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Any advice for a packrat? Answered

Step 1: Admit you have a problem.

Yep, I have way too much junk.

Books, magazines, old computers (some really old), salvaged stuff, furniture we didn't use after a remodeling, tools, parts saved for 'future projects,' camping stuff (how many backpacks do I really need?), old skis, clothing, etc.

It's getting bad. Last week I bought a new airbrush, 'cause I couldn't find the other two I already own. And that's certainly not the first tool that's a duplicate.

Both our parents (the wife's and my) were the same. My sister and brother-in-law get rid of everything to cope. But they over-compensate-- there's hardly a book or a magazine in their home (so spotless it's creepy.)

Any advice? Any former 'packrats?' If so, how did you "get clean?"



3 words gasoline match insurance!

4th word: Prison!! (OK, I thought it was funny...But...) ...didn't I just read in another thread you'd like to be a firefighter? Jokes like this will come back and haunt you later. It's harmless here, but say, on Myspace -- employers are frequently checking public comments... Just a thought.

Well, he didn't say burn it "inside the house" :-)

I did enjoy ledz's comment--it's the quickest solution ;-) (Re: the 'insurance' comment & the firefighter thing. I don't take it seriously. It's just that dang 'persistence' of the internet...)

Did you watch Oprah today? Dr. Phil also did a declutter episode recently. There are some books... I'm using the flylady.net 15 minute a day declutter technique. I do better with small changes rather than drastic ones.

I think 15 minutes of tossing / organizing / whatever is a great idea...if not every day, then at least 3-4 days a week. At least our whole house isn't a wreck--just my office, the basement, and one bedroom we use for storage. The basement got bad after we remodeled. Although we gave away a lot of furniture, we couldn't part with some pieces--which went into the basement, and became "clutter reefs" (I think I just invented that term.)

yeah, somewhere someday someone may Google "ledzeppie" + "fire" and come up with that comment

one simple rule, if you haven't touched it in a year....its garbage....... if you haven't touched it in 6 months.....its probably garbage.

No, if you haven't touched it in six months, it's a work in progress. If you haven't touched it for a year or more, it's archive material. If you don't recognise it when you find it, you've dug right through the back of your garage into the back of next door's.

K-man! Once again you are right. Except I don't have a garage... I think the lack of recognition has more to do with senior moments. Yes I am admitting to being a senior...

Wrong I commonly don't recognize things I've made, I tried to light a cigarette with the lighter flash drive the other day... the best one was my boards shelves, I figured out the maimed Xbox quick enough, could barely differentiate between a CD player board and a PSone which was going to be turned in to a sweet Cd player until I figured out that it had stopped working becasue the ribbon connector for the drive was wrecked. i have two powerful speaker on my desk, wired to another Cd player across the room giving it four speakers but the original unit is under my desk for the speakers... Right in front of me there's a massive bar from a xylophone I nicked from school years ago and on the bookshelves there's a massive cast iron cycle route sign (I have zero recollection of how I removed that)

I'd go along with the six month rule, but add a dollar value specified by your own tolerance.

Crap, I'd need a pretty big dumpster. ;-) We do manage to give away some stuff....but something always comes back. We gave a nice bookshelf to our neighbors, so they gave us a 29" TV. I've been unwilling to give up my old computer systems (CBMs / amigas / TRS80s / cocos / apples / macs, etc.) but at some point I should 'thin the herd,' if I can find someone who actually would use them...

I'll take a mac =]

(Or a laptop, I've been wanting an extra one for a certain project...)

Are you in (or near) Ohio? I doubt I'd go to the trouble of shipping. (And are you sure you'd want a classic (68K) Mac?)

Maybe someone based in Florida will read this.... Anyone have an unwanted classic Mac for Weissensteinburg?

You could build interfaces between them all, and have them all talk to one another: you'd be the first one to build what might amount to a computer network with an identity crisis LOL

They'd probably heat the whole house at the same time.... ;-)

there you go, just spread them out LAN style and you could run them during the winter :-) Just don't come to me when it starts exhibiting bipolar syndrome. :-)

How could you possibly thin that kind of herd?

Trash, or gift them.

I know what you mean, I still have MY CoCo II, and a Commodore 64 (or 128, I can't remember), one 80286, one 80386, and a 486 clone, but they don't take up as much room as monitors do, and I only have 2 extra 17" monitors :-) If my wife ever decides to divest herself of all her junk, we would need to rent one of those long green commercial dumpsters to get it all out in one swell foop ;-)

Yes, the 'rent-a-dumpster' was one option I was considering....

Too many computers:
Tandys-- Model I, Model III, Model 4, Model 4P, Model 100, (2) Cocos, Tandy 1000 (286)

CBM-- VIC20, C128, Amiga 1000, Amiga 4000, some hacked DTVs (ala Jeri Ellsworth)

Apple-- Apple IIe, Apple IIc, Franklin clone, (2) classic Macs, quadra 605

A TI/99 & expansion, Atari 800, ...(more? who knows...)

Not counting the several intel/AMD desktops that pressed into server duty....

Hmm, yeah lots of cadmium, lead, etc there. Are their no "museums" nearby that would take some of them ? I knew of one in VA, and there was one within about 90 miles of central PA that did so (not sure if they still do).

> if you haven't touched it in a year....its garbage
This is the sort of short-term thinking that corporate management is routinely criticized for. And justifiably so. Somewhere in the equation there needs to be consideration of how difficult and/or expensive it is to replace the item. For instance, I have stopped saving interesting cardboard; if need be I expect I could buy "whatever" whenever I need to. But there's plenty of stuff I don't expect to touch or throw out, ever. Like kiteman says, "It's archive material."

I did have a depressing realization recently that I've now paid more to store some things (rental storage) than they were ever worth; things that ARE pretty much replaceable (video monitors, for instance.)

My wife is infinitely worse, and I can not get her to divest herself of the bone crunching mess throughout the house (yes, bone crunching, I have broken my toe twice, nearly dislocated hip, legs, shoulders, etc from falls and crashes), it can be a health hazard.

Ouch... home sounds positively dangerous!

That doesn't include the molds growing behind the piles of her stuff (or underneath it either). Dangerous is definitely the word *sigh*

Oprah did a show, I think it was a few months ago, a daughter had asked for help for her mother and father. Huge house! Full to the gills. They did find toxic mold and such. The "expert" ended up with a fungal infection on his leg. They ended up having a garage sale in a 10,000 sq ft warehouse. They are going to have another show this week, Thurs I believe. Same expert. They also had a psychologist that discussed that some people can be helped with meds and/or cognitive behavior. Others just need someone to show them the way. About the time of the first show I decided to get serious about my stuff. Both experts have books on amazon.com.
More recently I've found a web site flylady.netflylady.net. They seem to be aimed at the housewife w/ 2.5 kids. I just ignore that stuff that doesn't apply to me. But the emails have helped keep me on track. One thing that works for me is her 15 minutes a day de-clutter sessions. This works far better for me than marathon sessions. Her associates help w/ body clutter and nutrition and they have a house fairy for the kids that make covert visits and leaves prizes.

Thanks I will check that out.

My wife literally gathers true clutter though. Not just ornaments, nor any "things" really as most of it is newspapers, magazines, books she has read or may never read, and that is in addition to the Breyer horses and nic-naks she has. I would just love to be able to walk the floors without hearing the crunch of porcalin or the shattering of glass, plastic and etc. I will be thrilled if I ever get to gaze on our hardwood floors ever again. *sigh*

You wouldn't believe the crap people put in their bins, I found a perfectly good PS2 the other day.

I come from a long line of hoarders and the one thing i've learned is, ORGANISE! Yep, don't throw anything away, ever, at all. Just make sure you've got it in a cupboard or box thats labelled. We all know it wil come in useful ONE day.

Yep, don't throw anything away, ever, at all.

Instead of carpet, my wife throws newspapers on the floor (then expects me to pick them up....yeah, that is going to happen).

WHAT! Throw newspapers away!!!!!! Paper mache masks, oilchange on your car, lining paper for bird cages, carpet protector for young (<3yo) artists, etc etc. One mans rubbish is my solution. Okay, soapbox time over.

Newspapers that have been tread upon (remember, they are like the carpet), have cavy food and other, um, things, mixed with it......you want the newspapers, you are more then welcome to come get them....just make sure you are wearing gloves ;-)

I only use them twice, once to read (or flick through the ads to get to the one vaguely interesting story buried on the science page), and once to keep the kuds/pets/wife happy. After that its compost time.

Yeah, my wife does use some of them for the cavy cages and for the budgies too.

Speaking from experience, never let your wife get a subscription to New Yorker mag. It's once a week, not once a month.

Who could possibly keep up? So they accumulate, waiting to be read....

my wife does that with regular magazines....but I can't complain too much, I barely have time to go through the quarterly editions of Make, 2600, and Hakin9 *sigh*

Well, that's me man. Everything but the organize part...

My step-dad had a severe problem with this. Just go through all the clutter, and organize it into three piles: 1) Stuff to keep. 2) Stuff to give to the goodwill. 3) Stuff to take to the dump. And then take the stuff you keep, and put it into labeled boxes. Then take the other crap away. Don't forget, a truck is a good thing. Use a tarp, and lots of tiedowns.


10 years ago

My grandpaw told me "People throw away their most valuable possessions." He had an old trunk full of nuts, bolts, screws, washers and such he had picked up while walking around town. Man do I miss him.

My dad's an 'accumulator,' too. Many people who lived through the depression (U.S.) are like that.

ORGANIZE one day you will have a use for everything (sorry to be such a hypocrite )

Either organize it or get rid of it. Personally, I get rid of things and organize what I NEED. If you haven't used something in the last year, it's an automatic donate or throw out in my book! I really only keep things I bring home for work that I plan to use for a project. And those will soon be kept in a plastic tub in the basement so they're out of the way.

Prioritize projects. If Parts Pile A is going to be a device that de-ices your car in the dead of winter, and Parts Pile B is going to be a fourth coffemaker, then get rid of the Pile B and use the room to start assembling Pile A. Keep the stuff that you actually have plans for, and scrap the stuff that is just "too good not to keep."

My dad and I are both packrats, and since we share two ends of the same workbench, the shop is a mess. However, by simply recognizing the fact that we don't really need all the crap we keep, the house is ever-so-slowly becoming navigable.

Thanks, sounds like good advice (only a reformed addict can help a current one...)

yeah my grandpa was like that. he was real bad about it he kept even tiny scraps of wood and paper.