Thursday, June 18, 2009

Clutter Control Experts and other resources

We have talked a lot about weeding and throwing away clutter that has accumulated around our houses, but it is also essential not to allow new clutter from entering our lives and re-cluttering spaces that we have worked so hard to clear. We need to develop as much discipline to stop the incoming clutter as we have devoted to strategies to rid ourselves of what we already have.

Yesterday I quoted some tips from Outwitting Clutter by Bill Adler Jr. (Lyons Press, 2002). I like a lot of what I read in this book, so I went to the Internet to see if Bill Adler was a clutter control expert, like Jamie Novak. I found out that Bill Adler is part of a company called Adler and Robin Books, Inc. who do a series, not of clutter control books, but a series of "Outwitting" books! He has written books such as Outwitting Squirrels, Outwitting Toddlers, Outwitting Neighbors, Outwitting Mice, Outwitting the Adoption Maze, etc. Bill Adler Jr. seems to be an expert on outwitting all of the annoying, complicated or challenging things in our lives. As he says on his webpage: "Outwitting means coming up with some clever new tricks, looking at the problem from an offbeat perspective; in today's business jargon, 'thinking outside the box.'" ( I like these descriptions when applied to our mission to fight the clutter in our lives - using new tricks, offbeat strategies, etc. Bill Adler himself describes our goal as "the battle over clutter. " He says that "warfare is a good metaphor to help you achieve your goal. You must never let down your guard. Don't let clutter sneak up on you. Clutter is cleaver - it will often disguise itself as something benign." He points out that saving things for an eventual need, that are easily gotten when the need arises, should be avoided. He also cautions against buying the super-sized supply of essentials in bulk if you don't have enough super-sized storage space in bulk. The savings overall are often not worth the cost that having these items around and under foot bring you in terms of added stress and diminished time. He identifies another class of clutter as the things that come into your house unbidden such as the glass vase that comes with a gift of flowers. He reminds us that we rarely get flowers without another of these vases and if we should get fresh cut flowers, we probably all have a much nicer vase that we would rather use than one that came free. He gives us permission to just discard these items he calls "Trojan Clutter Horses" and he says we should "aggressively, even ruthlessly, defend our homes against them!"

If you can't bear to just throw away "a perfectly good vase" or the extra rolls of toilet paper beyond what we could possible use in our lifetime, you should find ways to quickly donate them. I know that some churches divide large flower arrangements that decorate the sanctuary on a Sunday morning into smaller arrangements that are delivered to shut-ins. These churches will often welcome vases that they can use to make up these smaller, deliverable arrangements. And many charitable organizations like food banks, pet shelters and daycare centers will certainly take any extra paper towel rolls or jumbo sized boxes of trash can liners that you may have been tempted to buy by the gross only to find that you really don't have room for them. You can make up a receipt including the approximate cost of these items and have the organization sign the receipt for you to use for a tax deduction at tax time.

Be vigilant and you will soon be victorious over the clutter!

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