AT on...The Art of Decluttering

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I'm fascinated by other peoples' clutter management strategies. It's handy that I've lived in apartment buildings for most of my life. I've had ample opportunity to see other people's clutter -- and to pick up on the occasional great decluttering technique.

For instance: the lobby/mailroom of my old building was graced with a recycling bin. It was a neighbor's idea, and this industrious woman had not only convinced the Super to accept its presence there but had persuaded him to empty the bin for us on a regular basis. Because of this wonderful, well-placed bin, junk mail never even passed the threshold of my apartment.

Another building I lived in had a book exchange table in the laundry room where you could anonymously trade your unwanted books, magazines, and CDs. The table didn't stop me from buying new media, but it did keep the overall mass down.

But alas, junk mail, books, and magazines are only part of the clutter management story. There are also all those pesky pieces of mail that aren't junk, that have fleeting importance. Like wedding invitations that come four months before the event. Where do you keep them in the meantime? My solution for many years (cribbed from a room-mate in college) was to tack things like that on a cork-covered stretch of wall that I called my ever-changing "top-of-mind" board (sort of like an Inspiration Board). There they would live for a time beside other small objects, photos, and snippets that I wanted to keep in my consciousness. Over time the board also became a way of making my clutter into art.

For many people there's also the old "binge and purge." A friend of mine has mastered this technique. He lets it all slide for six months at a time, but come Daylight Savings changeover days twice a year, he hunkers down in his apartment for a big day of sorting, cleaning, and loose-end resolution. (He also checks the batteries in his smoke detectors and updates his resume.) Those days are painful, but they only come 'round twice a year.

Image: MC =)

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