I never thought of myself as a hoarder. But after reading Everything That Remains, I looked at my possessions with a fresh eye. And I started purging. Every piece of clothing that didn’t fit my body or my lifestyle, or that I simply did not wear, went to the thrift shop. My entire wardrobe now fits in about 6 feet of space.

Next was the home office. Every piece of paper was scanned, and many were shredded. All my paper now fits in two lateral file drawers. Desk drawers were emptied and purged. Books disappeared from the shelves.

I feel peaceful. Now the trick is to keep stuff from even coming in the door.

In Praise of Clutter

I’m something of a minimalist, or at least getting there. I adore The Minimalists and the KonMari method. All my pants are black (in the city) or beige (in the country). My husband is decidedly not. He’s not a hoarder but …

But if you’re tired of minimalism, take a look at a new book by Jennifer McCartney called The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place: The Art of Being Messy. Countryman Press, 2016, which I first ran into at Apartment Therapy.

McCartney says things like this:

“Break free from the bonds of tidiness and triumph over the boring forces of uniformity and predictability. Every tidy home looks the same—particularly when there’s nothing left in it—but a messy home, now that’s a better way to live. Better, more honorable, and truer to the American Dream in so many ways.”

She disposes of Marie Kondo thusly:

“Reject the KonMari mindset; it will only bring shame and guilt upon your household when you ultimately fail.”

She offers up some support from folks you may know:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”—ALBERT EINSTEIN”

“A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. . . . That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”—GEORGE CARLIN”

“Buying is a profound pleasure.”—SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR”

She said something that helps me deal with my hubbie’s habits:

“Being mad about clutter is a waste of time. Being happy about it is pretty weird. Acceptance is key.”

McCartney does draw a line between clutter, which she enjoys, and hoarding:

“Once you’ve tipped the scales from messiness and clutter into hoarding, though, you’ve go t a problem …hoarding is a serious thing that could signify some bigger issues and also get you on television. Hopefully while you’re still alive, but maybe after you’re dead.”

I highly recommend the book. One word of warning: McCartney likes to cuss. Nothing too horrible, but if it bothers you, this is not the book for you.

I got a good laugh our of it, but at the end of the day, my movement towards minimalism is the right direction for me. My capsule wardrobe, my paperless desk, my lovely drawers, truly do bring me joy, as Marie Kondo would say.


Marie Kondo

Inbox 0

That is my email goal each day and I reach it within 20 minutes. I glance at each email header. Many of them I can swipe immediately to trash. The rest are skimmed and sent to one of my folders. If the action requested takes less than 2 minutes, I do it.

This is one of David Allen’s rules:

“1. Do it. If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.”

The rest go into one of these folders:

  • Action
  • Read
  • Waiting
  • Save

Occasionally I may have an additional folder for a special project, but I avoid having lots of little folders. I go through each folder once a day, and transfer items as needed. Items in the Read folder are either read, saved, or deleted. Sometimes after reading an article or post I’ll tweet it or save it to Pocket.

As the wonderful David Allen says:

“… [G]etting “in” empty doesn’t mean you’ve handled everything. It means that you’ve deleted what you could, filed what you wanted to keep but don’t need to act on, done the less-than-two-minute responses, and moved into your reminder folders all the things you’re waiting for and all your actionable e-mails.

Allen, David. Getting Things Done

Once a year I export all the emails in Save to a PDF file.