Clearing Clutter Choices

Where other clutter books are divided up by topics - the garage, the kitchen, and so on - Barbara Tako's book "Clutter Clearing Choices" is divided up by season. You have your spring, summer, fall, and winter chapters - and then you get a special area on Christmas.

This set of topics will make sense for you if you're the type of person to go back and re-read a book several times over a year. That was as fall approaches you can read the Fall section, and re-set yourself for taking on the challenges of fall. However, it can be a bit off-putting if you're the type to sit down and read your way through a book. Yes, if you're reading it in spring the spring section will be helpful - but then the entire remaining 3/4 of the book will talk about things which don't help you much at all. Also, as you might imagine, things that end up in "summer" might apply to other seasons as well, in a more generic way. So if you try to focus on reading Fall items in the Fall season, you could easily miss out on some great tips in Spring that could apply to you too.

So this leaves you re-reading the entire book every season and having to skim large parts of it. I'm just not sure I'm keen on the layout of the book for these reasons.

Another issue hits me right away. In Chapter 1, you have 2.5 pages, and in that content she's already recommended 3 other books for you to buy plus 2 websites for you to go read. If you're trying to relax and read this book curled up in your favorite chair, it feels like you need a notebook at your side and a credit-card, to build up your giant library of content. It frustrates me when you are reading a book to learn something and they say "Here's step 1 but to get the rest of the story, make sure you go out and buy book Z." I bought THIS book because I wanted to learn the solutions.

And then - really, I was enthusiastic about reading this book, but it was amazing how the issues hit me one after another - Barbara is talking about setting up a weight goal for herself, and her reward was going to be GOING OUT TO EAT. Even she admits it's an inane idea - but then why do it? Why promote it? Food should NEVER be a reward. That sets people up for all sorts of grief. Food should be a normal, wonderful part of your daily life that you do not use either as a reward or a punishment. Use a trip to the theater as a reward, or buying yourself a new iPod. Do NOT use food as as reward.

Just when I was pleading internally for me not to hit another hurdle, she talks about throwing away clothes you're not wearing any more. Talk about nailing one of my pet peeves. NO fabric or clothes should ever be thrown away. Even stained and ripped clothes get re-used as quilts and rags in developing countries. Never, ever throw fabric of any kind into the waste stream. Donate ALL of it for reuse.

I was almost afraid to turn pages at this point, but I seemed to have reached a calm area. The book really does have a lot of wonderful information in here. Sort through every commonly used area - front closets, top drawers - and make sure the items in there ARE used frequently. Put little-used items in back storage. The more you do this sort of sorting, the easier your life will be. Be persistent in working on issues. It can take a couple of tries to get something right. Develop relationships with people who support and nurture you, who believe in your goals and help you reach them. Keep lists of your goals, and work steadily towards them. Even if you do just ONE tiny change every week, they add up. Work on those little steps. If it's a challenging type of change, like eating more veggies, keep at it for at least three weeks. Sometimes it can take a little while for a change to "stick". Give yourself leeway for slips, and keep plugging at it. Soon it will become a part of your life.

Decorate your world with items you LOVE. If it's something a family member gave you, take a photo of it and then donate it. Your personal world is about you. If you have it for other reasons - you liked it 20 years ago, it was historical, it was expensive, etc. - take photos of it then donate it. Someone else will adore it, and you'll have the images to enjoy.

Even if you're happy with your world, think about tweaking it every few months. If you have a favorite photo on the wall and it is there for 20 years, you no longer notice it. It's just a fade-in-the-background part of your scenery. If you swap it out every 6 months with another photo, then it becomes new and interesting.

When you're organizing, keep like things together. Put all light bulbs in one shelf. Put all pencils in one drawer. It greatly reduces your "hunting" time.

Do you love garage sales? These just add to your clutter and junk. Only take things if you absolutely need them or plan on selling them quickly for money.

I do like how she says that clutter ties up your life - clearing clutter frees up your time and emotions for new opportunities. Make sure you have laid out your priorities in life - spiritual, relationships, career - whatever they are. Focus on them, and release any other clutter items. Put your time, energy and space into your passions.

I enjoy her rule of "one in, one out". If you take something new into the house, do a cleaning and donate something to a charity. Keep the balance in your home.

When you're cleaning a given room, have three boxes there. One for charity, one for trash, and one for "things to go elsewhere". Do NOT actually bring items out to other rooms while cleaning. If you do, you're likely to get distracted and not finish your current task. I would say strongly here that you also need a box for "recycling". You should throw away as LITTLE as possible. Only items which absolutely have no other option should be thrown away.

If you have special items stored away in boxes, find a way to display them. They do nobody any good hidden away. If you really feel you'll never display them, take lots of photos of them and then sell them or give them away. Let them be somewhere that they're used and loved.

To summarize, there was a LOT of great content in this book. It just is very poorly organized. It's nearly impossible, if you remember that there was a great chapter on dealing with "draining relationships", to find it again. Would that be a spring topic or a fall one? If you remember she talked about asking for help with your cleaning tasks, would that be found in winter? Maybe that's summer? There were also some rather questionable tips mixed in with the great ones. Finally there were WAY too many promos for other books and websites you should go off and use. It was almost like being in a link farm.

So I would recommend getting this from the library, reading it through once, and knowing that you should take notes during that read. Organize the notes yourself in a logical way. That way you can use them in an easier way going forward.

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