Getting Rid of Stuff – The New York Times


Welcome. Before weekdays and weekends have been indistinguishable, we left the home. Now, we’re inside, many of us, most of the time. With the identical folks and pets, or on our personal; the identical routines and rooms; and, in all places we flip, the identical stuff, a lot stuff. What was décor is now muddle. What as soon as was cozy is now claustrophobic. This is after I flip to The Annoying Bag.

The Annoying Bag is any paper or plastic bag I’ve mendacity round, or — when disposable buying luggage are scarce, as they’ve been in my condo these days — a transparent produce bag or threadbare reusable tote. Annoying Bag in hand, I prowl my condo, dropping something I deem “annoying” at that second into it. I acquire half-burned candles and stray socks; damaged sun shades, previous magazines, jars of condiments which were squatting within the fridge so lengthy I forgot they’re not on the lease.

The Annoying Bag is an train to be carried out rapidly, impulsively. This just isn’t a closet overhaul or cabinet clear-out. You don’t maintain an merchandise shut and ask if it sparks pleasure earlier than it goes within the Annoying Bag. The KonMari Method, spring cleansing — these are considerate, sustainable processes during which garments get donated and yogurt containers get recycled. The Annoying Bag is all remorseless id: You may throw away the T-shirt you’re carrying as a result of it’s annoying you. Three pennies which were gathering mud on the counter, ready to be put right into a coin jar? A set of cake-adorning ideas that you simply’ve used as soon as however are taking on half a drawer? Don’t give it some thought. Throw them in.

After about ten minutes of snatch-and-toss, I knot the Annoying Bag and take it to the trash — not my trash can, however the trash on the curb, completely out of the home. I’ve by no means as soon as missed something that left the home within the Annoying Bag. The impulses for disposal that happen in these feverish bursts of decluttering are all the time appropriate. The reduction is prompt and exhilarating.

Online buying has been tempting in the course of the pandemic. My regular considering goes one thing like, “Stores are risky, distractions are limited, I’m feeling blue, better buy this teakettle.” A pal instructed me as soon as that every part you purchase makes every factor you personal rather less invaluable. I’m attempting to maintain that in thoughts, attempting to buy less and keep annoying stuff out of the house in the first place. “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,” wrote Wordsworth, exhorting us to dispense with materialism and get back to nature, which seems like a worthy pursuit right now.

Or, if you’re not feeling outdoorsy, consider Marie Kondo’s advice: “Use this time at home to take inventory of your possessions — and to re-evaluate your relationship with them. Cultivate an awareness of what you have. On a practical level, this will prevent overbuying things, but I hope it will also bring a renewed appreciation for all that you do have.”

  • Instead of stress shopping this weekend, check out “The Essential Octavia Butler,” our guide to getting started with the science-fiction writer.

  • The Hold Steady has a new single, “Heavy Covenant,” and it’s a good one for nostalgia. When Craig Finn sings, “It seems a single body is a couple different people in this one life,” it’s nearly impossible not to be transported to 2006.

  • And the community Ask MetaFilter has some excellent ideas for dealing with pandemic fatigue.

How do you contain your clutter? What are your best strategies for keeping your home tidy and organized? Write to us: athome@nytimes.com. Include your name, age and location and we might publish your response in a forthcoming newsletter. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for how to spend your time this weekend appear below. See you next week.



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