Strategies for Decluttering

Elissa Gootman recently wrote a profile in The New York Times of professional organizer Barbara Reich as she helped a family with three children sort through and toss out games and toys and other items to make the playroom more organized and accessible. A game missing some pieces, a recent gift from a relative? Out. Sports trophies of a child who’s “never going to be a professional baseball player”? Out. A notebook of a child’s earliest writing? Out.

In the week that followed, some members of my book club (where we were discussing a book on a totally different topic) expressed dismay at her attitude, as did readers who wrote letters to the editor of the Times. Some lamented her lack of recycling and reusing but most questioned her hardness. Is it cruel to throw out a child’s trophies? Is it too sentimental to want to keep your child’s first writing? Who gets to decide what is “garbage” and what is not?

In an online Q & A (Part I, Part II, and Part III), the organizer Barbara Reich provided good advice and did so in a kinder way, but this article brings up so many questions: Can you be efficient without being rigid? When is tough love more tough than loving? Who defines what is important to them – and do children get a say? Can you be more organized and have less clutter and do it in a such a way that there are few hurt feelings?

How do you organize your stuff and get rid of the clutter? Tell us about the strategies that work for you.



2 Responses

  1. Clean out a section only when another section is available:
    Have at the ready a clean, empty box, drawer, shelf etc. when cleaning out another box, drawer, shelf etc. so that you have an immediate place to put all “keepers”. Neatly place the “keepers” in the empty receptacle, or if necessary, move the “keepers” back to the original receptacle. Marcia

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