how did I get here?

Do you ever just look around your home and think, “where did all this crap come from?”

No matter how much I freecycle or take to Goodwill, no matter how many cans are on the curb on trash night, it doesn’t seem to make a difference at all. And of course, the problem (?) with booktrading is that I do it to get new books, so while it does get rid of books, it also brings new ones into the house.

We live in clutter. There is clutter in every room of our house. Some days, we de-clutter one place, but there has never been a single day that our house has been clutter-free.

It’s starting to get to me.

When I first started this blog, I was telecommuting, and working at home almost every day. At this point, I have an office outside the house that I go to about three times a week. Until recently, I shared that office, but for the last two months I’ve been alone in there. And guess what? My office is full of clutter too.

I tend to do a big filing in my office once every two months, and then my office will be neat for a day or so before the papers will start to pile up again. Even then, I have file boxes all over the place, as well as boxes of old lit and binders stuffed with training materials lying around, but at least the pile of paper recedes momentarily.

At home we’re good about getting rid of the mail and the old newspaper, but we still have stacks of unread magazines and other things lying around. We’re very bad at making the kids clean up their toys when they’re done playing. We’re bad at cleaning up our own toys when we’re done playing:).

How about you? Do you need a week to get your house ready for company, or are you compulsively neat?


January 23, 2008. family life, work.


  1. CamiKaos replied:

    clutter clutter everywhere here. Drives me nuts… But it’s worse for mr. Kaos. I try and I try but it always wins… But my biggest question is: where on earth do all the magazines come from?

  2. Tammy replied:

    My husband’s way more clutter-prone than I am. If it weren’t for books, I’d be fairly spartan, as I tend to do regular purges of my stuff, and I’m pretty ruthless about it.

    We live in a neighbourhood with a lot of foot traffic, so when I’m in purge mode, I just leave boxes of random stuff out on the sidewalk and everything always disappears. (We call it “freeboxing” and it’s pretty fun. I love the idea of my weird stuff ending up with someone who’ll appreciate it the way I did when I first got it.)

    Where we live, Big Brothers will come to your house and pick up pretty much anything that’s in decent shape, which they then sell to thrift shops. We call them once or twice a year, particularly after clothing purges.

    As for books, I get a LOT of books sent to me, so they’ve been piling up like crazy for the past couple of years. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing which books I’ll want to keep around for rereading, and I’ve finally learned the art of passing books along to other people. That’s probably the biggest issue I’ve struggled with: I’m a complete book hoarder.

    Have you heard of the Apartment Therapy home cure? (You don’t have to live in an apartment to do it.) It’s an eight-week process for simplifying and reinventing your space. It’s all spelled our in this book, which is a really fast read. It’s a bit on the touchy-feely side, but it actually got my husband motivated to declutter for possibly the first time in his life. (Past efforts have been largely driven by wifely nagging, because I’m totally old school like that.)

    This is a topic dear to my heart, as you can guess. I could write a novel about my thoughts on organization… it looks like I’ve pretty much written chapter one here. Heh.

  3. penguinunearthed replied:

    We are very cluttered, but also quite bad at tidying up for visitors.

    I’m a thrower-outer at work (which can get me into trouble) so once a week I throw out all the paper lying around and rely on my electronic filing.

    At home, we have WAY too many books, which we can’t throw out, and a ridiculous number of toys, which I find really hard to throw out, as charities won’t take them, and it seems such a waste.

  4. Carrie replied:

    It takes a week to get ready for company. Or at least a really intense day. The clutter breeds at night! I have been spending 15 mintues every day (really, it turns out to be longer) to just go through and pick up the living room. It makes a difference that day, but the next day it once again looks like a tornado blew through.

  5. jo(e) replied:

    We always have piles of books, papers, and sheet music lying about. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but then once in a while, it gets to be too much and I go on a cleaning binge and get rid of stuff.

  6. MetroDad replied:

    My bedroom is so overrun with newspapers, books, New Yorkers, and junk that my wife refers to my side of the bed as belonging to the Unabomber. Once a month, I go completely nuts and clean the place for hours. But really, the easiest way to deal with all the clutter is just to not invite people over.

  7. Mahala replied:

    I just tell people that we all have bacterial-intestinal-upper respirtatory crud or something to discourage all visitors.

  8. Narya replied:

    I am by no means the neatest person around, but I have learned how to manage over the years. Also–and this is big–I’ve lived alone for nearly all that time. Even when I was with someone, though, the level was about the same. What I’ve done is designate a couple of spots for various kinds of things: a spot in the bedroom for clothes that aren’t going in the hamper and a spot for the mail are the two most important. Thus, even though there’s a certain amount of clutter, I could make things presentable in less than 15 minutes. It’s also worth pointing out that that would still leave a level of stuff that might make others insane, but I’m okay with that. I am a grown person, with a life’s worth of stuff, and I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so there are limitations all around, both on the amount of stuff I can/want to have and on the amount of space in which I can store it.

  9. Susan replied:

    As we’re getting ready to move next summer, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. We’ve greatly reduced clutter coming into the house, but there is jsut so much stuff stuck in corners of rooms that I can’t seem to part with but never use, either. It’s making me nutty.

    Maybe Apartment Therapy is for me.

  10. chichimama replied:

    We reduced a lot of clutter when we moved. We still have a fair amount, but I have tried very hard to make it all closetable, meaning that when people come over I can throw everything into the nearest closet and hope I remember where it is two days later…

  11. jackieregales replied:

    Definitely cluttered over here. I try to do a general pick-up when I know people are coming over, but I’m over trying to hide my generally cluttered nature!

  12. elise replied:

    I think a lot about this subject because my house is not only cluttered, but its dusty and the floors are often covered with animal hairs, sawdust and other unknown dirt particles. I would say my house is not super gross or anything but its definitely more messy than many of my friends. I have been trying to figure out what level I am comfortable with – NOT what level is acceptable to other people. I definitely have a level where I start feeling bugged out. I do like to have things somewhat neat but on the other hand, I see my clutter as a representation of my life. I love having my kids here and realize all too soon that I won’t have piles and piles of school papers. One day I won’t have tons of towels drying over the backs of my kitchen chairs. I won’t have to bend down over and over to pick up mittens, dirty socks and sneakers. One day I won’t have fifty hooded sweatshirts bulging out from the twenty hooks I have on various walls throughout my house. I won’t walk by my back door and get a whiff of fifteen pairs of sneakers, shoes and boots (took me a long time to figure out where that weird odor was coming from). When all these things are finally gone and my house is finally neat, it will be a VERY SAD day! If I spent more time cleaning, I could have that neat house now but I won’t even go into the list of things I would be missing out on because I was spending too much time cleaning…

  13. guerson replied:

    If I sit by a clean, empty desk at school and decide to check something out on my laptop, in 10 mins I have the whole surface of the desk covered with stuff. There’s a sheet of paper on one end, pens and clips at another end, a book open in the middle, the laptop at another end… I have no idea how it happens, but I seem to be unable to keep a place uncluttered and neat. Needless to say, it does take us a week to clean up for guests. But to make things worse, my mother was a complete cleaning freak and always had the house spotless when I was growing up. So I have become very much used to living in a clean and neat environment. I just don’t know how to do it. Which means that I’m always stressed about the way the house looks…. sigh…

  14. Paige replied:

    You’re assuming that I try really hard to get my house clean for company…


  15. Library Lady replied:

    Those pictures of our house at Chanukkah showed one of the only two times a year that my house looks tidy. The other time is usually Memorial Day, when we also entertain family and friends.

    Aside from that, we are books EVERYWHERE except the bathroom. Books in bookcases. Books on top of bookcases. Books jammed sideways on top of other books in bookcases. Stacks of books on the floor in our bedroom. Boxes of books.

    Plus newspapers galore, general kid clutter–our house is a mess.

    But it’s a home with purring cats, good cooking smells and a nice family feel. Which trumps a Martha Stewart perfect-but-empty house in my book any day of the week!

  16. alala replied:

    My house is ClutterWorld. Nobody’s allowed to visit me, unless they promise to form no opinion whatsoever on my housekeeping skill. Or lack thereof. I hate all the clutter, but I don’t know where to start.

  17. Ashley replied:

    Definitely cluttered. maybe some day I’ll get it fixed.

  18. meta-DAD replied:

    I’m glad to here you freecycle, it’s a great system that I’m always trying to tell people about.

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