What Kind of Clutter is That?

Australia-dayBefore we begin reading today’s wonderful post by Cindy I just wanted to wish all my fellow Aussies a Happy Australia Day

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

I just started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. I was attracted to it because, well, who wouldn’t want to be happier, and also because I read that Ms. Rubin’s first task in pursuit of happiness was decluttering her closet. Now there’s an idea I can get behind!

Here’s how she describes her first adventure: “When I had finished…I could see huge patches of the back of my closet. I no longer felt drained; instead, I felt exhilarated. No more being confronted with my mistakes! No more searching in frustration for a particular white button-down shirt!” Doesn’t that make you want to run straight to your own closet?

In thinking about her own clutter, Ms. Rubin breaks it apart into categories, and I like her divisions. They are

  1. Nostalgic clutter – “Relics I clung to from my earlier life.” Sports trophies and my husband’s college lecture notes fall into this category.
  2. Conservation clutter – Things which have been hung onto to because they’re useful, even though they are not (or are no longer) useful to you. Winter coats and sweaters when you no longer live in a cold climate or a bunch of bud vases that have built up over time are conservation clutter.
  3. Bargain clutter and its twin Freebie clutter – Deal too good to be true? Or, better yet, free? That’s where bargain and freebie clutter come from.  (You can read a post on freebies here http://www.365lessthings.com/?p=597.)
  4. Crutch clutter – Items that are worn out and should have been replaced, possibly years ago, but you continue on with them. You love them! You need them! . . . No, really, you don’t.
  5. Aspirational clutter – I love this category. This is the things that you own that you aspire to use, but don’t. Craft and hobby clutter or a fabulous evening gown could fall into this category.
  6. Outgrown clutter – Ms. Rubin sees this as the flip side of aspirational clutter. This is the stuff that you aspired to use, then did use, and now no longer use, but still have.
  7. Buyer’s remorse clutter – I think this is a tough category for a lot of people. It’s hard to admit that you made a bad purchase but hanging onto it is not going to improve the situation.

When you declutter today, ask yourself, What category of clutter is this?

Today’s Declutter Item

It was my stupid idea to buy this video camera years ago. I soon realised I didn’t want to see every event in our lives through a camera lens. Needless to say it hardly got used but now it has a new home thanks to the wonders of eBay. It sold be a mere $51.00. That’s one more piece of guilt clutter eliminated from my life.

Video Camera 26JAN2011

Things I am grateful for today

  • Bridget (my daughter) made it to the next round of interviews with the defence recruiters today – She is hoping to follow in her fathers footsteps.
  • Realising a task was easier than I expected it to be – I thought it was going to be a pain making a pavlova for Australia Day was going to be more of a bother than it turned out to be.
  • Living in a country full of opportunity, abundance and freedom of choice – Not everyone can enjoy such liberty.
  • Lots of good responses to yesterday’s post
  • Receiving an invitation – Even if I couldn’t make it, it is still nice to be asked.

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]


  1. Happy Australia Day to you!!! Celebrate your heart out…


  2. Good post, Cindy. I could identify items currently in my house and already removed that fit in every category.

  3. Great post Cindy! Buyer’s remorse clutter has been tough for me until I learned to forgive myself for making a mistake purchase. Getting those mistakes out of the house feels great! 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing Ms. Rubin’s categories–like Willow, I can easily find or remember having things that fit every one of them.

    Right now I am still working on the mental version of them–you know, trying to let go of ideas that aren’t really working for me these days ;D

    • Hi Meg,
      I think it is natural progression that once our homes are decluttered we turn to working out what needs decluttering in the rest of our lives. Mental decluttering is as tricky of trickier that the other it is amazing how many conflicting idea, dreams and aspirations we have. We confuse habit with will, attainable dreams with fantasy and sometimes even love with obligation and the list goes on. Sifting through that minefield can be very taxing in more ways than one.

  5. I have resisted purchasing a video camera for the exact same reason. I don’t want to spend my life looking from behind a camera. I like to take occasional snapshots with a digital camera instead of filming everything. I also rarely go back through old videos, and I’ve never gone through videos from my childhood. All those videos tend to form a type of clutter too. One good thing about today’s technology though is most digital cameras and many cell phones can take pretty good video. If we ever have the need to take video, we just use our digital camera.

    • Hi Freedom…
      the new cell phones are very handy for this sort of thing. I would love an iPhone so I have the chance to take decent random photos and videos when I am out and about to add to my blog. My current phone has both camera and video capability but not as good as the new high tech ones. I have an issue with being wasteful though but a solution has presented itself. My daughter upgraded to a new iPhone last year and at the moment she owes us some money so instead of cold hard cash she is going to send me her old iPhone.
      It is a Win Win Win Win situation…
      1.] I get what I want without adding to the supply and demand cycle.
      2.] She clears her debt.
      3.] I will have the capability to add extra exciting stuff to my blog.
      4.] We will donate one of our oldest phone to charity that uses them as emergency phones for women in abusive relationships.

  6. I was thinking about these categories. I think I have the hardest time with regret clutter. For example, I ought to get rid of the used $75 dog training collar that I bought and had to replace because the connections were so loose that it was hard to work, but (whining) “I paid $75 for it.” My husband has a hard time with nostalgic clutter (all his college notes and literally every issue of an electronics magazine that he likes) as well as aspirational clutter. He’ll say, “We can’t get rid of that. I haven’t used it yet.” And I’ll think, “And you’re obviously not going to either,” but here it stays, whether he bought it, got it free, or was given it as a gift.

    • Hi Cindy,
      if the dog training collar doesn’t work for you set it free. The pain will only last a short time unlike the constant irritating reminder that it is now.
      My advice when purchasing higher ticket items ($75 for a dog training collar would fall into that category)when there is any doubt that they will perform as expected I would ask for assistance when buying the product and get the sales persons name. If possible like with this training device bring the dog along with you when purchasing and have them fit it to the dog to make sure it is appropriate. The trick here is that when it doesn’t work as you were advised it would by the sales person then you have every rite to return it regardless of the fact that it has been used. The same goes for a lot of products like electronic accessories, sporting equipment and the like. I have learned this lesson from experience.
      I wish I had some miracle cure for getting your husband on board with decluttering his stagnant stuff. The best advice I have for that is instead of asking can we get rid of such and such come at it from a different angle…
      Start out by saying I was looking for some information on ___________ in one of my ___________ magazines the other day and I got so frustrated that I decided to google for the information instead and in an instant I found what I was looking for. Here is where you slip in the question – Would those electronics magazine you have contain anything that you can’t google in an instant and if so why are we keeping them? I can’t say I have seen you look back through them in ages. If you wanted something in them would you even know where to start looking?

      • I’ve tried, oh yes I’ve tried this tack with my partner (58) whose magazine collections alone take a pantechnican to move. Nothing works. They have been carted from home to home, boxes and boxes, totally trashed and unreadable, kept in attics and cellars and host to all manner of moulds and bugs. Yuck. But hey, 1969 copies of ‘Electronics Weekly’ or 1978 versions of environmental-consciousness-raising literature are sooooo him. Indispensible!!!

        • Hi Pamela,
          maybe if this is his only clutter vice perhaps you can let it ride. I just know you are going to come back with “I wish”. Has he even looked in those boxes in years. If not the only other thing I can suggest is to flat out tell him you want to be rid of them using the same words you used in your comment to describe what you think of those magazines. Perhaps he will take pity on you and let you have your way. Good luck!

  7. The Golden Child

    Thanks for the mention, mommy. I always feel a bit important when I get mentioned on a the blog…unless you’re telling your readers how messy I am, of course! Now that the first round is done, it’s time to knuckle down and remember all of the info I need for the NEXT round…the RAAF is stressful already! Haha.

    • Hi My Golden Child,
      You think it’s stressful now just wait till you get to rookie training you will wish you were never born. Oh how I wish I could come and watch. Wouldn’t it be great if I had media connections and could convince someone to do a television special following the lives of a batch of recruits at rookie training. They could follow your batch and I could sit at home and be thoroughly entertained. Now that is a reality show I wouldn’t want to miss. 😆 Just kidding darling I wish you luck with your next round of interviews and with your exercising at the gym (you are going to need it). Oh I crack myself up!! 😀 😉 I am such a bad mother! 😈 Love you darling!

  8. I too, bought a video camera way too late in the game. My adorables are now 17 and 19 and I’d rather hang out with them than try and “shoot’ them. I sold it on Craigslist for $120….yippee. No more guilt for not using it!

    • Hi Jana
      I found with my kids that they did the most adorable and hilarious stuff when the video camera wasn’t on them anyway so it was useless.
      Although now that our son has recovered well from his accident last October I wish we had take some footage or more photos of what he was like because he could do with knowing how severe his brain injury was and what he could have stayed like. It may have driven home to him how careful he needs to be for the next year. He is behaving well though so I suppose we should just be satisfied with that.

  9. It’s helpful to look at my clutter from these seven angles. It makes me realize I’m making progress! I used to have a lot of trouble with nostalgic, bargain and buyer’s remorse clutter, but no more. Two kinds that I’m still dealing with are conservation and aspirational – I still keep stuff “in case it comes in handy or we need it sometime” and I still want to do the hobbies, just haven’t got the time yet (work, family members with medical issues). I’m happy to be rid of the first three “issues”, though.

    Rubin’s book is fantastic, and so is her blog: www dot happiness-project dot com

    • Hi Jo,
      to eliminate a couple of those dreaded clutter categories is great. Keep working on the others and I am sure you will get there one day soon. Just remember certain things just may not be clutter to you and don’t waste your time trying to justify why it should go unless in the back of your mind you really want to be rid of it.

  10. Man, I definitely have something for each of those clutter categories – but I’m working on it!

  11. I’ve started my own happiness project and have just decluttered cardmaking equipment, knitting paraphernalia and jam jars! It feels so good to let go of aspirational clutter doesn’t it?

    • Hi faffabout,
      I was just thinking the very same thing the other day. It can sometimes be difficult to sort the I love the idea of from the do I have any aptitude for. I admire you for figuring out the difference and eliminating the guilt clutter from you home.
      That being said, welcome to 365lessthings.com and I hope you will find like minded people here that can help you reach your happiness goal or at least the decluttering side and getting the faff out of your life.