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Clearing Out The Clutter

by | Sep 2, 2007 | Domesticity, Organization

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Clearing Out The Clutter

Being in a creative profession (interior design) and needing my daily dose of creativity for my personal happiness, I am always torn between a range of thoughts. Do I create or find something new today, rearrange something I already have, or forsake all creativity and simply clear out the clutter?

I can tell you, clearing out the clutter never sounds nearly as appealing as heading out to find something new. Or simply shutting the door to the mess and getting busy with something else more fun or more enjoyable. Creative people tend to enjoy the idea of organization, but not the process of clearing out clutter. The idea involves the end result — things like neatly folded stacks of fabric or towels, pretty paper covered boxes or antique jars filled with colored pencils and art supplies. And that desire for beauty can be motivational to creative types. But the reality of clearing out the clutter involves involves cobwebs, dusty boxes in dark garages and decisions. Not just pretty containers. Bleech.

But this weekend, I have waged another attack on clutter. Seems like that is a lifelong process for me — having moved so much we always seem to be getting new things and not sure what to do with the old. After moving in our home four years ago, remodeling and fixing up our house, my parents selling one house and remodeling another, two grandparents passing on, kids growing out of toys and strollers, we ended up with a LOT of stuff. Even though we give A LOT of stuff away, somehow there is always more. Transitions have a way of multiplying things, have you noticed that? Wonderful stuff, but just TOO much of it.

Stuff my kids wanted me to keep for them “someday”, stuff I might recover, paint, re-do, need in a pinch, stuff I could use if I ever had a fancy party, extra stuff, things to give away, sell…you name it, everything had a reason for being there. Or I should say, an excuse for being there.

Clutter stifles me. It weighs me down to where I just can’t function or create new things. Just knowing I need to deal with it can be like a ball and chain. A noose around my neck. But parting with it can be equally distressing. What if you give away something you find next week could’ve been used in your new bedroom! What if you donate something and then your sister asks “What ever happened to that…”. Or when things slow down in life and you finally have time to repaint that cute lamp, you kick yourself because you no longer have it? Or maybe next year you will have enough money to recover that chair that you sold for $10 at a garage sale? I think too much. That’s the problem. I need to get ruthless.

Clearing out the clutter requires courage. Faith that you will somehow get by in spite of the “what ifs”. It requires letting go of the objects associated with random memories. Being generous with others. Making room in your life for what is really important to you. It requires getting real about your life and what you really need. I mean, how many coffee pots do you really need? With the advent of ipods, do you need a gigantic extra stereo system with six components? Do you need four Makita drills? When your kids are over the age of seven, do you still need the baby cradle, three strollers, or a wagon? It requires time to devote to a task that will NOT be fun or creative, but be very rewarding in the end.

So while I am chomping at the bit to get started on my new bedroom, or painting my son’s desk red, or finding some new lamps for my living room, I just knew those things had to wait this weekend. First things first. And it is taking all of my restraint to not head out to The Container Store right now to stuff all the clutter into nifty containers and call it done! The creative persons solution to clutter management! Nope, if it is not nailed down, I am heading it out.

I am simplifying my life. Eek! Here I go.

For more inspiration on simplifying your life, check out My Simpler Life

For tips and support on managing clutter and routines, visit Flylady

For products to hide your clutter, or organize stuff you really do need, visit: The Container Store


  1. bigdadgib

    How nice…

    Great blog here :)

  2. Esther Sunday

    Perfectly worded!!! Soooo difficult. You go girl. But this is so funny. I read this post and then popped up into the next one – Girlfriend – what happened? It made me laugh!! I do the exact same thing! The intentions are good and then you start to drift… and create… and forget the feed the kids…
    I tried to click into the show, but it appears I need to sign up with Yahoo to do so? No problem, but I so tired from all “my good intentions” today that I cannot think up yet another password. Will do so tomorrow, as I am anxious to see your slide show! Love, Esther

  3. melissamichaels

    Oh, oops…OK, I think I fixed it. Sorry Esther! You know my technical skills need some work…

  4. Rhoda

    Hi, Melissa! Loved your slideshow…wow, I just love your house. You have done a great job with it, I hope you’ll show more complete rooms too. Those litte snippets made me want to see more. I do believe we have a lot in common, old furniture, lamps, iron, beautiful wood, garden stuff. I love your style. Thanks for coming by to see me! I’m trying desperately to keep up with all my favorite’s hard!


  5. Karen

    I loooooove to de-clutter…is that a sickness? Remember in Top Gun that line, “I feel the need…the need for speed.” My version is “I feel the need…the need to weed.”

  6. Beth Dargis

    Thanks for mentioning me here Melissa!

  7. Irene

    I’m also terrible at cleaning out my stuff. But what works great for me is take a picture of all those things you keep because there is a memory attached.

    So instead of keeping a broken ashtray because my parents gave it to me while we were on vacation in Turkey, I took a photo and could throw away the ashtray itself. The memory of our holiday together is as vivid when I look at the photo as it was when I saw the ashtray itself.
    For me this works great. I finally can throw things away without feeling guilty.


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