How Do You Know You Need to Declutter?

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

Cindy

While we have plenty of old pros here at 365 Less Things, we have plenty of drop-by readers and lurkers, some of whom are probably in denial about their need to declutter. So here’s my checklist, roughly arranged from the most obvious to the most subtle clues that you should use if you think that maybe you don’t really need to declutter.

  • You rent a storage unit.
  • Your garage, basement, or attic looks like a storage unit.
  • You have a whole room devoted to storage.
  • You have a door in your home that you cannot open.
  • You have a door in your home that you cannot open safely or without throwing your body in front of the opening as you pull on the door.
  • You wish you had a room that you could devote to storage.
  • Or worse, you are considering moving or adding on to your home, just for storage.
  • You sometimes wish that your house would just burn down so you wouldn’t have to deal with it any more.
  • Your friends offer to come over and help you get organized.
  • You are surrounded by possessions that you do not like or enjoy.
  • You are surrounded by possessions that were given to you by someone who is dead, and you do not like and enjoy them.
  • You believe that more storage is the solution to your problems.
  • You do not have friends or family over.
  • When friends and family do come over, you need at least a week’s notice, and it’s a stressful week.
  • You cannot use the furniture as it is intended to be used because it is used as storage.
  • You have make-shift storage (i.e. overflowing baskets, laundry baskets, a bunch of stuff bundled up into a table cloth and hidden in the garage, etc.)
  • You got remarried, moved in with parents, etc., and now you have two (at least!) of everything.
  • Anyone has ever said the words “fire hazard” while looking around you home.
  • Anyone has ever said the words “estate sale” while looking around your home.
  • Your closets are so full that you have to use your body as a wedge to get something in or out.
  • You shop and hide the evidence.
  • You shop for non-consumables more than once a month.
  • Shopping is your favorite hobby – or one of them.
  • You buy things because they are a bargain.
  • You buy things because you “might” need it and aren’t sure if you already own one.
  • You buy duplicates because you don’t know what you have or where it is.
  • You buy for a current hobby at a rate that outpaces your ability to do that hobby.  (You buy dozens of books at a time, dozens of yarns skeins , dozens of patterns, hundreds of Legos, etc.)
  • You don’t overbuy on yourself, but on your children or grandchildren…well that’s another matter.
  • Your living room looks like a preschool classroom.
  • Your children don’t play with half their toys. They don’t even know what half their toys are!
  • You pulled a bunch of stuff out of a closet to organize it, and it’s been sitting outside the closet for more than two weeks, with no progress being made.
  • The phrases “I might need it some day” “I’ve never used/opened that” “But I spent so much money on it” and “I intend to do XX project with that some day” have come of out your mouth sometime in the past 6 months.
  • You don’t know what’s in the boxes in your attic, basement, garage, storage unit, etc.
  • If the IRS (or your country’s taxing agency) called you for an audit, you could not lay your hands on the proper paperwork in less than 5 minutes.
  • You pay bills late because you don’t know where they are.
  • Your pantry looks like it is the store.
  • You regularly throw foods away because they’re expired, you bought too much, or you do not like what you purchased.
  • You have supplies for crafts or hobbies that you no longer do/enjoy.
  • You cannot find everything in your house in less than 5 minutes.
  • You have ever uttered the phrase “It’s in one of five places.”
  • You own duplicates of useful items, but you really only need one.
  • In the past year, you have not given away, sold, or donated any goods to charity.
  • You have to step around anything on your floors, except furniture.
  • You love to save little goodies from your travels, but you never look back on them.
  • You take dozens of pictures at every conceivable event.
  • You never delete an email.
  • You save articles on decluttering and organization, but that’s as far as it goes.
  • You have a sofa or bed side table that’s actually a stack of reading material.
  • You have clothes in more than two sizes.
  • You think that if you just had a $1000 gift card to The Container Store, everything would be all right.
I’ll confess that I knew it was time to declutter and organize long, long before I did because
  • My friends offered to help me get organized.
  • I did not know where “away” was. (As in the phrase, “I’ll put this away. Where does it go?”)
  • My furniture was being used as storage.
  • I had laundry baskets of storage all over the house.
  • I did not have friends or family over. (We had several years of birthday parties at Grandma’s house, for example. Now we frequently have parties and gatherings.)
  • My living room looked like a messy preschool classroom.
  • I wished that my house would burn down.
I’m sure I left some ideas off this list. How did you know it was time to declutter?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter under the bed ~ One young reader (not mentioning any names) was decluttering under her bed last week due to Moni’s blog post. I don’t need to tell you how much easier it is to keep this area dust and lint free when there is nothing to clean around or move.

Today’s Declutter Item

Here is something that was being stored in a drawer under the end of my bed until they were sold on ebay recently.

Bib and Brace Ski Pants

Something to be grateful for today

I have been making progress on our household inventory. It has been a good opportunity to do some declutter fine tuning in the kitchen. It should be plain sailing after the kitchen is out of the way because that is where most of the small individual items are.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Day 127 Snow gear eBay sale Previously I mentioned how a change of  location and or lifestyle can have an impact on the necessity for certain  items around your home. Our move from Seattle in the USA back to […]
  • Day 277 A declutter gift Just a quick post to prove to you that I do practice what I preach even when social convention challenges me to have second thoughts. This weekend we took a trip interstate to be involved […]
  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom – Reaching into the Archives Cindy's Weekly Wisdom I revisted the archives from September 1, 2010 for this post. It was titled "Cindy's Take on Avoiding Recluttering." This time I have published it with gift buying […]

Comments

  1. Superb list Cindy!
    When did I know it was time to declutter?
    1)When I was embarrassed when people called round
    2) When I wanted to show my then boyfriend (now husband 🙂 )that there was room in my home for a life together, not just my stuff.
    3) When I wanted to stop using our den as a bed-sittingroom and create a small separate bedroom for us from the back bedroom we used for storage as we combined two lives.

  2. Superb! Thank you Katharine!

    Colleen – I can’t believe you have more ski stuff! It’s like baseball clutter.

    • Most of the ski stuff sold on ebay a month or two ago but I had one hanger-on which still hasn’t appeared yet ~ it finally sold on the third attempt. I had been getting ahead of myself with decluttered items so I could sit back and relax during my convalescing, while still having a thing a day to post on the blog. So I am pleased to say that there is no longer any ski clothes in our house. Although I think there may be a snowboard lurking in the garage under stairs cupboard. The garage is high on our list of decluttering priorities once I am 100%. It is funny thought because while offloading yet another item of clutter to a friend’s husband the other day he commented that our garage must be the most organised one he has ever seen. I personally thought it was a mess at the time.

      • You have the neatest garage I’ve ever seen Colleen!

      • Colleen – I found in the archives a post you wrote on your garage which had before and after photos. The after photos were further down and so I was ‘wow-ing’ over the before photo and saying that was what I wanted to achieve.

        • Hi Moni,
          I can tend to set some pretty high standards at time. Perhaps I need to do the before and after garage shots again. Being as it is the transit area for the clutter in our house it tend to go in waves of looking messy and then looking better again. One man’s messy is another man’s wow thats tidy I suppose.

          • LOL – at the time I was just starting decluttering as in a daily event decluttering not a token effort a couple of times a year effort. And at the time we didn’t have room for the car in the garage as it would have been a jungle expedition to get across the floor thru all the stuff. Now, if something gets put on the garage floor it irritates the heck out of me and stands out. I wish I’d done before photos but was too embarressed at the time.

  3. Great list Cindy. I knew I needed to declutter when I began to feel stressed by all the “Stuff” we had and then when we moved and had all this “stuff” to pack and find places for in the new house.

    Colleen, I’m glad you are making progress on the inventory. I need to do that so we have an idea what we have.

    • When we moved to this house, we moved more than was needed, and I had to declutter as I unpacked. Duh! You’re supposed to do that AS you pack, Cindy!

  4. Ideealistin :

    You managed to make me laugh and cringe at the same time, Cindy!
    I am afraid, more than a year of decluttering consciously (and years of dilly dally before that, not really knowing what to do/how to do it properly) I still have to answer too many questions of that with yes or at least with sort of or sometimes …
    Way to go. Please keep on making me laugh/cringe 😉

    • I have to say “yes” to two of the things on my list right now, too. My desk is a mess, and we pulled everything out of the art closet a couple weeks ago. We made some progress for a couple of days and then we stalled out…

  5. This made me laugh at first and then it made me cry (might be the pregnancy hormones though). I´ve been steadily decluttering for a year now and I´m starting to see the good things. For me I started decluttering after we moved and I could not figure how we could have so much stuff at the old place, nor did I know where to put it. Also I hate cleaning up, so everything that did not have an easily accesible ´home´ stayed where it had been used last, causing the problem of not being able to find anything. thus now everything has to fit the cupboards with ease.

    Today I spent the day at my parents house because due to maintenance work we were shut of from the watersupply. I feel my hands itching to start clearing, sorting organizing and rent a skip (or two). Instead I prepared food just now (waiting for the others to come home) and I was getting more and more agitated. Drawers that are so full they are hard to open or close, pots and pans in 4 different places, a 2 persons household with more than 10 pots and pans. Food out of date, cupboards so crammed full with stuff that nothing can be found and I am not even bothered to start searching. I can not believe I grew up in this house.

    • I’ll take credit for laughing and blame preg. hormones for crying. Also, I blame the state of your parents house for the tears. It’s hard when you realize something about your childhood wasn’t like what you thought it was.

  6. I am so pleased, if that’s allowed 🙂 that I have decluttered under all beds except my son’s. I discovered we had carpet moth in our bedroom last week – fortunately at the cases rather than the hatched out stage. So we did an enormous clean and I said to my DH that I wasn’t going to just stuff things back under the bed. So now there is nearly nothing 🙂

    Did the same for the girls just in case as they have the same carpet as us, although found no sign.

    DS has a totally synthetic carpet plus under his bed are those “things” that small boys like to collect! I’ve finally managed to sort out their memory boxes and so I have freed up a sensible sized, but still small box and have told him he’s allowed to fill it but no more. So he will have to edit ruthlessly. But that job can wait until school is out next week.

    • Sorry that it was moths that got you started, but glad that you were able to successfully clean. Way to go!

  7. Great list 🙂
    I was house-sitting recently and the first thing I did was clear the kitchen cupboard (the Scandinavian style where the shelves are actually dish drainers at the same time) because I could not stand to do the dishes while every darn time a plastic cup or something more hazardous fell on my head.. The drawers that were hard to open and close baffled me too.. how can someone NOT get irritated by them and just chuck half the stuff?

  8. I’m personally not a fan of open shelving. My logic is that either the view will be unattractive or you’ll have a lot more than you need because you’ll fill the open shelves with pretty dishes and cups just so you have a good look. Now I can add to that list: and something will fall on you while you wash dishes.

    • HI Cindy, I bought a place with open shelves. I didn’t have lots of ‘stuff’ when I bought, so as I got cups/mugs/plates I thought about the open shelves. I’d like to think it looks nice, whilst largely functional (though I do see a LOT of photos where they have specially bought ‘pretty’ stuff for the open shelves and I think ‘what a waste’). I’d be happy to send you a photo (and for you to contradict/challenge my idea of whether it’s more functional or pretty!

      • I have partly open shelving, too. I like it. It holds the plates and mugs we use (and clean) almost daily, so there is little dusting.

        • I hate open shelves simply because dust settles on them and on anything stored there. If they are in the kitchen fine airborne fat particles from cooking also settles on them.

          • Agreed, there is a level of dust/fat splatter… But given how little light I get, the glass shelves are logical, they let the light get to more places, easily. And I add ‘wipe down shelves’ to my to do list regularly! The stuff on them is used enough that it doesn’t get dirty (except a few top shelf items on lower rotation)

  9. I thought of another item for the list:
    When you yell and make empty, angry threats to other people in your house. “If you don’t clean this up, no birthday gifts for you!” “I’m just going to throw everything in this room away if you don’t get in her and clean RIGHT NOW!”

  10. And here’s another one: I used to get anxious when the house was clean because it was just a matter of time (short time) before it fell back into disorder.

  11. I knew it was time to declutter when we moved to a smaller house and everything wouldn’t fit in. I did the usual declutter of enough stuff so it did fit but it took another two and a half years to come to the conclusion that we still really had too much stuff. Deciding to move to a small place in our retirement was the inspiration to start truly decluttering. By that I mean getting rid of all of the stuff that is unused or in excess that is wasting space in my home.

    I love your list Cindy, I think I will make a guide out of it. I am pleased to say thought that there weren’t that many items on the list that I had to admit to ~ even at the worst of times.

  12. Hi Cindy I love this article – priceless – can’t stop laughing and yes I’m cringing because this was me a year ago.

    Do you want to add: You arrive home with unexpected guests and they think your house must have been trashed by burglars.

    • That one could work both ways Moni. Someone might say that because there seems to be so little in the house that there had been a robbery.

      • Hi Colleen – it was a very hilarious moment in my life. It was my early decluttering days…..so there is all this stuff around the place to begin with and then I’d flung open all the cupboard doors and pulled everything out and then did the same with the drawers. At this point I had to down tools and run up the road to collect one of my kids and as I returned a sis-in-law was waiting at the front door. Priceless.

  13. I clearly remember the first time: I stood in my kitchen and declared to myself that I would rather have less stuff than have to deal with the clutter. Since then, I’ve been on the journey. Even so, I still look around and know I have more to do. When we moved a few years ago from a very large 4 bedroom house (2 kids still at home) to a very tiny 3 bedroom place (two of the rooms hardly qualified as bedrooms) (finally empty nesters) I was resentful at first but then I rejoiced–less stuff! Gladly, I began just giving more and more things away. Now we’re in a 2 bedroom home with no garage–that has really caused me to be diligent at decluttering.

    • Colleen, WHY are you making that household inventory list? Insurance? Personal interest? Future move?

    • I was thinking the other day that I could live in a smaller home, but there’s no way that we’re moving, so I’ll just have to think it. : )

  14. When my dh and I first married we moved into his family home. Imagine 30 years worth of things not being thrown/given away and lots of closets and other areas to fill. There were so many times I wished the place would just burn down so I wouldn’t have to do the decluttering. Happily, we decided to move to another state at the other side of the country, so major decluttering took place. We still moved way more than we should have. Now, 7 years later, I’m finally beginning to feel as though I have a slight handle on things. As the children grow older we’re slowly able to get rid of more things, and I’m learning to be more sensible about what I bring in and what I am able to let go of painlessly. It’s ongoing, but no more wishes that fire will clean up for me–yeah!

    • My cousins moved into my grandparent’s home after they passed. 68 years of accumulated possessions plus what my cousins brought. They’re still way, way over supplied. I know they’re glad to live there, but I bet they wish it had been emptied first.

  15. Hi again – I too had laundry baskets everywhere – as they were emptied and decommissioned from clutter storing service……well I’ve ended up with quite a stack in my garage – 7 regular size ones – 12 mini size ones (roughly 1/2 the size, they’re rather cute).

    When I would do the vacuuming and mopping I would end up with so many baskets and boxes being lifted up onto the table or the couch it was crazy. I wonder what I had in them?

    • That is a lot of baskets! I only recently (due to pinterest) realised people have one per person in the house – I think we’ve had 2-3 max in our family of 5, cause they are just for lugging washing from machine to line and back. I have two (living alone) so one can always ‘catch’ my towel at the foot of the bath, if the other is with the wet/dry washing on the balcony/in the living room. I’d love to see these mini ones! They sound sweet!

      • Hi Snosie – I know! Its insane isn’t it! I just asked hubby if he knew what I used them for, and duh, yeah of course I should have thought of that. I sew for our dance school for the annual concert in December which adds a six hour day on top of my normal working day. Apparently I bought extra regular size baskets last year as I had to sew 6 flamenco dresses and there are so many pieces for each dress and the combination of pieces varies according their dress size. It was a bit like sewing 6 four tier wedding dresses. So I can allow myself that one.

        The mini ones – I recall now that I saved 6 from being thrown out at work, the rest are mine and used to serve as drawers in my craft cupboard and a couple for housing junior size costumes until I delivered them. Not so bad I guess. I will see how many I actually need this year and freecycle the rest out.

        But I have this affinity with baskets and boxes – even ones from the supermarket I am reluctant to get rid of. I have to be careful of that.

        • There you go Moni, at least you know how they all made it into your house! I love the sound of these dresses! (not the 6 extra hours of work a day though!)

          • Hi Snosie – what I don’t understand is why I didn’t go to the supermarket and get free banana boxes that I could have gotten rid of later!

      • I have one tub for my boyfriend and I. It’s a lidded Rubbermaid storage tub – perfect for hauling laundry around. I used to use laundry hampers and laundry tubs, but I realised that I never actually was able to use them correctly. I have a scar on my leg from where one of them scratched me. I suppose a mini one could be useful in our bathroom, but we have a four cubby unit – one for towels, one for misc. bathroom supplies, one for “temporary use only” – i.e. your clothes you’ll put on after a shower, and one that used to be empty, but became a laundry cubby. It never overflows (It’s usually underwear and socks), so it’s a good size. I’ll probably put a box there or something though… I have a lot from packing everything up.

        • I did have a laundry basket when we first moved into this house but I did’t like it taking up space in our tiny laundry come toilet room. So I bought what was marketed as a grocery trolly bag. It has metal bars with hooks to attach to your grocery cart and the bag is made of some sort of nylon. It is big enough to hold a load of washing and the best part is I can fold it up and put it in the laundry cupboard when not in use.

    • I just cleaned around them. No lifting at this house.

  16. I’m definitely on the “makeshift storage” thing. While the majority of the house is clean, there is still a large shelving unit full of stuff in the closet that needs to be gotten rid of. I managed to do a good job of only moving things out that had a place, but that meant that a lot of stuff has stayed put since then. (I started working 40+ hours a week and spending weekends volunteering… where does the time go?) Fortunately I should have about three weeks off at the end of summer before school starts to really churn through all the things that need donating. I’d really like to be able to clean out the shelf so that I can move it upstairs. I don’t have a dresser, and much of my wardrobe is more suited to a dresser/shelving sort of thing than hanging, and I don’t want to buy a dresser. I’m happy with how clean my bedroom is staying though. I perceive that by the end of my schooling, I will have all of my regular-use items pared down, and hopefully will have started working on the sentimental school stuff at my parents house. If not, then I will likely have a storage room when I move out…. hopefully not though (though if I do, it will have to get clean since it would be a kid’s bedroom in the future).

    • You’re obviously busy, so this will have to be a one thing a day project. Chip away at it, and it will get accomplished.

  17. Ideealistin :

    „Your attic looks like a storage unit.”
    As this one resonated with me especially I went up there immediately yesterday (I had felt ready for it for a while but Cindy gave me the last kick to actually start on it) and filled three wire baskets with stuff to donate. When I admired the lot it dawned on my that it was at least 50% stuff I had taken from my grandmothers house when she downsized in spring 2011 … Oh, why could I have not been wiser back then?! (There was pressure of time and there was pressure of not wanting to hurt an old lady’s feelings – however, I should have been much more restrictive …)

    • Yes, it unfortunate that the stuff every made it into your attic, but at least your correcting the situation now. My attic storage is camping gear (used several times yearly), holiday items (Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc.), the dresser from Clara’s room that matches her set, 2 fans that I usually pull out in the summer, and the left over tile from our remodel. The tiler advised me always to save the leftovers, since you can’t match them later, and I think that’s very wise advise. Besides the tile and the dresser, nothing up there is in perpetual storage.

      • Ideealistin :

        Hhmrph!
        My attic space will need many, many more decluttering sessions but I have to admit I am happy to have it – even though it drives me crazy and I hoarded way too much stuff up there over the years.
        „Out of sight, out of mind“ may be hazardous when it comes to dealing with the clutter but it does work wonders for me when it comes to attachment. Of course I hope that I won’t need that anymore some time in the future and that I will make wiser decisions from the start then.

        • Hi Ideealistin – I too would like to get back up into my ceiling space – it is 3/4 done – but winter arrived and it was just too cold to be up there – and because my garage which is below it was clear for the first time in …. well, ever, I’m not in a hurry to mess it up, even if temporarily. Roll on Spring and I’ll dig in again.

  18. Well, my final kock was moving together with my boyfriend and the sorting through stuff because of that (on the one hand we had duplicates and on the other we were missing quite a few things, as we lived in shared flats before the move – then there was relatives moving to a nursing home and questions about what we could need of their things). There were permanently boxes on the floor, underneath sofas and bed and on top of wardrobes etc. I was fantasizing about an additional dresser and wondering at the same time where to put it.

    However, reading your list shows me my weaknesses. I am a sucker for shopping/acquiring – I still sometimes buy stuff, just because it’s cute or pick up things when they are free. I am also doing terrible in the e-clutter and paper clutter – department. Although I did get better, I’m still far from “regular decluttering” in these areas.

    • Shopping and adding is half the equation Sanna. You can’t pare down when the flow in matches the flow out.

      As for email clutter, you’ll laugh at this. My 12 year old recently got her own email. She was looking at my email and said, “Oh (disgusted sound), how can you keep you many email? That’s a mess!)” I just looked. At this moment, I have a total of 40 email in my inbox. Sure, I could trim down a bit more, but it made me laugh that she thought this was such a mess.

      • Of course, shopping is not equating decluttering these days. Still, I think, I’m a little shopaholic, as I still do a lot of window-shopping and occassionally do bring home something just for the fun of it.
        It’s way less than most people think normal though.

  19. I have been wanting to declutter my garage for years. I have accumulated my relatives’, (grandparents, parents and uncle)who have all past away in a ten year periord, stuff. I have been embarrassed to keep my garage door open for too long because it has been such a mess inside. I have just recently decided to keep one box of things from my relatives that have past on and not feel guilty about the things I choose to pass on to others (it’s funny how both people and things pass on).

    Thanks to your blog I have been decluttering my garage for the past week. I think about how great it is going to feel when it is empty. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up. I have an “itch” to work on it all of the time.

    I am no longer concerned about how much money an item could bring me if I sold some of the items. I do not have the time or energy to sell it all. More importantly, the sense of feeling free of all the stuff is more valuable than the money I could make.

    I also know that my deceased relatives would not want me to feel burdened by their things. They would want me to enjoy my own life. I would want the same for my children.

    I am grateful for your blog and look forward to reading it every day. I have to go tackle some clutter now, and I can’t wait!

    • Hi Stephanie, Welcome to 365 Less Things. I’m so glad that we’ve been inspiring you. I only recently have managed to clean my own garage to the point where I can park our van inside. (We only have one vehicle.) I ran out onto the driveway and shouted up and down the street, “I did it. THE VAN IS IN THE GARAGE.” (You don’t have to celebrate like that; that’s just me. It was wonderful. Keep at it!

    • Welcome to 365 Less Things from me to Stephanie. I love your attitude, approaching each day of decluttering your garage with happy anticipation. GOOD FOR YOU!!! That is how I approach my decluttering too and have done from the start. I have had to take it easy over the last four weeks but now that I am feeling better again my attitude to commencing decluttering again is Bring It ON. I am sure your enthusiasm blossomed the minute you decided it was time to let go.

    • Me too I can relate to this.

  20. oh what a brilliant list – and so many peeps i’m tempted to forward it to – but that might be dangerous – cos I am that friend who has already offered to lend a hand, lol and I could be entering nagigator territory, lol (love that word – stole it from here somewhere).
    For my dad it would be – when the ceiling starts to sag and cracks appear in the plasterwork as well as lots of others on the above list
    For me – my stress levels go through the roof when i cant shut drawers, trip over things, feel I can’t move – i really need space and clear surfaces to feel calm – and i realised about a year ago i was becoming dangerously close to not being able to shut drawers, OH was wishing he’d built a bigger garage and my shed was a ‘shed’! etc. even though i consider myself to be fairly good at the if in doubt, ‘chuck it out’ philosophy, things had crept in and I’d taken my eye off the ball.

  21. Julia St. Charles :

    Love this list! I might suggest a few modest modifications, simply because some occasional readers take things very literally:

    You have a storage room that IS NOT TEMPORARY, NOT USED FOR A BUSINESS, and is used for things you do NOT need or use. For example, some people rent a storage unit as a place to store a parent’s estate until items are sold, or to empty a house of all but bare necessities during a renovation, etc.

    Hobby supplies: not every quilter or knitter works on just one project at a time. Most fabric and yarn hobbyists get “inspired” to make something, rather than, “I need a blue sweater, I will go out and buy exactly enough yarn for a blue sweater.” Some people have a complex project going for when they have a good amount of sit-down time, as well as a small project or two requiring little concentration — something to carry around to make use of odd moments, like waiting at the doctor’s office. If you are serious about a hobby — doing it once a week or more is a good rule of thumb — it’s okay to have an amount of yarn or fabric beyond your immediate needs, IF supplies are well organized and do not exceed space allowed for them to occupy (a designated closet or container).

    Good quality yarn and fabric is expensive, and some of us who are close to retirement build a stash of yarns we KNOW we will use in the future, when perhaps we will not have much discretionary money for yarn/fabric purchases. These should be items purchased like “stock” items in your pantry — if you will, the “rice, sugar and flour” of yarn and fabric (things you use most often) — and not random sparkly items you purchased on impulse or JUST because they were on sale with no firm idea as to their future use. You should organize hobby supplies in appropriate containers, and set a limit on how much space those containers can consume.

    A good self evaluation for hobbyists: if you occasionally knit a few scarves at Christmas or sew a baby quilt once every few years, you definitely should not have dozens of bins and bags of yarn and fabric. A very serious hobbyist should perhaps have a closet, wardrobe, or a few large bins devoted to their supplies, and this should be very neatly organized.

    Thanks for your wonderful article.

  22. Great List! And almost everything seems to be so familar to me… but luckily from the past!
    It was 2004, I was living for 2 years in my own house. The floor of my cellar rooms was completely covered with stuff. 100m² of cellar!
    Just to make clear that you did not get me wrong: I was living alone in that house.
    Coming from an “only-child-dynasty” I was totally overloaded with everything.
    I made big big declutter action. Filled bin liner after bin liner and stopped only when I became afraid if I can still pass my gateway with the car.
    Proudly I checked my cellar rooms… and no significant change was visible 🙁
    Anyway, this was the day where I started to work on that matter. Same time I started as well to write declutter tasks for a housekeeping internet forum to take other people with me on that journey.

  23. “Your living room looks like a preschool classroom.” This is what my living room looks like!

  24. How did our club know it was time to declutter? Group think has some different aspects to home clutter…

    Thanks for the great article!

    http://minimalistmum.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/taking-decluttering-public-group-clutter.html