Posted by Guest Author on 10/19/2023 to Products
Long before organizing gurus got their own TV shows, our founder Jeff Campbell published Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet. The book provided practical step-by-step solutions to help you and your family organize your home and simplify your daily lives. Clutter Control was originally published in May 1992 - just a few months before Marie Kondo's 6th birthday!
In 2023, seems we all have more time at home than ever before and the topic of organizing keeps coming up. So we wondered precisely how relevant is a 31 year old book designed to help even the worst pack rat get their home (and life) organized. What better way to find out than to present the book to someone who just moved a lifetime of collected stuff halfway across the country to their retirement destination?
Read for yourself:
I was recently given a copy of Jeff Campbell’s Clutter Control. I immediately thought it was probably a humorous look at housekeeping, and looked forward to it distracting me from the job I needed to do. I had just retired and left the home, city, and state, where I had lived for 25 years to move across country. I have moved many times (prior military), but this was a big one. I am a lot older, and 25 years of stuff was ready to box up and move…and that is just what we did! I truly wish my friend had gifted me with this book BEFORE the move, but here we are and it will be my guide NOW.
The book purposely does not give one of those “self-scoring tests” but there is a list of consequences of clutter and an interesting list of questions to ask ourselves…just to see where we place in the world of STUFF. Not all the issues pertain to me, so I felt pretty good that I was not one of the worst…but the ones that smacked me, were dead-on. YES, I can’t find things and waste a lot of time looking for them. (Everyday!) YES, my collections are starting to feel like just something to clean. (from Beer Steins to Scottie dogs!) And I do feel like I am living in the past, with no room for the present or future. (Barbie dolls since 1963…and I have no daughters or granddaughters.) And YES, I have more than one junk drawer. (no comment!)
The book presents a set of rules to apply when you are ready to attack the job of getting your house organized. I almost quit at RULE 1: When in doubt, throw it out. That’s a hard one for me but the book breaks down our reasons for keeping things forever. It gets very specific with things like books and gadgets that we don’t use, and offers solutions for storage or how to get rid of them. One of the rules deals with recycling. Another with “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” This was always the rule when I was growing up in a family of eight, and I think in some ways, I still live like this. I can always find my keys, a pair of scissors, and the dog’s leash. But don’t ask me where the umbrella is, or to find a flashlight, so I still need a bit of help in this area. There is a rule about Labeling things. I plan to do this. I have boxes and have to look in each one to see if it is the one I want. How simple just to label it with a brief description of contents? Rule 8 is DO SOMETHING. I know what needs doing and have a good idea where I want to be in my organization, but not sure where to start or how to get there. So here I am in a new home with ALL my stuff and I do not want to pay for storage, and I don’t want my house stuffed to the seams with things. I love their line “we want to put your house on a diet, not stuff it in a girdle!”
The core of the book is a guide on getting clutter-free and organized. They discuss solutions and tips for every room in the house. They cover basements, attics, garages, closets, cupboards, and drawers with ideas varying from sorting by groups, sizes, alphabetization, and purpose. A section is devoted to children’s rooms and teaching them how to become better organized. There are helpful tips with bill-paying and the value of file cabinets. We can learn how to organize and handle all the paperwork in our life, as well as how to remember birthdays and even do our shopping better. This book was written in 1992, so some parts will seem dated, as we have advanced our technology to “store” a lot of our information. We store photos and recipes differently, and we rarely save magazines anymore, and most correspondence is done online.
There is an interesting look at the psychology of clutter. It explains WHY we collect and save and helps us understand why so many of us get into trouble with it. I can call myself a “packrat” without feeling that I am mentally deficient, and think I am ready to tackle my household. I now know where to start and where I want to end up. Clutter Control will guide me through. This is a good book to pass on and I know a few to whom I will be sending it.
Thanks for listening and I hope this little review was helpful.