“Strategic Clutter Removal Action Plan”

Following my relatively unsuccessful attempts at de-cluttering, (commented on in my last blog – Clutter Doctor), I decided I needed to take a step back and use all my former management skills to attack the problem.    After all I had twenty years as a Managing Director and I must have learned something in that time.  All that strategic planning; the endless hours of goal setting; annual budgeting and resource planning; the days of communicating the mission to hundreds of staff; constant consultation and surveys with customers and monthly meetings to review performance —- I should be able to do a bit of de-cluttering, shouldn’t I?    What I need is a Grand Strategic Plan with a catchy name !

Strategic Clutter Removal Action Plan

The first step is to “scope the problem”.   So I will draw up a list of just how much potential clutter I have got:

CLOTHES – Shoes; ties; socks; shirts; sweaters; pyjamas; pants; vests; gardening wear; trousers; suits

BOOKS – Gardening; maps; novels; unread; memorable; manuals; dictionaries; jigsaws

PAPERS – newspapers; bills; addresses; diaries; boxfiles; envelopes; scrap paper; blogs

TOOLS – screwdrivers; hammers; saws; planes; screws; nails; toolboxes

GARDEN – brushes; forks, shovels; secateurs; rakes; spades; clippers; pots; boxes; ladders

There is more, much,much more, but I will get around to that in a year or two, when I have finished the first lot, or moved away and left it all behind 😄

The second step might be to look at some strategic options for approaching the task:-

  1. research books on de-cluttering
  2. pay someone to do it
  3. buy more sheds
  4. throw it all away
  5. live with the clutter
  6. love clutter and collect more
  7. move house and leave it all behind
  8. sell it all on eBay
  9. give it all away
  10. seek innovative ideas on de-cluttering from friends

The answer could lie in any, or all of the above, but fortunately before I spent too much time on my grand strategic plan, SCRAP, my doctor friend managed to find me a consultant in de-cluttering called Walt Hopkins.  I first came across Walt when his book on de-cluttering was mentioned in Ronnie Bennett’s blog “Time Goes By”.   Ronnie had come up with an idea of a competition with Walt’s book as a prize and recently Walt made the same offer to me.  So here we go:-

Over the next couple of months I intend to write blogs on how I am managing to get rid of my clutter and I have three of Walt’s books —- “Seven Ways to Lighten Your Life Before You Kick The Bucket” —  to give away as prizes for the best comments and ideas I receive on de-cluttering.  

You can find out more about Walt and how to buy his book by clicking on the following link:




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6 Responses to “Strategic Clutter Removal Action Plan”

  1. Well I never this blog is about ‘SCRAP, what an anachronism’s make the ‘S’ silent be an ex seaman, swear oaths in Anglo-Saxon, and I come up with ‘CRAP’!!!
    Of all the years one has toiled through a life style like you John? Been here done that, got the ‘Tee shirt. All these old clothes, and maybe some new unworn ones: has one asked oneself the question? Has one changed either in lifestyle or physically as one might say frame size? Are you no longer the man you were, and more worrying do you think or realise you are not the man you were? Are the ravages of time, old age, dementia and Alzheimer’s taking their toil and revenge on what once was a handsome figure of manhood???
    Your proposals to exit the house, throw away the clutter, or live with the clutter, or let others decide for one, is I believe a cowards way out? While one still has the marbles to contemplate the future?
    You suggest a ‘SCOPE’, I respectfully ask you to step back look in the mirror! Now image that image is a child 2-6 years old, with piercing eyes and a look of wonderment, at the words you may speak? Can you answer that child’s curiosity, it’s amazement in life and total belief in you that you are telling the truth that will hold good not for the moment, but for a life time, and earn you respect and adoration, for or to be that person of trust?
    Be yourself, declutter the mind, and simplify one’s life, treasure those moments of intimacy with the ones you love, keeping maybe in the mind those things you hold dear? A personal procession to another person of your family or friend may not hold that golden moment/memory you have secreted in one’s memory. Again what of dementia and Alzheimer’s? Is it of one’s personal thoughts? I do believe it is not the image one has about other people and how they see you.

  2. davidwfreeman237 says:

    Maybe it is I who should take another look at myself? I have through your blog web connection scan read the where fore’s and here afters of WALTHOPKINS.
    I note he is a travelled person of a certain age: American born and educated lived in Europe now resides in Scotland, and his Castle Consultancy offers a range of management speak courses to the listening audience. Walt Education appears self-taught, and I ponder to whom he has had dialogue with, in his formative educational years, before expressing views in his ‘Castle Consultancy’ as true matters to be dissected and listened too?? This point I must admit many a self-taught person is a person to behold.
    The web site is intriguing and thought provoking, and plenty of invites to take an active part in any of the courses! Where ‘DE/Uncluttering of the mind lies is in the gift of the reader.
    Many scenarios are suggested and the language/speak is for an educated audience to discuss and deliberate? However I question in the ‘blurb’ and promotional literature where that innocent child of 2-6 years may understand the truth and sincerity of what is been spoken, especially about ‘DECLUTTERING’? we all have to learn how to be tidy both in body, spirit and mind, and as one approached ones golden years (Or Old age), this needs the previous life span to be critically and clinically dissected, and an individual map laid out on the floor or in ones’ minds’ eye as to what is important in life,? Things, objects, belongings, relationships, or just life it’s self? WE by now have stopped being that industry/factory/management structure, and become a PERSON, in all that that means!!!.

  3. davidwfreeman237 says:

    An Epistle for the unwary, and for my benefit to UNCLUTTER, both my mind and My Soul!!
    Let me begin, in my retirement village, enjoying the conversations and banter of the café, I recently was encourage to talk about ‘the hereafter’, and any provisions I might have made. Let me say I do not live in a pyramid, like a dead Egyptian king with all my servants and gifts for the afterlife, I am a mere pauper and plan to go up in smoke, just a momentary image for my surviving relatives.
    Anyhow down to the banter! We were discussing intelligently what value and quality of life does one have after retirement from an active life (Working or pleasure), say around 76+ years or more.
    I must relate to personal matters and a working life for UK companies, and living all of my life, single married and retired domicile within the UK.
    As a younger man and again when first married my families stressed the importance of belief in one’s self, and one’s partner/wife, and the need to try and lead a stable lifestyle in the form of a career, with a vision, and pay attention to ones older colleagues should they correct or offer advice. Above all one and one’s partner must lead a joint life with total understanding, and joy- The main advice was be happy in life, and do not be frightened to try novel or new ideas of work/career relationships.
    I must now drift to life today, as decisions I made long ago are now coming to haunt me? One of the topics discussed was modern American society, and their retirement villages! Here I only have hear say, but I wish to challenge the status quo between the USA and the UK in a retirement village.
    As I understand it the American society in retirement villages, offer a retirement life as an investment! Basically the cornerstone is the value of the property one invest in, for later life [Hospitalisation ailments-support in the home for medical/mental ailment(Dementia-Alzheimer’s)], and the day to day living comes from the pension fund which I presume one has contributed too through a commercial insurance scheme/investment fund of shorts.
    In the UK here I must quote my own personal circumstances. In retirement over 65 there are now National Insurance contributions to pay, and health welfare is paid by the State National Health Service, day to day expenditure is paid for by the state pension scheme, and topped up by an occupational pension scheme, or commercial insurance pension plan, plus any savings at the time of retirement.
    As a younger man serving a trade apprenticeship, and then moving around industry until finding a meaningful employment my contributions to a pension fund were non-existent (Not sufficient time with the schemes for the first 15 years of my working life): then I and my partner entering into a mortgage agreement in the 60’s; the maximum period of a mortgage agreement was 25 years, limited by being stopped at the national retirement age 65. Therefore with improvements, and moves to area of the UK for employment for my working life, the finances were basically the original sum+ accrued sum when sold: hence the need to adjust mortgage insurance to cover the eventuality of death There was no surplus cash, as the mortgages were kept as low as possible, and at or in my 30,s 40, my pension rebates ( due to illegibility to join a scheme) were used to further our/my training and education in later life to improve our/ my prospects in our/my own careers, and an upkeep of a younger and growing family.
    As my partner and I approached retirement the mortgage had to be repaid, and the mortgage insurances required to top up the deficits in our final repayment mortgage reached the basic sum mortgaged, but gave no invested fund overpayment as originally promised by the original insurance company’s publicity (Figures allegedly forecast according to government requirements and based on government statistics). Why I have laboured this point is that my final employment was remote based from my home, and it was for eight years while I was required to find accommodation in my workplace city, the minimum mortgage agreement I could obtain was 10 years- 2years after my expected retirement date, so a decision was made to rent property, rather than have a mortgage repayment from our pension income.
    That is my story: how this compares to the USA, and its capitalist society, for self-provision of housing, health welfare and pensions by I suspect major insurance companies operating in the commercial financial markets, and I am unsure how an American USA resident budgets their income; hours they work per year and if, if any government family support is given for distress, health/wellbeing and adult education, and pensions, or do the majority of USA employers within the USA support their workers, either in kind or by monetary reward so that they are able to improve their individual standard of living while working, for themselves and their dependents.
    The responsibility of retirement living is up to the individual citizen and their partner/family.
    Retirement comparison of ideals USA/UK
    USA I am not sure of the age of retirement, or the conditions of retirement for a USA citizen, who may live in a typical American Retirement Village. I have assumed that the person retiring and wishing to live in a retirement village/community, is viewed as a further life investment, and the agreement undertaken maybe by the establish retirement village and any prospective resident maybe be based upon health and fitness, with not a statistical life expectancy, but a health survey at retirement, and at regular intervals, to assess the possible medical and welfare expenditure that may be expected, a hard headed financial calculation, with caveats for expenditure, being taken from either an end of life insurance (or whole life insurance taken out when a younger person for a substantial financial sum), or accrued capital and liquid assets ( a home and savings- for instance?).
    In the UK AS a UK citizen now in retirement and having had the pleasure to consider living in a retirement village complex, my partner and I have had to consider our finances for the future, for each of us personally, and for our offspring as an expectation of a financial legacy. At pre-retirement 55 years of age I took out death insurance the sum was only for £1300, this was a sum towards funeral plans- the actual cost of a sum sufficient to cover all health and welfare benefits was prohibitive, and then if sufficient only payable on death. Due to earlier life events, I had not taken out whole life insurance payable on death, as the costs were again astronomical, and one could not amalgamate risks such as whole life and mortgage term insurance, unless one bought an endowment policy, which required a term and a known financial risk. As I have proceeded through life, my partner and I have always known the provisions of health welfare and medical attention by the state, and a state pension based upon National Insurance payment made during one working life. This led I believe to UK employers having agreement of employment, and financial rewards (pay) whereby they negotiate with UK employees based in the UK, due to the tax regime and the provision by the UK government of the NHS, pensions and welfare, such that the risks of a more rewarding treatment and benefits, are considered a benefit in kind, and not a birth right? It is a complex picture!!!
    A Footnote in the UK
    While in the UK general insurance and specialist insurance market has not had to take on a social role other than for whole life/endowment, and mortgage protection as per the financial industry (Banking) Requirements, the industry does not offer to the general populous as it may do in the USA all forms of insurance form the cradle to the grave, as protection for an individual and or their family at a cost acceptable to the individual??? Maybe we are lazy in the UK and prefer the social provision of welfare/health and social support, education, plus pensions collectively as a nation through taxes such as direct taxation and National Insurance.
    Here endeth the first lesson!!

  4. davidwfreeman237 says:

    The Epistle part 2.
    Are you still reading or listening mother? I am still babbling on, standing on my kipper box within the ‘fish market’ shouting out the odds!!
    In the retirement village in which we live needs and requires vibrant persons mobile, and active! If I were to relate that to age, I would be looking at a confused picture, as the under 70’s may be bright in mind, but with personal mobility problems: There again any one above 79 may be mobile, less mobile, but if luck mentally alert, or have the ravages of time and the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. One of the things I have had to come to terms with since being forcibly retired at the age of 60, is how to enjoy life and yet live within our income.
    Upon retirement I was fortunate, part of my pension was offered as a lump sum, to which I was advised to accept.
    Molly and I retired as fate would have it on the very same day, with our future to behold we put our then house in order, went on a holiday of a lifetime, and discussed earnestly what we do with our time.
    I had spent the last 8 years prior to retirement travelling to East Anglia on a weekly basis for work, and living in rented accommodation Monday to Friday. Both Molly and I had to adjust to living at close quarters again, and each other’s person foibles.
    I considered a part time work stacking shelves, but the offers of employment where completely unsocial hours, and the physical dexterity required was, or did require much physically repetitive work, which at 60+ I questioned. More amenable social employment was not so forthcoming, unless one devoted time to supporting charities and volunteering for nonprofessional organisations.
    I found the retirement free time gave me pleasure, to be with Molly, and again time to enjoy afternoons on special days playing cards (Bridge/whist clubs): Here I found the expectations one was expected to give serious undertakings to join in the clubs various events, and if one had a partner (card playing- not Molly) one had to for their enjoyment to partake in more than the weekly one meeting commitment, again not for me? I needed to be a free spirit.
    Molly and I became known to one and other again, we rattled around our house, and reflecting on the garden/house and upkeep with maintenance was quite a responsibility.
    After two years of retirement Molly and I became aware of a new concept (to us personally) an Extracare Charitable Trust Retirement Village, for the over 55+’s. We engaged in the discussion’s and promotions, and believed the ideals of a socially mixed group, an age mixed group, and an offer of domically care, with an ethos of community living with actively encouraged ‘volunteering’ too our liking. The problem of downsizing was radical, here one had to adjust from a house with 3 bedrooms, 2 reception rooms, bathroom, kitchen and utility room, and garage- to an apartment flat with 2 bedrooms, lounge , kitchen, wet-room and an dining area/room, and a there were 3 small built in cupboards? If one wished extra storage one had to sacrifice mobility space, and once again invest in ‘CLUTTER’, which we considered defeated the original objective to ‘DECLUTTER’. We found the experience and the objective both mentally and actually physically demanding: However with the support of our children we found the total social, financial, and lifestyle package acceptable, and we now reside perfectly contentedly within the retirement village, and enjoying its social and support benefits.
    Here endeth the 2 lesson

  5. davidwfreeman237 says:

    Epistle page 3 continued.
    When one looks at previous blogs on this website, and that one has to think of providing for ones future, and that Health and welfare must be provided by the individual resources??
    The USA Americans appear to have having to actually do this, in the UK there is and always has been this possible? If one had the money to do so?
    One of the problems I note as our retirement village has aged from 72 on day one to 79 now as we speak, is support and health welfare: What is actually required, is it medical and mental hospital care? Or is it welfare support-Housekeeping (such as keeping the house clean, personal washing, laundry of bed linen, cooking), or social dialogue and amusement, and free time activities (this is a problem for the less mobile but cerebral active). It all takes organisation and decisions into where and how finances are spent/devoted. One of the joys for the village and its social intercourse, is the ethos of volunteering, either to help/assist the paid staff in various modes, or to self-organise or run various activity groups for various past times and physical activities, with the steady march of the average age from on entry 72 to now today 79 years, one may wish to comment on the activities available; less cerebrally challenging, and less physically challenging- the village management and resident association have to be made aware that while we are geriatrics we are not bedridden/chair bound, and we need from time to time to be reminded of youth, and encourage the younger 55+ RETIREMENT ELEMENT to be encouraged to consider and actively take part in the retirement village life, either as residents or friends. I.e. we all need a good kick up the backside as to what is life!!! And what it is all about???
    One major problem for the retired is if hospitalisation for a medical and mental ailment, and then returned post treatment to their home, who pays?? You/us or the NHS, as pensioners we have a limited income, and ability to have an earning capacity! For instance is it fair or expected that the social welfare budget to pick up these costs? And should we/us expect a premium token charge to help allay these costs?
    We when we reach the biblical three score years and ten, how do we reflect on life in general?
    Answers on a postcard please!!
    Here endeth the third lesson, and this Epistle ends. AHHH you may say!!

  6. you have requested a catchy name for your decluttering Grand Strategic plan??? may I suggest, with respect the following-‘ A WIND IN PASSING’!!! or a fart for an old fart???
    keep taking the tablets and smile like a baby with windy pops!!

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