Illustrates Dad's Clutter Game

Dad’s Clutter Game: How to Get Rid of Stuff

Karen Caccavo decluttering, Life Lessons, Possessions

Caution tape around construction cones

I remember Dad’s Clutter Game that he invented for my siblings and me when we were young.  It was a good rainy-day activity that kept us busy and out of each other’s hair.  And it seemed to satisfy his life-long crusade against clutter.

How would we get rid of stuff?

Dad would set each of us up with paper grocery bags and announce that the winner would be the one who filled the most bags with stuff from our rooms.

Who won the Clutter Game?

Each of us worked diligently, but I soon realized that I was falling behind my siblings.  (Could it have been because, even then, I resisted accumulating “stuff”?)  Clearly, I needed a shortcut if I wanted to win.  I quickly discovered that if I pulled the pages out of my magazines (NOT my cherished Seventeen or Mad Magazine, of course!) and crushed each page into a ball, I could fill a bag in no time.  I was going to win!

Unfortunately, my brilliant idea didn’t make me a winner.  I had outsmarted Dad, and he called off the game.  Permanently.

A better way to get rid of stuff.

  Years later, as a financial organizer / daily money manager, are there lessons to learn from this childhood experience?  Three come to mind:

  1. When designing an organizing project, start with a big picture. What is the goal?  How do you envision the results?  How do you measure success?  Yes, my magazine trick filled bags, but it did not make for a room without clutter.
  2. Make sure the goal is YOUR goal. One of the fatal flaws of the Clutter Game was that “getting rid of junk” was my Dad’s goal, not ours.
  3. How can you best measure success? My Dad’s game rewarded speed and volume—Who could work fastest?  What items quickly filled the bags?  But were these the best measuring sticks?  How about creativity and problem-solving ?  These are trophies I should have won back when.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might want to check out these earlier Dad-inspired posts:

Trash or Treasure?  Downsizing a Lifetime of Stuff

 Family Treasures – or Just Trash?

Photo Credit:  ID 49531566 | Bag ©HongChan001 |