The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

October 17, 2010

Patty Crane, Book Review: E-book helps homeowners clear clutter

JOPLIN, Mo. — With the holidays approaching, I wanted to showcase some titles in Joplin Public Library’s e-book collection. As I was browsing through titles such as “Holiday Howlers: Jokes for Punny Parties” and “Creative Activities for Young Children,” I ran across a title that stopped me in my browsing tracks.

“Clutter Cure: Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space, & Creating the Home of Your Dreams,” by Judi Culbertson, may have been written for me.

I knew I needed help when, upon receiving the news that my friend is coming to stay, my initial joy was followed by dread. I could no longer delay doing something with all the things that went into the guest bedroom “temporarily.”

Culbertson has a three-step approach to dealing with all the treasures (or not) that many of us hold onto, despite their usefulness. The three steps Ñ identify, assess and take action Ñ seem simple enough.

The “I have it, I don’t need it and I’ll dispose of it” strategy will certainly work to help clear my bedroom. But what happens after my friend leaves? Will the bedroom again become the temporary home for all my treasures? What about the rest of the house and the garage?

“The Clutter Cure” is not just about getting rid of stuff but about identifying your feelings about what you keep and creating a place “you will love, use effectively and take pride in.”

The first step, “identify,” helps you recognize what led you to amass the clutter and what is your emotional attachment to each item. If you cannot recognize the emotion behind your behavior to change it, you will be destined to repeat it.

Your first task is to take each item that you own and fit it into one of the eleven categories detailed in the book. Some categories such as “But It’s Still Perfectly Good” or “I Paid Good Money for This” are fairly easy to identify and fit items in.

Others such as “Knocked for a Loop” are more about life circumstances such as a new job, children, or divorce that changes our focus and behavior. They address the underlying emotion of our behavior, not our emotional attachment to things.

Once you’ve gone through everything and have your list, your next task is not to get rid the stuff you may be thinking you don’t need, but to “assess.” This step requires you to envision the place you want. What mood do you want the space to reflect, warm and cozy, serene, peaceful, kid-friendly? What do you have that will help create that mood?

After you’ve done this for each separate living space in your home you are ready for “take action.” You will now have an idea what will fit in the spaces you have envisioned and what you can no longer use.

If you have trouble finding new homes for the items that do not fit in your new space, Culbertson has some very good suggestions for ways to distribute items that you don’t want but others would find useful. Once you have successfully completed the three steps, you should have a space that you are not only proud of, but will be easy to maintain.

If this approach to organization and dealing with clutter does not appeal to you, try other titles in the e-book collection. Some of the titles available are “Help, I’m Knee-Deep in Clutter,” “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living” and “Ready, Set, Organize.”

Also if reading an e-book is not for you, the library has many titles on organization and clutter control you can check out to help you deal with your own guest bedroom.

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