder with one slot for each month.

    Craft people have mess, I do several crafts, one for a living, I have just accepted that I will have one little desk that has a pile of stuff on it. It has deep draws on wheels tucked under it which things are organised in, this area gets cleaned up only when I need it clear to make a new mess!

    I only have 6 cups out at one time, the rest are up high in a cupboard, also at one time I put extra cutlery away, this helps immensely with washing up, if theres nothing to eat off or with, you’re going to have to wash up.

    I think mosts minimalist bloggers have at one time or another admitted to falling off the wagon at least once (a month!). I’m glad you have written it here so honestly, as it makes the rest of us feel less ashamed.

    The method that works best for me for cleaning is to invite someone over the next day. (Or in an hour).

    For clutter, I imagine that I am the landlord, I walk in and see everything fresh, it’s amazing how we can ignore certain things, like right now, theres trash by the door that didn’t get taken down, a pile of paper on the printer, books out of place, washed dishes on the side and in the dishwasher waiting to be put away etc. And I cleaned yesterday!

    woahh… long comment, stopping now.

    Chrissy

    • Caitlin says:

      Thanks Chrissy!! I do find that inviting someone over (or the landlord coming in for maintenance) really lights a fire under me. I get things presentable but then it quickly falls back to clutterville. Sigh! I also am a crafter, I paint, and my painting things are out right now because I did a mad rush of about ten paintings and then quieted back down. I could probably stand to put that stuff away😛

  5. Paper Kawaii says:

    Even the hardened minimalist finds their stuff multiplying after a few months!

    I have a five year old daughter so a mess happens almost everyday. Sometimes it feels pretty pointless! One box of her little things dumped out looks like it will take forever to clean up. It only takes 2 minutes however. Its all in my head.

    The main things that have helped me is, like the above commenter, Less Stuff.

    Receipts used to be my problem, now they all come out of my purse and into a little accordion folder with one slot for each month.

    Craft people have mess, I do several crafts, one for a living, I have just accepted that I will have one little desk that has a pile of stuff on it. It has deep draws on wheels tucked under it which things are organised in, this area gets cleaned up only when I need it clear to make a new mess!

    I only have 6 cups out at one time, the rest are up high in a cupboard, also at one time I put extra cutlery away, this helps immensely with washing up, if theres nothing to eat off or with, you’re going to have to wash up.

    I think mosts minimalist bloggers have at one time or another admitted to falling off the wagon at least once (a month!). I’m glad you have written it here so honestly, as it makes the rest of us feel less ashamed.

    The method that works best for me for cleaning is to invite someone over the next day. (Or in an hour).

    For clutter, I imagine that I am the landlord, I walk in and see everything fresh, it’s amazing how we can ignore certain things, like right now, theres trash by the door that didn’t get taken down, a pile of paper on the printer, books out of place, washed dishes on the side and in the dishwasher waiting to be put away etc. And I cleaned yesterday!

    woahh… long comment, stopping now.

    Chrissy

    • Caitlin says:

      I think being transparent about my shortcomings is very important. It helps me remember I am human to see others comment that they go through the same things. If you can keep your house perfectly minimalist and spotless 100% of the time, I envy you! And you’re probably also a robot🙂

      I too find that having people over is the best motivator for getting to a more clean space. Lately I have been taking advantage of the weekends and doing a pretty deep clean on at least one room of the house per day. One weekend I did a general clean in the whole house but it was overwhelming, so last weekend I just focused on the living room and managed to spend a few hours cleaning up. Still not minimal enough for my liking but there is much less anxiety in the room now. Baby steps!

      Thank you for sharing🙂

  6. bornagaingreen says:

    I don’t comment as much as I should, but I wanted you to know that I read all of your posts that arrive in my inbox. Regarding your clutter shame, I recently implemented a “5 minute pick-up” rule. When at work or home, the rule is to set a timer for 5 minutes and pick up/put away as much as possible. This needs to happen BOTH at the beginning and end of the task. Ex: coming home from lunch, pick up crap for 5 minutes. At the end of the lunch hour, pick up some more crap for 5 minutes. This will be a GREAT way to: 1. Be less anxious by knowing everything is in its place, 2. schedule my time wisely, and 3. be a better roommate/wife. Perhaps we could both implement this regularly and see how it goes?

  7. livingsimplyfree says:

    Caitlin, I needed this right now. I have been on a mad rush trying to get projects done and out of the house. As a result I have let the house go into disarray, not even getting the dishes done each night. I have been telling myself that as soon as this one big dresser is finished I can do a thorough cleaning, but instead I just want to run away until the house is clean again to my liking. It doesn’t help that I began my Christmas shopping and needed a place to store the gifts, a couple are large which doesn’t help.

    The only area I have been keeping up on has been the bathroom since I don’t work in there. I’m going to get up now and clean the kitchen so when I wake I will have at least 2 areas I can be happy to be in.

    The Minimalists idea of packing everything up is a good one, I think those posts about clearing out the house were the best they ever wrote but like one of your other comments I don’t have anywhere to store my stuff for a day not alone a week.

    I think I may invite my daughter-in-law to come over and help me go through everything. Having someone else here will help me to be very strict with what I keep and will get done faster. With the house cleaned up and purged again it will help me to not mind so much that one dresser that is in my way.🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      I have enlisted the help of my sister! Working with someone else makes it easier, I think. (I hope). In such a small space, I hope your Christmas gifts aren’t too terribly big!!

      • livingsimplyfree says:

        They are big🙂 Only a couple are large but in a small space even one causes problems storing. I shared the table I finished for my daughter-in-law and will show my sons gift, which is a filing cabinet at some point before Christmas.

      • Caitlin says:

        Nice. I am making my mom and stepdad a custom sign post with all their favorite vacation destinations and the amount of miles to them, like the old style arrow signs. I told my mom about it, because I’ll need to put it in their yard before the ground freezes, because it will be too unwieldy to store! She was THRILLED. I love making stuff!😀

        I really admire how you restore furniture and share it with others. I keep talking to my mom about us opening up a store where we do that. Save it from the dumpster and refinish it.

        Also, I love that I’m not the only one preparing for Christmas already.

      • livingsimplyfree says:

        What a lovely gift to make for your parents, We have ones here that told how many miles to one department store, although I haven’t seen it in a while. The store has been turned into apartments now so maybe they finally removed them.

        I would love to open an actual store of my own, but with the little space I am using now I realize I would have to do this in the city where people would embrace it more. My town has a lot of well-to-do families who don’t want anything but expensive new furniture. My pieces move rather slowly here. With your artistic talents I think this would be a wonderful business for you and living in a larger city you could find the customers I can’t.

        Yes, I have started getting ready for Christmas. It really is coming up quickly. I have to temper the need to finish my gift shopping with the fact that my son is out of work and may need financial help between now and then too so it’s a little here and there as I can.

  8. rebekkastarfish says:

    My husband decided we should invite people over at least once a month, so we’ll have a reason to fight the mess once in a while. But he hasn’t really started tidying up yet and I usually meet with my friends at university between classes … long way to go😀

    • Caitlin says:

      Hahaha. Understandable. I do about half of what needs to be done and then just announce “So sorry about the mess” and people don’t seem to mind. If people came in and said “Omg pig sty much?!” I would clean more.

      This is the number one reason I don’t invite my mom over. Haha.

  9. needforless says:

    Just a little bit everyday. I’m a list freak. I make lists of every area in every room in the house and cross things off as I do them.

    Example: BEDROOM –> 1) dresser drawers. 2) hanging clothes. 3) shoes. 4) under bed. 5) purses. 6) jewelry container. 7) night stand.

    Then I’ll try to address 1 or 2 of these areas per day (or more if the mood strikes!) until the house is looking the way I want it to.

    I’ve found that listing every area that needs attentions gets me excited to attack it. Plus, I’ll find random times during the day to do the various tasks, because like chrissy said above, it usually only takes a couple of minutes to handle most tasks. I tend to work like bornagaingreen does as well.

    If you have any items worth selling, you might want to consider a garage sale (if it’s feasible where you live) or selling items on Facebook or Craigslist. Especially with you trying to pay off your debt. You’d be surprised the things people will buy (like mostly used lotion bottles–yeah, it happened), and the money you could end up making. I’ve made close to $1500 this past year just by doing this. And this was AFTER several previous large purges. Every spare dollar on that debt is amazing!

    • Caitlin says:

      I am preparing a craigslist/ebay run, I have a lot of random stuff I can get rid of that I Think people could sell. I would do a garage sale but it’s too cold now, I think. Meh😦

      I am also a list person!! That would help me immensely… now to find the time to make the lists😉

  10. minimalistcouple says:

    Tip #1: Ensure everything has a designated place

    Tip #2: Ensure that when you have finished with something (even if the project or task is not fully complete) that the stuff goes back to its designated place.

  11. Sue says:

    Hi Caitlin. You’re a wonderful writer and I enjoy all your posts. To deal with clutter, I would like to add to Chrissy’s suggestion of pretending you’re the landlord walking in and seeing everything fresh. I remember reading somewhere that you should take a photograph of your room. Look at the picture, and anything that shouldn’t be there will probably jump out at you. For some reason, a photograph gives us a different perspective. Wishing you the best in your money makeover.

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