I know many of you are familiar with Don Aslett’s books about sorting, decluttering & cleaning–and I’m thrilled to be able to introduce his advice to Tipnut readers who have yet to discover his common sense (and often humorous) approach to taking back control of your living space.
Here’s a special treat with an excerpt from his book: For Packrats Only How to clean up, clear out and dejunk your life forever!
This article “Beware of Junk Bunkers” touches on one of my biggest bugaboos–Making room for clutter. I like finding creative ways to pack and organize my stuff. Sometimes though you have to ask yourself if you’re organizing needed items, or are you making room for clutter.
You can visit Don’s home on the web here: The Official Blog Of Don Aslett.
What’s a junk bunker? Anything that creates space for more unnecessary stuff. Example: you need maybe four knives in a kitchen to do everything you need to do. Then you get a nice knife holder and it has twelve slots…Or the desk is overflowing with stuff, 90 percent of which is junk. Instead of cleaning it, you buy a desk organizer (ie., a junk bunker), which allows you to stack it higher and deeper. Unfortunately junk, if stacked neatly enough, even looks valuable. Lots of closet organizers are just junk bunkers. Your closet is loaded, shoes are running over the threshold and out into the creek. Do you sort and unload and get rid of the foot-pinchers and ankle-breakers? No, you buy a junk bunker, a shoe storage unit. Now you can hang them up one side of the door and down the other (and rip the door off its hinges).
They call the new closet contraptions names like “closet organizer.” These and all other bunkers are just innocent pieces of plastic, wood, or metal; they don’t organize anything. You are the organizer, the king, the controller. You’re the one who has to teach your closets and cupboards some discipline to keep them tidy.
This is just the tighter girdle approach: there’s too much there, too many bulges and rolls, so we move from a 6-ply to an 8-ply girdle and it works (or seems to work) as long as we hold our breath. But the problem isn’t gone–it’s just out of sight. Beware the:
- Cedar chest: A fragrant way to protect things you never wear.
- File cabinet: A way to store paper junk vertically.
- Garment storage bag: Oxygen tent for dying dresses and comatose coats.
- Bookshelf: One of the more attractive ways of insulating a wall.
- China closet: A piece of furniture that keeps dust off the stuff you never feed anyone out of.
- Spice rack: A study in herbal archaeology.
- Hard disk: An excuse to keep every byte of the leftovers.
- Pegboard organizer: An ingenious way to keep unused things in plain view.
- Industrial shelving: A high-tech way to keep our boxes of useless stuff from being crushed by more of the same.
- Hardware chest: A way to organize your lack of control in hardware stores.
- Desk organizer: A chance to slip things into a slot before ignoring them.
- Tie rack: A short course in tie-style history.
- Toy box: A receptacle for broken toys.
- Banker’s box: A high-class way to hide obsolete papers.
- Plastic crate: A petrochemical cage for questionable stuff.
- Record album holder: A device for testing the compression strength of cardboard.
- Desk spike: Death by impalement for pieces of paper you’re trying to ignore.
- Video cassette library: A way to store movies you’ll never want to see more than twice.
- Drawer organizer: A way to add something plastic to the stuff rattling around in there.
- Trunk: A former piece of working luggage that now only makes trips to obscurity.
- Sewing basket: A decorative enclosure for three or four things you use occasionally, surrounded by snarled thread, unraveling bias tape, antique hooks and eyes, and tangled zippers.
- Whatnot: A handy place to put things you oughtnot have bought.
Source: From Don Aslett’s book, FOR PACKRATS ONLY, copyright 2002, Marsh Creek Press, used with permission.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Don Aslett and do recommend his books to anyone who wants to take back control of their living space, you can check out his bookstore here: Don’s Online Bookstore.