DO YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF? by Coco Ihle

I do. I have a bedroom at one end of my house that serves as art, crafts, sewing, library, storage, and guest room and it is crammed full of stuff. I’ve tried several times to weed it out and get rid of things no longer needed and organize the things I want to keep. It’s actually been somewhat successful, but I still have too much stuff and it drives me crazy!

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I’m generally a fairly organized person and I like to be able to find things easily, but more often than not, what I hear myself saying is, “I spend half my life LOOKING for stuff!” My last move, here to Florida, is responsible for this chaos. I was in a hurry to keep up with the movers and never got this room really organized to start with. Over the years, it’s gotten worse, because I didn’t take that extra time.

One of my problems now is I get distracted. While sorting out a cabinet in my wall unit, I’ll see a photo or a letter sent to me, and before I know it, I’m sitting on the floor musing through an album as the sun sets in the west and nothing has been accomplished.

Another problem is that I get overwhelmed and discouraged by the enormous task of sorting through this “getting-bigger-by-the-moment” room. I’ve tried taking just one shelf and going through that, but when I realize I have five similar objects somewhere just like the one in my hand (spools of thread come to mind), I need to find them so they all can be placed together. So much for the one shelf!

I can’t take everything and put it all on the floor, sort, and then put it all back in an organized manner, because there isn’t room enough to do that. I wouldn’t be able to move around the room with the floor full. Phooey!

I did go through the closet and sold or gave away clothing, but I have a storage unit with pull-out shelves that contains fabrics, some craft supplies, holiday and special occasion wrapping paper and ribbon that takes up the middle floor and half-way-up section of the closet. The shelf above contains items I don’t use a lot or want to sell when I have time later, plus bedding supplies like pillows, and blanket. Meanwhile, I still have too much stuff!

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I’ve even tried a mantra while weeding. “Think ruthless! Think ruthless!” That worked only in a mediocre way, but it did help a little, so that counts, I guess. And a wise person suggested only keeping things that make you happy. Ummmm.

A large amount of space in that room contains family photo albums that eventually will go to my son. It’s not practical to give them to him now, because I still enjoy looking at them and because he often moves with his job and doesn’t have room for them now, so that’s out.

Anybody out there got any ideas? I could use all the help I can get!

***

Coco Ihle is the author of  SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mostly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

28 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings

28 responses to “DO YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF? by Coco Ihle

  1. Natalia Holland

    Coco, I especially love this post! Every creative person has this problem, I would think… I hope I am creative since I do have one… AND, looking at the pitcures, your crafts room looks VERY orginized to me!

    I have just finished building two small sheds in the back yeard of our new porperty. The bigger one, Roberto’s has book cases and contains a lot of Roberto’s books (he is working on his FIFTHE degraa — so you can amagine HOW MANY books this guy owes!

    The other one is half glass and is muy girl’s studio and workshop. It has a collection of old dolls, straw purses, Corinthian chimes many other dear-to-my-heart knick knacks from all over the world. I love this little sunny refuge! And — yes! — it does have too mucj stuff — but this is what makes you so chraming!!!

    And I am glad my sweet and precious memories from my past have a nice and safe place to live in now…

  2. Salustra

    I feel your pain! This move I also wasn’t able to organize my “Arts everything” room while packing while packing & working so mine ended up way worse than yours! And to fact this basement not finished yet…. Anyway my problem is the “keep what makes you happy”. Looking at all my costumes & stuff, paper backs ( hey the zombie apocalypse could take out my Kindle!) all my jewelry making stuff, my Star Trek Collection ( huge) and my stuffed animals all make me Happy! At least I have the space to put on floor one of these days (should I get to it).
    I do have one suggestion – rent a storage unit that is delivered to your driveway. Mark off a weekend, set up bins/bags Trash, Donate, Sell and as you move everything out to storage make 1st sort. Then as you bring back in sort some more. Once you get started momentum starts to take over. That’s what I did at old house and it worked great. Now if I would follow my own advice!!!

  3. Take a look at “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by marie kondo. It’s very radical, I warn you, but also very interesting. Good luck!

    • Carole,
      I ‘ve read some of her book in articles. She’s the one who said to keep the things that make you happy. My problem is it all makes me happy…but also crazy!!! Ha! Thanks for the suggestion. I may need to read ALL of her book!!! 🙂

  4. Bob Wagner

    I can relate – about too much stuff! Unfortunately it seems I/we keep accumulating. I will go on a binge sometimes and give away or throw out clothes, tools, etc., then – invariably – I end up sorry. Oh well.

    Hope all good with you.

    • Bob, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten rid of something and the very next day, I’ve wished I hadn’t! Boy, that statement hit me, big!!! Thank you for pointing out a caution in weeding!!!

  5. PATRICIA M. GORDON

    Coco, My guest room is my sanctuary of memories. I put “stuff” in pretty boxes that I buy in TJMaxx that are “hidden” behind my twin bed. Some day soon, I will take a pic of this room and send it to you.

    Pat

    • Patricia, I have a feeling your stuff is neater than mine. Ha, ha! But, I’ll reserve judgement until I see your pix. Ha! thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your bared soul.

  6. I like FlyLady.com. Some of her housekeeping advice is over the top, but she has great tips on decluttering. Her suggestion for a room like yours is to set a timer for 15 minutes, once a day, and only let yourself spend 15 minutes decluttering. Don’t get distracted by “new projects,” like finding errant spools of thread (maybe just have a box of “things you know need to go with something else and toss them in there as you go?). You can get a lot more done than you think, and it doesn’t get overwhelming: http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/flying-lessons/decluttering-15-minutes/

    I especially like the “27 Fling Boogie.” You walk through the house (or a room) with a trash bag and quickly throw away 27 things. Then you go through and toss into another bag 27 things you can donate. It is amazing what a difference doing this regularly makes for me!

  7. Renee Latty

    I am absolutely NO HELP with this one as I am the worst of the worst. No where to possibily start! If you figure it out, let me know!

    • I most certainly will, Renee! Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone in this. And thanks for taking the time out of your day to stop by and to comment. Much appreciated.

  8. Cheryl Hilzer

    Wow — I thought you were perfect! 🙂 Well, I feel better now. Now I feel we could be sisters!! I still haven’t gone through most of the stuff of my parents, not to mention all those photo albums.
    I promised myself I would this Winter……I HAVE to do something.
    I heard all this stuff could cause stress!!! hahaha! :):)
    Cheryl

    • Cheryl, Perfect? Hardly!!! Now you know. We must definitely be sisters. Gosh, this blog post has turned out to be comforting to me. Thank you for that. I’m feeling more normal by the minute!

  9. Boy, can I relate. I pity the poor person who has to sort through all the stuff in all four of my houses when I die. Lately I feel compelled to begin the process but I just can’t seem to find the time or the will.

    • My goodness, Sherrie! I can certainly understand why! Whew! I’m worn out just thinking about it! Thank you for taking the time to stop here and for leaving your comment. Bless your heart.

  10. Art

    My son was between High School and starting College and had trouble finding a summer job so he decided to clean out the basement against my reservations. I was traveling at the time with my job and on Friday afternoons I would return home to see three to six black trash bags out at the curb each time. It was very tempting to go look in them but I decided to verify and trust him. He said every day he pretended to be me as he rearranged and made throw or keep decisions. He illustrated by saying in a deep voice that I think sounded nothing like me “I’ve had this laying here for about ten years with the idea that I could repair it and then it would be nice to have it working again, but I’m probably not going to get around to it, so here it goes!”
    He went off to college and everything was completely rearranged, neat, and in greater order than ever before.
    One day I could not figure out where something was and I looked for an hour and half for it trying at the same time to pretend I was him. Finally I called him and left a message. He called back that night and I told him my dilemma and asked him if he remembers throwing it away or should I keep looking? He responded with”Dad, how much did it cost?” I regretfully told him probably around six dollars. He paused for what seemed like an eternity before saying “You spent most of a day trying to find out about something that only cost six dollars?”
    I never asked him about anything else I couldn’t find.
    Point of story: Get someone you truly trust to clean out your “stuff” while you clean out theirs and never look back.

  11. I think deadlines help. I will definitely get my bookshelves sorted after clearing and moving them ready for workmen to replace our windows (why did I put all the bookshelves under windows – and why did I store boxes of memorabilia under the only remaining windows, stacked three deep?).

    • Yes, Sheila, deadlines are a good motivator. Many of us work best under pressure. Good luck with your task! Thanks for your idea! Maybe I can combine your suggestion with some others listed here. 🙂

  12. Since I have the same problem as everybody else, I can’t help. But it’s nice to know I’m not alone. My husband is a neat freak, but he’s finally given up on trying to change me. What I hate most about decluttering (is that a word?) and organizing, I either regret discarding something or I don’t remember where I put it. At least if it’s on my desk, I know it’s there somewhere in the mess of papers. When I do clean off my work area, in a few days (or less) it’s right back to the way it looked before. Drives hubby nuts. Enjoyed your blog and everyone’s comments, Coco.

  13. Coco — lovely story. The late, great comedian George Carlin once did a skit on “Stuff” – it is a hilarious classic. You can find it on YouTube. Be well and happy holidays.

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