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alt.recovery.clutter FAQ

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Alt.Recovery.Clutter FAQ
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Archive-name: alt-recovery/clutter
Last-modified: 200/01/28
Expires 2009/02/26
Version: 17.01

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
New:  LiveJournal Community unclutter_2009

Twin Cities Meetup:  Stage Your Life

Newish:  How to do things: How to declutter
By Vanessa Raymond
Recommended by "I was the cat" Sat, 22 Nov 2008

Your 2009 Declutter Calendar
Recommended magicwoman on LiveJournal

The latest version of this FAQ will usually be at

If you know something should be added, please let me know; and please
say why.

1. Is cluttering a real problem?

If cluttering (hoarding, packrattery, string-saving) is a problem for
you, it's a real problem.  Some people don't mind little things like
paying twice as much to house a collection as they spend to house

If it's a problem to you, you can find support and advice in

Q: What is clutter? 
A: "Clutter is anything we don't need, want, or use that takes our
time, energy or space, and destroys our serenity.  It can be outgrown
clothes, obsolete paper....We may be selective in some areas, but not
in others. Objects may be strewn about or wedged into drawers; neatly
stacked or stowed in storage." The Twelve Steps of Clutterers
Anonymous, CLA WSO Literature Committee, approved February 1996.
2. What causes it?

Buddhist parable:  A soldier has been wounded by an arrow.  If it's
removed right away, he'll survive.  But before he'll let the doctor
operate, he wants to know about the arrowmaker:  Who is he?  What's his
caste?  How many children does he have?  What's his blood type?  How
does he vote?  What TV programs does he watch?  And the list of
questions goes on for what turns out to be the rest of the soldier's

It can be useful to know that clutterers are more likely than most to:
be clinically depressed, have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD),
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) or Asperger's/Autism.  Or to have other medical conditions which
sap physical or emotional strength, ability to pay attention, or both.
If you suspect you have a medical problem, it's a good idea to find
out.  You might be able to alleviate it, or work around it.

But there are people with these conditions who aren't clutterers; and
clutterers who don't have any of them.
Family background?  Some clutterers learned from their parents.  Others
had painfully neat parents.

The Depression as a cause?  There were clutterers long before the

And there are rich clutterers; if someone could easily afford twenty
new cars,that won't keep him from holding on to a collection of
near-wrecks because "They might be useful someday."

Besides this newsgroup, you might also want to try an email list:  To subscribe, send any message to  This seems to be the liveliest one
just now.
The Unclutter list ( has replaced the
Decluttr list.  To join:  If you don't have a Yahoo account, send an
email to  If you do have a Yahoo
account, go to to subscribe.

"I started a Google Group for people who practice the FlyLady system.
It's at:" Christine

Freecycle is a set of local mailing lists for people who have stuff to
give away and people who want stuff.  At there's a
directory of local Freecycle mailing lists for every continent except

LiveJournal ( communities listed as interested
in decluttering:
added 1/09: unclutter_2009 Lively so far 
anticonsumerex - Financial Freedom Shall Be Ours!
clean_gweep - Do not mess with the Gweep armed with the broom.
flyladies - Flyladies and Flybabies Community
organize - Let's Get Organized
organizedlife - Organized Life
goal_posts; focus is on overcoming procrastination
Organizations for clutterers

If you can't find a local group, call your local self-help phone number
(if you can't find it easily in the phonebook, ask your local library
for help finding it).  In some areas, you can just call 211.
If there's an organization or local meeting not listed here which you
think should be, please let me know. I'm also interested in people's
experiences with groups.

Where a phone number is given, please call first to make sure the
meeting is still at the time and place given.

Clutterers Anonymous World Service Organization: phone: (310) 281-6064; recording,
you can leave messages.  CLA, PO Box 91413, Los Angeles, CA
90009-91413.  CLA East:  (866) 800-3881,
12-Step group.

Messies Anonymous: 5025 SW 114th Ave., Miami, FL 33165. 1-800-MESS AWAY
Quarterly newsletter $5 per year -- sample newsletter free. Internet: Website:  Uses the 12 Steps,
but doesn't adhere to all guidelines.  (Founder isn't anonymous.)

"If you write to the address for the newsletter and include your city
and state, you will receive a list of others in the area who have asked
for the same information OR the name and number of the person who has
organized such a group--if there is one. You will also receive as much
information and support as you might need if you want to start your own
group." Bonnie Rice
Change: You can now ask from the website.  

Clutterless. Not a 12-step group, but uses
some things from the 12-step tradition.

If there isn't a group in your area:  Messies Anonymous has online
meetings.  Clutterers Anonymous has several phone meetings.  Other
12-step groups which might be useful:  Adult Children Anonymous/Adult
Children of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Debtors Anonymous.
(Suggestions for non-12-step groups welcome.)

For some clutterers, Adult Children of Alcoholic and Dysfunctional
Families can be useful:

The Underearners Anonymous list of traits includes hoarding:

The purpose of is to set up and help local groups of
many kinds. [updated 12/29/07; will be updated again when I find out
how to get a list which isn't just local.  Used to be able to do this
before Meetup "improved" their website.]

Added 1/09 Stage Your Life
# Washington DC Simplicity (Washington, DC US; 103 members) 38.9-77.04
# SOS! "Simplify, Organize & Succeed" Declutter Raleigh (Raleigh, NC
US; 60 members) 35.8-78.7
# The DC Declutter and Energetic Alignment Meetup Group (Washington, DC
US; 60 members) 38.92-77.04
# Declutterers Anonymous (Irvine, CA US; 41 members) 33.69-117.79
# The Philadelphia Area Get Organized Meetup Group (Phoenixville, PA
US; 24 members) 40.11-75.55
# Design & Declutter your life! (Royal Oak, MI US; 22 members)
# The Richmond Declutter Meetup Group (Richmond, VA US; 18 members)
# Overcoming Clutter (Hicksville, NY US; 17 members) 40.77-73.52
# The Bellevue Declutter Meetup Group (Bellevue, WA US; 17 members)
# The NJ ADD Meetup Group (Union, NJ US; 15 members) 40.69-74.27
# The St. Tammany Parish Northshore FlyLady Meetup Group (Mandeville,
LA US; 7 members) 30.42-90.01
# The Richmond Declutter Meetup Group 2 (Richmond, VA US; 6 members)
Passed on by Lori Burkart 
'A Hoarders' and Clutterers' Support Group has been formed in San
Francisco and meets twice a month....
'The flyer reads:
"For Mental Health Consumers who have too much stuff and want help, the
San Francisco Mental Health Association's Consumer Housing Group
presents a Hoarders' and Clutterers' Support Group"
Subject: RE: Hoarders and Clutterers Support Group
From: "Mental Health Association of San Francisco" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 09:31:26 -0800

Dear Dan,
Our support group does still exist and meets the 2nd Mondays and 4th
Wednesdays of every month.  The time is always 6-7pm.  The location is
870 Market Street, Suite 622 S.F. CA 94102

However it is important to note that the suite location is subject to
change because of availability.  For that reasons please call first to
find out the suite number prior to arriving, or they will be a sign
posted outside of suite 928 advising of the location.

Antonio is the staff person who runs the group; please call him if you
have further question at (415) 421-2926 ext. 306

Donice Carter
Office Manager/Executive Assistant
Mental Health Association of San Francisco
870 Market Street, Suite 928
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-421-2926 (phone)
415-421-2928 (fax)

Informal: Minnesota; around St. Louis Park/Edina/Golden Valley
--someone who can't currently get to CLA meetings would like to meet
informally. Call Zola at (612) 921-4917.
Useful Books, etc.

From: "Maelstrom Mel" 
Subject: Re: Where are there other clutter organizing forums and
listservs with more hints, tips and pointers?...
Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 16:32:52 GMT
Newsgroups: alt.recovery.clutter

I frequent a very nice blog named Zen Habits.  The writer of this blog
often posts articles about living an organized life and how to
de-clutter.  Here is a link to a post in which he summarized a lot of
his ideas, and he also provides a lot of links to other Web sites
dealing with similar topics:
Barb Rogers, _Clutter Junkie No More_
Sandra Felton. THE MESSIES MANUAL: The Procrastinator's Guide to Good 
THE MESSIES SUPERGUIDE: Strategies and Ideas for Conquering
Catastrophic Living.
Don Aslett: Clutter's Last Stand, Not For Pack Rats Only, How do I
Clean the Moosehead?
Stephanie Culp: How to Organize, How to Simplify Your Life
Young and Jones, Sidetracked Home Executives (Warner 1981) 
Young and Jones, The Sidetracked Sisters Catch-up on the Kitchen
(Warner 1983)
Young and Jones, The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File (Warner 1985) 
Young and Jones, Get Your Act Together (Harper Collins 1993). 
(....) SHE and GYAT can usually be found at large chain bookstores or
Christian bookstores (these are not "Christian" publications, per se).
the sisters themselves peddle a variety of SHE items.... Address is:
Sidetracked Home Executives, Inc.
P. O. Box 5364
Vancouver, WA 98668 [360] 696-4091 

"Confessions of an Organized Homemaker" by Deniece Schofield.
(Publisher: Betterway Books, Cincinnati OH. The cover lists it at
10.99US, 15.99CAN, 7.99UK).

"Lighten Up! Free Yourself From Clutter," by Michelle Passoff, Harper
Collins Publishers, 1998.  ISBN 0-06-095265-2.

Useful websites:; website of a professional organizer who
has tips on doing your own decluttering.

Fri, 23 Jan 1998 
cleaning tools
I follow Don Aslett's book Is There Life After Housework. You can get
his catalog 1-800-451-2402. I use his mop, it's called a scrubbee doo.
He explains how to use the right cleaning tools, and cleaning products.
Sat, 11 April 1998
Mycala W Shaulis 
Kitchen Web Link
It covers not just the kitchen, but virtually every room in the house.  
Mon, 28 Jun 1999 
Katrina Ancel 
organizing Link
Thought I'd pass this one is the Professional  Web
Ring...tons of info on getting organized at the home site, plus since
it's a ring they link to other sites on the topic..

Jeri Dansky <>
Sun, 05 Dec 2004 15:51:49 -0800

While this is a ring of Professional Organizers, you might also want to
note the site of the National Association of Professional Organizers, at

Jeri Dansky <>
Sun, 05 Dec 2004 15:51:49 -0800

Link doesn't work on this one - looks like it should be instead:

Chore Genie is a shareware application that helps to schedule your
household chores, includes a menu-builder and a to-do list.... We offer
tips and worksheets for getting started, which can be viewed on our web
site at [see abovel.... We even have an email loop anyone can join by
sending me a request to The email loop has tips
for using the program as well as general topics for staying motivated,
getting started and anything else that is on topic. Anyone is welcome
to join!
From: naomiy 
[1] Found a neat web site! (Pun intended)
Date: Thu Aug 19 1999
Check out: 
A bit advanced for some of us maybe, but there are lots of good
resources here!

Dan Goodman
"I have always depended on the kindness of stranglers."
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Expire
Mirror Journal
Mirror 2

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