An Advice Column for the Disorganized

When people begin the process of organizing their homes and their lives, they often need a bit of support and encouragement to keep up the good work. It’s to those readers that Boot Butler would like to recommend Unclutterer, the website about the organization for both the organized and the unorganized. Unclutterer is all-inclusive; it bills itself as “the blog about getting and staying organized. A place for everything and everything in its place is our gospel.” One of the fun facets of Unclutterer is its advice column: Ask Unclutterer. Readers with organizational questions or challenges can contact the site to ask for help. The writing staff at Unclutterer reads every message and responds to many of them. Currently, there are over 100 articles posted just on kitchen organization topics.

Other than kitchen stuff, what kinds of problems do Unclutterer tackle? Here’s a sampling:

On how to store transient items – how much of the messiness in any home stems from the detritus of everyday moments flung about? This may consist of toys, unopened mail, groceries that have yet to be put away, paperwork that needs to be filled out, or broken items that need to be mended. What should people do to solve this sort of untidiness?

Unclutterer’s advice: “In our home, we have an old laundry basket on the floor of our main coat closet where we put these sorts of items. It’s nice because even if one of us isn’t home, if someone stops by to pick up items, other people in the house know where to find whatever is being retrieved. We also put items in it we don’t want to forget when we run errands — like a bag full of dry cleaning.”

On parting with sentimental clutter – this is another potential landmine for the would be organized? How do you decide which items stay and which go when so many of them have memories attached? It may seem like a no-brainer to throw out old ticket stubs, but what if those tickets were used on a first date?

Unclutterer’s advice: “Only keep items you want to display/use, and then display/use them. If something really matters to you, you should want to share it with others. Putting something you say you “treasure” in a cardboard box in your attic actually means you think the item is junk and not something you want to keep.”

On moving past the fear of regret when purging clutter – for many people this is the largest hurdle they have in starting a decluttering project: the fear of throwing out something they will not be able to get back and regretting it. After all you can always buy a new teapot, but you will not be able to repurchase the one Grandma used to use to serve tea.

Unclutterer’s advice: “[I] ask myself the following questions before getting rid of an item:

  • What is the worst that can happen?
  • How would I behave if I were not afraid?
  • Would I buy it again if my home burned down?

“Once you know the answers to these questions, you can feel comfortable getting rid of an item if that is the right course of action for that item.” On getting started with a daily routine – here’s the other large hurdle for many people starting off: how to establish habits and patterns that will actually stick and work. Unclutterer’s advice: “I have a running list of what tasks need to be done. My list is a week long, and it lives on a bulletin board behind my desk (I’ve previously written about my search for the perfect bulletin board). Each Sunday, I review what must be done over the next week, write those actions on index cards, and pin them to the board.”

The Unclutterer staff has covered so many topics that it’s likely that they will have already touched on any area you may have a concern about. Staff writer Jeri Dansky has even covered Boot Butler as a boot storage solution! Anyone inspired to take on a home organization project would be well served to spend a few hours perusing their archives for hints and tips. Unclutterer is also a great resource for those with already established habits to get inspiration or support from their forums. Check it out today!