29 March 2010 ~ 1 Comment

(Review and Interview) The Clutter Diet by Lorie Marrero

Okay, here’s the thing. There is absolutely nothing new in this book (except the binder clip idea – genius! – read the book to find out what I mean). There is no magic pill you can take and suddenly be one of those super organized people. I read a good number books, blogs, etc about organizing your home/office/email/life – flylady can totally kiss my butt, by the way. Nowadays, I pull one or two things from them and go on. It’s like that with any self-help book, I suspect. But while reading it, it kind of crossed my mind. She’s already done that. Taken the best of the ideas – most were variations of other advise I’ve heard over the year, tweaked to her own way of doing things – and put them in one book. For someone that doesn’t read a lot, this is the perfect book because a lot of the work has been done for you.

I was intrigued and left with a few questions so I tracked down the author and asked if she minded me asking a few questions… her answers were quite interesting. For me, I live my life semi-organized. My office is organized, my areas of the bedroom are. I’ve managed to show the kids how much better their rooms are when the clean them up and organize them on a regular basis, so it’s getting better. But, things can still get cluttered, as my first question to Lorie demonstrates, the rest of the family aren’t fully on board (and I was highly annoyed that day, admittedly). Baby steps, right? 🙂 I figure by the time we get it right, the kids will be leaving for college *laughing*

Candy Beauchamp:  One of the things you don’t go in-depth about is how to get the spouse on board. Any tips or hints? My husband and I generally work well together, but we have a suitcase* or two – this is what we call those things that neither of us do simply because the other one “made the mess”

*this odd little phrase comes from a really funny Everybody Loves Raymond episode called “Baggage” – Raymond comes home for a business trip and leaves his suitcase on the stairs, Debra refuses to take it up, so they have this stand off.

Lorie Marrero: If I had the absolute answer to this, I would be enshrined on Mount Rushmore or given a Nobel Prize! But here are some suggestions. First, so often squabbles about clutter or about tasks around the house have to do with ambiguity of ownership. Nobody is really certain whose job it is, so it just doesn’t get done. Communicating about ownership of tasks can prevent a lot of problems later. Secondly, we see that when one spouse takes on some big organizing projects, the results from that create a momentum that spreads naturally through the family. Sometimes the other spouse even thinks it’s his/her idea! So just getting started can have a very positive and sneaky effect on others. And third, bargaining is a great tool to use in these endeavors. If you agree to clean up your area, maybe he will agree to clean up his! In general, the answer is about communication, because if two people care about each other and communicate in a fair and loving way so that they truly understand how the problems are really affecting them, they will often rise to the occasion. And, as you allude to in your question, sometimes it’s not about the stuff at all—it’s about something bigger going on between the couple that I am not qualified to address! 🙂

Candy Beauchamp: One of the things we struggle with is the trash the kids leave behind, wrappers, juiceboxes, empty cups. We’ve tried everything in the book to keep this clutter contained, but it doesn’t seem to be getting through their 7 and 9-year-old heads. Do you set aside a nightly clean-it-up time or bug them every time you see it? Or some other system we’re missing here?

Lorie Marrero: With kids, and really with anyone, you first want to look at their habits and analyze why it might be happening the way it is. Deal with the infrastructure first. Where are the logjams? Are they leaving trash there because there isn’t a trashcan nearby? Sometimes it’s as simple as adding a few more wastebaskets to your house in strategic places, and making sure they are large enough to hold a week’s worth of trash (not those cute little powder room wastecans). You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to use the system you set up. Then you want to look at the routines around that infrastructure, like you mentioned with a nightly clean-up time. All maintenance does require a routine. This part is where you have to have discipline yourself as a parent—discipline to remember the routines and to follow through with the consequences when they are not followed. If you’re not consistent, you lose… The frequency of cleanup depends on how old the kids are, how bad the mess is (is it going to attract insects?), and how much you can stand looking at it. I have two teenage sons, and the playroom is their “cave.” I don’t go into the cave unless I have to, and I insist they clean it up before and after friends come over, and before they get to go do something fun. And a couple of times a year we go through all of the stuff together, matching up DVD cases and video games, reshuffling everything, etc. When they were younger and they wanted to be near me (those were the days!), their toys would be scattered around the house, and we’d do a nightly cleanup because it would be dangerous to trip on the toys in the night. The rules are whatever makes sense for your family and your sensibilities.

Candy Beauchamp: One of the biggest clutter struggles we have are the various controllers for the various video game systems we have, Xbox, PlayStation, etc. Some are wireless, but all the long wires for the controllers and microphones just are out of control. Is there some handy way of storing these? The instructions all say not to wrap them around the controller, but…

Lorie Marrero: You can use Velcro on the back of a cabinet door, like the doors in your entertainment center, to stick the controllers there. Put the soft side of the Velcro on the controller so it’s not prickly on little hands. That can help. I don’t see any other way BUT wrapping them around the controllers. One big help was the video game switch box we purchased, allowing us to leave multiple consoles hooked up to the TV and being able to switch them by pressing a button. Now we just have one console, an X-Box, and we don’t use the switch any more. But if you have multiple consoles it really cuts down on some of the cable clutter, at least in the back of the units. I am looking forward to the day when all of this stuff is wireless, standard. I think that day is coming. It sounds like cleaning up the controllers is part of the routine you need to build with the kids, if it’s getting out of control. Every few days they should unravel it all and put it away correctly.

Candy Beauchamp: Thank you for taking the time, Lorie! I appreciate it. Now, where did I put that velcro….

Get your house in shape! Applying just an ounce of the advice in this practical guide saves you enough time and money to pay for itself. You will learn:* The actual scientific law of nature that helps you get organized
* The cure for procrastination
* Ten types of High Calorie Clutter to avoid
* Where to start and how to tackle your projects
* How to successfully add new habits into your life

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book count for 2010: 23

One Response to “(Review and Interview) The Clutter Diet by Lorie Marrero”

  1. Lisa@put-it-on-the-list 29 March 2010 at 1:01 pm Permalink

    I met Lorie when she was getting The Clutter Diet published on Kindle (first, before the paper copy was published). At that point I hadn’t heard of her or her book, but I found her to be delightful and down to earth. She’s not a perfectionist — that’s my problem, and my downfall — she’s in tune with the concept of “good enough,” which I need to learn a great deal more about. Her book was useful to me in terms of my own psychology, not just the mechanics of clearing the clutter.
    .-= Lisa@put-it-on-the-list´s last blog ..Some Days, It All Just Works =-.

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