Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting Rid of The Clutter

I must be doing something wrong. I subscribe to Woman's Day and Better Homes and Gardens. I also have shared a subscription to People Magazine with a co-worker for about 20 years now. Every year when she gets the renewal notice, she asks "how many years should we renew for?" and I always give her the same answer: "one - who knows where we'll be next year...." And then a year passes by and we're doing the same thing.

But I digress. Maybe that's part of my problem, is that I digress too much. So in addition to my own magazines, Sharon gives me all her old issues of Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. They are piled high on my coffee table. Very high.

Now what do all of these magazines feature? Well, in addition to recipes that are dangerous to me, cause I cut them out and stick them in a pile to later be filed, and coupons (same thing), they all feature articles on how to get organized. If you judged me by how many of those articles I have read in my lifetime, you would think I was the most organized, clutter-free person on earth. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

Tomorrow night our friend Jim is coming over to bring dinner. No special occasion; he comes for dinner occasionally, and at his request we have grilled cheese, tomato soup, some kind of potato, and a nice dessert. Well this time, he insisted on bringing the entire dinner, including dessert. So what does this mean to me? It means I have absolutely no obligations, other than to clear the clutter off the table. Uh, I mean tables. The kitchen is worse than the dining room.

I have been working on that for the last hour, and I am exhausted.

So how did I get so out-of-control? Well, I decided to analyze my piles. I think the #1 problem is recipes. I am so ambitious when it comes to recipes, that I cut out hundreds a year. I have a very organized notebook, with sections for meats, veggies, etc., that I tape the recipes in. The notebook is huge and the loose recipes far outweigh the ones in the organized notebook. What else? Retail coupons, restaurant coupons, and the neighborhood books of coupons. Now, if this wasn't plentiful enough, I have to thank David's friend Jeff Miller for our multiplying mail. Jeff, you see, subscribed to Sports Illustrated. He was having trouble reading the print, so he sent a change of address to the magazine, changing his address to our address. In other words, he was giving David his Sports Illustrated. Do you know how much mail we get now addressed to Jeff Miller? Sports Illustrated must make a fortune selling Jeff's name. At first I was complaining, but then we started getting "welcome to the neighborhood, Mr. Miller!" offers. Nice offers. Like half price coupons to nearby restaurants. We just have to pretend we are Jeff Miller cause half the offers have Jeff's name on the coupon itself.

What else? Oh yeah, Sharon's magazines. Every time we see each other, we do an exchange. Sharon, my dear friend, I am so out of control, and I swear I'm gonna read those 5 year old magazines, cause I just can't bring myself to throw them away, but they are largely responsible for my problem!

And the I-will-read-someday magazines like the Costco Connection. There's good stuff in there, especially the book reviews. Parade Magazines that separate themselves from the Plain Dealer every Sunday and end up in my clutter pile. Oh, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Magazine - I had to join the OFB to get a discount on my car and auto insurance, which is thru Nationwide. I have no idea what I would find in that magazine that would interest me, but I read it once and I actually liked it!

So there you have it. If I just had more hours in the day, I could work my way through the clutter and get a ton of reading done. Then again, I sadly think of my mother (Lenore) and father (Art) arguing over Art's clutter. Art worked as an engineer.

Lenore: "Art, get rid of the electronic magazines."
Art: "I will read them."
Lenore: "You will never read them. You have been accumulating them for years."
Art: "I will read them someday."

Sadly Art lost his vision before he could get to those magazines. I wonder if Lenore ever got rid of them.

I fear we will end up doing what we always do - throw all the clutter in a box.....never to be looked at again. I am bad.


Mich said...

When you fill up a box, write the date on top. If you haven't opened it up after a year, you don't even know what's inside (let alone need it) and you must throw it away.

I don't actually know if that works, but I've heard that it does. I am the opposite -- I have a bad habit of going on a cleaning rampage and throwing away things that I later miss.

Tammy Howard said...

How timely - I'm on a little bit of a clutter rampage here, too. (How's it going? Well, not very well. But thanks for asking, anyway.)

Art losing his vision before he could read all of his magazines makes me ridiculously sad...

anno said...

oh dear. I understand this a bit more than I'd really like to admit. And your comment about reading articles about organizing struck me with the parallels to reading about cooking not necessarily leading one to the kitchen, or reading about healthy eating & fashion not necessarily leading to becoming thin & beautiful. At least in my experience.

FWIW, I've used Mich's box trick in the past to good success; works well for those papers you think you ought to save but aren't sure how to file, too. Good luck!

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

I don't save the coupons and recipies, but the magazines build up here too!

Jeanie said...

First of all, the verification work for this comment is "thering." Or, "the ring." I just love it when they are actual WORDS.

Now, yes -- I'll say it. You are bad. This I can say because I am as bad as you and we are bad together! I tried to do the Oh-Bree Magazine Challenge (go through 30 of them). I think I threw out two. SO, I truly feel your pain. (My organizational challenge right now is my art studio. I was both mad and relieved that Rick came by last night and I stopped my work!).

Sometimes I think it's just going to be the way we are and we should stop being so hard on ourselves. Then I lose something in plain sight...

Sandy said...

OMG, when did I do a guest post on your blog???

Seriously, I am a piler....I have finally realized that I CAN throw out those 5-yr-old magazines and they won't haunt me. But I so understand...I finally stopped clipping recipes. Don't need them with the internet anyway. Coupons? About 75% of the time they expire before I ever rediscover them. Poor Art.

Delaney said...

I am a slob, that is my problem. I hate to clean and I tend to acquire things that I refuse to part with. I have all my mother's yarn which I took 30yrs ago when she died yet I buy more for projects I may get to or may even finish once started. I have a ton of magazines which I have read yet don't want to just "throw out" but there is no recycling done in my area and I'm not driving 100 miles to do it.

Someone send the cleaning bug my way - please!

The Last Post said...

I have a wardrobe in my spare room which is bulging with clutter. It is a brave person who opens that door without full body armour.

I will have to hire a skip (or two) one day and have a clear out.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I just have to say how relieved I am starting to feel! My husband and I took a walk this morning and when we got back, attempted to go into the house through the garage...big mistake! I said to him that it's basically a reflection of our entire lives! I would like him to clean it out;-) And meanwhile, clutter has piled up in my closet and on the floor as well, clothes, socks, shoes...etc! It gets so overwhelming to tackle that I usually try to forget about it. Needless to say, HE would like ME to clean that up! We also have a few boxes of 'stuff' here and there, that were filled up when we didn't know what else to do with 'stuff'. I guess it's time to start tossing everything! I do long for clean, empty spaces! Thanks for reminding me I'm not entirely alone. I think we all struggle with these types of issues in one way or another!