Lessons Learned While Decluttering

by Katy on April 6, 2010 · 14 comments

My day was busy, but not really. I got the kids off to school, wrote up a quick blog post and then drove over to my friend’s house to help her declutter a bit. We of course had to eat a little something first before any actual work began, so it was noonish before we got down to business.

We were in the midst of going through piles of stuff when we came up the idea of life lessons one can learn during the act of decluttering. There were:

  • Do not give stuff to people they already have too much of.
  • Just because you bought a dead person’s house, doesn’t mean you have to keep their family photos.
  • Use your gift cards before they expire.
  • Just because somebody gave you something, doesn’t mean you have to be buried with it.
  • When calling to cancel your L.L. Bean catalogs, dial carefully, as there’s a recording of a breathy woman who’s “been waiting to get you off” if you misdial. Also, redialing this number can lead to some raucous laughter.

Next week we’ll be decluttering at casa Wolk-Stanley. At this rate we’ll have nothing left to declutter . . . in a year or two.

I also spent around twenty minutes decluttering my younger son’s room with him this evening. The walkable path is getting wider, which I say is progress.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla April 7, 2010 at 4:37 am

If you are like me, you will have nothing left to declutter if two things happen: you continue to declutter faithfully AND do not let other clutter creep in all the time. It’s hard to do both at once.


Katy April 7, 2010 at 6:47 am


I’ve gotten good about not bringing stuff into the house, so I should get there at some point, but it’s slow going. I still remember the day I discovered that the piano bench was a horizontal surface. Bad day for all.




Simpler Living April 7, 2010 at 6:35 am

I love your lessons, Katy. Thanks for making me laugh.



Katy April 7, 2010 at 6:44 am


I had to use a different phone after that one call, so we could continue to hit redial!



Linda H. April 7, 2010 at 7:12 am

Decluttering is so refreshing isn’t it??? Thanks for the laugh! L.L. Bean…Who knew?


Judy April 7, 2010 at 7:25 am

How well I remember the “walkable path.” When my daughters were young sometimes that was all I could hope for in their rooms and insisted there had to be a path so I could tuck them in.
When I helped a hoarder neighbor move out of her house, everyday I would work on getting a walkable path from the front door and the next morning I would be asking “what happened to my path” and start all over again.
May you be blessed to not have stuff creep back in. Let us know how you accomplish that please.


karen April 7, 2010 at 8:03 am

sigh… I seem to be a genetic clutter magnet. No space is safe in my small house. Being an artist & avid recycler, I see potential in everything. I’ve made a vow that if I dont create something from it within a certain time frame it gets donated to our local nonprofit, ArtScraps, for others to be inspired. I’ve also accepted the fact that my paycheck & generous heart will not save the world & so I declutter the mail of all solicitations instead of keeping them out of guilt. Next week I am cashing in vacation time ( use it or lose it) to do spring cleaning. I already have boxes labeled with donation destinations for delivery next Friday. Room by room, box by box…perhaps I will discover some interesting lessons as well 🙂 wish me luck! And I will keep checking your blog for continued inspiration during my breaks, lol.


Katy April 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

Good luck, and have fun. Try to schedule blocks of decluttering with something fun like lunch with a friend or some nice treat. You’ll get more done with a specific timeline, plus have more fun this way.



Rebecca April 7, 2010 at 8:26 am

Hi Katy,
I found your blog through your comment on my post on GRS (whew!).

I love this concept and the overall detachment from Stuff and Things. We also have in common that we’ve lived in NYC, New Mexico, and Portland. Small world!

I’ll be subscribing and reading you more! Thanks for this blog (and the reality check of what life is like with kids–I’m taking notes!).


Katy April 7, 2010 at 11:14 am


Welcome to The Non-Consumer Advocate. Glad to have you here!



Alea April 7, 2010 at 9:57 am

My husband recently had a series of Senate staffers through his office asking what he wanted (lobbyist are always telling senators what they should buy for other people. It is nice that the senators actually investigated if my husband wanted what they lobbyist were saying he wanted). My husband told each one, “what ever you do, do not give us anything that we do not already have the manpower and resources to maintain”.

I thought that was a good suggestion for any “gift giving” situation. Give something that will add to the recpients life, abilities, or talents, rather than drain them of energy by making them take time to clean, repair, or store something. That philosophy also freed me up to ruthlessly declutter my house. I was finally able to get rid of silver platters that I have drug around the country for 20 years and felt guilty about only polishing once a year. I decided if the people who gave them to us really knew me, they would have given pyrex! 😉


Alea April 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

I should just add, that the senators from both parties have been very good about honoring his request.


Molly On Money April 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

This past Easter I had a flash back of a time I decluttered 40 pairs of shoes. One pair of the shoes I gave away went perfectly with a dress I still own. For the past 3 Easters I pull the dress out of storage, put it on, try on the two pairs of shoes that kinda go with it, remember how perfect those shoes that I gave away went with the dress and repack the dress into storage. And no, I will not give away the dress.

Hello from a fellow NM- I’m still living here and the winds are killer this Spring!


Gerard Kiernan April 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm


In New Hampshire, gift cards or certificates under $100 are not allowed by law to have expiration dates. So maybe send me your expired ones!


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