free spirit

Organizing your house/room

22 posts in this topic

I live in a very small bachelor apartment.

The biggest problem I have with my place is clutter. Be it with documents, clothes, shoes, books, whatever. I was wondering if anyone had any advice or any recommendations on organizing clutter.

Because I rent my apartment, I don't want to do anything permanent, I was thinking more along the lines of shelves, storage bins etc...

I also don't plan moving anytime soon due to financial reasons.

I love the feeling of a clean, open space. It helps me think better. But on the other hand, I also don't want to stop aquiring things ie: gifts, clothes, etc...

My one friend told how on Oprah, there was a man who would start with the person instead of the space. He analyzed their personality and would ask the person what their reasons were for keeping most of their things. And it turned out that people were pack rats or keeping the stuff for a weak reason.

Has anyone heard of him?

Any advice would be much appreciated!!

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I would recommend that you move into a bachelorette apartment. :)

Seriously, I would recommend that you look into your local Home Depot or a store like it, as they have full sections of the store set-up for you exact situation. Sometimes they even offer free classes on how to set-up your apartment and what to buy to do it youself.

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------------

Any advice would be much appreciated!!

Over the years, I have found the only time huge amounts of things get thrown out is when I move. I don't take things with me that I really don't need. Buy several file cabinets to store junk. Try closet organizers to fit more stuff out of sight.

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Any advice would be much appreciated!!

I would prioritize the personal value of your stuff and start getting rid of the lowest value things. The first are things of *no* value. For example if you read various magazines and have a habit of keeping them, ask yourself if you'll ever, realistically, read them again. If not, make a pile of them and pitch the pile in the trash. Do the same with clothing and shoes and either throw out or donate ones you know you'll never use again. (I'd avoid Salvation Army since they're overtly religious/altruist propagandizers.) If you know you'll never read a book again, sell it or donate it. After awhile it will cut down on the junk and leave only stuff you really want.

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Any advice would be much appreciated!!

I would prioritize the personal value of your stuff and start getting rid of the lowest value things.

When getting rid of things, look to do so profitably because that will making parting with stuff much easier.

If you can, sell your unwanted items at a yard sale or on eBay. Donate them to charity and get a receipt for a tax deduction. Take pride in and enjoy the space freed up by every item you get rid of.

When it comes to the stuff you keep, put things where you will use them. Organize them into categories that make sense to you. For instance, my pantry is organized as follows: stuff in boxes, stuff in cans, stuff in jars, stuff in bags, paper goods, everything else. I can find what I want in seconds.

In 1996 I led an IRC chat on the subject of "How to Organize Your Life" and you might find some useful ideas in it here.

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When getting rid of things, look to do so profitably because that will making parting with stuff much easier.

Oh sure, if it's worth the time to do so. Few magazines are worth the time but they can make a nice big clutter. Books though can often be sold.

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The biggest problem I have with my place is clutter. Be it with documents, clothes, shoes, books, whatever. I was wondering if anyone had any advice or any recommendations on organizing clutter.

Documents: You can start scanning and digitizing stuff that you're worried you might need later like school and work papers. Numbers and addresses you can put into your mobile phone, PDA, or regular address book.

Clothes and shoes: Tonnes of contraptions to deal with clothes. If you can't put them in a new dresser, and your closet is full, try purchasing an armoire. If that is too expensive, the ultra-low cost option is one of those wheelable close hangers you see used in theatre to transport costumes. If you have closet space, you can get hanging shoe racks and purchase self-installable shelving if you don't want to get your closet customized.

Books: Being both in college and being a bookworm, I have a problem with books as well. My bookshelf has been full for a long time. I'm probably going to build a second one in the garage but since you don't have that space, consider one in the main room or just sell the books you don't use. A bookshelf is great to keep in your main room, especially if you do most of your reading on the couch. When people come in, your interests will be displayed to them and it will act as a talking peice. A shelf can be as simple and cheap as 4 nails, a long painted board, and two plastic L shaped peices to install the nail in both the wall and the shelf (probably all sold in a pack at Wal-Mart).

The key is having extra and inviting space in your storage facilities. If you have closed bins with things on top of them, I guarantee your place will remain cluttered because it will be a hassle to put things back in them. That's why you'll want a bookshelf and closet that are 25% empty.

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I remember reading an article in Reader's Digest (a sadly unphilosophical publication) about clutter.

The author said, in essence, that there were two ideas(!) that were the primary cause of clutter: "It has such sentimental value to me," and "You never know when you're going to need it".

Being someone with a clutter problem myself, I've certainly found that to be true.

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When getting rid of things, look to do so profitably because that will making parting with stuff much easier.

Oh sure, if it's worth the time to do so. Few magazines are worth the time but they can make a nice big clutter.

You'd be surprised.

FORUM member Edward Peyton makes a good living selling magazines on eBay. See his current inventory -- 9450 back issues -- here.

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You'd be surprised.

FORUM member Edward Peyton makes a good living selling magazines on eBay. See his current inventory -- 9450 back issues -- here.

I meant something like a 2005 issue of Wired magazine; a collectible magazine would be worth trying to sell. I have a bunch of Fortunes going back to issue #1 and no doubt they can be sold.

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You'd be surprised.

FORUM member Edward Peyton makes a good living selling magazines on eBay. See his current inventory -- 9450 back issues -- here.

I meant something like a 2005 issue of Wired magazine; a collectible magazine would be worth trying to sell. I have a bunch of Fortunes going back to issue #1 and no doubt they can be sold.

If that Wired magazine has an article of interest to someone, they may very well pay $10 or more for it.

Also recent magazines may have advertising with graphic art or fan value. When my computer business was slow, I had an eBay business selling such ads for $10 to $25 each. I remember one issue of a trendy fashion magazine that was loaded with ads for designer items many of which featured celebrities. The magazine was less than four years old, but selling the individual ads from it yielded $240!

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Carrie, I've always had rather small spaces to work with too, so I understand your dilemma. Some things I do to maximize the space are: try fitting your dresser in your closet rather than leaving it out, even if you have a small closet and the dresser is cramped in there you can just close the door [or lacking a door, curtains are very simple to make or buy], and your bedroom will have more space. Windows also help open up a room, so when placing furniture arrange them evenly along the edges of the room [to retain the most floorspace] around the windows. Also consider empty places in your apartment and what you could put there, even if it is unconventional, so you can remove things from more cluttered areas and even out your use of the space; for example I have three large bookshelves, and I put one in the foyer/entrance of my apartment, instead of having a hat-stand. But beware of buying lots of bins or storage systems when a simpler solution will do, unless you know exactly where it will go and how it will save space, because adding boxes and bins will just take up more space. Hope this helps, and a happy home-improvement! :)

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If that Wired magazine has an article of interest to someone, they may very well pay $10 or more for it.

Also recent magazines may have advertising with graphic art or fan value. When my computer business was slow, I had an eBay business selling such ads for $10 to $25 each. I remember one issue of a trendy fashion magazine that was loaded with ads for designer items many of which featured celebrities. The magazine was less than four years old, but selling the individual ads from it yielded $240!

Hmm, maybe I should take a closer look at my magazines ... :)

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If that Wired magazine has an article of interest to someone, they may very well pay $10 or more for it.

Also recent magazines may have advertising with graphic art or fan value. When my computer business was slow, I had an eBay business selling such ads for $10 to $25 each. I remember one issue of a trendy fashion magazine that was loaded with ads for designer items many of which featured celebrities. The magazine was less than four years old, but selling the individual ads from it yielded $240!

Hmm, maybe I should take a closer look at my magazines ... :)

Sure there is such a profit to be made, but I think this suggestion depends on your personal scale of action and division of limited time. If you predict the time you spend on organizing and following through with such sales will result in a meaningful profit for you - and time well-spent - then it's certainly an actionable suggestion.

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I’m having the same problem. I need to get rid of the old clothes that don’t fit, but are currently taking up space in my dresser and closet. It’s gotten to the point where there’s nowhere to put new clothes! My bookcase is full, and I keep buying books so they just pile up either on top of the bookcase or on the floor around it. I bought a dvd rack a couple years ago, but my collection has already spilled over. It was easy to keep things tidy a few years ago when I didn’t have so much stuff. Ah the burdens of commercialism. :)

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Sure there is such a profit to be made, but I think this suggestion depends on your personal scale of action and division of limited time. If you predict the time you spend on organizing and following through with such sales will result in a meaningful profit for you - and time well-spent - then it's certainly an actionable suggestion.

Yes, exactly. For some it would be worthwhile, for me, for most magazines, it most likely isn't worth my time, though I've had ideas about how to best capitalize on the old Fortune magazines. As with other values it's an issue of personal hierarchy.

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Jason, that works very well, I have gotten rid of an amazing amount of clutter from my own preparations to move. :huh:

Anyway, if you store your odds and ends in plastic bags, one tip is to make sure they are not heat biodegradable. I discovered that the hard way when my neatly organised cupboard, 6 months later when I opened it, was full of a huge lump of mess mixed with plastic bag confetti.

Lets just say my look of horror would have been good for the Jokes thread if a photo was taken. :huh:

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My general rule is if you can walk form one end of your room to another without touching the ground it's time to clean up :huh:

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My solution for clothes was to have my bed lifted up. I had my husband build an underbed dresser. If you don't have carpentry skills at your disposal, you might look for some bed-lifting things. I've seen them in catalogs. They are little telescoping poles with pads on the end. They allow you to lift your bed and use the space underneath for storage drawers or tubs. You could probably do it with a few cinder blocks and a sheet or two of plywood from Home Depot. I reorganize seasonally so I keep my wintery clothes and shoes in storage until about September, then I switch out and put away my bathing suits and shorts. The winter stuff usually takes up more room.

I have four kids, too, so I have lots of stored clothing. I just use those big plastic bins with lids. I stack them in the closet as high as I can reach. When my kids start to outgrow their clothes I go through the bins and see what fits them, before I go buy them new stuff. I have some things that have been kept through all four kids! Especially shoes.

I also agree with the previous posters about making a profit off of your stuff, if you get rid of anything. If you are struggling with letting go of things, a great trick that has worked for me is to put it in a box, tape it off and place it out of the way somewhere. Write the date on the box. Give it a year. If you haven't opened the box, then open it and look through it once more. Having gone without looking at it for a while you will have a better perspective of what is really valueable to you and what is not.

When I reduce junk, I sort things and do it by percentage. I sort my clothes into type and then say I'm going to reduce by 20%. If I have 5 sweaters, I get to keep four so I ditch my least favorite. If I have 8 mixing bowl, I get to keep 6 and give away or sell the two I like least. This works well for me when reducing clutter.

If you want to keep most of your stuff, I advise looking upward. Think about how you can use the space above and below your furniture. We have put in wire shelves in many of our rooms high above our heads. It's not hard to mount them and they don't leave too much of a permanent mark.

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I wrote a series of articles last year that were meant to advise members of a football community about ways of successfully scouting NCAA football players for pro-level viability. One of the more popular articles in the series was a general article about organizing the scout's workspace, and I got a lot of emails from people who said that they found the tips valuable for organizing any kind of workspace. From that article I wanted to highlight an often overlooked part of the "cleaning up the clutter" phase. I have found that when the clutter isn't addressed properly, it tends to come back and haunt the ambitious, sometimes with disastrous consequences...

Also, I should mention that my basic premise regarding clutter is that it represents unmade decisions, usually everyday decisions that would benefit tremendously from automatization.

Here is a tip for organizing clutter. You will be very tempted to put things away as you come to them, in order to clean the mess up…DO NOT DO THIS!

Instead, sort everything out without putting it away. Make piles that roughly correspond to the nature of the things that are cluttering your space up: unfiled papers go here, tools like pens and scissors and note pads go here, empty beer cans go here… you get the idea. The idea here is that there is a reason that they weren’t put away in the first place, and rarely is it laziness. I mentioned in the post that clutter represents decisions that need to be made. Sometimes the decision isn’t necessarily directly related to the item, but to what you want to do with the item. For example, sometimes paperwork doesn’t get filed properly because you don’t have a good filing system, or your desktop tools are randomly scattered because you don’t have enough storage space for them, or what you do have is too inconvenient. Lazy is when it is easy and convenient to deal with something, yet you still don’t do it. If something is hard to do and you don’t do it, that is called efficiency. And be wary of the error of thinking that it must be easy if it isn’t as physically demanding as say, moving a ton of bricks by hand. Filing paperwork should be as easy as you can make it, and moving bricks should be as easy as you can make it. Efficiency is a pinnacle of an idea.

Back to organizing your stuff: don’t put anything away until you are satisfied that you are putting it away as easily as possible. A common problem around my household is often things pile up because they don’t belong there at all. The solution for me was to put the right kind of storage in other areas of the house, to keep my wife from bringing them to me in my office. Now if I could just figure a way to keep her from taking things OUT of my office…

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I've found this article by Paul Graham valuable:

Stuff

What I didn't understand was that the value of some new acquisition wasn't the difference between its retail price and what I paid for it. It was the value I derived from it. Stuff is an extremely illiquid asset. Unless you have some plan for selling that valuable thing you got so cheaply, what difference does it make what it's "worth?" The only way you're ever going to extract any value from it is to use it. And if you don't have any immediate use for it, you probably never will.
Another way to resist acquiring stuff is to think of the overall cost of owning it. The purchase price is just the beginning. You're going to have to think about that thing for years—perhaps for the rest of your life. Every thing you own takes energy away from you. Some give more than they take. Those are the only things worth having.

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