It’s time to declutter! Yeah! Let’s do some fall cleaning, MOTHERFUCKERS. Not gonna save that shit for the spring! Gonna get it done now, ahead of the busy eating season.
When you might need room to expand.
To help you hard-cleaning sonofaguns out, I’ve scoured the Internet for all the hottest, tautest decluttering tips. After testing and discarding the ones that don’t declutter for shit and adding a couple of my own design, I was left with a list of the baddest-ass tidying tips our generation knows, which I present to you below.
NOW LET’S CLEAN THIS PIECE OF SHIT.
#8. Set Aside Time
The main reason clutter accumulates is because of a lack of time. You don’t have time to put something away properly, so you drop it on the first available surface. Later, you still don’t have time to put it away properly, and you also have something else in your hands, so that gets set down on top of the first thing. Cluttering is always the easiest option, and the more you employ it, the more time the eventual decluttering takes, and the problem only gets worse.
Declaring yourself queen of Clutter Mountain is not a viable coping strategy.
So you’re going to need to set aside a specific block of time for decluttering. Set aside a lot; this will take longer than you think. You’re essentially dealing with the accumulation of dozens of deferred decisions, and it will take a while to make all of those.
As with most large tasks, you may find it easier if you break this up into chunks, by doing one room or closet at a time. That’s fine, but don’t delay too long between those chunks. One decluttered area doesn’t do you that much good, and those deferred decisions will start piling up again. In my experience, it didn’t take long for my freshly decluttered area to become swampy and dank again.
#7. Reverse Your Clothes Hangers
One specific trick for decluttering clothes is to put everything on hangers, then hang them backwards in your closet (so you have to reach underneath to unhook them). Then, when replacing any clothes that you’ve worn, you rehang them normally. After six months or a year or whatever you’ll soon see from the hangers facing in the right direction which of your clothes you actually wear and can throw the rest into the sea.
It must be the sea. Don’t cheap out on this point.
The only problem with this is that there might be some garments you wear infrequently that shouldn’t be thrown away; your seasonal clothes or good suit or dressy bondage gear or whatever. Which means this technique will still require you to make a judgment call for each garment on the reversed hanger, and it was your inability to make those judgment calls that got you into this mess in the first place.
Another problem I noticed is that because of the time it takes to wait for your hangers to do their magic, this technique encourages procrastination rather than action. If you are capable of making these decisions, you probably know what clothes you do and don’t wear — you don’t need your clothes hangers to whisper these secrets into your ear.
(spookily) “Throw away the brown shirt.”
“Shut up, Dale! No, throw away the blue shirt. Throw away ALL the blue shirts.”
No matter what technique you use, you’re going to have to efficiently decide what to do with each object you examine. The easiest way is to start moving things into one of three piles. Toss, Donate, or Keep. The Toss pile can go straight into a garbage bag.
If you’re throwing away actual garbage bags, you have to empty them first,
then put them into new garbage bags.
If after working through a couple rooms this way you seem to get the hang of it, then that’s honestly all the tips you need. This just takes effort, and that’s not something I can give you over the Internet.
Traditionally, I have given my readership the exact opposite.
But if you’re like me and find yourself making really slow progress, with your Toss and Donate piles growing slowly, if at all, you might have a bigger problem. Obviously you don’t want to self-diagnose a psychological condition like hoarding just because you read a column on a comedy website. You’d need some kind of quiz for that. But if you’re cognizant enough of your clutter problem to get this far, then you might also be aware enough to realize when you need professional help.
#5. Have Some Booze
But professional help is expensive, so let’s unpack what we’re trying to do here. This is about making hard decisions, and those are always easier if you don’t understand them. This means that wastedly plowing through your landfill of an apartment with a bottle of brown liquor and a garbage bag for a shirt is the smartest thing you could possibly do.
I don’t want to encourage irresponsible drinking, so please make sure to wear a high-viz garbage bag.
When I tried this myself, it worked great, and I soon found myself wastedly hauling a ton of stuff down to the charity donation bin at the end of the block. Success!
Less successful was what happened next, when I wastedly traded my clutter for an even larger pile of soiled garments from that donation bin.
In my defense, a lot of those dog sweaters looked like they’d been worn only once.
As I sifted through my stinky haul, I realized that it was time to face the truth. I needed real help.
#4. Call A Professional
You’ve got a few options if you do seek professional help. Junk-removal companies can do all the heavy lifting for you, though they won’t be of much assistance with the emotional hand-holding if you’re having trouble deciding what to get rid of. A full psychologist could help you do that, though those don’t come cheap and usually want to stay far, far away from your stinkhole.
“Can we find another name for that?”
But there are professional declutterers out there, experts at patiently explaining what they do to people at parties and also at decluttering. Not only are they willing to come to your house and make the hard decisions you can’t, they can then execute them before you’ve had a chance to change your mind.
“Let’s start with throwing away all of these garbage cans.”
When I tried this, it took a couple more drinks to work up the nerve, as well as a bit of wasted web browsing, but I eventually found one such expert in my area. He rushed right over, and we made pretty good progress, getting rid of most of the soiled dog garments I’d recently acquired. But when we got back down to my original clutter, we hit the same walls as before. In these situations, decluttering experts will try to get permission from you to tackle a room by themselves, without your input. But you don’t have to let them; they can’t make you do anything if you’re not willing to let go.
Which means you need motivation.
#3. Start A Fire
Fundamentally, the biggest problem here is your inability to set priorities. In your sick mind, the benefit of a clean apartment is somehow diminished when compared with the benefit of keeping seven knife blocks with no knives in them.
“Is that … half a kayak? That’s worth less than no kayak at all.”
“NO I LOVE IT.”
To help you get past this mental block, some declutter experts recommend a thought exercise in which you imagine what you would save if your house was on fire. Your children, sure, your elderly parents, yes, your spouse, of course. But assuming you don’t have any of those, because they can’t bear to live in your stinkhole, what do you choose to save then? The imaginary smoke helps you pierce the smoke in your own mind to help you see what’s truly important to you.
That’s the theory, anyway. I had a hard time wrapping my head around it when my hoarding expert explained it to me. So when he wasn’t looking I just wastedly set a fire.
Panicking isn’t strictly speaking a tip, but if you get deep down into decluttering you’ll likely experience a similar emotion. “Oh no, can I really live without this.” “Oh, I really wish I hadn’t thrown that out.” “Oh God, the flames are getting higher.”
“Oh no, my vintage moonshine stills!”
Once you start to panic, you’re no longer thinking clearly, so try to avoid making any further decisions. No more picking what to donate, or tidying up what you’re saving, or deciding whether you should set other fires to fight the first fire you set. Just calm down, take some deep breaths, and go outside. If you feel dizzy, that might be smoke inhalation, so maybe go outside before those deep breaths.
There. Feel better? Now back to those decisions.
#1. Save The Professional
It will eventually come to pass that the professional you hired will be angry with you for trapping them in a fire and then pass out from said fire. This occurs during 75 percent of all high-level decluttering scenarios. And here at last we see something that is undeniably worth saving: a human life. So have another couple swigs of brown liquor and get right to that.
This will also “save” you from a second-degree murder charge.
And with that one, most important thing saved, you will find that you are past your mental block. The rest of the decluttering will seem to take care of itself, and soon it will be obvious which must be thrown away.
All of it.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and has dozens of mental blocks still to get past. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.