Monday, February 9, 2015

Dealing with clutter

My first semester at university, I lost my student ID 6 times in two months. That got to be expensive, so I put a box near the door of my dorm room as a place to put my keys and ID when I walked in. I didn’t lose them again for the rest of the year. After a while, I realized that other stuff found its way into the box. Rarely anything important, just general stuff that you get from walking around: flyers, receipts, change, an acorn.

Then I realized that what I really had, was a clutter catcher. Clutter catchers act in two ways:
  1. They corral your stuff so you can find it, and
  2. They keep your house from looking like a landfill.
Clutter, is anything that is out with no specific purpose. So if you are in the kitchen, and there is a toaster on the counter, it’s there for a purpose. But the stack of mail on the counter next to the toaster? that’s clutter.

But what if it is your habit to look through your mail while standing at the kitchen counter? Put a basket/box on the kitchen counter to hold the mail. This will make it look intentional, stop the mail from mysteriously migrating to other parts of the house, and as a bonus, keep you from getting butter on the light bill.

I cleaned out my main clutter catcher this weekend. I found:
  • 2 spools of red grosgrain ribbon, leftover from Christmas
  • tape measure
  • pedometer
  • coupon for deodorant
  • 2 crumpled restaurant receipts
  • a fortune from a fortune cookie: “You are about to embark on a most delightful journey.”
  • 2 Jolly Rancher wrappers
  • a breath mint
  • an assortment of keys, metal and electronic
  • a pair of cracked sunglasses
  • 2 pads of sticky notes
  • A tire pressure gauge
  • small change
  • a pencil
  • a flash drive
  • assorted business cards
  • spare car key and the tag from the dealership
  • a large metal hook
  • metal doohickey for my garage door lock
  • a hair tie
  • 2 of those plastic rings you find around the necks of soda bottles 
  • a folding brush/comb
  • a thank you note from the Empty Bowls event
  • a washer
  • entrance ticket to a Monet exhibit
  • plastic pegs from a game of Battleship
  • and a bottlecap
All of this in a 9 inch basket. If it had been spread out on the counter, it would have been a mess. But neatly contained, no-body noticed that I had all this junk sitting in my living room.

Personally, I find going through the basket kind of fun. It’s like a mini-archeological dig into your own life. What have I been doing for the last few months? Art exhibits? Movies? Bad dates? Good intentions gone awry? It’s all in there.

Right now it just holds my car keys and the pedometer, but it will soon fill up again with the detritus of living, and wait for me to deal with it.

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