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Clutter Blog Posts

General topics around Clutter

Clutter Blog Posts

General topics around Clutter

September 16, 2015

Bad Air Sponge

Bad Air Sponge

Have you ever been waiting for a commuter rail in Boston's Back Bay commuter station? Have you ever smelled how bad the station is?

Well of late it hasn't been all that bad and it appears that the change may be related to the MBTA using a different cleaning brand - Bad Air Sponge. I took a picture of a box that I found lying near the tracks, I believe that it fell down from the ceiling.

We have two cats and the basement has the bad smell due to the fact that's where their litter box is. We have tried many things to get rid of that litter box smell. I think this might be the solution.

Hey if it's good enough for the Back Bay Station, it's probably good enough for our basement. Can't hurt to try!

Thanks to the MBTA for keeping the smell down at the waiting area at the Back Bay Station.

March 14, 2014

Flash Drives

Here is an interesting factoid that I discovered today:

You can buy 128 GB for about $45. A lot of memory for not that much money. What?s more, is what you can store on that USB drive. Did you know that 128 GB Flash drive can hold up to 27 DVDs worth of data or 188 data CDs?

If you have a lot of Data CDs and looking to back them up, you may find that USB might be a good option. This is especially a good idea if you have a lot of older CDs around.

USB Flash drives have an estimated life of about 10 years, if you use them very frequently. However, they can last longer if you just use them on occasion and even longer if you only do READ ONLY actions.

What?s great is that many Flash drives have a READ ONLY switch so that you can?t accidentally write to the device. Which is good if you open up a Word document and Microsoft tries to do an Auto-save.

So if you?re thinking of storage options, consider getting a USB Flash Drive.

February 22, 2013

Cable Cable Cable

Most tech geeks have a large collection of cables from hardware that they don't use anymore. How many people still have VCRs and old games systems sitting in their attic or basement? I have a lot of old cables in several bins in my basement. I have Ethernet cables, USB cables, Coaxial and power cables. Just a mix of almost every possible cable type and size.

One of the problem of having so many cables is that its hard to find the right one. When I pull out a cable half the box empties out and I have to spend a few minutes untangling all that mess. Not fun and certainly a reason why I don't want to go through the cable bin.

One solution I came up with is to separate the cables by category, I got four stackable front loading metal bins and sorted out the cables. The top bin holds all the coaxial cables, these are the cables to connect TVs and VCRs. The one below it holds ethernet cables, both regular and crossover cables. The next bin holds USB  and Firewire cables and the last bin holds misc cables.

While this solved part of the problem, the other issue is that the cables are still bunch up. I came up with two solutions. The best way to keep the cables together is to use a cable tie. You can find them on Amazon, Lowes or Walmart. I was able to find a hundred 4 inch cable ties at Walmart for $1.50. They were about $2 at Lowes. For most cables 4 inches is good enough.

For some of the bigger Coaxiel and Ethernet cables I used masking tape. This also comes in handy with labeling some of the cables.

Since I have been using computers for a long time, in my collection are a bunch of USB 1.1 cables. Which aren't very practical now since the most products require at least a USB2 cable. I decided to label the old USB cables so that I wouldn't accidentally use them. The masking tape is a great cheap way to do this. I didn't want to buy a Marker Cable for something that could easily be done with Masking Tape and a sharpie.

When your sorting and going through your cables, you should label your power cables. This will make it easy with your looking for that cable to power up an old fan or Firewire drive. Spending a few minutes now will certainly save you lots of time in the future!

Obviously the best solution is to get rid of cables that I am not going to use anymore. I have started doing that. It's a process but I hope at some point to have a much smaller collection that I have now.

August 27, 2010

What is your Objective?

When your starting out the task to declutter your stuff, you need to ask yourself three key questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How do you plan to get to the goal?
  • What tools do you need to get these things done?
By asking yourself these questions, in advance, your mind is focus to cleaning. It helps to understand your focus.

After 25 minutes of activity, you may want to refresh your mind with the answers to the above questions. I find this technique useful, because while you declutter you tend to zone out and focus on why you have the stuff instead of how can you keep this stuff.

If you have old monitors, TVs and Microwaves, check your local town for special recycle weekends. You can recycle some of your unused electronics for free.


  • Try to visualize the area on what it will look like when you complete the decluttering process. Imagine how simple it will be not having all the clutter. Go and make that visualization a reality.
  • Setup a donation box and donate some of your items to others that may need it more than you do.

July 16, 2010

Realization Principle

In the world of decluttering, one way to help get a better place is to understand the Realization Principle:

Realization Principle - Vision what you want, and then make it happen.

How do you want the room to look, then removed everything from the room til it looks exactly how you want it.I usually get several boxes and dump everything into those boxes. After the room looks exact how I want it. I justify why I should keep the things in the boxes.

June 3, 2009

Labeling Boxes

If you have boxes or bins in your basement or attic, you should label the contents so that its easy to find things later on. This is pretty obvious, but most people don't do it and they pay the price when it comes time to look for things.

Use White Duct Tape
I highly recommend using White Duct tape to label the storage containers. This makes it easy to identify what's in the storage containers as the tape is strong enough not to fall off in the heat and cold. The tape can be easily removed or replaces as contents of the storage container changes. I tried using labels and they fall off pretty easily.

You should tape one side and the top of the box so that its easy to identify stacked storage containers. Also be sure to label exactly what's in the box, saying "Christmas Decorations" isn't too vague. A better solution would be, "Snowmen and Raindeer for fireplace." The more descriptive you are to what's in the container the better off you will be to finding what your looking for.

Boxes of Books
If you have a box full of books, take the time and record the title of the books and tape it to the box. The few minutes that you spend on doing this will save you a lot more time later! Also you may find that some of the books aren't worth keeping anymore.

May 2, 2008

Clutter Quote

From the book Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life by Mike Nelson:
"Hearses don?t have trailer-hitches"
April 29, 2008

Busy Cleaning Weekend

This past weekend we did some serious cleaning in our apartment, here's what were able to accomplish:

  • 150lbs of trash on Saturday
  • 7 Bags of Clothes donated to St. Vincent de Paul
  • 12 Small Boxes of Misc Items to Goodwill

Overall it was a very successful weekend, We were able to remove a lot of things that we just don't need anymore. Note that we have been cleaning all week and just did several trips on Saturday to the Recycle center and Goodwill.

We saw a lot of people out and about doing spring cleaning but none were as aggressive as we were. Spring Cleaning is well underway.

We aren't done yet, we still have a lot more things to get rid of and still have some things in cue ready for this weekend trash and goodwill run.

Later this week I'll be putting things on eBay to see if there's some demand for some of the things I have been collecting over the years. I have done some basic research and have found that some of the stuff isn't as valuable as I thought they would be.

April 28, 2008

Goodwill Rejects

Goodwill is an excellent service for decluttering as they will take just about anything. However there's two things that I have seen that they will not accept:

  • Children Toys
  • USB Printers

They won't accept Children Toys because of all the reported lead recalls. I guess they don't want to have to figure out which toys are safe and which ones have been recalled. Solution: I guess the best thing to do is to trash any toy that you don't want anymore. If you know its safe you could always ask around at work to see if anyone needs it.

Not sure why they won't take USB Printers. I guess they have so many of them that they can't get rid of them, or they don't have any means to test to see if the printers work. Can you image the number of printer drivers they would need to have on a computer? Solution: If your printer is in good shape, use Freecycle to get rid of any printer you don't need. I wouldn't bother putting any cheap USB printer on eBay, you probably won't get much for them.

April 25, 2008

Recycle Books

If you have a lot of books, you should consider removing some of them so they don?t clutter your library. There?s no reason to keep a lot of books that you?re not going to use anymore.

GotBooks.com is a great service because, not only will they take any books that you have, but they will even comes to your house to pick them up. This is perfect service for us since we have a couple of flight of stairs from the street level. On Wednesday, we left nine boxes of books and they took all of them!

If you don?t want to donate your books you could always visit a used book store and resell your books. This is a good option if you have some first editions or some valuable books.

In 2002, when I moved from San Jose to Boston, I sold a few books to the ?Recycle Books Store? in San Jose. They gave me $30 for 10 of my books. I am pretty sure that my books are someplace in the store today. Not all my books were accepted since they were outdated technical books or were old travel books. I guess having Photoshop 5.5 Visual Quick Start and 1996 Florida Travel wouldn?t sell very well.

I discarded most of the remaining books in the recycle bin at the Woods Apartment complex in South San Jose.

If you?re in the San Jose area, you should check out the unique book inventory at the Recycle Book Store.

Recycle Book Store
1066 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126
(408) 286-6275