Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 8: Where the Beast Hides

Throughout this series, I’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering, reclaiming my bedroom inch by inch.

Wait, let me rephrase that. Throughout this series, I’ve been moving junk around and not really dealing with it, getting one space clean at the expense of another space. LOL!

This is how a lot of us deal with clutter, actually–we move stuff around instead of getting rid of it, or we shove it into corners and under furniture so that we don’t have to look at it. Neither approach treats the disease of “too much stuff;” it only makes the symptoms a little easier to live with.

In my case, my bedroom’s dumping ground has been part of the finished basement, seen below:

Yeah, all of that mound of toy clutter came from my closet upstairs. I stacked it all down in the basement instead of dealing with it weeks ago, mainly because of low energy levels and wanting to get closet shelves clear first. But as I decluttered the closet, I ran into a problem:

The closet clutter did not just confine itself to one section of the room, but began to crawl into other areas…

…hiding in plain sight…

…spilling forth onto the floor…

…commandeering other tabletops and various surfaces…

…and generally taking over the basement room, as it had taken over my bedroom closet so many years before.

I surveyed this with a weary eye in my last installment; I thought I had been routing the Clutter Dragon, defeating it where it lay, but instead, I only moved its habitat. Now the Clutter Dragon reigned over its hoard in the basement, rather than my closet. 🙁

I simply could not put off the job of sorting and donating/throwing away any longer. If I kept delaying, I would end up with nowhere to put the rest of the clutter from the unfinished closet, nor would I be able to use the basement space for anything. So, with a tired sigh, I began to attack the clutter problem directly, finally dealing with the cache of childhood that had been stored so long.

Invading Clutter Valley

Since I knew I would not have the energy to deal with all the items today (especially not the mound of items in the first picture), I decided to tackle what I could–the valley of clutter between the coffee table and the love seat (both of which are hidden by clutter in these pictures).

This floorspace absolutely had to be cleared first before I could even begin to scale “Clutter Mountain.” Thus, I began to sort and deal with items as I could.

Zoning the Room: Keep, Sell/Donate, and Toss

First, I established part of a nearby tabletop as the “sell/donate” zone, with several small boxes to hold items that still had good life in them. For instance, the box above holds small toys, dolls, and game pieces…

…while this box holds various children’s literature, and so on.

I even did establish a “keep” zone as well (the seat of a broken computer chair), though I made sure it was a lot smaller than the “donate” zone. (Since this basement room has been pretty cluttered anyway, I had to work with the zones and the space I had–thus, why a chair seat functioned as the “keep” zone.)

As for the “toss” zone, that was the big black trash bag I carried around the large room with me, which you’ll see later in this post. This was possibly the most important zone of all, the one I had to make big decisions for, and the zone that, as a hoarder, I hate and fear the most. There’s just something so wrong about throwing away items one has paid good money for, even when they’re irreparably broken or otherwise ruined.

And yet, I couldn’t just leave them scattered about. Not if I wanted to be able to live in my house rather than just tiptoe around teetering piles of junk. If I was truly going to reclaim my room from the Clutter Dragon, I had to start actually chasing it out rather than just chasing it around the house.

Sorting, Tossing…and Surprising

So, with the makeshift zones established, I began to slowly fall into a rhythm of picking up items and deciding where they went. I did not move on from one item until it had been solidly put in one of the three zones, and I forced myself to move quickly through the items, making decisions that should have been made years ago.

Nor did I allow myself to fall too far into sentimentality as I categorized. Some objects that did have fond memories attached were put in the keep pile, but anything that didn’t have a memory with it, or didn’t absolutely have to stay because of the memory, got put into the sell/donate pile. Not only that, but I kept the trash bag with me so that if I found an item that was too broken or ruined, I could quickly put it in the trash and be done with it.

I really hated this part at first. My ankle was hurting, I was tired already, and I detested having to make quick decisions. But I also knew that if I didn’t do it right then, and do it quickly, I would never get it done at all. My record of cleaning and organizing (or rather, procrastinating about such tasks) showed that plainly.

So I kept moving…and as I did, I began to enjoy myself. It felt–GOOD to purge some of this old stuff. (Yes, I just admitted that; I just admitted that it felt good to throw stuff away. You may check my identity later. XD) The rapid decision-making, the firm, decisive action being taken after years or decades of hem-hawing, was in some way electrifying. The process became easier and easier, until…

Clutter Valley Cleared!

While it may not look a lot different from the “before” picture of Clutter Valley, now you can at least tell that there are furniture pieces and floor under there! And now I can walk through without stepping on Legos or tons of other tiny little toy pieces! YAY!

This is the “Donate” pile, rife with toys–the other items seen in this picture are not part of the “Donate” pile officially, but there was nowhere else to put them in the room. This pile will grow larger in the weeks ahead!

And this is the itty-bitty “Keep” pile–it’s mainly made up of empty boxes and small crates that I can use for categorizing later, as well as some very special memory items. Can you believe it? I have committed to keep less than 10% of what I categorized today! :O

And this is the “Toss” pile, stuffed inside this giant black bag. It’s pretty much stuffed to the brim…

…and this picture proves it! WOW!

The Real Victory Today: My Mindset

Though it may not look like much of the war on clutter was won today, there was an important mental victory scored–me actually learning to like the de-cluttering process. I’ve put it off for weeks and weeks, hating and fearing it because of its time-consuming, hair-tearing decision-making…but I learned that it can actually be a rapid, freeing process, if you let it. That just might be the most important lesson you can take away from this whole series!

Next Week: Scaling Clutter Mountain

You remember that big mound of clutter on the hidden coffee table? Well, it’s getting conquered in next week’s post–just wait and see!

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