My first thought, just as an example, is: How much underwear do you have? If you keep it all for fifteen years, then even if you rarely buy any, it can pile up. Does it all live in a single drawer, and does that drawer have plenty of room for it? Or do you have extras that live in other places, or is the underwear drawer full even when there's a bunch of underwear in the laundry waiting to be washed? And the same for your socks, and the same for your T-shirts, and so on.
Breaking up quotes in the new system is a pain. Anyway, yeah, I didn't make that clear. I have 6 pair of underwear. 10 pair of socks. 2 bras. Clothes are not the problem. I just meant that I am so much not a clotheshorse that my collection of clothes doesn't grow and I don't have to wrestle with it.
Similarly, how many screwdrivers do you have? Even if you use them all, do you _need_ them all, or could you, say, get rid of six of different sizes and just keep the tiniest one for little screws and the medium-sized one for everything else? Do you have three or four sizes of wrenches? Do you need that many? Do you need any? How often do you use a wrench? If you remember using one in 2008 and that was the last time, maybe you should give all your wrenches away and wait to see if you need one again.
I don't think we have too many screwdrivers (we do have a few, but DH does use them). That's the thing, I don't think there's any item we have too many of. I think they are just not being put away when they are done with.
Can you describe some of the stuff? Maybe if you could tell us exactly what's on a particular shelf or drawer or stacked in the corner, we could find patterns that you can't see because you're too close to the situation.
That's an interesting idea. Maybe a photograph, even.
But that makes me realize something else. Some of this may be a perception issue. I get anxiety sometimes and I can get hung up on things. So here I'm thinking, "I'll go take a picture and post it" and I realize that except for one room (the notorious office) I guess I don't have any clutter to show you. Humph.
Right now the kitchen is good except for the cabinets. But everything is in the cabinets. I just have to make time to straighten up the cabinets because most of them are really messy. Not overstuffed, just messy. The counters are clear of everything except a dehydrator, a toaster, and a hot water maker. The pantry is cleaned up. The kitchen closet (it's an under-the-stairs closet) got totally done earlier this summer, and while it does have a lot of stuff in it, it all has a place and it's been maintained in its present state succsesfully since June. We used to never use it except ocassionally to shove something in it, but now it's an active storage space that we use every day, since board games are in there, some pantry items (potatoes, onions - because it's cool in there), one shelf has our small video collection, etc. Further back are bins with our Christmas stuff (not much - the Christmas bin actually has our TREE in it, plus the few ornaments and lights we have).
Dining room is fine except I have to organize our buffet, which is almost empty - I plan to use it for homeschooling materials. It's new furniture so I just need to figure out how I will organize it and place the things into it from elswhere in the house. There's a bookshelf in there but it's not overstuffed. Everything fits. The table itself is clear enough - it has 2 candles, a book I'm reading, and DH's Kindle, and that's it.
Living room is fine. It's not a typical living room - we have no furniture there. We have exercise equipment. Also DD was playing with some blocks and had a castle set up on the trampoline. I'm fine with that. It's not a mess, it's a nice construction that we'll put back away in the box for blocks in a few days I'm sure.
Bedroom 1 is fine except the closet. I have to go through the closet, and that one is a big job (DH said he would help me). The drawers are fine. The surfaces are all clear. There's nothing under the bed except one box that has DD's artwork. I go through it occasionally but it's only about 1/3 full right now.
Bedroom 2 is mostly fine, except the closet is a smell mess. Probably only 1/2 hour will fix it. It's not the clothes but just that DD likes to take some of her toys in there and play in there, so she has some stuffed animals plus some dress up clothes piled in there, plus she went through my milk crate that has winter hats and mittens and dumped that on the floor, sigh. The clothes themselves are fine, only half of the closet rod is full and that has both my clothes and DD's too. Also the bookshelf in there is not overstuffed but DH has just shoved a lot of books horizontally on there so it looks messy. I just have to put them back in their right places. Under the bed has some wayward things, no doubt - a sock here, a shoe there, a book here, some lost toys. Not a disaster but it needs addressing every 6 months it seems.
The bathroom is great, actually - we just finished a low budget remodel (paint and new hardware) and it's lovely.
There's nothing in the attic - we don't use it at all, for anything. I don't know about the basement, I literally never go in it. I know there's a few things but I don't care about it. It's not a disaster in there, just a few random things probably. It's really dirty down there though (the house is over 100 years old and the basement is not at all finished - it's one of those cobwebby basements). Maybe I'd like to clean it someday but it's not affecting my life at all.
It's just the office - the room I'm sitting in right now - that is an utter disaster. While we don't have a major paper problem like some people do, I do have some papers that I don't have a system for. I have a filing cabinet and it's nice and neat but utterly outdated. I have credit card statements from 1994 in there. I don't know what to do with them. So I don't have a current filing system because my nice and neat system is filled up and outdated. I don't really know what I want to keep, either. Let's see... I have a broken telephone. Trash, clearly. I don't know why it wasn't thrown out when we replaced it. Maybe because it's just one more piece of clutter among a lot, so I didn't bother. A book of CDs we had in the car that I brought in, but I don't know where to put. (You know, one of those wallets that keeps 12 CDs or whatever). A book from the libary - I do have a place for that, a specific library shelf. It just didn't get properly put away. A box of note cards, I don't know where to put them. I do write notes from time to time and have one I need to write, but I don't know where to put it AWAY. A new container of insect repellent - I opened it from the mail here at the desk, and just stuck it there. Should go in the bathroom I guess. This desk is just the catchall for a lot of stuff, when I'm cleaning up and am not sure what to do with an item, I stick it on my desk (if it's mine) or DH's desk (his). The reason I do that is because the whole room has never really been organized, so rather than cluttering up the rest of the house, I just add to the clutter in here.
Maybe I feel really cluttered not because the house is cluttered, but just this room/ I spend a lot of time in here - I work full time from this room. I don't want to point fingers or anything, but I think my clutter would be more marginal except DH has a ton of computer crap for his business so this room was doomed from the beginning. Oh, we have shelves, we have boxes, we have labels. But even when it's all organized, the visual effect is still a lot of clutter. This room also has DH's closet and up until last weekend it was a mess, but we cleaned it out and it's nice now. I've got a table next to me with a bunch of junk related to DH's business. I don't know what half of it is, even. Soldering iron. A roll of tape. Some AC adaptors. A hard drive. A bunch of little drawers full of littls screws and such - those are organized but somehow add visually to the cluttered feel of the room.
Maybe I need to hide the organizational items too, for my aesthetics. Like put a curtain over the shelves so I'm not seeing 1000 boxes of items on there (which are, again, decently organized but just visually overwhelming and not homey and wonderful). I mean, we're talking plastic shelving and plastic boxes. They are not gorgeous. A wood shelf with wicker baskets would obviously be lovely but not practical. But maybe that's why I'm always frustrated? Even if there IS organization? Because it's just ugly?