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Self Discovery

Cure for the Common Clutterbug

By Raphael

Welcome, fellow packrat! So, what's your pleasure: Mementos of times past? Piles of papers yearning to be filed? Projects on standby 'til some day, another day or even yesterday? Are your clothes having a private party on your floor and you're not invited?

Well, it's time to take the reins and whip your clutter into shape. No more Mr. Nice Guy, you're in control here. Get out a nice big garbage bag and get rid of 10 things per day. Important: Do not peek in aforementioned bag! Consider it your own personal black hole - once something is in there, that's it, it's gone and there's no going back. No rescue missions!

To Toss or Not To Toss

I can hear shrieks of horror at the mere mention of the "T" word, the most dreaded four letter word in the English language, striking fear in the hearts of clutterbugs worldwide. When making this heart-wrenching yet supremely important decision - to toss or not to toss - it's helpful to have a few guidelines up your sleeve. Keep a copy of these thought-provoking questions nearby for easy reference at those moments when you're second-guessing yourself.

1. Have I needed/used this item in the past 6 months?
2. What's the worst that could happen if I never even had this thing?
3. Does having this around me make me feel good, healthy, happy or uplifted?
4. If my house were on fire and I could only take 10 things with me, would this be one of them?

Let's Play "Rate Your Clutter"

Some clutter is easily tossable for obvious reasons. Other clutter just cries out to be kept but keeping it was what got you into this mess in the first place. We need to be ruthless. Choose one especially perplexing item and apply the 4 questions above to that item. Answer honestly.

Now, circle the number before each question for which you've given an answer beginning with the letter "N" ... namely "No," "Nothing" or "Never" ... or any other negative response. Total up all the numbers you've circled.

Your Score

0 - 4 : If you absolutely must, keep this item with my blessings.
5 - 7 : Consider lightening your load by ridding yourself of this item.
8 - 9 : Toss this thing! You'll never even miss it!
10 : I beg of you, please! Get our your trash bag now! What is there to even think about?

By filling up your trash bag (and then putting it out for the garbage man, this is important: it doesn't count if the bag doesn't leave your house!) you are doing yourself a great service. "Peace of mind" I believe it's called. Each item in the bag is one less thing to worry about, one less thing to care for, freeing up space for the things that are truly important to you. Surround yourself only with what you need, what empowers you, inspires you and brings you joy. Lighten your load starting today.

This article was inspired by one of the most organized and clutter-free people I know, Bob D. A million thank-you's to Bob for his willingness to listen, contribute and inspire ... and for humoring me enough to write his ideas down for me so I can remember it all! He truly rocks!

I welcome you to share your own personal stories and comments. Get in touch: I'd love to hear from you!

Artwork and Text © 2002 Raphael Blue