Categorical Clutter - When it helps and when it hurts

Basements are fascinating bastions of clutter, so many things end up down there because we just don't know what to do with them.  They're too old, too ugly, too boring, too guilt inducing, too small, too big, too confusing or too emotionally charged to have in the spaces we use every day. 

What's great about basements, when it comes to clearing clutter, is that it's often very easy to see categories of stuff.  (This is true for most storage areas of your home so if you don't have a basement, look in your closets.)  For example:  Video Cassettes!  Audio Cassettes!  Vinyl!  8-tracks!  Reel to Reel!
  Sorry I got carried off on a wave of old technology, but that is just the sort of thing that you'll find "down there". 

All of the above are clear categories that can significantly simplify clearing clutter.  For example you can categorically say "I don't keep Video Cassettes!  Why?  Because, A - I no longer own a VCR and B, even if I did would I watch wobbly episodes of David Letterman from 1992?"  Wow, you've just made your life 17 swillion times easier!  (If you're not sure how many a swillion is, it's a lot.)  Instead of having to contemplate each and every Video Cassette you run across all you have to do is check your list of items that are categorically clutter and you're good to throw. 

Here are some things that make for good categorical clutter:

  • Clothes that are too big
  • Clothes that are too small
  • Socks or underwear with holes in them
  • Magazines more than 3 months old
  • National Geographic
  • Old media or ways to experience old media (tape player, VCR, tapes, video cassettes etc...)
  • Equipment connected to old sports of activities you no longer participate in
  • Etc...etc...etc...

Here are some things that do not make for good categorical clutter:

  • Items that belong to a relative who has passed away
  • Anything sentimental or emotionally charged

When we look at emotionally charged clutter categorically, it becomes almost impossible to deal with.  Trying to sort through items you've inherited from a parent who has passed away is hard enough without feeling like you have to make a decision on the whole lot.  It is imperative that you start dealing with these items individually.  You may find categories once you get started that will make things easier, just remember, "Mom's video cassettes" is a category but "Mom's treasures" is not. 

Have fun playing with categories and let me know how it goes.