Here is the junkee id test - junkees should try this revealing quiz to find out just how bad their condition is ... then, if they feel up to it, try this remedy:
How to score
More than I'll ever admit to = 1
More than I'd like = 2
Only a few things = 3
None = 5
- If my cupboards and drawers were searched right now, how much junk would be found?
- ! own clothes and shoes that don't fit or are ugly or hopelessly out of style.
- I save old uniforms or maternity/baby clothes I don't need any mor.
- I hoard odd socks or tights with one laddered leg.
- I own costume jewellery and badges that I never wear (for good reason).
- I save colognes and aftershaves I can't stand the smell of, or make-up I tried and don't like.
- My medicine chest holds bottles of ancient vitamins and antique prescriptions.
- I have empty, non-returnable or other useless bottles inhabiting my home.
- I keen plain old ordinary empty boxes.
- I have old wedding announcements, greeting and Christmas cards squirrelled away from acquaintances I scarcely recall.
- I save leftover scraps of crumpled Christmas wrapping paper that I never use.
- I keep unread circulars and lapsed driver's licences, expired policies and passports.
- I cut out coupons and special offers for products that I never buy.
- I've kept books I couldn't force myself to finish and magazines that are more than a year old.
- how many unused recipe cards/cookery books/do-it-yourself manuals do I have?
- I store old paint (half tins or less), stiff brushes and matted rollers.
- I have old curtains or blinds stashed away that I've dragged around from past homes.
- K have machinery, gadgets and appliances that don't work or have parts missing.
- I have watches or clocks that aren't working.
- I have furniture and other items I am going to mend, sell or strip one day.
- I keep old patterns and scraps of wool and material that will probably never be used.
- I have paraphernalia from hobbies, projects and classes I started and 'may to again'.
- I save every drawing my children have done and all their schools reports since the year dot.
- I have keepsakes but can't remember what sake they have been kept for.
- I have photos I seldom look at because they're stashed away and hard to find.
- I have souvenirs or knick knacks that I dust, clean, store and abhor.
- I keep toys (adults or children's) that are broken, outgrown or not used.
- I have games and puzzles with bits missing.
- The boot, floor and glove compartment of my car are filled with old torn maps, inoperative torches, old water bottles and sweet papers.
- When someone visits my home, how much junk will they see?
Your junkee test score:
30 - 60 = You're in trouble. Take a deep breath and start de-junking ruthlessly. You might possibly survive your junk.
61 - 95 = If you start to de-junk today, you can make it.
96 - 130 = If you can clean up/come to terms with those few problem areas, clutter won't have a chance to spread.
131 - 150 = Pass on your advice to a junkee friend or relative.
Cut through the clutter without pangs of guilt. Those once-loved and now useless possessions deserve a home - but not yours! Once they've gone, cleaner shelves, rooms and cupboards will make tidying a breeze.
When is the best time to clear the decks? The best time to start throwing out if after you've decided that the clobber is clobber. If you wait for further confirmation, you'll fall in love again with the clutter in your life and keep it.
To be more specific, here are some guidelines reported by successful de-junkers.
Morning: light beats darkness for evaluating things. You're more objective in the morning, have more energy to go through the clutter and to throw out what you don't need. The earlier the better - a 5am session is exhilarating. Choose the morning the refuse collectors call so that afterwards, when you start wishing you hadn't got rid of it, it'll be too late.
Sundays, holidays and long weekends: These are probably the best times to reflect, analyse and file, to review your values and strip yourself of burdens (apparently 90% of your burdens are rubbish-related).
Mood: It's quite effective to go through your clutter when you're angry - we need to take aggression out on something. We get through housework quickly and effectively when we're hopping mad about something and it's when we're angry that we're the least sentimental.
However, if you're so cross that you're full of disdain for someone (or something), you'll often not make good decisions and will be sorry later (and maybe have to charge off to the tip to try to retrieve something).
If you're experiencing a peak of energy and motivation, make the most of it. Roll up your sleeves and start on the piles of useless possessions.
Today: Now is probably the best time to start. Don't wait until all your storage space is taken up or until someone is threatening to leave you before you start de-junking. Don't get pushed into doing it when you haven't time to do it properly.
What to wear: When de-junking, never wear clothes with big pockets which may tempt you to pop things into them. And if you're going through the stuff for the second time, wear dark glasses! Sturdy, low-heeled shoes are a good idea, and make sure you wear something comfortable that you won't be afraid of getting messy.
Discount what you can't count: Making a list of all you own and where it is, is a sensible thing to do - start in one room and go through everything. Soon you'll find things not worth the ink or effort to write down and you'll throw them away.
Pace yourself: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Two drawers a day is an honourable accomplishment; two drawers and a cupboard is pushing the limit. If you try to do too much at once you'll lose your edge and not be nearly fierce enough to get the job done properly.
Don't get sidetracked. When you start to clear out an area get the job done. Otherwise when you go to throw out that old baking tray you'll notice on the way to the dustbin that the back garden needs de-junking. So you stop to do the garden but notice the tool shed is in a mess. You stop to tidy the tool shed and find that the plants on the patio need re-potting and it suddenly occurs to you that the baking tray you were taking to the dustbin is just the things to put under the plant pots - so nothing gets thrown out.
Simply throwing out your unwanted possessions is harsh and not always the best or wisest way to dispose of them. You really should sort them out and here is a good method to follow:
- Start with five large heavy-duty refuse bags and one box.
- Label them.
- Dragging your bags and box behind you, systematically attack every room in the house. Assign every piece of loose clutter - clothing magazines, toys, shoes, etc - to one of the bags or the box.
1 Sell: ebay, preloved and other sites, also local paper, newsagents ad. Useful for the more valuable items.
2 Charity Bag: If it's still repairable or useful (to someone else), or it's the wrong colour style or size, pop it into the Charity Bag. Let someone else worry about what to do with it for a change.
Everything in the Charity Bag should be good - ie, it can be used by someone or could raise some money for a good cause (but it won't be used by you!).
Take it to a charity shop, so that it can be sold to someone who will use it and will raise much-needed money to help the world's poor.
3 Give away: Freecycle is very useful for stuff which charity shops won't accept, as one person's junk is another person's really useful item (but not yours!).
4 Junk Bag: If it's broken, outdated, lost its mate, out of style, ugly, useless, dead or mouldy, then it's junk so put it in the Junk Bag. Everything in the Junk Bag must be thrown away.
5 Emotional Withdrawal Box: Inactive, unused, outdated sentimental stuff. Into the Emotional Withdrawal Box go all those items which you honesty can't bring yourself to throw away. Don't upset yourself and lose momentum by trying to argue with your emotions. Just pat the article affectionately and lay it gently in this box.
Write the date in huge letters on the box and store it somewhere safe. Then, six months from the date on the box (or a year if you're really sentimental), retrieve the box. Do not open it or peek into it.
By now you've forgotten what it was you put in there. Or you do remember but that gripping moment of emotional attachment has passed and you can dispassionately deliver the box to a charity shop or take it to the tip. You won't feel a thing except victory - and pleasure - over your tidy cupboards and spacious storage areas.