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READER E-MAIL QUESTIONS FOLLOWED BY RESPONSES 

This section is for you. E-mail me your clutter clearing questions, and I will do my best to post as many of them as I can right below with my response. 

 

How can I help my husband not to buy/collect unwanted things and help him with his hoarding problem.   We have a 2 year old and now that we have a child the problem is worse.    He has terrible angry and frustration over cleaning our house and getting rid of unwanted items.   Thanks for your help! Terri H.

Terri, without knowing the background to your question, here are some initial thoughts that might help:

1. Sit down together and agree on a household spending budget with individual spending limits for each person in the household.
2. Agree together to limit the space his purchases can take in your shared home. That is,  agree on a room or part of a basement or storage spot instead of  letting this stuff accumulate everywhere in a home.
3. See if you both might be motivated to sell items that have value and jointly decide on a purpose for the money that would generate.
4. Try John Gray's book "Men are from Mars Women are from Venus." Yes, it is a relationship book, but it might help each of you with clues on how to interact with your partner about these concerns without it becoming argumentative or harmful to your relationship.
5. Sometimes hoarding/buying issues are psychological, which is out of my realm of expertise, and it is helpful to do individual or couples therapy about your specific concerns.
 

Just looking for a small piece of advice. I am still working on clutter clearing.At present clearing storage area off my sons bedroom.Its mainly my belongings.I even have come across college notes from the late 1970's some lecture notes done by classmates back then.Would love to be able to track them down and hand back the handouts to them.What guideline do you follow in deciding what to get rid off? Many thanks! James in Ireland

James,

I appreciate your question. Thanks for thinking of me.

The standard piece of advice is: Keep whatever is beautiful, useful, or sentimental.

My thought is stuff packed away isn't being enjoyed: Maybe the meaningful items could be displayed or put in a working folder to contact those classmates as your next project so contacting them actually happens!

I also like the idea of keeping the memory rather than the "stuff." Maybe you could photograph the items and/or journal about them to preserve the memories without having to store the things.

Bottom line:You need to find out which option works/feels best for you, and try that. Sometimes clutter needs to come off in layers (like an onion) rather than at once--sort of human nature I think. You can do this! Best wishes and good luck.


HOW DO I KEEP CLOTHES NEAT AND ORGANIZED IN DEEP DRAWERS WITH A SMALL SURFACE AREA?  P.S. There isn't a lot of hanging space.

I suggest compartmentalizing those drawers. Whatever you use to divide the drawers will make best use of the small space if the dividers themselves use the full height of the drawers. You could cut cardboard shoe boxes, tissues boxes, or soda boxes to fit, or you could purchase plastic drawer dividers. When you have limited hanging space, you could add hooks inside the closet on either side, use the back of the closet door, or try hangers that hold more than one pair of pants or one shirt. Also, regularly rotate out the off season clothes to a different location. Good luck!


BARB, HOW CAN I GET MY HUSBAND TO HELP ME AROUND THE HOUSE?

I wish I had a quarter for every time this has come up. You are not alone. Here are a few ideas that might help: Try the book "Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus." Yes, it is a "relationship" book rather than a clutter book, but the techniques help avoid chore wars and tensions. Housework and clutter is a point of conflict in many relationships. Learn to interact positively by trying the techniques explained in the book. Also, model the good clutter control behavior you are hoping for. It may take years, but it works. Be specific when you make requests for help. Don't say "clean the kitchen." Say "please mop the kitchen floor and wipe the fingerprints off the appliances." Different people define dirt or clutter differently.


HOW CAN I ORGANIZE A SMALL HOUSE THAT HAS VERY LITTLE CLOSET SPACE? HELP!

No one in over a decade has ever walked up to me after a seminar to tell me they have huge closets and tons of extra storage space at home. but I'm not sure everyone has homes with minimal storage space. Clutter and "stuff" always expands to fill the space we give it. Try these thoughts:

Reduce clutter then organize what is left.

Check out some of the specialty catalogs and stores to buy or get ideas for storage products that work well in small spaces. Get creative!

Carefully manage what you bring into your house. Don't put yourself into the position of "needing" to buy a bigger house just because you keep bringing home more and more stuff!


Thank you for your e-mails. Please keep them coming! Also, feel free to check out and post to my blog.   Barb Tako