Decluttering Strategies: Focus on the Turbulence 

QUOTE: I quizzed my fellow guests for new strategies. “Focus on the dump zones,”advised one friend. “You know, the dining room table, the kitchen counter, the place where everyone dumps their stuff.”“Right,”I said. “Our biggest dump zone is a chair in our bedroom. We never sit in it, we just pile clothes and magazines on it.”“Junk attracts more junk. If you clear it off, it’s likely to stay clear. And here’s another thing,”she continued. “When you buy any kind of device, put the cords, the manual, all that stuff in a labeled Ziploc bag. You avoid having a big tangle of mystery cords, plus when you get rid of the device, you can get rid of the ancillary parts, too.”“Try a ‘virtual move,’”another friend added. “I just did it myself. Walk around your apartment and ask yourself—if I were moving, would I pack this or get rid of it?”“I never keep anything for sentimental reasons alone,”someone else claimed. “Only if I’m still using it.”These suggestions were helpful, but that last rule was too draconian for me. I’d never get rid of the “Justice Never Rests”T-shirt from the aerobics class I took with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when I clerked for her, even though it never did fit, or the doll-sized outfit that our preemie Eliza wore when she came home from the hospital. (At least these items didn’t take up much room. I have a friend who keeps twelve tennis racquets, left over from her days playing college tennis.) When one of my college roommates visited New York, we waxed lyrical over coffee about the glories of clutter clearing. “What in life,”I demanded, “gives immediate gratification equal to cleaning out a medicine cabinet? Nothing!”“No, nothing,”she agreed with equal fervor. But she took it even further. “You know, I keep an empty shelf.”“What do you mean?”“I keep one shelf, somewhere in my house, completely empty. I’ll pack every other shelf to the top, but I keep one shelf bare.”I was struck by the poetry of this resolution. An empty shelf!





What gets your attention?

What human needs or problems relate to the quote?

What is it like to have that problem?

What other resources connect to this idea?

What is the solution suggested in the quote, if there is one?

What would a camera see if the solution was implemented in my life, in my family’s life, or in my church or community?

What are the steps that I would take on Monday to implement that solution?



What does this say to my context as a …

… person?

… follower of Jesus? 

… to a church? 

… to a community – my neighbors?



The quote is from The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin,  located at page

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