Daily Archives: February 21, 2012

What IS a pack rat to do?

Add a table, chair, and shoe holders here? How?

Seriously.

One of my projects this year is to get rid of all the stuff in my house that we don’t use – sometimes because we can’t find it – and find ways that make sense to store the rest. And looking good would be nice, but let’s not boldly go too far from the household comfort zone.

Of course, one category of stuff I’ve bought far too often is books of advice on becoming organized. None of these books solved the problem; but is that the authors’ fault, or mine?

A reasonable guess would be that I’m more to blame than the people who write advice books. So I decided to take the first one I could find and spend a month doing everything it tells me to do. (FWIW, my source of decluttering wisdom turned out to be What’s a (dis)Organized Person to Do? by Stacey Platt. I’d call it a fairly typical specimen of this kind of book.)

The first chapter – “General Principles” – sounds promising. Alas, it’s only eight pages long, with lots of white space. Worse, Platt makes several good points but doesn’t seem to realize that some of us need advice on HOW to apply them. I especially like “Live within your space means”, but! I’ve been overspending my space (a Kindle’s nice, but I could still use a Tardis) for many years. I need someone to explain how to efficiently clear away the mountains of stuff – but I already know I can’t swallow the ruthless “just throw it out, you shouldn’t want it” approach that a friend tried to make me use.

(No, I’m not out of control enough to be entertainingly pilloried on one of those TV shows about hoarders. Just far enough out of control to make life way too complicated.)

Well, never mind. I’m going to follow the room by room advice if it kills me, and by the last page my home will be a showplace. Right?

Not so fast. Platt starts with the entryway, and wants us to organize that area with prettily matching hangers in the coat closet, a table or shelf to hold keys, cell phone, mail, and more, “containers for hats, scarves, and gloves; boot and shoe storage; a place to sit.” Suuure. I’ve got fifteen inches / thirty-eight centimeters of free space next to my front door. That’s not going to hold all that extra furniture.

And the four and a half feet (135 cm) wide floor space in my kitchen isn’t going to hold a butcher-block island and the kitchen table she suggests either. What was all that about living within your space budget?

I don’t mean to jump on Platt, or not very hard. Her book is typical of the genre. On the other hand, I’m not about to rush out and buy a bigger house so I can follow her advice.

I guess I’m on my own. 😦