Decluttering for Geeks

Geek Culture


When we moved into our new house last year, we faced an interesting dilemma: most sane adults, upon introducing children to their lives, increase the square footage of their homes, but we were contemplating the opposite. We said goodbye to our hulking ranch home and hello to a townhouse. This involved a downsize of nearly 1,000 square feet.

So, naturally, we had the tag sale. We loaded up the trunks with stuff and made countless trips to the Goodwill. We put stuff on Craigslist and Freecycle. Even so, when we finally found ourselves settled in, we realized we were just holding on to a bunch of junk that we no longer needed or used.

Now that it’s cooler and I can endure the attic for more than a few sweaty minutes, we’re back in declutter mode. And since I can’t do anything anymore without researching it on the Internet, I’ve found some bits of advice from other geeks who’ve had to part with precious possessions:

  • It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh is a book that eschews the standard response to stuff, which is to organize it and hide it away somewhere in your house. Walsh asks the question, "Why are you keeping this crap?" and encourages you to trash it if it’s no longer enriching your life in any way. This is a philosophical book, more than anything, and it attacks the hoarding nature that convinces people like me to hold onto those 3.5" floppies "just in case".
  • Declutter for Geeks is a very detailed, item-by-item blog series by Evan Goer. It focuses specifically on the things that geeks tend to accumulate: computer components, roleplaying games, books, and media. So far, the first two entries are great and have given me a good checklist of things to keep an eye out for. In particular, I like the idea on getting rid of old RPG books and just converting them to digital copies or purchasing them in PDF format via or
  • The Story of Homer and Langley Collyer. That’s their living room up above. Thanks to Geekdad Matt, who alerted me to the Collyers’ story via Twitter, I was able to read up on one of the most fascinating examples of hoarding behavior in recent history. These brothers, who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and disposophobia, were literally killed by their own junk. They were genuinely sick individuals, to be sure, and I don’t consider myself to be disposophobic at all, but reading their story was initriguing nonetheless.

So, how do you declutter? Better yet, how do you keep your house free and clear on an ongoing basis?

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