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Confessions, Chapter 2

Posted by Sue on May 9, 2012  

Confessions of a Professional Organizer

When last we left our heroine, she was sitting in the counting house, counting out her bags of STUFF. Today we find her suddenly remembering that it’s Wednesday, and she was supposed to blog on Monday. Better late than never.

The question of the week is, “Am I Cleaning or am I Decluttering?” My biggest issue in decluttering my home is that I spend all my would-be-decluttering time cleaning. It’s a 200+ year old farm house and attracts dirt and cobwebs like a six year old attracts scraped knees.

The precipitating event is daughter #5, Hannah’s imminent return home from college. Despite the promises that I made myself that I wouldn’t clean up after the confusion she left over spring break, I couldn’t leave the dust and the clutter just lying there. So, Sunday became Clean Out Hannah’s Room Day. It really didn’t take all day – perhaps an hour or two. But that was an hour or two that I told myself I’d purge the next victim on my list of rooms.

When it came to writing to you, dear Reader, about my decluttering progress this week, I had to ask if what I did could be called decluttering or if it was just cleaning? Okay, not a question to rock the world. But if I’m going to make progress this year in purging my house, it’s something I need to be clear about.

So what is decluttering (besides a word that my spell check tells me doesn’t exist)? In my book, decluttering involves

  • Sorting
  • Purging
  • Creating space that is suited to each item’s use
  • Restoring sanity

Although we sort things and return them to their designated spots when we clean, it’s a different kind of sorting than we do when we declutter. When we clean, we’re generally not getting rid of anything but garbage. When we declutter, the point is to reduce the amount of stuff, and so we sort things into piles of keep, goes elsewhere, get rid of, don’t know and toss out. And as it’s difficult to do this with someone else’s stuff ~too many of those decisions are personal ~ I have to conclude that although her bedroom needs decluttering, that wasn’t what I was doing on Sunday. I was simply restoring sanity (mine), and making a welcoming environment for her homecoming.

But despite this, my bag count has increased. I’d been storing several bags of clothes for possible resale. Daughter #1, Claire, was sorting through some of them in search of a shirt. She challenged me to forget about consigning the clothes and just give them away. After a moment’s hesitation, I consented. Although there was a touch of angst when I brought them to the local donation center, the relief of not having to process them overrode any regret.

Thus, the count – which, for clarity’s sake, is only for household purging projects, not weekly household garbage and recycling:

Total garbage bags to date: 3

Total recycling bags to date: 2

Total donation bags to date: 13

Total boxes of books to date: 3

Until next week … Sue

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